The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch — or several.

You’ve got to learn how to deal with rejection. Because the truth is that you’re going to be rejected, at some point. If you want to do any kind of dating whatsoever, it’s going to happen. Even if you’re charming, and you look like Armie Hammer, and people can just look at your shoes and intuit that your net worth is in the millions. (For example, this probably won’t sway the anarchist babe who works down at your favorite record store.)

And this is doubly true on high-volume dating sites like Tinder. Online dating is wonderful because you have so much choice. On the other hand, many of your choices will turn you down. During your average Tinder session, you might swipe right on 150 attractive women, of which you might match with five or ten.

Many men can’t stomach that. As a result, they delete their online dating accounts in a rage. And, in the physical world, they don’t ask out women who intrigue them — people they could have really cool relationships with. They generally get miserable, because denying your own desires is exhausting.

I’m really sympathetic to this. It’s only natural to judge your self-worth based on your success with women. In theory, we should know our own value, regardless of what others think of us, but in practice this is basically impossible. We’re just a bunch of social apes with fancy outfits. It’s normal to feel like a hapless sack of feces if you offer your heart to someone and they say, “no, I’m busy, I’d rather stay in and watch The Bachelor.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can look at rejection differently, in a way that actually makes it empowering, or at least educational. Rejection will never be pleasant, but it doesn’t have to make you cry pathetically into a bag of chips.

The first thing to know about rejection is that people who reject you don’t actually know that much about you. Think about it: when you ask somebody out online, you’ve exchanged, like, fifty words with them. They have no idea how charming you are with your best friends — how funny and vulgar and interesting you are when you’re not worried about what people think of you. Moreover, they see still pictures of you, not a moving image, so there’s a bunch of information they don’t have about your body language and general behavior.

What they’ve seen is a tiny slice of who you are. Maybe, like, 3% of you. And that’s actually good news, for two reasons. The first is that you don’t need to feel like the judgements of strange women are accurate. They’re just guessing. And, secondly, you can realize that, while changing your whole life is really difficult, changing 3% of you is not that hard. Modifying a woman’s initial perception of you is spectacularly easy.

So, if you’re getting an overwhelming amount of rejection, consider it free advice about your marketing strategy, rather than a judgement of your true self. Maybe you need to update your wardrobe a little bit — stop wearing ratty crew necks and pick up a couple of outfits at J. Crew. If you’re using online dating, consider getting better pictures. Mirror selfies taken in a dingy basement won’t help. (Ask a trusted female friend to help you out with these last two points — they know more about the process than you do.) Hit the gym — even a few months of exercise can make a world of difference. Haircuts are a good idea. And, if you’re not particularly photogenic, consider using OKCupid or Match.com, or other services that depend less on the raw power of looks. Finally, you can read one of AskMen’s many helpful articles about how you can improve your online dating game.

It’s true that this is all kind of superficial, dumb stuff. Ideally, you should be judged on your best and most meaningful qualities. But we don’t live in an ideal world — we live in a world where women receive hundreds of suitors, and a lot of them are jerks, and you’ve got to at least make an effort to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

And, by presenting yourself badly, you’re actually doing your best qualities a disservice. It’s kind of like you’re an entrepreneur, and you have the best product ever — an invisible jetpack that gives you rock-solid abs — but you’re totally botching your presentation when you’re talking to investors. Your slides suck, the prototype looks terrible, and you don’t speak with confidence. Nobody will buy your thing, even if it’s amazing. How would they know? So too with online dating.

However. Once you’ve done all this — updated your wardrobe, learned to be charming on Tinder, etcetera — it’s the truth that you will still be rejected. Maybe less often, but it’ll still happen. What do you do then?

Well, there’s another thing you need to realize. Which is that it’s possible that the women rejecting you are right. Not in the sense that you suck, but in the sense that they’re correctly perceiving the fact that you won’t get along. If a woman gets a sense of your personality, and concludes that she’s better off if she continues to date her vibrator, then you’re not compatible. By not going out with you, she’s done you a favor. She’s spared you an awkward date, or even a tedious, terrible relationship. You’ve dodged a bullet — be thankful. Dust yourself off, swipe right some more, and find somebody you can actually get along with. And if that person rejects you, do it again. Rinse, repeat, get laid, obtain relationship. You can do this.