Friday night I had an “Aha Moment”.
I went to a house party with my close friend Cole. Anyone who has ever met him will never forget him. If that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on the person and the interaction. As a good-looking, charming white boy, he’s a lover of women. Before meeting me he admitted to not having many black friends and now Cole has become an honorary member of my family. The most interesting thing about him is regardless of not being raised in a racially diverse area he’s beautifully ignorant to having preconceived notions regarding race. Sure he is possible of an ignorant racial comment like anyone else but when it comes to women, we are all just that-women. If he is interested no preconceived notion of race is going to stop him. And he is crazy confidence where anyone to him is fair game. This is the complete opposite of my interaction with other white men. Growing up in a racially diverse area, I have friends of all races but at an early age I somehow decided that white men weren’t really attracted to me. Not that I have really chased after them but somehow along the way I learned that black men were the ones that appreciated what I had to offer.
Because of this, black women who dated white men always baffled me. Through the years I have had plenty of friends with dark skin and big booties who get hit on by white men constantly. It’s like they have a secret GPS system – white men looking for a sista knew where to find her. Even though I have been attracted to white men and have had my occasional make out session, I’ve always left the reason to why I haven’t seriously dated outside of my race to "it's just not my thing”.
The other night when I went to meet Cole, I didn’t expect it to be a night that I would meet anyone simply because I knew the majority of the people there would be white. I was excited to hang with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. I was in a festive mood, I worked the room and had a really good time. But when we left, Cole commented on how many of his friends were all over me. As he saw it, I had caught the majority of the men’s attention the minute I walked through the door.
Whatever he saw was the exact opposite of what I experienced. People of course were friendly but as I saw it nobody was checking for me. No one had given me that look; asked for my number, or flirted strong enough to make it known I was on his radar. But as Cole explained it, he might be confidently aggressive, but a lot of white men are not. Especially when it comes to Black women. What I learned that night was the guy who nicely commented on my perfume was actually flirting with me. And when he talked to me for the next 15 minutes about college he wasn’t just being friendly but actually showing me he was interested. The guy that asked me numerous times if I needed a drink wasn’t just being a good host. And the guy that talked to me about the epidemic of everyone around us having children wasn’t actually gay but giving me his version of game.
I use to a black man’s swag. He’s air of confidence, the strength in which he carries himself. If this confidence is real or not, he knows he has to approach without any sense of doubt. When you’re on his radar, it’s known. I know a black man’s language so well I don’t need to question if he is interested or not but what I am realizing is the obvious- you can’t expect the same approach from a white man!
All these years I’ve been expecting the same approach but white men essentially speak a different language. They are not as aggressive spend more time chatting, and need to receive a little more play from a woman before they make their interest known. So essentially, I have been hit on by a lot of white men but because I’m not privy to the advance, it’s completely gone unnoticed. And I am guessing I am not the only black woman who has missed this. I was approached by numerous men in one night and had no idea. The reason that they did not become possible dates was simply my fault; I never gave anyone the green light. There was even one guy I thought was cute. I actually thought when we were talking “ I bet he would be a fun date” but never saw him as a real option.
Sure there are exceptions to the rule and not all people in racial groups are exactly the same but we are all socially conditioned by where we group up and what we experience. Therefore, the lesson might seem to be about men and race, it’s really about how much we unconsciously block ourselves. As I sit back and think, I think I remember exactly that moment when I decided that white men were not interested in me. It was 9th grade, very early in my first year in high school. I was walking with two of my friends after school, a White girl and an Asian girl. Some white kid who I didn’t know said, “Why are you walking with her?” I think my friends told him he was a loser and we kept on walking without missing a step but I believed I internalized that moment to exemplify that not everyone was going to get me and I wasn’t interested being around anyone who didn’t. That idiot became the poster child of all white men in my brain. One moment that probably lasted less then 30 seconds colored my perception of what others thought of me for nearly 20 years. A moment so powerful I lived my life without me being fully aware of it. This memory causes me to wonder about other memories, or false interpretations of experiences, that have painted similar unrealistic truth.
What I do know is that from now on when it comes to dating, every man IS an option until he’s not. This is exactly the opposite of how I have been playing the dating game for years. I’ve always waited for a man to show his interest essentially seeing my dating world, as every man wasn’t an option until they were. But life is way too short for that. The life I have always envisioned for myself has never been about limitations or boxed in expectations and here I have been living with them all along. So now… I am excited.
With my new shift of reality, dating can only be a whole new experience for me.
And hopefully… a lot more great stories to come…