blerd2012 saw the rise of the black nerd in mainstream media. Don’t believe us? Check with CNN. Or The Washington Post. Or NPR.

Though the concept of segregating nerddom along racial lines is a bit suspect and certainly has its detractors, the newfound attention black nerds are attracting doesn’t seem to be abating.

If you’ve ever dated a brother whose a Trekkie, a Civil War buff, a Nate Silveresque statistician, a robotics crafter, a fantasy enthusiast, or a comic book/gaming hobbyist, you already know that black nerds — also known by their corny portmanteau, ‘blerds’ — very rarely resemble Steve Urkel in fashion sense or in carriage. And the most interesting ones don’t often refer to themselves as “nerds” unironically. You may also know that what mainstream media identifies as nerddom may also be geekdom. (Apparently the two are distinguishable, but for the purposes of this piece, we’re going to use ‘blerd’ to refer to both).

In any event, there’s a bit of an art form to making a relationship thrive with a nerdy guy.

If you’re new to the game, here are a few tips to ease your tension:

1. Embrace, don’t efface.

Listen, if a dude’s a Trekkie or Star Wars buff when you meet him, and he has an annual date with a Con that involves cosplay, accept that. In fact, affirm that. If he’s not embarrassed that he dresses up like a Stormtrooper or Vulcan once or twice a year, you probably shouldn’t be either.

2. Allow for idiosyncratic conversation.

If you’re out to dinner and the conversation veers off into obscure territory, go with it. We’re not saying you should have to learn Klingon or bone up on quantum-controlled mobile robots to talk to your date. He should be able to balance discussion of his interests with discussion of yours. But understand that dating a blerd sometimes means listening to the various plot progressions of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age Batmans. If you like him enough, this might be a turn-on.

3. Don’t feign great interest.

It’s best to be upfront about just how little you know (or care) about your date’s nerdy niches. He’ll respect you for that. And you don’t have to pretend to be into touring civil war battlegrounds in your free time (which is a win).

4. Develop *some* interest.

You’d be surprised at how much insight you can gain about a significant other by making just a small amount of effort to infiltrate a very specific culture/field in which he’s deeply interested. Even if you never become a lover of small-scale model-building, trying to build a replica just once could help you appreciate how much patience and serenity that exercise can cultivate.

5. There’s no formula.

Take all these tips with a grain of salt. This advice applies to most personality types, not just nerds, geeks, and gamers. In any new relationship, don’t go in looking to change your partner or yourself. Honor who you both are, as you both are. Figure out how much idiosyncrasy you can tolerate, and above all, enjoy the process of learning how someone else thinks. That’s almost always worth the ride.

  • Serene Sin (@Serenesin)

    Blerds will love, Burning Man 2013.

  • flower

    Yall Defitnitely left out MSNBC Melissa Harris Perry always has a freaken shirt in her office that says black nerds unite!

  • YeahRight2011

    Never been into Blerds.

  • Humanista

    Nerds are cool, but not with out the same issues other types have, I can say from experience. And you don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy one.

    Also, this definition of “blerd”/nerd seems kind of caricaturish to me. How is talking ad nauseam about wormholes any different from going on and on about basketball stats or fashion or whatever if you’re not interested in those things either? Is spending all day on Madden better than spending all day playing WoW? I would say that obsession or excessive time-spending on a single thing is negative,nerd or not.

    In any case, all nerds aren’t obsessive about their interests. And clearly, all people who aren’t obsessive about a thing are considered nerds. I know plenty of quirky engineer super-brain types who have a variety of interests.

  • Zenzi

    ..and if I, as a Black WOMAN, fit this description, then this whole article is a big yawn.

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