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Commentary: Do I Have to Dumb Down to Date?

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Is it shocking when I tell you I've had to repress my intelligence in past relationships out of fear of emasculation? Successful Black women are constantly bombarded with haunting statistics suggesting many of us are doomed to be spinsters left to live with our little black cat and die alone. We are also well aware that Black women graduate from college at disproportionately higher rates than Black men, not including those who obtain advanced degrees. So it's safe to say that most college educated women are open to dating men without degrees. If not, good luck with finding a husband. To be clear, the problem is not a matter of a man not possessing a piece of paper that gives him credentials in the world; but it is the lack of intellect/level of intellect of some men in my experiences. We just were not intellectually compatible. I'm going to make an educated guess in terms of numbers and assert that Black women are more cultured, well read and well-traveled -- which also may cause dissent. Whereas Black men oftentimes are not as well-rounded as sisters. (Steve Harvey alludes to this in his book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man"). None of my exes that I've seriously dated has had a college degree. Three of them attended college, but didn't finish. And one never had any aspirations of going to college, thus he has a trade and is licensed to practice said trade. No problem there. All of them were incredibly street smart; and a couple of them possessed a great deal of book smarts too. What became clear over time was the vast difference in topics we would want to converse about. I constantly wanted to discuss new books I had read, international news I was consuming, the Black struggle, the Diaspora, or politics. But I didn't want to "bore" him or make him feel inferior. So instead, I would indulge in mundane conversations that had much ado about nothing (ah, you like that Shakespeare reference?). I'm an avid reader as well. Dating someone who doesn't read, like ever, was baffling to say the least. One ex even proclaimed the only book he ever needed to read was the Bible, and anything else would bore him. Say what now? By no means am I the brightest crayon in the box. I'm not trying to paint this picture like these men were just nincompoops and I was a genius. Not the case at all. However, it was the life experiences we had which I believe caused our smarts to be on different tiers, per se. Most people are thinking, "Oh that's just your poor choices of men. I know plenty of smart Black men." As do I. But even with a smart man you could still be incredibly more intelligent or more experienced in certain ways. Furthermore, I don't think this problem can be remedied with the simple response to date college educated men. Education is not synonymous with intelligence or knowledge. Intellect is not the only aspect where women are at risk of having to "dumb it down." If you're well traveled and your man isn't, what happens when you're at a dinner party and everybody is talking about the countries they've visited overseas? Then suddenly someone turns to your beau and asks, "So tell us about the countries you've traveled to Marcus." Silence. Crickets. Now he has an attitude for the rest of the night. Do you feel bad for putting him in that situation? Is his ego now bruised forever, and he begins to subconsciously act out towards you because of his feelings of inferiority? Another scenario: you both attend your office Christmas party. Everyone there is assumed to have a degree because its corporate America. And we all know the only people who move up the corporate ladder without an inch of higher education are white folks. Now you're very confident in your man who owns a mechanical business that earns him 75K a year. But your nosy-ass colleagues want to know, "Marcus, I didn't catch what college you graduated from." Again, silence. Crickets. What's a gal to do? For me, I know I can no longer be in unfulfilling relationships. I have to be mentally stimulated. Intellectual conversations are better than sex on any given day. Well... on most days. I'm a person driven by the desire to always learn more about any and everything. If my man doesn't share that same passion, our relationship isn't going to give me what I need. Period. I still don't feel I have to date a man with a degree. But it seems like-minded people meet and frequent similar places. Therefore, the chances of me meeting someone who can analyze the works of Frantz Fanon who is not college educated or doesn't love to read, are slim to none. At what point does dumbing it down in your relationship become a hindrance to your growth as a person? Can a man handle being with a woman who is smarter than he is? Is intelligence in a mate really that important if they're good to you? And when does a woman's intelligence turn in to emasculation? What say ye? Bene Viera writes about relationships and culture on her blog, Writing While Black.
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