“Your Brain Turns Me On”: I’m A Sapiosexual…?

I came across the term sapiosexual on social media. After some quick research, I learned that it referred to a person who is sexually stimulated by intelligence, or as one blogger put it: “nerd love”. Naturally, as a self-professed nerd, it got me thinking. If tasked with having to pinpoint the most attractive quality of the women I’ve dated, I’d say their ability to partake in thoughtful discussion was key. Sure, visual attractiveness is a plus, but it’s not what makes me totally swoon. In fact, it only enhances a woman’s beauty rather than her looks being the nucleus of it.

It’s rare intelligence is celebrated in our culture. People don’t usually grace the covers of popular magazines because they’ve made strives in curing cancer. Those covers are reserved for whichever celebrity is the flavor of the month: the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’, the pregnant reality star, a cheating politician, and so on. But in this sapiosexual subculture, being intelligent is a turn on and it’s at the forefront.

For the latter part of my high school years, I was the guy with the fast car and devil-may-care attitude, but who also read books in the library during lunch. I remember a friend happening upon me as I was headed to my favorite section of the library–History and Politics–he looked at me with disdain and said, “Shit man, you’re a geek now?” I ignored him and kept on with what I was doing but I realized with each visit to the library, the cabin pressure of my sex appeal was decreasing. If I wanted the pretty girl on the dance team to go out with me, I was going to have to stay out of the library. So I hid my book addiction as best I could. I returned to the cafeteria and munched on waffle fries and chicken fingers with the rest. I laughed and joked and flirted with the girls at my table. I was back, so to speak, and no one spoke of my little vacation into Nerdville. Once I got to college, it was like a weight had been lifted. At the arts conservatory, my affinity for books and jazz went unnoticed. It was like the promised land–I had finally found my people.

I’ve always been a sucker for a smart girl. In fifth grade I fell hard for a girl who loved comics as much as I did, and could wax poetic on how the X-Men’s Storm was a better leader than Cyclops. She spoke with such passion, supporting her claim with story after story of how Storm exhibited superior leadership over Scott Summers. If it weren’t for the bell ringing and having to go back to class, I could have sat on that bench talking all day. Not much has changed for me when it comes to women. I’m still attracted to passion and intelligence; to a woman who believes deeply in something and is well-versed enough to battle tooth and nail. It showcases strength and substance. On a recent date with a pretty Portlander, we talked for hours about music and travel. It was a great date. A few days later she sent me a text that read: “Your brain turns me on.” It was sexting for sapiosexuals. Though I’m not sure I can fully embrace the term yet as a way to categorize someone, I do think it’s nice that intelligence is being showcased as vital to what people look for in a partner. Whether it’s called “nerd love” or a “sapiosexual coupling”, when people of like minds come together, it’s a beautiful thing that should be celebrated.

So if you fancy yourself a sapiosexual, please keep spreading the good word–give us a movement. Because, really, a bunch of intelligent people procreating might just result in the brain child that cures cancer.

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The Romanticism of Californication

Some may say the humor in Californication is crass, low brow, raunchy, and dirty. To those people, I say you’re missing the point. Sure, it’s a sex comedy, similar to HBO’s Dream On that aired in the 90s, but with a lot more unsavory scenes when it comes to sex. However, Californication is a show deeply rooted in romanticism—exhibited in the theme of unrequited love and the setting of Los Angeles.

As a writer, I’m envious of Hank Moody to an extent. Though he finds himself in a high order of drama, I can respect the love he harbors for Karen, his baby momma and muse. He’s the tortured artist who got lucky and found his other half; then, riding that wave of love was incredibly prolific, and when it ended he couldn’t write. It’s a hell of a thing when writer’s block comes on and if it’s attributed to loss or heartbreak, it’s even worse. And that’s essentially the dilemma of Hank; a man trying to find his way after the ‘end of everything’. He delves into sex, alcohol and drugs, and rock n’ roll; and though I don’t condone his methods of self medication, as a writer I can understand them. When you find your other half, that perfect someone and things just click, you can’t imagine losing it. When it’s gone, you numb the pain in whatever way you can.

Hank is a tragic romantic looking to get back what he lost and punishing himself in the process. Los Angeles provides the perfect landscape for it—a city of glitz and under the surface, horrifically rotten. I believe it was LA historian, Mike Davis, who said “Los Angeles is a sunlit mortuary where you can rot without feeling it”. There have been times in my life where I could definitely relate. But as a writer and human being, you can’t wallow forever. You have to rise out of the murk, which Hank never really does in the series—kind of my major gripe with the writing. And though the series has various short-comings, I think it delivers as a strong depiction of what it’s like to be a hopeless romantic in a city where romance may very well be dead. In the end, we all want a Karen–a muse, a lover, a savior–our other half.

Good luck out there! As Hank would say, “It’s a big bad world.”

Analysis of a Serial Dater

My generation doesn’t know how to date, at least most of us don’t. There’s a prevailing thought that relationships are based on ‘hookups’. Gone are the days of courting, as my parents called it. The new precursor is a few dates and then a tipsy and often awkward ‘hookup’. That’s followed by a few text messages in which both parties try to play catch up and learn about each other so that it doesn’t feel so cheap. Emotionally, we’re a lost generation and only a few of us grow out of it, perhaps secretly desiring the types of stable relationships our parents had. But for far too many of us, the reality is serial dating.

Serial Dating is exactly what it sounds like, a string of relationships. Some may last a few months to a year, and others may sustain a few weeks. These types of relationships are usually never defined, which means they never reach a critical point where each party is forced to make the grownup decision of being ‘labeled’ as boyfriend and girlfriend. In most cases, at least one person in the party will say something to the effect of, “I just don’t do well with labels,” or “Why does it have to be a ‘thing’?” This is a red flag and a pretty asinine idea. When faced with these statements, a person should reevaluate the relationship they are in. If they are looking for something stable, they won’t find it in the serial dater.  

The inherent tragedy of the serial dater is that they waste their time and the other party’s too. Sure, in your 20s, you may find yourself dating here and there in college. You’re young and still learning about what you desire. However, once you hit 30, if you are unable to sustain a meaningful and stable relationship, then there’s something amiss. It’s even more dangerous if you’re a woman because you’re devouring your child bearing years with people you could never envision procreating with. The question is why do we do this? Is it that we simply are afraid of commitment? Or are we wounded from past relationships where we really gave it our all and were cheated on? Or are we just selfish?

Sometimes we serial date on purpose—we usually choose people that we could never see marrying. It’s a way to not get attached. This usually blows up in our faces, as we forge an emotional bond whether we like it or not. I’m not saying everyone should settle into a relationship and get married. There are some people who really would be terrible spouses and terrible parents. But for those who are just too afraid to commit to something meaningful because they don’t want to get hurt, I say stop living in fear. Every relationship comes with risk. It’s a dream to believe that there aren’t going to be risks involved—none of us are living in a romantic comedy. In the real-world people get hurt, but we learn from it because we must. Sometimes we get over that hurt and sometimes we carry it for a while. However, it doesn’t break us, we just learn what to look for in a partner—things that signal longevity. It’s hard, yes, but anything worth the salt is going to be.

The only solution to this, is not to compromise. If you know what you want, what you’re worth, then go out and get it. Don’t allow the need for companionship to cloud your judgement. Sometimes a night of loneliness is far better than a morning of awkwardness. Have faith that in time, you will find what you’re looking for. But if you give into the serial dating cycle, that person you really should be with might just pass you by while you’re wasting daylight.

The Swirl: Race and Dating in LA

It’s well-known that Los Angeles touts itself as a cultural melting pot—a liberal Mecca with a thriving culture of art, music and film. It’s a place of sophistication and forward thinking, and where the only societal pressure is to be the hippest version of you. People are free to date whomever they like, and most onlookers won’t give a second glance. Having lived in the South where interracial dating is still taboo, LA is in direct opposite. I have had the pleasure of dating women of various ethnicities. What I look for in a woman has always been substance and depth. I’ve always been attracted to a woman who has something to say and isn’t afraid to say it. And in my life, these women have come in various tones and shades.

 

However, like with anything, there is a less appealing side to what talk show host and radio personality, Wendy Williams, calls “the swirl”. On three occasions, I’ve dated women of European descent—most recently, German. She was a sweet, attractive and pleasant woman. Though we had our disagreements and ultimately a failure to sustain what we had, we ended things on honest terms. Yet, there was always an elephant in the room. She always seemed apprehensive to introduce me to her friends with the exception of her roommate. Once, as we sat in a Mexican restaurant near her hometown, a young white woman she recognized approached us. They greeted each other quickly and without introduction, the woman left and my date seemed relieved she didn’t stick around. I didn’t bother asking who it was, since it wasn’t my business, but it was strange.

She would later explain she had no black friends, and limited friends of color. Out of curiosity, I once asked her, why that was? She didn’t really know, but she assumed she just spent time with people who were mostly like her. I found it odd. Living in a metropolis like Los Angeles, I had grown up with friends from all ethnic backgrounds, and I realized how much of a gift it was. I learned so much about other ethnicities and cultures. I learned to see the beauty of humanity; tolerance was imprinted into my upbringing. My parents had a diverse group of friends as well, and I remember as a child thinking that’s how friendship should be—a melting pot.

In a later conversation, she explained she had dated black men before, but nothing serious had materialized. Her friends thought she simply had “the fever”, and that it was more of a phase she was going through since she could never stick it out with a man of color. She assured me that wasn’t the case; instead, she felt she could only see herself marrying a black man. Every now and then we’d have conversations concerning race and identity. She didn’t know much about black history, and rarely shared any tidbits about growing up German. We never attended cultural events in the city, or ventured into neighborhoods that predominately had an ethnic make-up other than white. She lived in the valley, and much of our time was spent there. Looking back, I realize there were times she was clearly uncomfortable. It made me wonder, was I that edgy accessory? Was I the equivalent of getting a tattoo or a piercing in an unexpected place? Was it a case of fetishization and rebellion?

I remember in high school how certain girls from prominent white families would take a black boy to the prom. It was seldom that they would date them for longer than a month, but for the prom they were showcased in photos with the star black athlete—the award-winning wide receiver, the basketball playing MVP, the captain of the wrestling team. Sure, one could say girls just like athletes, but it was peculiar.

I’m an eternal optimist and a racial deconstructionist. I believe racism will only be eliminated when great distinctions in color no longer exist—similar to what was broached in the National Geographic article, “Changing Faces: What Americans Will Look Like in 2050”. But I’m also a realist and understand the nature of people—some like to experiment, and LA is a great place to do it without facing judgment. However, there is something inherently racist in doing so. I faced moments where I felt less like a person and more like “the non-threatening black guy she was dating.” She once said, “From your voice on the phone, I’d never guess you were a black person.” This wasn’t so alarming since I’ve heard it all my life, and I’ve actually mastered sounding ambiguous on the phone—it’s helped me land job interview after job interview. Yet, it still bothered me. What is talking ‘black’? It’s a concept I’ve never gotten. I’m college educated with a master’s degree, so sue me. I read books, sometimes a book a week. Am I an anomaly? I don’t know, but I sure feel like one sometimes. It all boils down to cultural understanding and experience. I don’t think the girl I dated was a closet racist. On the contrary, I think she saw race in America as something that could be shelved and perhaps not really dealt with. After all, people can connect over music, films, food, books, etc. But there will always be that elephant in the room, and ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

I believe people should date others not because of their racial identities, but because they find them interesting. But if you are going to participate in “the swirl”, just be sure you’re dating someone who has a true interest in your culture. Since it’s a component to identity, someone who has no understanding or interest in learning about where you come from, may have an even less interest in really getting to know you on a deeper level. 

I’d like to think these issues are going away soon, but I think they are here to stay for a while. Misunderstandings and stereotypes are traps, and if they burrow their way into a relationship it will prove to be disastrous. More education is needed and an even greater willingness to expose our ignorance to each other, especially if love is at stake. For those participating in the black and white “swirl”, for your next date, skip the romantic comedy and check out “Dear White People”. It might be just the thing that lets that elephant out of the room. 

Good luck, Dreamlanders!