Love and relationships: Computers can’t hold your hand

I debated whether or not I should include this chapter, because I’m not a relationship expert, and this book isn’t really about finding love. But I thought that I wouldn’t be true to the software developer’s life manual if I didn’t at least address this topic.

There are so many things to say about love and relationships that it would be pretty difficult to cover it all in a single chapter, so I’ve decided to condense down this chapter to the most important and most relevant issues that are likely to plague someone in the software development world-male or female.

Why software developers sometimes have a hard time finding love I’ll fall back to the stereotypical software developer again to try and address this issue. Of course, I recognize, like all stereotypes, that the particular stereotype of a nerdy, socially awkward software developer might not apply to you, but if it does--or if at least part of it does--you’ll probably relate to some of what I have to talk about here.

There’s a popular meme on the internet called “forever alone.” It basically signifies this idea of feeling like you’re alone and that you’ll never find “love.” In my experience, many software developers, especially in their younger years, can relate to this meme.

Unfortunately, identifying with this meme and feeling might actually be exasperating the problem. It’s kind of weird how human love and relationships work. It’s really a game of cat and mouse. At any given time, one person is chasing and another is being chased. As long as the sides switch occasionally, there isn’t a problem. But when one person is always doing the chasing, the other person tends to keep running further and further away.

It’s the chasing too hard that’s often the problem that many people face. When you go out there and you try too hard, you end up reeking of desperation. That desperation causes repulsion that tends to cause a nice hit to self-esteem, causing further desperation. It’s a vicious cycle that many people are stuck in and don’t know how to get out of.

Many people in this situation tend to wear their heart on their sleeve.

They start projecting their feelings of pain and loneliness to the rest of the world. “If only they could feel my pain and realize how they are hurting me, then they’d understand.” You’ve seen those Facebook posts where people make a desperate plea for attention and compassion by letting the world know how sad and alone they are.

As I’m sure you can figure out, this kind of behavior has the opposite effect of what is intended. When you tell the world that you’re weak and fragile, people tend to avoid you. To put it bluntly, it’s not an attribute that anyone really finds attractive.

Understanding the game

Love is a game. It’s true. No matter how hard you try to opt out of the system, you can’t do it. Many people think “I don’t want to play the game. I’m just going to be myself and be honest about how I feel.” While I can understand this sentiment, because you’re reading this chapter, I have to ask you how that’s working out for you.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating dishonesty and being a sleazebag, but you also might not want to be too forthcoming and direct in your actions if you’re trying to attract a member of the opposite sex. What I mean by this is that you might need to realize that you’re indeed playing a game and think a little bit about the strategy you’re employing.

For example--and I’ll use examples from the male perspective, because that’s the only one I have--you might approach a girl you find attractive who you’ve had your eye on for many weeks and say “I love you. I’ve loved you since the moment I first saw you.” Now, this might seem like a romantic thing to say, pouring your heart out to your newfound love,

but it’s pretty likely you’ll get a negative reaction from that course of action. In terms of the cat and mouse game, it’s not very strategic.

I don’t have to be a psychologist to tell you that, in general, we want what we can’t have and also what other people find desirable. The more available you seem to be, the more desperate, the less likely you are to be wanted. I’m sure you experienced this in the playground in school. Did you ever run around chasing other kids trying to get them to play with you? Life is just a big playground. If you want to make someone run away, chase them.

Sitting down, doing nothing, and waiting for your love to come to you isn’t a good strategy, either. You could be waiting a pretty long time.

Instead, the solution is to project confidence in your actions and to approach someone in an easy-going but self-assured manner. “I feel good about who I am, I don’t need you, but I think you’re interesting and I’d like to get to know you better.” (Although I wouldn’t use those words verbatim, either.) The trick is that you have to actually mean it. You have to have enough confidence in yourself to really believe that you don’t need another person to make you happy. You have to really believe that you add a benefit to other people’s lives by being in them. This doesn’t mean you think you’re God’s gift to…fill in the blank, but it does mean that you have enough respect for yourself to only show up where you’re wanted and to only want to be with people who want to be with you.

This doesn’t mean that success is guaranteed--it isn’t--but you’ll have a much better shot at finding your true love if you can be aware of the subtle psychology of run and chase that seems to govern most relationships. And this doesn’t just apply to love. It applies to all kinds of relationships. Be a desperate and needy kind of friend and you’ll likely find yourself friendless. Approach a job interview as someone starving on the street, looking for a handout, and you’ll find the same kind of revulsion.

So, all I have to do is be confident, right?

I know, I know, easier said than done, right? It’s not exactly easy to suddenly decide to be confident. It’s also pretty difficult to fake confidence. So what is a guy--or a gal--to do?

You might start off by going to the two previous chapters and work on programming your mind to be the positive kind of confident person you want to be. There’s no reason why you can’t become a truly confident person--it just may take some time and work.

You also may want to pay attention to the section on fitness, because getting fit is a great way to build your confidence without even trying.

I’ve seen many people transform mentally as a by-product of their physical changes by lifting weights and trimming down.

Also, consider what it means to be confident and what it looks like.

There’s an element of bravery involved. If you’re willing to approach someone you find attractive right away, without debating and delaying,

it shows a great deal of confidence. In some circles this idea has been dubbed the “three-second rule.” Basically, the idea is that from the moment you see someone you’d like to meet, you have three seconds to execute on that impulse; otherwise your hesitation will project a lack of confidence and things are more likely to go south. I’ll admit, this isn’t exactly an easy rule to follow, but what have you really got to lose by trying it out? Which brings us to the next and final thing I have to say on this topic.

It’s a numbers game :

People are strange. They like all kinds of things. It only takes a few searches on the internet turning up some really weird results to figure.

out that’s true. Why am I saying this? Because it means that no matter how strange you are, no matter what flaws you perceive yourself to have, even if you don’t have a perfect smile and chiseled abs, there is probably someone out there who’d like you--a lot. In fact, in this whole wide world, there are probably many potential matches for you,

as bizarre as you may be or not.

What this really means is that it’s all a numbers game. Too many people make the mistake of picking out a single person and putting them on a pedestal, obsessing over that one perfect girl or guy who would finally make them “happy.” It’s not only ridiculous to assume that there’s just that one person out there, but it’s not strategic either. Your odds are much better if you widen your search.

We’ll talk about this more in chapter 70, “Facing Failure Head-on,” but don’t be afraid to fail. Have lots of failures. Get rejected. Big deal.

What is the worst that could happen? You’ve got to be like that doorto-door salesman who is willing to have a hundred doors slammed in their face to make one sale, knowing that all you need to do each day is make that one sale.

Besides, all those rejections eventually lead you to that one person who does want to be with you--which is a lot better than being with someone who doesn’t. And isn’t that the whole point anyway?

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