Benefits of Interracial Dating Huh?

Response to: The Great Benefits of Interracial Dating
What can be said about this topic that has not already been said in some desperate plea by some poor young girl to her disapproving parents in an effort to gain their favor concerning the young man she just brought home who happened to look a little different than they had envisioned when the night before she told them, “his name is John, he’s an accountant, and I’d like to have him over for dinner some night this week.” Interracial dating…heck, interracial platonic relationships can be such a loaded topic. I’m risking half my readers just by mentioning it because no matter where you go with it, you cannot please everyone. I can be very politically correct and annoy those who want a little more straightforward approach. I can just say it like it is but those lacking the proper context for what I’m talking about will either lose their minds, call me the most blatant racist they’d ever had the displeasure of meeting, or use my words to validate some misguided and ill-informed notion they had always had that is in reality not even close to what I’m actually trying to assert. What to do, what to do?

I suppose I will just go right down the list you’re your article Elisabeth and just add a commentary to what you’ve said. Right off the bat I’m a bit uneasy because while I’d certainly say that romantic relationships that cross racial or various national or ethnic lines can be a good thing for certain people, I would like to find a different word than “beneficial”. That word just smacks too much like I’m simply switching shampoos or adding on a new routine to my workout. “The benefits of washing your car in the evening is none of those annoying sunspots.” Selection when dating anyone is not something you just make a little addition to, a little tweak, and then forget about it and enjoy the unfolding benefits. This is not what I think you meant at all, but I simply couldn’t touch the word benefits in good conscience without making note of the fact that it implies a much lighter tone than I am comfortable with regarding this topic. Like saying, “the benefits of marriage are always having someone to talk to, possible shared load of the bills, and extremely accessible sex. Yet still an unmarried man, something about that just seems like I’m not getting the whole story.

It is true, interracial relationships can open you up to perspectives and ways of doing things that you weren’t exposed to before. Yet that is also the general nature of relationships in the first place. Fortunately (although at times it can be exasperating), we have all been given varying temperaments, personalities, physical and cognitive abilities, natural talents, environmental upbringings, and the like. This means that even two twin brothers can be very different, and when starting new relationship with anyone, we do get the pleasure and the challenge of getting to know a distinct person. They come with their particular methods, whether inborn or learned, of how to conform to the world around them so as to be accepted by the group, and they also come with their particular set of idiosyncrasies that cause them to break the mold a little. When getting to know a person of a different race, this can just emphasize the fact that you are in fact learning a completely new person, however, with the hodge-podge of regional dialects, subcultures and sects that are strewn about America in particular, race is a rather poor indicator of what kind of characteristics and customs to expect in a person. Groups like blacks, Christians, North Easterners, City dwellers, business owners, or whatever are simply too big. There is so much variance within each larger group, that while we are all fairly familiar with the stereotypes that go along with each group, simply mentioning an ethnicity or an occupation virtually says nothing about that person’s abilities or inabilities, likes or dislikes, barring of course a particular characteristic that showing lack in that particular area would necessarily exclude one from the group. That being said, there is a ton to learn with any new relationship (and surprisingly even in those you’ve been in for years). There is a fortunate and yet often overlooked bit of information for proponents of interracial dating, because while the politically correct main stream craze is to embrace that which is different, simply because it is different, there are many who would disagree. They see it more fitting to preserve sameness, and for very good cause at times. In many instances they are right. In an effort to combat the xenophobia that we have seen hurt others in the past we have in one sense allowed our pendulum of acceptance swing full force in the other direction, which not surprisingly, is hurting us yet again. While certainly refreshing, difference is not good simply because it is different. Just like any behavior or custom there are certain virtues inherent in it that make it good or not. Even so sameness for the sake of sameness is folly as well. We were not created all the same, and yet are commanded to love each other regardless. The reason that the fact of every relationship being about learning is fortunate for those who have no problem with interracial dating is because those who do, often overlook the fact that a difference in race or nationality just adds a little more to the already steep learning curve of a difference in gender, families, memories, places traveled, traumatic experiences, childhood neighborhoods, hygiene habits, movie preferences etc.

Pick One, a Brain or a Brawn? You Can’t Have Both

Response to: If You Want a Guy, Act Dumb: How Your Education or Job Could Be Intimidating Guys check link to the right

My last blog got a lot of feedback and it raised a lot of questions in the minds of our readers. One theme that kept coming up was that a lot of women seemed very interested in my mention that men like intelligent women. I was surprised to find that many of these women were in university settings, and yet were being told that they would one day have to choose between their education level, or finding a man to settle down with. This intrigued me so Elisabeth and I decided to explore that notion this time.

I’m reminded of a particular young woman who told me recently that she had once been told by an elder in her church that if she ever wanted to find a man who would marry her then she’d better start to, “act dumber.” She’s a very smart woman who enjoys reading and politics, works in accounting, but apparently she would have to somehow turn it down in order to find a guy that would be interested. At first glance one might be tempted to just say, “Oh crazy church people,” and leave it at that because in our effort to preserve feminine and masculine rolls we can often go overboard in one area or the next because while working toward a perfect standard for male and female relationships, we are still working with imperfect tools (our brains, some of which are less perfect than others) to get us there. But then I was surprised to find that even women in highly academic settings, where nobody would even be there if not to pursue high levels of education, were being told by professors that they could choose the Ph.D., but in doing so, they would be choosing against a husband.

So what is really going on here? One might be outraged at the idea at first, or conversely, simply reluctantly say that it’s not the way we’d like it, but we’ve got to accept that as the way it ought to be. I would say that the idea is not a bad one, but it’s somewhere down the line gotten flipped and things have gotten a little out of order. Let me explain.

It’s perfectly natural for a man to feel inclined to lead, and for a woman to desire a strong and intelligent man who has leadership qualities. It’s true that a woman who is intelligent, capable, educated and strong in her own right will not easily be led by a man who is lacking in those or other areas. Well that’s an easy fix right? Just make sure that there are no women who are terribly intelligent, capable or educated. This way everybody wins. Men get to feel comfortably on top. Women get their strong(er but not strong) and (not quite as in)capable man. The planets align and the universe is at peace. Ahhh (sigh of relief). I mean perhaps the few women who simply can’t stifle their brilliance and the few men out there who get frustrated with their wife’s inability to read will have to suffer in silence for the good of society, but that’s a small price to pay. Just like government price regulation, it just makes it easier to sleep at night.

Speaking of society, how does this relationally utopian scenario work itself out? Men’s insecurities and gaps in their understanding are left to stay where they are so that they can get on with the important things in life and not have to worry about some woman challenging their already frail authority. Women get the privilege of raising children in a fast-paced and complex world without the education to do so. Girls would be fine. Not like you need to be a rocket scientist to wash dishes right, but how are weak-minded women supposed to cultivate strong-minded young boys? I suppose that dad could do it but it’s not like he is one to really enjoy a challenge, so how will he teach his son to?

Now I know I’m being a tad bit extreme. After all nobody is saying that women shouldn’t learn to read or anything close to that. I suppose what I’m getting at is that men have no business being intimidated by smart women or crossing them off the list of potential mates because they have a certain job or education level. Therefore nobody has any business telling a woman that she had better act dumb if she wants to find a mate. This view of women as the competition is wrong. The only reason for marrying or even dating a woman is because she is a help, an addition to your life, not because she competes with you in any respect. As a man you want to constantly be growing, in your beliefs, in your knowledge and wisdom, in your skills. A good and smart woman will not compete with your ability to do those things but will place a constant pressure to challenge you to continue to grow. She needs it from you but more importantly you need it from you, and while growing is a responsibility that should be personally initiated, having others to help you along the way is essential. Men need to realize that having strong women around makes them stronger too and that they are not to shy away from a woman whose intelligence presents a challenge to his. Women however would do well to realize that the competition between men and women that our society has sold us is false and while it operates under the guise of liberation and freedom it really works to hurt both sexes. Using education and money to feel as though you are better than someone else, or that you are now in some higher category of worthiness, or even to remind them of how undeservingly lucky they are to have you is foolish and will lead to nowhere but loneliness. Pursue your education, or your job and gain in knowledge, fully knowing that some men will be put off by your smarts, but also understanding that that doesn’t matter. You’re not going to emerge the smartest person on the planet with nobody around you to relate with. For as many men who allow their laziness and weakness to avert them from intelligent women there are plenty more who want nothing less than an intelligent woman. They appreciate the way that kind of woman challenges them to constantly being better and they will adore them for it.

Gifts for Your Girl

Response to: Gifts for Your Guy on a Budget

Elisabeth is right. There are a ton of cliché gifts to fall back on when you’re shopping for a woman: jewelry, flowers, goofy smelly bathy stuff… But when it comes to us guys, the tried and true “tie” kind of gift really doesn’t ring true at all. No man really wants a tie for Christmas. But then at second glance, is it easy to shop for a woman? I mean think about it. When did guys start buying women diamonds and jewels like back in the stone age? Luckily it seems that women’s tastes in the basics of flowers and makeup haven’t evolve too much since those times, but that doesn’t mean the pressure to really wow them with a gift hasn’t. Here are some tips for guys who are looking to really show their ladies that they truly care this holiday season, and heck, who needs Christmas? These are things we guys just need to do year round period.

PAY ATTENTION. While flowers and chocolates on Valentines day are time honored and good, and diamond necklaces at Christmas are still grand gestures, if these are the only things you can think of to get your woman for a special occasion then it might mean you have been spending a little too much time looking at her figure and not quite enough time looking at who she actually is. There is more to your woman than her womanhood, much more. Your gift giving should reflect that. Sure women like make-up and jewels but what does your particular hunny like? Maybe she’s a reader. There are some great books out this season like Dan Brown’s latest installment, or perhaps the late Ted Kennedy’s biography or Sarah Palin’s new book. Perhaps she hates reading but is big on movies. The new release Up could be a good choice. Does your main squeeze like art? If so is she into paints or does she like charcoal? These are just a few generic ideas to get you thinking outside the box. The key to giving a woman a gift is actually knowing that particular woman. I know that even couples that have been together for years can often find gift giving a daunting task, but if you just relax and take some time to think without stressing you can do it. She’s your girl, and whether you realize it or not, you definitely know a thing or two about her. You’ve figure out that even though every other girl you’ve ever known loves pink, she for some reason turns her nose up at it. You discovered early on that teasing her in private is cute but teasing her in front of your friends will earn you a punch in the arm. You’re a smart guy. After all you somehow landed her didn’t you? Don’t sell yourself short on creative ways to show her that you pay attention to her tastes and want to give her something that will compliment them.
Along with paying attention, have you ever noticed that your lady remembers EVERYTHING? This knack of theirs is infamous for getting us into trouble, but it can also be great fodder for gift giving ideas. The only trick is, you’ve got to remember a little bit yourself. What I mean is, think of a good time in your past. Maybe your first romantic night out as a couple, or maybe an awkwardly funny mishap from the days when you were both just kinda feeling each other out. Inside jokes are golden gift ideas. Get her something that will bring her mind back to a fond or funny memory that the two of you share. It not only displays that you pay attention but also symbolizes a closeness and intimacy that she will appreciate. As long you’re girl will get the joke, allusion or reference, you can’t really go wrong.
If you’ve completely racked your brain and can’t think of anything. Don’t be too alarmed. As guys we do have the advantage of the fall-back gifts but just let it be a reminder to you that you need to start looking more closely. Women are very appreciative when we show them that we pay attention to more than their waist size. Show them you can see the different nuances that make them unique and they will follow you to the ends of the earth.

Do Guys Really Only Like “Hot” Girls?

A Response to LA College Relationships Examiner, Elisabeth Birkholz’s article Women, what you need to know about men, from a guy’s perspective at http://www.examiner.com/x-25409-LA-College-Relationships-Examiner~y2009m11d23-

Women-what-you-need-to-know-about-men-from-a-guys-perspective

Wow, Elisabeth you seem pretty straightforward this time. Your assertions (some of which I agree with and others I think might need a little guidance,) send my mind, pride and moral compass spinning a million different directions. It’s true, the idea of a woman being able to jump into the mind of a man sounds very confusing, and so does the converse scenario, but let’s explore this shall we?

I like the scene you’ve set up. It’s classic. Boy meets girl. Boy woos girl. Girl falls hard for what seems to be completely sincere and honorable motives and then “BAM”, he shows some reluctance. This doesn’t match up with any of the signals he’s been giving you up to this point so you’re completely blindsided. Am I following so far? Now often time’s he’ll just gradually call and invite you out less and less until one day you wake up and realize that the man who once texted you on his every lunch break to express his excitement about the new relationship hasn’t made an attempt to make plans with you for 3 Fridays in a row. You’re lucky if you got the straight forward, “Maybe we should take a break,” (which really is anything but straightforward to begin with). Now before you go off and decide that he probably just found a girl with nicer thighs and therefore has discarded you into the If Only I Could Stomach the Sight of Her pile, let’s explore all the possibilities of what actually might be going on up to this point.

The first and most obvious and yet least believable option is that he’s actually telling the truth. In the age where a handshake and a smile actually means that a person is more likely to screw you over than not, a man’s word doesn’t seem to be worth much, but I assure you, that many more men than you think take what they say very seriously. If he seems to be desperately searching for words, your first reaction might be to assume he’s trying to figure out how to best trick you, but in many cases he knows that each and every word he uses will be meticulously scrutinized by you and 50 of your closest friends for denotative and connotative significance and he is earnestly trying to find exactly the right ones so that he can convey his thoughts and feelings with laser precision. Relationships can be tricky. Although we are often thought of as simplistic and you women get all the accolades for understanding the complexities of feelings and the like, even we, the stronger (and apparently baser) sex know that these things just don’t flow from, ‘I like you’ to ‘we like each other’ to ‘happily ever after’ in a month. There’s a ton to think about, a ton to consider, and sometimes our need for a break and what looks like excuses is often a sincere (if not ineffective) attempt at figuring all these feelings and plans and thoughts of the future out.

I know you girls don’t like that one so lets move on to another possibility, a juicier one. Perhaps he actually is trying to let you down easy because he’s not quite sure about the relationship, for whatever reason. Sure the LA College Relationships Examiner is right. Sure there are the scattered clinically antisocial men out there who have no consideration for the feelings of others, but those are the guys that you end up hearing about on CNN who are discovered with various female body parts in their refrigerators next to the jar of pickled pigs feet. If you find yourself a serial dater of these types then you need to completely scrap your criteria for finding a man and start over, (a change of address might help too). But the vast majority of men are human beings, with real thoughts and feelings and have a desire, even if it’s only at the most basic of levels, to protect you as a woman from hurt. I mean after all, he did care enough about you to take you out. He put thought into what he was going to wear and what you would like to do. He even thought long and hard about what songs to put on his stereo in the car while you drove there depending on the mood he wanted to set. If a man has put this kind of thought into matters that concern you before, even if the relationship has somehow changed, he still cares about you. On a human level if nothing else and he wants to avoid hurting you at all costs. But he knows that having gone this far already, taking you out, whispering sweet nothings in your ear, perhaps even kissing you, that there is no way out without hurting you. This thing can really only end two different ways. In holy matrimony (which is way way way down the line anyway), or pain. He’s having doubts, which in many cases has nothing to do with you, nor your attractiveness or anything else about you, but he knows that no matter how honest he is and no matter how hard he tries to explain you will see it as a, “you’re not good enough,” type of rejection. And he desperately wants to avoid that type of pain for you. So what does he do? He lies. Or he tries the infamous fade out which is really a pathetic attempt at hoping to somehow create some disinterest on your end or somehow thinking that as encounters become less and less frequent, he can eventual pull out with his hands clean, because like a frog in boiling water, he introduced the pain at such small doses that by the time he’s completely gone you won’t even notice. I’m ashamed to say that I know this one doesn’t work because I’ve tried it. Am I defending it? Not a chance. Is being dishonest, even if your motives are good ok? Nope. But I am saying that as a woman you’ve got to be careful before you jump on the All Men Suck train.

So, I’m sure all the men you got advice from are great guys. I’m sure they are just as kind, thoughtful, and apple pie loving as the rest of us, but they might want to take their responsibility as official representatives of the male sex a little more consideration before they mold the minds of impressionable young girls everywhere to hate us all.

Fact: Men are turned on visually. This means that if you look a certain way (frankly I’m just too lazy to go into the physiology of why we think this is) that men will take notice. Any woman that instinctively hikes her skirt up just a little as the officer approaches her window in effort to get out of a speeding ticket knows this. It’s probably the worst kept secret in the world.

Fact: Men are turned on intellectually. Now this may be the best kept secret in the world but most male thinking is actually done with something called the brain, and not the penis. This means that men find intelligent women attractive. There is a nasty rumor out there that men don’t like smart girls and that we are somehow afraid of them but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The root of that rumor is that men do instinctively feel the need to lead, to protect, to show new worlds to a woman, and when we run into a woman that is clearly superior intellectually, that can sometimes feel like it takes all the air out of that balloon. That being said, a man does however like a challenge and a woman who is dumb but hot still doesn’t challenge him. A woman whose intellect is comparable to is own (whether you’ve got an IQ of 78 and his is 83 or if he’s rocking a 145 and feels pretty good about himself until it turns out you’re a 150) will think thoughts and dream dreams that compliment his own. Her mind will push his to grow and likewise his will push yours to grow as well

Fact: Men are turned on emotionally. Ok now if you didn’t think the last one was a lie, you are really going to stop reading now. Yes I said it. Men have emotions and real ones aren’t afraid to use them when appropriate. I mean there’s one thing you’ve got to understand about guys. We all may live in the same world, but the world doesn’t afford us the luxury of crying when we have a bad day so the boss feels sorry for us and sends us home to rest. We learn very quickly that the world doesn’t give a darn about our emotions and that if it sees us displaying them it will pick us off like a lioness looking for the gazelle with the weakest ankles. So we learn to control when they show and when they don’t. Some of us learn this so well that we forget how to ever let them show but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. This is where you come in. Women remind us that there is a softer side to humanity and you teach us how to use our emotion in the right way toward you. We sometimes walk outside under a starry night and feel how great it would be to have a good woman by our side just as much as you seen a beautiful sunset and wish you had a strong shoulder to lean your head against while you watch it sink down below the horizon. In a world where men aren’t allowed to show weakness, if we can trust you with our emotions it can mean the world.

Fact: Men are turned on by fun girls. No matter how good you look in a bikini, or for that matter, no matter how bad you look in a bikini, a woman’s personality really does make all the difference. When a man is looking for a woman, he’s really looking for a best friend. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s looking for someone to chat with all night on the phone or someone to have nail painting parties with. But it certainly doesn’t mean he wants someone with a glorious body but a perpetual blank stare across her face either. If he likes to surf then he wants a girl that can go surfing with him, or at least will be a good sport and go up to her knees in the water. He wants a girl who he can play a good joke on, and who will get him back when he’s not looking. We all have had a friend who doesn’t necessarily have any special tricks or talents or money or anything to distract us from who they really are, but nonetheless we can spend a night out on the town, or an afternoon watching tv with them and either way we feel like we just had the time of our life. Men want that in a woman as well. The last thing a man wants is some hottie that stands around and whines about every situation, and who can’t take a joke. Sex appeal can only get you so far.
Those are just a few of the thousands of ways that women are found to be attractive by men. And what I mean by saying all this is that there’s more than one way to snag yourself a man, and to be honest you are going to want to use all of these and more to attract him in the first place. This isn’t an excuse to make the not so cute girls feel good about themselves or trick them into believing they have a chance, but any woman that only utilizes her ‘hotness’ to get a man’s attention is a fool. Hotness is a tool, and for a man it is a very formidable opponent but if visual stimulation is your only selling point then watch out because odds are that you wont be attracting the type of customers that you are interested in. It’s not even the fact that hot girls attract sleezy horn dogs because it’s not just them that like hot girls but it’s more that the kind of responsible, dependable man with the strength and gentleness to hold you the way you want to be held is a rarity, and chances are that he has many women interested in him that have ‘hotness’ to offer. If he only wanted this he would be off the market already and untouchable by you anyway, so the fact that he’s a) desirable and yet b) available means that he’s got more on his What I Want In a Girl list than just ‘hot’. His multifaceted personality requires a multifaceted counterpart to compliment it and this means his interests when it comes to women are not as cut and dry as you think.
This leads me to my next point. The reason you often see ‘ugly’ women with boyfriends is not because the man really wanted a hotter girl but he didn’t have to guts to go for her so in his insatiable desire for love he figured that any person with XX chromosomes is better than nobody at all. How insulting to the woman who has a boyfriend but isn’t quite a platinum blonde with silky smooth thighs and a 6 foot frame. How insulting to the man who apparently doesn’t have the means or the nerve to succeed in pursuing what he really wants in a woman, because that will translate into all aspects of life. No I hold that no man will be with a woman unless he actually wants to. This means that while you may be looking and scratching your head as a seemingly capable and attractive man walks down the street hand in hand with a rather homely woman, what you see as not very cute, may be, and probably is, very beautiful in his eyes. (A side note that is still very relevant is that men tend to be very aware of how their woman reflects on them, especially in public. A guy isn’t going to be very public about a relationship with any woman unless he sees her as beautiful and is proud to be with her.) So if you see this you know that the combination of her appearance, personality, wit, trustworthiness, faithfulness to her beliefs, ability to adapt, her supportiveness, and a number of other things all contributed, not only to her ‘keeping’ him but in the initial attraction as well. With plastic surgery, and Photoshop, hotness is just too accessible these days and it takes a lot more than that, and sometimes not even that at all, to gain the attention of a worth while man.