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.