Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Friday, November 27, 2015

RELATIONSHIPS: Why Some Men Talk Only About Themselves On Dates

One of the most consistent frustrations I hear from women who are dating is the fact that some men want to talk only about themselves on dates. A female client in her 20s recently vented to me, “Why can’t men ask me questions about my life? All they want to do is talk about themselves.” A female friend in her 40s who is dating recently said something similar when I asked how her date went with a wealthy tech investor: “I don’t think he asked me a single question about myself in three hours.” Most women won’t agree to a second date when a man engages in such self-absorbed behavior, and that’s a good thing. What is going on with these men?

Deconstructing the self-absorption

There are two ways that men show self-absorption on dates: men don’t ask their dates enough questions about their life and interests, and men talk too much about themselves when their dates ask them questions. In other words, some men love to be asked questions and to talk at length about their own lives, but they don’t want to ask a lot of questions or to hear about their date’s life. Have you lost your appetite for date number two? Yeah, I thought so.

Why don’t men ask their dates questions about their life?

In some cases, men are nervous and they don’t feel at ease enough to guide the conversation on a date. These men may be afraid of saying the wrong thing or of asking something too personal, so they just respond passively to questions instead. But for the vast majority of men who talk only about themselves and don’t ask their dates question about their life, they prefer to talk about themselves because that makes them feel good. The problem, of course, is that they are focusing entirely on their own feelings, and not thinking about the feelings of their dates.

What to do when this happens to you

The next time you are on a date with a man who is talking only about himself and who is not asking you questions about your life, I am going to suggest something absolutely crazy: Point it out to him, but do it with humor and a smile. Say, “I feel a little worn out because I feel like I’m asking all the questions!” and then smile and gently laugh. The goal isn’t to express your anger or to scold him, but rather to help him see what he may not be able to see on his own. Another way to use humor in this situation is to make a joke in the following way: “Tag, you’re it. Now it’s your turn to ask me some questions!” and, again, smile and laugh. As long as you learn how to convey your feelings in a socially appropriate and non-attacking manner, you can address the most awkward issues in a not-so-awkward way.

If you are debating about whether to take date number two

If you handled this problem on date number one in the grownup way (addressing it directly and giving him a chance to correct his behavior for the remainder of the date), how he responded to the redirection should determine whether you take date number two. In other words, if he responded well to your redirection and gave you a chance to talk about yourself, having a second date may sound pretty good. If you didn’t point out his self-absorption on the first date, though, should you write him off entirely and forego the chance for a second date? As a therapist who specializes in relationships, I encourage you to give him a second chance with a giant asterisk. The asterisk involves you having a phone conversation with him in which you say something like this: “I would like to go for a second date. I think last time I got a good sense of your life, but maybe this time I can tell you a little about mine, too.” The point of this conversation is to actively let him know that you’re not interested in sitting in the audience as you watch his one-man dating show. How he responds to your redirection will tell you a lot about who he is. The emotionally healthy guy who deserves a second chance will say something to this effect: “Oh no, did I talk too much about myself the last time? Please tell me to shut up if I ever do that again!” The emotionally unhealthy guy will get annoyed, say nothing, or get defensive, and each of these traits indicates that this is a man who is probably not worth the trouble for date number two.

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