Nerd Courting at Fanime 2013: The Power of an Insulated Imagination

It's kinda like that...
It’s kinda like that…

At FanimeCon this year, there was a panel that had just about every nerd’s attention in the convention. People packed into a large room to hear one man talk and then they couldn’t stop talking about what he’d shared with them during the panel the next day —and I was one of them.

It was on a hot topic that has perplexed and perturbed many a nerd: nerd courting, i.e. how to interact with people you find attractive.

Photo by Carolynn P. Sullivan
Photo by Carolynn P. Sullivan

That’s Adam Cullen, a guy who majored in dating and a nerd who knows what it’s like to try and date other nerds. His friend Eric Jacobus was also there with him, and he assisted in fielding questions from the audience during the panel. Nerd gals and guys definitely had a lot of questions on their mind concerning this topic, so many that not all of them were able to be answered during the panel. But two questions in particular stood out. They were asked back to back, yet both received almost the same answer.

Nerd Girl: “What if you’re trying to date someone from a different nerd class and they’re into different things than you’re into?”

Nerd Guy: “I’m a competitive gamer and I’m having a hard time finding a girl who is into games as much as I am. How can I find someone who’s as competitive?”

Paraphrasing here, but you understand what they’re asking: how do I relate to nerds who are a different kind of nerd than me?

Cullen explained that the nerd arena is huge now. If we apply the same analogy he used in the video, sports, it makes sense; there’s a lot of “sports” you can choose to be nerdy about today. You can’t know everything about all of it, but you can at least be open to learning a little about what you don’t know. He suggested you share things with each other. Introducing someone to something can be a great bonding experience. His example: he had never watched Doctor Who, until a girlfriend convinced him to give the show a try. Now, he’s getting a tattoo of Doctor Who next to his One Piece tattoo. And they’re still friends who can nerd out over Doctor Who together.

I managed to record the first 10 minutes of the panel’s introduction, so please enjoy the video before reading on. Sorry for the shaky hands.

Topics like the friend zone (“b.s.”), dating within your friend group (“why not?”), sex (“TALK”), and how to flirt (or how to tell if someone is flirting with you…) were discussed with many a hilarious and touching story from his own experiences. It was an honest panel room that asked their questions too, from “why do guys not give bigger girls a chance” to “I feel like my girlfriend wants to take things further, how do I tell her I’m not ready.” Open communication, Cullen stressed, is key to any kind of relationship.

And if you’re asking this question in your head: so should I not be fantasizing beforehand? Don’t worry, your imagination is not the problem. An audience member actually stood up and asked that same question. And Cullen told him no way, that’s the best part about being a nerd. So don’t try and suppress it. That was the best takeaway for this writer.

The greatness of this panel cannot be discussed in one go, but you can definitely send a message to the man himself if you wish to ask him about a problem or questions you have in this area. He made it very clear that anyone can friend him on Facebook and shoot him a message; he’s open to communicating.

If any of you are going to Anime Expo this year, definitely make it a priority to go listen to the Nerd Courting panel there.

Here’s all his media links:


Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

4 thoughts on “Nerd Courting at Fanime 2013: The Power of an Insulated Imagination

  1. So, this panel was how otaku can be riajuu. Seems American otakus also have hard time dating if this panel draws a huge audience. Yup, I think commonality is the key.

    I’m more interested in reading a sign from girls, like “is she flirting with me?” We call this sign, “Myaku-ari.” In anime, girls are deadly obvious, but in reality or 3D, it’s very hard to tell, I have hard time figuring who likes whom. In anime, if a girl likes you, she has skinship with you. But in reality, can’t really tell because there aren’t any skinship.

  2. If none of what LaMoe just said makes sense (and maybe it does to everyone else here, I’m only on this page because Sarah is a friend of mine), Cullen is basically a poor man’s Dan Savage with a specialty angle. He did quite a good job and will only improve with time.

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