Dancing Geek to Geek
Sick of being treated poorly by handsome — or beautiful — yuppie scum? Single people who put their needs first? Tired of cruising the big dating Web sites and hooking up with people who look great in their profiles but more like Quasimodo up close?
What you may need is a geek. Geeks are brainier than most, wear pocket pen protectors proudly and tape their glasses when they break. They miss class or work when they get too absorbed in a game of Dungeons & Dragons or in a "Star Trek" marathon on TV. Geeks are tenderhearted because they have not been treated kindly by our culture. They are looking for love.
People like "Super Nerd Girl," who lives 17 miles from San Francisco in an undisclosed town. She is looking for love, but not from a mere mortal. She wants a geek. To find one, she has gone online and posted a profile of herself on www.gk2gk.com — that's "geek to geek" — which is the latest entry in the niche dating market. Because after all, you've got your Republican dating sites, your scuba-diving singles sites, your religious affiliation sites. Why not one for geeks?
"Super Nerd Girl" calls herself a "Geek of Life Science and Comics," is a student of physical anthropology and lists her favorite board game as Risk and her "geek activities" as belonging to the Society for Creative Anachronism. She writes: "I have an intense interest in genetics and biology, and when I'm not studying, I like to read comics, take walks, read for leisure, study mythology and folklore, play Magic: the Gathering sometimes. … I'm sorta lacking in the social skills, and am here because I honestly can't figure out when someone is asking me out as a friend or a romantic interest. … Yeah, that's how socially inept I am."
The good news is she'll find kindred spirits on "geek to geek." She just won't know what they look like. There are no photos on "geek to geek" — a conscious decision on the part of founder Spence Koppel.
"About a year ago, I noticed the proliferation of dating sites on the Internet," says the Chicago actuarial ("What could be more geeky?" he notes).
"What struck me about them was that they all showed pictures of very attractive people who were looking for their match," he says. "But my research indicated that a large percentage of the people who sign up on the sites lie about themselves — sometimes even showing phony self-pictures."
Koppel also realized that this was not a dating universe that would welcome him and his ilk.
"As a long-term geek, I realized that, if I were looking for a relationship online, almost none of the people who registered on these sites would likely interest me, nor would I be of interest to them. The questions asked in the profile included things like 'What is your ideal date,' with choices like 'Candlelight dinner' and 'Long walks on the beach.' People on these sites were looking first and foremost for romantic dates — for Prince Charmings. But I would be looking first for someone who interested me intellectually."
So "geek to geek" was born.
"I thought it would be refreshing to geeks — and admirers of geeks — to find a dating site where they wouldn't have to be concerned about whether they were attractive enough to join," says Koppel. "Where they knew that the other members didn't care so much about looks, either, but about common interests instead."
Those common interests are, not surprisingly, geeky. Subscribers are asked to fill out profiles that focus less on their ideas of romantic dates than on their other sorts of passions: computers, science, literature, games, TV, movies, hobbies. Age and location are criteria for seeking partners, but not appearance.
So far, Koppel's brainstorm is bearing fruit quickly. It boasts a modest 5,000 members now — but has doubled its numbers monthly. The site is just getting started in the Bay Area: five women and 18 men. But given the number of techno-geeks here, it's sure to grow by leaps and bounds.
Indeed, there are many good reasons for dating a geek, says Koppel.
"While I don't know of any published statistics, it's been my observation that geeks have longer, happier and more stable relationships than the population in general," he says. "Looks fade, and people who seek their mates based on looks tend to continue to try to see if they can do better in that area. If they have few other interests in common with someone, well, that's the end of that relationship. On the other hand, common interests tend to deepen, last a long time and lead to other common interests as partners age together."
Sounds ideal, doesn't it? I would imagine that his work on their behalf has made Koppel a god among geeks.
"I've gotten many e-mails of thanks for starting the site," he says. "They tend to have descriptive screen names like 'Tall, Dork and Handsome,' 'Once You Go Mac, You Won't Go Back,' 'Thick Specs' and 'So What If I Like Knock-Knock Jokes?'"
And of course, "Super Nerd Girl," who lets the world know what she's after.
"I don't want a model because I'm sure as Hell not one myself. I want a geek/nerd, dammit!"