Don't these guys ever look in a mirror?

Why can't the black men who hit on me see I'm out of their league?

By Cary Tennis
Published March 1, 2005 8:00PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I am a very attractive, professional, well-groomed, tall black woman who is very health conscious. I eat right, exercise regularly, and get my eight hours every night. What is bothering me is that the black men who constantly approach me do not have a prayer. They are either too old, too short, too overweight, not properly groomed or just plain unsuitable.

What would make this type of man feel perfectly comfortable in approaching me and then get angry when he is rejected? They look in the mirror just like I do. I know when a man is out of my league and I wouldn't think of approaching him for fear of rejection. Is it testosterone that makes men think they have a chance with every woman they find attractive? Is this a "black thing"? I never see white men doing this to white women. What is the freakin' deal?

Out of Their League

Dear Out of Their League,

For some men it is more important to demonstrate that they have the courage to approach you than it is to act on a realistic assessment of their chances. That can be true because, no matter how small their chances, they're willing to risk rejection. Or maybe they're getting something out of the encounter other than a chance at a relationship. They may be just demonstrating that they've got the nerve to walk up to you and try out their best line. In a sense, maybe it's not a relationship they're after; they're just performing.

I'm not saying you should meekly accept harassment and intimidation, if that's what it is. It's up to you, of course, how you handle these pesky guys. But I note that you identify yourself as a black woman, and these are black men, and you indicate that race is an issue in these encounters. I think your intuition is probably correct -- not that white men don't try to pick up women who are similarly out of their league, but that there is something more going on here. So I hope you will at least consider that you have a chance, in these little encounters, to do more than just brush a guy off. You have a chance to learn just what is going on. Is it "a black thing"? You're in a better position than I am to find out.

I may be naive, but I continue to believe that in each such encounter we have a chance to make life on earth a little better. At any given moment we can choose to acknowledge what we share, politically and socially, and possibly learn something. Why not have some faith in the human race and ask the next man who approaches you just what he has in mind? If he can handle rejection, maybe he can handle a few frank questions. You may find out that even though he's kind of short and not all that well-groomed, he's got an agile mind and two tickets to the theater.

Now, that may sound a little facile. But honestly, other than making up a bunch of stuff, I don't really know why these men keep coming up to you.

Like I say, if it's harassment, you don't have to put up with it. I'm not trying to make light of that. I'm just saying that you're in a much better position than I am to find out what is on the minds of these persistent men on their hopeless missions to your heart. Just ask them.

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