As I strolled into Galaxy Comics deep in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, I wondered if I had made the right choice in costume. My choice was no costume at all. I was attending a Ladies’ Night singles mixer for cosplay enthusiasts, and my Basic White Girl closet had very little to offer in terms of costume play, though a lot to offer for a singles mixer.

Curiosity drove me to Galaxy Comics that night, as an insatiable thirst boiled within me. I needed to know if individuals that spend most of their time in a daydream of another realm dated, and approached dating, with the same attitude as those in the “real world.”

It seems the obvious answer is, “Duh, they’re humans just like everyone else, why would they date differently?” But I’ve come to find that every niche dating scene has its own idiosyncrasies unique to its populace.

It seems, at least according to my experience, that with cosplay daters the trend is more primitive: Man see woman. Man want woman. Man claim woman. No other man get woman. Man impress woman. Man superhero. Woman love superhero. Superhero marry woman.

While this pattern seems pretty common and could be experienced in several dating cultures, it was the way that the cosplay boys approached me at the singles mixer that made the experience unique. They wanted to impress me, and the first boy to do so figured the best route would be Magic: The Gathering.

Of course.

His name was Liam, and he informed me he had brought his Magic decks. This was a new pick-up line for me, and again my curiosity drove my actions. Man see woman. Man want woman.

“I’ve never played! Do you think you could teach me?”

I will admit that sometimes my immense desire to learn new things comes off as too eager, or maybe even flirtatious. In this instant, I’m afraid the latter is true, as Liam decided at that point that I was his, and no one else shall have me. Man claim woman. No other man get woman.

His territorial declaration needed no words, as he made it obvious in his actions. Whenever someone else spoke to me, he grew irritated, and shut them down in the conversation. He sat near me, and assisted only me with my Magic game, despite other players obviously needing his knowledge.

Man impress woman.

… Kind of.

In this way, this Ladies’ Night was different than other dating pools. In all dating scenarios, humans return to their primitive nature, and it becomes a hunting ground. But on this hunting ground, the hunters were employing a technique of obvious, uncomfortable stalking of their prey. Typically when pursuing a mate, males will try stealth, or just straight up kidnapping. Both are more or less successful. But the males at this Ladies’ Night did not seem confident enough for stealth, and weren’t tall or strong enough for kidnapping, so they went with a middle ground of following-relentlessly-and-not-allowing-anyone-else-near-her method.

I don’t recommend this.

I was able to speak with Liam about why he chose SoulGeek’s Ladies’ Nights for all his dating needs. This was his fourth time there, but he’d only had measurable success once. He and a girl he met there went on four dates and are still friends. He has never seen that kind of luck on any of the swiping apps or dating alternatives, so he feels like a singles mixer filled with girls that share his common interests are a good bet.

This seemed to be the general consensus. I also spoke with a boy named Adam, who at 20 is still a wide-eyed young’un in the world of love. He expressed having trouble finding connections in “normal dating.”

“At least with girls here, I know I already have something in common,” he explained.

A young male named Brandon joined a bit late in the evening. He was by far more socially adept than a lot of the other guys there, and also a cutie pie. I invited him to join our game of Apples to Apples, but Liam was hesitant. He did not like Brandon. He did not like the ease with which Brandon and I spoke about our jobs — we work in the same industry — and how he was quick with a joke.

He really didn’t like when Brandon mentioned he drives a manual-gear car, and my big mouth said, “Oh! Can you teach me! Just like in the parking lot! For like two seconds, I promise.”

Unfortunately, this was perceived by some (Liam) as my way of saying, “I want you, Warrior Prince. Lay siege to my fortress!”

So when Brandon agreed to the driving lesson, Liam’s ears started steaming. As Brandon and I headed outside, Liam was close behind. I glanced back at him. “Did you guys want to come, too?”

“Sure, why not?” He said nonchalantly. Brandon, who was far too young for me and not at all a romantic interest, was fine with this. He knew that my proposition for manual gear school was not at all a come-on, so he didn’t feel his space was invaded. He seemed more of the “stealth” hunter: get a feel for the situation, get to know your prey, then decide on the perfect time to strike.

This is something I do recommend.

I spoke later with Brandon about his hunting approach in comparison to Liam’s. As someone who has ventured beyond the dating vacuum of Cosplay Ladies’ Night, he commented that guys who are into comics and geekdom tend to only be familiar with the women archetypes created in those fantasy worlds: damsels in distress, girls next door, or villainous sluts. The former two options both require a strong man to save them, which explains the assertiveness Liam displayed. He was demonstrating his strength, and rescue capabilities should I be under duress, to me. Man superhero.

However, since I’m not Mary Jane Watson, this tactic didn’t pan out so well. Woman not love superhero.

In fact, I was starting to feel exhausted by these cosplay hunters. It seemed in this geekdom dating niche, I was playing the role of a woman who could be claimed. I’m not that woman. I was ready to retire for the evening. Woman go home alone. Superhero reacquaints himself with the cold touch of his dominant hand.

As I drove home, I replayed the evening in my head. I really did have a good time, all things considered. Everyone was very friendly, and it felt more like an informal get-to-know-you at a college dorm (there was pizza!) than a Ladies’ Night. I preferred it to other dating events as, overall, it was casual and relaxed.

What I didn’t like was the territorial tendencies of the guys there. In the world of comic books and video games, men outnumber women, yes. At this particular event, the ratio was pretty even. But still, when a new girl like myself mozies on in, it's up to the strongest and most impressive hunter to win her over. It becomes a bloodbath of sorts — a machismo competition, if you will. This part, I wasn’t into.

But … I can’t say that's unique to cosplayers; that's just dating. In every dating modality I've been a part of, the woman is the prize, and the man has some tactical ideology he uses to win her over; a "system" he thinks will work. Cosplayers just take that natural inclination and apply to the Marvel and DC Comics-esque worlds they're familiar with, and really, who could fault them for that?

It seems niche groups do date differently, but regardless of those individual processes, the end result is always the same: I go home blissfully and gratefully alone, maybe eat a Hot Pocket, and go to bed.