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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93 Comments

  1. 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”.

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  2. The Comment

    I miss the days when we didn’t have to label everything and everyone.

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    • Stanley

      When was those days?
      I don’t remember.

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    • Jaslene

      Please tell me when there were times like these because in the history of everything there has always been a label.

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  3. Change

    can’t wait for girl blerds to come into style.

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  4. E.M.S.

    I have to agree with some of the other comments, both about labeling someone a nerd for having great passion & extensive knowledge of something and acting as if black guys like this are rare.

    This advice extends to any guy with these types of interests, but it is spot-on. My boyfriend is a huge gamer and has an incredible knack for all things tech (he built his own fancy pants gaming pc by hand) and I’d say this described him pretty accurately.

    I advise my fellow ladies not to close their mind off to participating in things he loves so immediately. You may find you love it too. I wasn’t much into gaming but now I’ll play Arkham Asylum, Diablo & Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom any day with my guy :) I can even beat him!

    One of the most important things in a relationship is supporting each other’s interests and making the effort to share what somebody loves with them. It brings you closer.

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  5. Pseudonym

    Seems that if you’re truly compatible with a black man who happens to be a “nerd,” you won’t need a guide or list of tips as to how to date him.

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    • Anthony

      That’s true, but never hurts to expand one’s horizons.

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