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.

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  • ChillyRoad

    Im not interested in nerds. They’re a tiny minority of odd balls of varying IQ points. Personally I like blue collar men. They make the world go round. They are the every day guys that people take for granted. I also love the tradition within the black community of auto didacticism. I love self taught men. Accredited or not, I love a man who takes a personal interest in anything i.e. sports, politics, history, religion, geography. \

    I have more use for a mechanic or a plumber than a nerd but then again a nerd can be a mechanic or a plumber.

    Still, give me a blue collar man any day of the week. An honest days work and a thirst for personal interest.

    • Anthony

      here are lots of blue collar nerds. Nerds are by definition autodidacts. Afterall, you are not going to get a degree in Star Trek or Civil War re-enacting.

    • Billy Paul


      I can’t wait until for these people to die from their self inflicted wounds.

      I love underachievers because that’s just one less person for me and my heirs to compete against.

      The term “self taught” these days may arguably be equated to “jail house scholastics.”

      Carry on, dumd @$$.

    • Jaslene

      Are you trying to convince us that you are smart? The reason why I don’t believe you are that smart is because a “nerd” at least the one you are trying to be would invest in Spell Check and not misspell words like “dumb” and “endorsement”. You could say they were typos but you misspelled endorsement twice in an earlier post and that doesn’t happen by coincidence.

    • Shirl

      This Right Here!!!!! While I don’t agree with your whole post I agree with a lot of it and I must say that it was beautifully written!!!

    • Shirl

      My comment was for ChillyRoad!!

  • Kay

    I’ve always loved so-called “Blerds,” and never needed instruction on how to deal with them. Usually a blerd is just a Black man who is extremely intelligent who has eclectic interests. If you’re a person that is on that level you will easily get along. I don’t see what the problem is. If you can’t accept someone wholeheartedly, then maybe one should rethink the relationship. Just sayin’…..

  • There’s a word for us now!? Beside it being ridiculous and there most likely being a lot better options I say just eschew the list if you fancy yourself not a geek. Like someone said before it is a lot less troublesome for nerds/geeks to just date one another. If you have no interest what so ever in any of their interests then even trying to get interested is not going to help and like anyone else the person can tell. Eventually it will get old to you and the nerd will begin to feel bad or awkward for getting excited about a new game release, the next Con, or in finding out about a new star wars character in the extended universe they never knew about before. Because it will be followed by an eye roll, fake smile/excitement, no expression.

    I don’t wanna be one of those people that tries to put us in some special category, but due to societal norms or whatever you want to call it, finding someone who can at best tolerate your wacky interest or hoping they can understand it never works out. Gotta find someone who is just as crazy about their “weird” hobby as they are about yours, or even better has the same ones! I had to learn this a little later and was talked down into giving dating another chance and had to really think back. Cause nothing is better than saying you’re both tired cause you had an original trilogy marathon and then played online for another long while.

  • When I saw the title of this article I kinda got annoyed… The thing is nowadays most guys claiming to be nerds really aren’t; they just have the look.

    • Billy Paul

      Forgive my ignorance, but I thought being a nerd was about IQ as opposed to trendy attire.

      I hate being the bearer of bad news, I really do.

    • Mademoiselle

      Being a “nerd” was never about anyone’s IQ since rarely does anyone ever know anyone else’s IQ. Let us know when your ego will be fully inflated, ok? We’re running out of space for all your hot air.

  • dirtychai

    The guy in the photo looks more like a new money NBA rookie than a “blerd”.
    I feel that the sci-fi fanatic, book smart, scientist is a piss-poor definition and played out stereotype of what a nerd is.
    Being a nerd just means that you gravitate toward something arbitrary. I love design, sci-fi, and politics. I get called a black nerd. My civil engineer, summa cum laude graduate stepbrother who rolls around with his frat brothers on big rims, flaunting their fat engineer salaries has never been called a nerd a day in his life. However when he’s talking about his work, he’s really passionate about it.
    I feel that “blerd” is isolating and implies that you have to be a certain way to be considered smart. The last thing we as a people need is another label to tell us who we are.

    BTW, the appropriate term is “Trekker”.