Dumb It Down

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 to die alone. We are also well aware 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 credentials him to 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 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. (Not that Steve Harvey is any authority on any level, but he alludes to this in his book Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man).

None of my ex’s-that I’ve dated seriously- 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 (ahh 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 dumb 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 it’s corporate America. And we all know the only people who move up the corporate ladder without an inch of higher education is 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 stimulated mentally. 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 him? 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?

  • Jenifer Moore


    I feel where you are coming from. I had this issue with a former boyfriend turned platonic friend. I initially felt a twinge of guilt when I would try to discuss topics that he did not get. Guilty b/c I was privileged to get some what of a well rounded education (at that point) while he got less. It was like I was emasculating him and coming off as a “smart ass” because “I thought I knew so much” even though that was never my intentions. But on the flip side like you noted with your male counterparts, he was stronger in street smarts and had one up on me in that area. I think in the end, it’s all how you approach it. Not all guys are going to want to open up to new things but some are. You shouldn’t feel like you have to dumb yourself down.

    But this is the disadvantage that we as black women are having. In reality many of our black men are not learning the same stuff that we are and many have nobody around to give them those intellectually stimulating books, articles, etc. It’s all their fault. Luckily, my now guy friend, saw my passion for reading and learning new stuff and wanted to match me in those areas. That is what we need to happen. Even if we encourage them with an article or two in the beginning, it is my hope that they will in turn want to learn more. But to answer your questions at the end:

    I think it becomes a hindrance when he/she begins to berate and put you down for your educational accomplishments because they feel inadequate.

    I don’t think it is necessarily a woman being smarter but she was exposed to more things than him. She had the opportunity to explore Egypt on a trip thus she knows more about it than him. She was exposed to reading a variety of books while he only knows politics.

    Ultimately a woman’s intelligence turn into emasculation when she starts to use it against him to make him feel inferior on purpose. That is when it become dangerous. In general you never want to make someone feel inferior with what you know but on a man? Especially a black man? Nah. All bad. lol

    Sidebar; Your scenarios are so on point. There were a few movies in which they happened. I can’t place them right now.

    • WrittenbyBene

      @Jennifer, you hit on so many good points. It’s interesting how we as women feel the need to now come off as a “smart ass” or think we “know so much.” We think about this and even risk silencing our own thoughts out of not wanting to ruffle his feelings that he may or may not have. Not all men care if a woman is smarter than them I presume. But on the flip side, do you really think any man is going to give two shits about making us feel inferior? If a man knows something he knows we aren’t knowledgeable about, he has no qualms about our feelings or insecurities. At least this is my belief. So why then do we feel obligated to not come off as a smarty pants?

      As far as black men not being exposed to some of the things we are, you’re so right. And I think it needs to start at a young age. For example, some grown men don’t realize when you go out to eat you place the linen napkin on your lap. It’s like come on get it together. Black mothers should do little things at young ages to teach them this type of decorum. Hell, my mama was a single mom. She purposely took me to different things and exposed me to so much to make sure I was well-rounded. This was actually her motto. “All I know is my child is going to be well-rounded.” She wasn’t raising a daughter who would grow up to be impressed by some damn $50 meal. Uh, no. I been going out to eat since I was 4. lol. Whereas I don’t think our boys are being taught the very basics.

      Another thing that becomes an issue is our society’s ideal of manhood. So many black boys don’t think it’s cool to be smart. Going to a play or museum is seen as soft. Why is that? White, Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian men have no problem going to these types of venues. You say black men don’t have anybody to “give them intellectually stimulating books.” I agree to an extent. But I don’t think all girls are exposed to these things at a young age either. Again I go back to gender roles. Girls are told, “Nobody wants a cute dumb girl.” So for us to read is not abnormal. But a boy is told to not cry, be tough, fix things around the house and win fights if he gets into them. Nowhere in there is it encouraged to be a scholar or smart. Even when men are told to be the provider, nowhere in there do we tell them how to be a provider by educating themselves.

      And co-sign to everything you said about berating a man and experiences being the difference more so than smarts. I don’t think it’s ever ok to make people feel like you’re better than them. I actually hate people who get caught up in titles. Plus I know plenty PhD holding idiots. Ya feel me? So the emasculating comes in to play depending on how the woman carries it? But some men will use emasculation the minute they are insecure or threatened. And that’s what I have a problem with.

      BTW: I think that is so good that your friend was so receptive when you start introducing articles and books to him. Mad respect. I hope most men are as receptive and open-minded.

  • Great post! I related so well as I dumbed it down for 1.5 yrs for my ex to no avail-just devestation. Def. Aiming & waiting for
    Mr. Right&EquallyYoked. 😉

    • WrittenbyBene

      Thank you. 🙂 Stealing this: “Definitely aiming and waiting for Mr. Right and Equally Yoked.” Me too. Amen to that. We have to stop settling as ladies. Men don’t settle, why do we?

  • Ye says…

    Dumbing it down becomes a hindrance when you have to compromise who you are and a large chunk of your personality and desires to accommodate them. Compromise is crucial in relationships, but too much (and one-sided) isn’t healthy.

    I’ve had similar conversations myself, but with different criteria. I prefer, perhaps need, a woman who has a certain amount of “cultural exposure” to things outside of the foolishness on VH1 and MTV. I need her to appreciate some of the finer things in life—especially culinarily. Some have said it’s not that important, but I think it’s a personal thing.

    In my experiences, women find it very important to connect mentally and emotionally. If that’s true, connecting intellectually just makes sense. Do you and don’t settle. You’ll hate yourself if you do. (And keep up the good work. You know I love the blog!)

    • WrittenbyBene

      Thank you. 🙂

      You hit on something very important: “But too much(compromise) isn’t healthy.” This is so very true and should be what we as individuals are most concerned with. Our mental health. Once you start altering your true self for someone that most likely is only temporary can only lead to unhappiness. Thus, why I don’t understand people who aren’t themselves when they meet people. I always want to ask, so how long are you going to be that person? It takes too much energy. I’m not saying to not reserve some characteristics about yourself, but to be somebody completely different you risk that person falling in love with someone you pretended to be. Hell, that was tiring just typing. And now you have to keep up that image.

      “A certain amount of culture exposure to things outside of the foolishness on VH1 and MTV.” Oh Stu, just come out and say it. She can’t be no ignorant girl who thinks all black people eat fried chicken, get loud, pop their necks with three kids and three baby daddies. Geez. You can be honest here Stu, lol. Seriously though I feel where you’re coming from. An a-typical non-culturally exposed girl won’t make it past week one with you.

  • tintedwindowseat

    I think this is my favorite post yet Bene!

  • Lanier Holt

    Interesting topic Ms. Viera. I’m glad someone has blogged about a topic I remember reading in books back in the 1990s. Re. What say ye, I say you’re right on point. An intellectually stagnant relationship can only retard a person’s growth. After the physical leaves, the psychological, intellectual, and emotional need remains. The fact that there’s only one trait (physical) to describe animal attraction, but at least three others to satiate needs beyond just the visual, speaks to the far beyond just sex a lasting relationship goes. Educated men too need an intellectual equal, but fortunately for us, we have a greater selection from which to choose. Hence, I completely agree with you. Here’s a question I wonder though, given the scarcity of educated black men, would it be advantageous for women to make an aggressive move on a man when they find one rather than wait and hope they come across one? I wonder if that would help.

  • Relationships are a two way street.
    You seem VERY clear about what you want in a man, and you have every right to hold out for that, and nothing less. You should not be asked to Dumb it Down for real. In fact you should feel encouraged to share what you consider good culture with friends, and particularly romantic partners.

    You should however, expect a few instances along the way where you’ll have to “Hold it Down” (for lack of a better phrase) for your partner. I’ll say that a couple of the scenarios you painted miss the mark for me somewhat, and sound a little bit trivial.

    For example, if the office party space is not one that your man would frequent, perhaps that’s something you need to prep him for before hand. “Now honey, you know this is gonna be a college grad crowd – you gonna be all good with that?” or whatever tone is appropriate for the relationship you’ve established to that point. In fact, you should be bigging him up and selling his services. I’ll bet you 1/2 the people in that room drinking cocktails have had car trouble in the pats 6 months. (i assume car mechanic, but whatever it may be). He should also be sharp enough to put his own business out there in a way that makes him shine, and have enough snark to verbally slap down anyone that might judge him for not having the degree.

    Again, the dinner party with friends is the type of thing where you guys should be able to handle together – even on the spot. My thought is, if a) you guys are serious, and b) you guys have a combined income > $125k, you should be at least Planning a trip together in the next 12 months. “I actually haven’t taken the chance to travel that much, but Bene and I are going to Spain in November. I’m really looking forward to it”. or “You know, It hasn’t always been important to me to travel, but i’m listening to the convo, and I’m getting some good tips on where i might visit.”

    Now if you like him, but you don’t think he’s savvy enough to navigate these spaces in that way, you’ll need to hold him down, and be by his side to combat those difficult situations together. if that’s the case though, he may not be as street/book smart as you made him out to be.

    So all that to say, if the daily conversations on the couch/in the car/on the pillow are not of interest to you, or you don’t have a shared background, or belief system, or family priorities, any of the above is a good enough reason to split ways. And you wrote yourself that the lack of College degrees don’t really substantiate those decisions. But if the determining factor is going to be what friends and colleagues think, you have a bit more soul searching to do, i think.

    With that said, after a FB recommendation from an old friend, I might start checkin out the blog to see how things go for you… 🙂

    All the best,

    • Assata

      Well said brother Nigel….you took the words right out of my mouth. That is all!

    • WrittenbyBene

      Thanks for reading.

      I don’t understand why when people read posts like this they take every word a writer says literally and then attack, for a lack of better term, the writer. You write “You should however, expect a few instances along the way where you’ll have to “Hold it Down” (for lack of a better phrase) for your partner. I’ll say that a couple of the scenarios you painted miss the mark for me somewhat, and sound a little bit trivial. ” Where did I indicate that I had a) been in either of these situations(which I haven’t) b) who said I wouldn’t hold him down? These scenarios were introduced because I do know women who have been in these situations. And I only pose the question because I like to find out what others would do. I know exactly what I would do, if it was even an issue for me. Why did you attempt to neglect that there are men who have been in this predicament and how that makes him feel as a man?

      You offering your suggestions is exactly what I’d hope people would do. However, it’s presumptuous of you to think I wouldn’t know what to do or this was specifically an issue for me.

      In terms of you telling me I have “a bit more soul searching to do” it’s really an a-typical response from a man. Again you’re assuming. Never once did I imply directly or indirectly that either of the scenarios would be deal breakers. Nor did I say what colleagues thought of my man would even matter. The scenarios were examples of two situations where THE MAN may feel uncomfortable causing him to feel less like than his woman. Yet your whole response was based on what the woman should do. And you completely disregard any of the other questions about emasculation, or the issue that there are many black men who are not intellectually compatible with educated black women. You don’t want to comment on that though.

      Attack and blame the black woman. Hasn’t that always been the black man and the world’s modus operandi? Your comment was dripping in sarcasm, privilege and a pinch of irritation that I would dare tell the truth about the reality so many black women face.

      Thanks again for the comment.

  • Thanks for this post. My heart is always warmed when I come across open-minded, intellectually developed sisters. As a man who has often had to ‘dumb it down’ in order to navigate certain social circles (i.e. with some of the fellas you alluded to) I can relate to the desire to meet a mate who is both romantically & intellectually compatible. I have often found myself suppressing my vernacular simply for conversation’s sake or feeling great frustration when attempting to provide (extensive and/or basic) background information in order to discuss a concept. I can honestly say my ‘man chromosome’ has allowed me to let beauty compensate for certain flaws, but as i mature, it becomes more apparent that a cute face or nice body is no match for a heart to heart (& brain to brain) connection. Hotep.

  • John

    Wow. your response to Nigel clearly shows that you’d have as many problems with a brother who has advanced intellect as a brother who is not intellectually inclined. I find this typical with sisters who hold these views. You desiring Nigel to comment on male emascualtion is bizarre. What is there to say about that subject? Men are human. All humans have the flaw of “sometimes” feeling insecure in given situations, even on the basketball court. Is a brother supposed to be emascualted because he got dunked on? Is a brother supposed to feel emascualted by all the women in his finance class who performed better on a given test? C’mon son/sista! This idea of black emasculation that black women throw around needs more analysis and evaluation. And if a brother does feel emasculated becuase he is bested my a female, just how long does this temporal emotion last? Well, it doesn’t last long enough to ruin a relationsgip unless the woman keeps saying…”honey, don’t feel bad because you lost or don’t understand Fanon…smirking all along and then bringing it up at dinner & bedtime…Honey are you still upset?” I think it’s mostly BS. In your view Nigel should say “yes, black men without credentials absolutely feel inferior; thus, they cannot handle a conversation more or less a relationship with a credentialed sister who likes Fanon”. This is utter foolishness. You make many generalizations and most are cognitive dissonance, meaning 2+2=5. The idea that you cannot “slim to non” find a black man without a college education who can analyze Fanon is just plain wrong. I happen to hold a graduate degree from Harvard. But it was my reading of Fanon and similar literature prior to even my undergradute degree that made me excel in both institutions. Stop selling black men short for your own insecurites and limitations.
    God, I feel sorry for the next brother who happens to fall for you. A spiders web he’ll stick…that brother can’t win if he’s dumb as a rock or as brilliant as Descarte. #insatiable. Not that you asked, but my advice is that you seek a nice credentialed white fellow, but he won’t even know Frantz from Frank. But somehow I bet Fanon won’t matter then, you’ll be too busy discussing Fritjof Capra’s “The Turning Point” and how Teabaggers are ruining the country. Boring zzzzzzzz LOL Just my opinon.

    • WrittenbyBene


      I would have taken more heed to your comment if it wasn’t coming from an egomaniac who insists on using childish antics to insult me. Therefore, my comment will be brief in response to you. You couldn’t wait to mention you attended Harvard. That little piece of information that I could give two flips about is irrelevant to the discussion. What are you trying to prove dear? lol.

      I can’t address anything else in this comment because of your superior attitude as if you’re schooling me on something. Why you assumed I needed this: “You make many generalizations and most are cognitive dissonance, meaning 2+2=5,” to be explained to me is baffling. I couldn’t possibly understand what cognitive dissonance means because I’m your inferior on an intellectual level, right?

      What is becoming clear by the string of comments by you so-called academic brothers, is your inability to take constructive criticism. If this doesn’t apply to you, why are you so angry? This foolishness disguised as a profound comment is nothing more than an insult that mounds to a heap of nothingness.

      I’m glad you read it and it made you feel some kind of way. As a writer that’s really all I care about at the end of the day. 🙂

      I wish I could send you a cookie for the validation you seek for graduating from Harvard. Congrats. Maybe I’d be more impressed if you only mentioned Harvard to discuss how there are not enough brothers attending Harvard, and what you’re doing to help remedy that problem. Again, no solutions. Empty rhetoric and insults on a writer you’ve never met. So characteristic of an “intellectual” black man.

  • This post really resonated for me mostly because it was what I spent my 30s exploring for myself. I had some criteria that I wanted to find in a mate: black, warm, loving, employed, funny, open, honest, smart, yadda yadda. And I think I dated just about every brotha in the MidAtlantic area. There were some nice guys that it didn’t work out with all the way to true and true sociopaths (there’s a book in these tales somewhere). But after getting involved with a brotha, a professor at Princeton, who initially turned me on by using the word “scatological” in one of the first e-mails he sent me, I realized that intellect is the ultimate turn on for me. The guys I connected with best were all the scary smart intellectuals like I am. Again, as you said, this doesn’t mean sheepskin or the right school. It is a certain curiosity and desire to learn and think. Not everyone has this, but it is as valid a criterion as physical compatibility or sense of humor. The ability to connect on an intellectual level can make or break more than relationships. Even friendships and family relationships can have varying levels of connection based on how well you can cognitively relate to each other.

    So after the relationship with The Scatological Professor ended, I made my decision at 37 that I was more turned on by scary smart intellect than anything else and as such I could no longer do this equal opportunity dating because I was denying a valid and important part of myself: intellectualism. I needed a partner who stayed with my “scary smart” self rather than asking me for the 45th time, “Do you have to think so much?!” Clearly that was not the right match. (And yes, that was a frequently asked question of me.)

    I then made a big leap. I had always had “he must be black” high on the list of qualities I wanted for a partner. Yet when you are looking for scary-smart intellectual wattage in the population, period, the pool is very low. It is even lower when you restrict yourself to one race/ethnicity.

    So I reasoned that that being absolutist about only dating brothas was essentially anti-intellectual (since any absolutist position is not based in intellectualism, unless we are dealing with concrete scientific disciplines like mathematics and such), I chose to open my dating pool to scary smart men of any hue/faith. I found him and we mesh like it is supposed to be. (And brothas, let’s not take out the old “see she’s a sellout and is advocating dating white men” trope. If you read the previous sentences and have decent reading comprehension, you will understand exactly what I have said.)

    During the time between Scatological Professor and my Adoring Husband I used online dating services to meet people. I put that I was looking for a scary smart intellectual in my profile very clearly instead of hiding it like it was something to be ashamed of. Since you’ve read Joan Morgan’s Chickenhead book you know that we get socialized to feel bad about wanting what we want in a partner. Compromise in everything, we are told. That is incorrect. We compromise on the minor, but the big ticket items must stay whole. Yet the funny thing was how many people having read my profile and what I was looking for still reached out when as some put it, “I’m no intellectual.” When I asked why they then replied to someone specifically looking for an intellectual, the answer would be some variant of, “Well you can’t have everything you want.” Yes that is true. However had I been an incarcerated, overweight achondroplastic dwarf (no offense meant to the incarcerated, the overweight [I’m in the club], or little people) when they want a tall, thin, model-type, I don’t think they would be so understanding.

    My advice. Put what you want out there. If someone is nice but doesn’t cause you braingasms, then say, “Thanks so much for [the call/dinner/whatever] but I don’t feel we have enough in common to move further. But I wish you the best.” Most take this fine, though a few got all huffy. How dare she not take the prize that is me. And I would either nicely or not so nicely let him know that the prize that is he is not a good fit for the prize that is me. That does not take away from our both being prizes. It just means that our prizewinners are still out there. Comprend?

    Anyway, I’ve hijacked this into a full blog post in and of itself, but I hope it is of some comfort. I’ve been there and have come out the other side to the light.

    Good luck!

  • Hannibal

    interesting article interesting posts. i like the article/blog for what it does, shines a spotlight on the dilema of mismatched dating. Bene, I feel you, and as I’ve said via our convo, finding one’s self in this type of situation is an act of self mutilation in which you chop off, hack off (sounds better) a part of you to stay with your significant other. i don’t feel anyone should go through this.
    i guess i read the post diffrently, i’ve been in the same situation and my own isues started surfacing as i read. i started asking myself why am i attracted to these types of sisters? who knows!
    nonetheless it was great to hear another person anguish in a similar scenario.
    i also enjoyed, the replies, and i thought them interesting. i must say Bene you are like a lwn mower on your commentors arses. you mow them clean down….lol
    i did find the hold him down commentary of intrest, but again having been in the dumb it down dilema, that stuff gets played out soon. bottom line compatibility is what makes the thing click, biblical wisdom says be equally yoked. who in heaven or hell wants to be playin’ superheor all the time and saving someone all the time.
    another point of intrest is the emasculation of black men commentary, well stated, in addition we’re simply not a monolithic mass either. we differ like hair styles at a hair show! i would love to hear your thoughts on that topic in a seperate post in which that idea is flushed out and how the line of thinking, of which you’ve read Bene to be taking, can poison a relationship. Then i’d love to here Bene’s take on that post…what am i an editor? lol
    all in all it’s just good to hear Black folks think, write, and dialog intelligibly….this blog makes up for BET

  • Jamie

    Well, I didn’t get accepted into Harvard (the business school that is). So, screw HBS 🙂 And, by the way, I am a genius. My test scores prove it. Just thought I’d pump myself. LOL

    Let me move on. Women, so what if you have to dumb down? I do it all the time. And, I don’t mind. Hell, I just want to marry Vanessa Simmons or a Sports Illustrated/Victoria’s Secret Model. I don’t care if she knows about Fanon or Ahmadinejad. I don’t care if she knows anything about Goldman Sachs or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She doesn’t have to have a clue who the FED is or who Ben Bernanke happens to be. Or if she understand the trade deficit with China and why China keeps the yuan valued so low. As long as she has a kind heart and is willing to do something besides shop, I am OK. Of course I would love to have a 5’8 beautiful surgeon who looks like Selita Ebanks. But, I am not holding my breath.

    Furthermore, I don’t like to travel unless it is on a business trip. I am similar to Bill Gates in that I don’t believe in taking vacations (He said that he hasn’t taken a vacation in 35 years.) Honestly, I have goals I want to reach, and I don’t have time to spend in Fiji or to go see the Colosseum. It’s just the truth. If it isn’t a business trip, I care not to go.

    Also, if you think a man is going to be uncomfortable at the office party or any other function, don’t take him. I am sure he doesn’t want to go anyway. I am a so-called “educated” person, and I DON’T like myself. And, I don’t like the people I have to associate with all to often either. Therefore, I definitely wouldn’t subject a spouse/friend to that torture. I know I have spared a girlfriend of mine the shame of having to attend many of these events. She had no degree and wasn’t working at a fancy job. I just explained to her the people that I was FORCED to associate with and that she may not want to be around these people is she could avoid it. And, she did just that.

    Now, in the end, we did break up. Mainly, b/c I really want to date a supermodel. Also, I really want to be president. And, my goals are far more important to me than any romantic relationship I can ever have. So, I figured I needed to be with someone else and so did she.

    (I know. I am an asshole.) I just want to rule the world, and everyone keeps getting in my way 🙂

    • WrittenbyBene

      @ Jamie: for some reason I like you. This comment screams of sarcasm, but it’s hilarious. And you’re honest. I can respect that.
      At least you know that you don’t mind dating the Legally Blonde types. Different strokes for different folks. I can’t date a dumb man.
      He doesn’t have to know James Baldwin or the President of Russia. That wasn’t really my point, although everyone seems to think it
      was. The point was that a man should have the desire and willingness to learn. There are going to be several things my man is knowledgeable
      about that I will be completely ignorant to. Some of them I’ll want to learn and others I won’t. But at least I’ll be open to it. A man who doesn’t
      read though is a deal breaker. So I have to disagree with your statement: “So what if a woman has to dumb it down.” Nobody should have to repress
      their talents, knowledge, sexual desires or anything about themselves for a man or woman. Period.

  • Hello! First, I want to say you say a very informative blog going on. Second, I find it unfortunate that people find the need to hinder their intellectual ability in order to feel level with a friend or their significant other. As a male, there have been times where I brought up a specific topic to a female, or even another male, and they had nothing to add to the topic. An example topic: Stock Market. This topic seems to draw a lot of people at a blank stare. I major in Information System Security so I know a good depth of material. It’s pretty hard to find friends or other females who are into Information Technology like I am.

    I recommend you stay on the path you are on, and not dumb yourself down to please another person. Just as Lupe Fiasco once said: “They told me I should come down cousin, but I flatly refuse I ain’t dumb down nothing”

    • WrittenbyBene

      Thank you for reading! I agree with you. And it’s nice to hear a man who relates to this and believes women should not have to dumb it down or lower their expectations so that a man feels comfortable in his own skin.

  • sarah

    It seems to me that folks are making quite the logical leap FROM A.) a guy not being as well educated/cultured/traveled/rounded as you TO C.) you having to dumb yourself down in order to be in a relationship with that guy.

    In between A.) and C.) there’s an infinite number of intermediate “B”‘s. E.g., B.) the guy is genuinely uninterested in all the things that make you, you! Conversely, if someone is genuinely interested in or loves you (and all the things that make you you) he will likely want to learn a thing or two about Fanon, just to stay in conversation with you. If he’s got some basic smarts (which you acknowledge most of these fellas have) he can maintain that conversation and learn something too.

    What I’m saying is that if the fella actually cares for you, he’ll make an effort even if he doesn’t have the “background” you’re looking for (or can’t give a college lecture on critical thinking). But you’ll likely have to get interested in some of the things that make him who he is, as well, even though initially you’ll know very little about them. Life and love really are about these sort of “compromises”.

    Finally, the world is full of insecure, dumb, unimaginative folks. You should just avoid those types and all will be well. That would be my advice. But then again, I prefer good sex to good conversation, so what do I know?

    • WrittenbyBene

      Point well taken and I agree with you wholeheartedly. What I should have spelled out more clearly was the desire to take an interest in the things I am interested in. Better yet, the desire to be open minded enough to want to experience and learn new things. If I dated a man who paints homes for a living, I could care less about that. However, if he’s trying to show me techniques or teach me the lingo I’m going to be more than eager to learn because it’s something he loves doing. Not saying that a man should take an interest in everything his woman has an interest in, that’s just not realistic. But there should be some type of balance.

      And there is absolutely nothing wrong with you preferring good sex over good conversation! I’m sure plenty of people do. I just wonder though in a relationship after the sex, after the looks don’t excite you anymore and after that “honeymoon” phase is over, what is left? I’d have to opt for someone I can talk to about anything. I suppose this is because 3 of those 4 guys I mentioned were my friends, even best friends before we ever dated. So conversation was limitless.

      Thanks for reading & commenting. 🙂

      • sarah

        Oh, you’re very welcome and thank you for the conversation on this topic.

        You’re quite right that it’s about balance. But you know, maintaining that balance is a continual work in progress! Since the beginning of time, men have been known to falter when it comes to taking an interest in their wives/girlfriends interests: whether that be Fanon or knitting.

        I take your point re: post-“honeymoon” intellectual needs. My good sex over conversation quip was a bit tongue-in-cheek and hopefully not too distracting from the larger point I’d made in my post.

        I’m interested in your statement that “3 of those 4 guys I mentioned were my friends… before we dated.” Are you saying that before you dated you didn’t have to “dumb down” and then while you were dating they expected you to think/act differently?

        • WrittenbyBene

          I think what happened in my post was a lack of revision to make a linear point. I don’t think the examples I gave, ie the Xmas party and travel were necessarily the best ones for the overall premise of the post.

          In mentioning the four guys I have dated seriously, I wasn’t necessarily saying that these four men were or were not the ones I’ve had to dumb it down for. Again, it was ambiguous in the post. I have dated numerous men, but only loved these four. Some of them I was myself and discussed whatever topics I chose to. Sometimes they would engage in my interests and other times they would not. And one of the men of that four I “dumbed it down” the entire relationship. At those points in my life it probably wasn’t really a big deal to me that he didn’t read or that he didn’t want to discuss the ramifications of Hurricane Katrina, or whatever was going on. Being with them and having a friend I could converse with was what was important to me at that time. As I get older I want more. Like, you can’t just not read. I’m sorry. That won’t ever work.

          It’s really hard for me to go into without telling all my business or calling people out individually. And I refuse to do that. Basically what I am saying is each situation was different with these four guys. But I don’t think they should have been an opening to the point I was trying to make because readers interpreted it as if they were the only men I’ve ever dated and dumbed it down for. That’s not the case.

          I don’t know if that makes any sense whatsoever. I feel like I’m talking in circles.

  • sarah

    Ok. I can understand not wanting to get too personal. Thank you again for the conversation. I’ll continue to follow your blog, as I’m sort of an aspiring writer, myself. It’s what I always wanted to do “when I grew up” but somehow life kinda sidetracked me. I wish you the best of luck with your writing and everything else.

  • I call a certain amount of jive on this whole article. To me, it reads the same as it would to you if I wrote an article lamenting the fact that I continuously dated women who weren’t my intellectual equal and felt uncomfortable in my social groups because of their perceived intellectual deficiency. And by the way, my last three ex’s were video models. While I appreciate the fact that you threw out some educational statistics to back up the idea that quite a few black women are going to be left without a college educated/world traveled black man when the music stops, let’s be honest, that’s not a reality you personally are relegated to. Your profile picture suggests you’re a good looking woman. Frankly, once you ex out overweight and unattractive women from the equation, there’s pretty much parity between the amount of available educated men and educated women these men would be interested in. So your beef really is your relationship choices. The other issue I have is this insistence that we pretend that there aren’t significant cultural differences between classes. Buddy that went to Harvard is guilty of this as well. While he may have read Fanon as a high schooler, I’d bet a couple bucks that it was because his parents were college educated, not because he was born with a keener intellectual curiosity or a greater will to learn than someone whose parents didn’t. There’s a correlation if not necessarily a causality between level and quality of education and intellectual pursuits. Saying that “just because you have a college degree doesn’t make you samrt…” or ” just because you went to trade school..” may very well be true on an individual level, but there’s clearly a relationship in the macro sense. In choosing to enter into relationships with those guys, you either consciously chose to ignore that relationship or you chose to hope that your guy was going to be one of the exceptions. Just like my fictional self was oping that my video chick was also going to be a rocket scientist. It can happen, but in general, the two don’t mix, and so I have no business lamenting the fact that all she wants to talk about is which celebrity’s hosting LIV tonight or when he new Louis bag comes out. I knew that’s likely what she was about when I chose to get in a relationship with her. Thus, My fault, not black women’s fault.

    • WrittenbyBene

      I respect your opinion. However, I do think you’re missing the overall point.

      My dating choices is kind of irrelevant. I wish I would have excluded them from the post. The women who I have talked to and who commented via Twitter, Essence website or here, have experienced this same commonality with men from all different backgrounds. College educated and non-college educated. Nowhere did I say ALL black men are less traveled than black women. However, I did assert that this is most likely the case. Steve Harvey, a black man, alluded to the same idea. But because I am a woman saying it, it stings. Well the truth hurts.

      There are two parallels in my post that I thought were clear, but judging from numerous comments I guess it is not. One being intellect and the other being experiences(ie traveling, having been to plays, art museums, reading, etc). Because I am not perfect I can admit that maybe I should have dealt with the two separately.

      But the fact remains this: whether it is due to intelligence or life experiences many women feel the need to “dumb it down” when in relationships. The solution cannot be that all these women, including myself, just need to choose different men. Instead of assigning the blame to black women as usual, why not figure out solutions as to why some(not ALL), black men lag behind black women by the age of let’s say 21 in the things they’ve experienced? I think that would be more productive instead of telling me, it’s your fault.

      As far as your point about cultural differences between class, I concur.

  • sarah

    Wow Brandon, Saint of Randy! 🙂 I know this is an “A” & “B” conversation; but might this humble “C” offer that you’re piling it on a bit heavy? The blogger has already admitted she made a mistake in misstating her true position. You’re beating an expired horse, no?