For a geeky person, dating is always nerve-wracking, wondering when your inner geek will become full-fledged outer geek to your new love interest. When they spot the Harry Potter doll sitting on your bedside table? When they stop by unannounced when you’re six hours into a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon, hair a mess, chin greasy with buttered popcorn? Someday it will come out.
But what if you’re not actually the nerd of the relationship? What if the other person in your relationship is the one that brings the real nerdiness to town? Sure, you can recite every episode of Buffy that James Marsters ever appeared in, but what if the person you love most the world can spend 14 hours straight playing World of Warcraft with breaks only for a new bowl of cereal? Perhaps you were prepared to disclose your geekiness to your new partner, but are you prepared to be the one dating the geek?
In my case, I wasn’t. I was used to being the quirky one with unusual interests. For the first year my now husband and I were in a relationship, I didn’t know he was a major geek. He wasn’t hiding it, but circumstances were such that when I did see him play video games it seemed to align with school vacations and be the exception not the rule. He had mentioned being a top-ranked WoW player years before, but as I come from the books/movies/tv sector of the geekdom, I didn’t really know what that meant. We spent more time at my apartment and he studied abroad for five months. When he returned from his trip we both moved to new apartments. I started spending more time at his place and saw…the set up.
It’s a modest one, to be sure. A massive Craigslist-find pressboard desk. A home built PC. A 40-inch tv screen. A chair he bought at flea market for $10. But the hours he spends at command central, fully engaged, began to surprise me. A year into our relationship all pretense was done away with. I spent the weekends on his couch doing homework while he played Ark with his roommate in the other room and his best friend who lived a floor above, talking to each other for hours via headset despite being less than 15 feet away from each other.
And I had to admit—maybe I didn’t get to be the geek in this relationship.
Since then, I’ve taken on a role many partners have who are in relationships with serious gamers—Warcraft Widow, i.e. I get a lot of alone time on raid nights! Like anyone with a life partner who is seriously committed to a hobby, I’ve come to realize what exactly it means to love a geek, and how much fun you can have along the way.