My cousin, bless his heart, has never dated a Black girl. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen him give a sister the standard-issue double take, the one where guys casually wait until a chick walks past and then snaps his neck to put her hindparts through close inspection. Holiday after holiday—and get-togethers and random visits in between—he’s been the proud drum major for a parade of white girls who’ve tagged along to meet his family. There was a Lindsey in there somewhere, a handful of Jens and the latest one is a Tiffany who, I’ve got to say, is my hands-down favorite. But I’ve chalked up the possibility of him ever bringing home a Tyiesha, or even a Janelle. That’s just his type, I guess.

I, on the other hand, gravitate to smart-alecky, big-boned, dark-skinned men. My resume is full of ‘em. Perhaps I’m subconsciously picking up on the love of chocolate that my dear cousin clearly lacks. There’s just something that inherently attracts me to that adorable I-was-a-football-player-back-in-my-heyday look. Even my old celebrity crushes tell the story: I was in love with Jadakiss once upon a time and I single-handedly headed up Team Cam’ron until he got slim (and more obnoxious). I didn’t intentionally align myself with the prototypical thick, dark dude with attitude. That’s just my type, I guess.

There’s no fighting the law of natural attraction. We like what we like. But sometimes we get so settled into being drawn to one type of person—the backpacker intellectual, the edgy thug, the quintessential pretty boy, the upwardly mobile business man—that we close ourselves off to other possibilities. And the way the dating pool is now, we need as many possibilities as we can get. Not out of desperation just to be attached to somebody, mind you. Being pressed out to have a man is so 1955. But most of us have life plans that do include marriage and family somewhere along the line, and limiting ourselves to one physical or one personality type, even without realizing it, is sentencing ourselves to round after round of the same ol’ same ol’.

An influx of statisticians, experts and random folks with an opinion have come out the woodwork to tell Black women that we need to date white men. But some of us haven’t even opened ourselves up to brothers like we should before we can throw up our hands and cross over the color lines. I know ladies who refuse to date dudes who didn’t go to college because, in their little high-powered corners of the world, a man without a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a fancy-titled white collar position couldn’t be their equal and therefore isn’t worth adding to their contact list.

Look, I’d holla at a bus driver or a construction worker so long as he knew how to make a living and had some ambition. You don’t need a degree to be intelligent and you don’t need to make six figures to be a good man. Anyway, most of the gals I know turning up their noses at blue collar dudes and dismissing them for being not their type don’t come from money in the first place. They’re Jack and Jill debutantes only in their heads.

Sometimes we just need to take one of those rare moments to pause and do some self-reflection. Why do you like who you like? Have you dated the same type of dude your whole life because that’s who you feel comfortable with and, give or take individual experiences, you pretty much know what to expect from them? There are all kinds of deep-rooted psychological reasons why we’re attracted to the same kind of men, and I’m certainly not the one to try to play armchair therapist and pick them apart. I just know they exist because I was caught up in the pattern myself—not just in my love of thickums, which is the most harmless part of my typecasting but because, after two relationships that boiled down to 11 years, one baby and no ring, I realized I was picking dudes who had maturity issues.

Fear of marriage. Fear of success. Hell, fear of growing up. And because they couldn’t cheerlead themselves, they certainly had difficulty supporting me in my ever-growing accomplishment-chasing. My attraction to snarky big boys had turned into a long-term love affair with dead weight.

A few summers ago, I met a guy who fit my physical type but lacked the swagger I was used to (yeah, I said I was going to give up that word but I haven’t found one to replace it yet). He was hella thoughtful and kind-hearted and all the things I said I wanted, but he didn’t present the challenge I thought I craved. I was used to trouble. He seemed like he’d be too easy, I had to check myself from rejecting the man because he wasn’t my type. We celebrated our two-year anniversary this week. Far as I’m concerned, even if we never stroll down the aisle, this is a success story because it forced me to try something new—not Sanaa Lathan’s or my cousin’s kind of way, though his is something old by now. But the spell of wanting only one kind of dude has been broken.

  • http://me j

    Theres def a difference between having a “type” & self hate- its a very thin line for some .

  • Mademoiselle

    @Ravi I disagree with a lot of this. From my understanding the “numbers game” is meant to always have a woman on your arm, but I’ve witnessed my guy friends either clown each other or downplay the longevity of women they date as if the non-super models they run into are just placeholders for the time being, but the premise is always that the one they settle for will be the 10. I’ve also known men (including some that I’ve dated) who would do a very shitty job of masking the fact that when they take their women out, a large part of it has to do with showing off her beauty and how well he did with his catch. I rarely hear men get reproached for holding true to their “lists” (even the superficial ones) but always see side-eyes given to women who even let it be known they have lists of their own.

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    That’s not the numbers game I was referring to. You can have only one woman and always have her on your arm. I’m talking about getting a lot of different women.

    You haven’t really disagreed with what I said, given my point is that men are given many different messages. The fact that you have different experiences only supports my view. You spoke of what you have seen with your friends and that is nothing like what I have experienced. That proves that there are different messages being delivered.

  • Mademoiselle

    @Ravi No, I do believe the message to men is not to settle. We’re talking about the same numbers game: keep a bunch of women around, but the one you settle for (the one you drop everyone else for) is the one that meets all sorts of criteria (including the shallow criteria of looks) in order to be the only one on your arm, while women have to be willing to settle for the guy that only measures up part of the way.

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    but I am a man. I assume you are not. I think I am a better authority of the messages that I receive as a man. That has never been a message that I have received nor is it a message I have heard of any other man receiving. I’m not saying that you haven’t seen it, but there is no possible way that your very limited experiences can define some general for men across the board, especially when a man is telling you that is not there experience. I’m not sure why it’s so hard for you to believe that there are many different, conflicting messages that men are being bombarded with. Being told to settle is not something that only women are being told and men are not uniformly told to not settle. I’m living proof that this is false.

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