Hurray, so you have made it to the point that you are meeting a guy for the first time. You are excited, you clean yourself up and get all purdy, you both arrive to the meeting point on time, you order drinks, and you start conversation. Only, it’s him talking and you listening. This is not because you have nothing to add, it is that he refuses to acknowledge any of your conversational cues that you have something to say.
As gay men, we have a tendency to really enjoy talking about our fabulous lives. Yet, when dealing with someone who is droning on and on about themselves or a story that is completely irrelevant you or your immediate surroundings, this gets really boring really fast – especially on a first date.
I call this person a Monologuer. They are unable to tell a story to a person in a concise manner and incorporate the most negligible details into the conversation.
Me: I have a bulldog.
Him: Oh cool! I went to the store last Thursday, or was it Wednesday, was it Thursday or Wednesday? I can’t remember but I think it was Thursday. And I ran into my friend’s neighbor, god, what is her name? It is on the tip of my tongue. What is her name? Ruby? Michelle? (Insert 4 more minutes of babbling) Anyway, the point is she has a bulldog too.
Him: (continues rambling)
The importance when meeting someone new is to keep everything relevant to this new person. I have been out on so many dates, or even found myself in conversations when the person I am talking to clearly has no desire to know much about me and wants to tell me all about them. They want undivided attention. And I provide them with the courtesy of a good listener.
Yet, after a minute or two of attempting to interject something relevant to what we are talking about and being talked over or rejected, I am over it. I’m done. I yell out in my head NEXT!
I can appreciate the excitement of someone telling me a riveting experience. But when this person is unable to pick up on my social cues of “uh huh, oh wow, that’s cool” repeatedly, or when I try to ask a question and they gloss over the fact that I said something, I check out, because this person clearly isn’t listening to me and doesn’t plan to.
So what to do in this situation? You can try and steer it elsewhere. You can can confront them by saying “wow, you have a lot to say.” Maybe they are nervous, maybe they feel awkward or insecure. But in my opinion, who effing cares for the reason.
What I usually do in these situations is give it a second beer then try and figure out how to politely leave. This person isn’t a bad person (unless they talk about really shitty things they do), so there is no reason to leave them in a negative note because who knows when you will run into them again.
Several years ago my favorite thing to do after work was go out to bars alone and talk to people. I’ve found that there is no easier person to talk to than a person standing alone. (If you see a guy standing alone, whether or not you wanna bed him, and you are alone, go talk to him. It will warm you up and make it easier to talk to more people wherever you are.)
This one night, a girl came up to me insisting I had to come and meet her friend, which usually is an immediate “no” for me, because if a guy wants to come and talk to me, then come talk to me. Confidence trumps looks everyday, so fellas, take charge.
Being in a social mood, I went over to her friend who was plastered and said he really wanted to talk to me. I responded something along the lines of, “so talk,” and man, did he. He said he wanted to know more about me, then he went on a five minute tirade about this one coworker who was a total bitch and he hated her and wanted to get her fired, blah blah blah. He ignored all my “yeah, uh huh, alrights” that showed clearly I had lost all interest in the conversation.
By minute six, I stopped him and said, “Dude, your friend calls me over here because she said you wanted to talk to me, and all you are doing is talking about yourself.” He rebutted with, “But I am talking to you,” to which I replied, “What do you know about me?”
We were both quiet in a noisy bar. Mind you, I had zero interest in pursuing anything with this guy at this point, but being an empathetic person, and having my arm-chair psychologist pants on, I said to him, “I am listening to you, but I don’t hear what you are trying to say.” To which he replied, “My mom just died,” and then he started balling. So I stood there and gave him a hug and his friend came over to console him and I excused myself as left as quickly as possible.
I fully understand that when meeting a new person, the death of your mother is not a great conversation starter, but guess what, if he had, that would have been a topic I could have at least tried to relate to some how. (We have all lost someone along the way). Yeah it would have been a downer, but at least it would have been relevant to what has immediately happening to him.
This has always been my thing with meeting new people: we both have clean slates. I know nothing about you, and you know nothing about me. It is an opportunity to keep a person interested by showing them you are interested in them…not take the chance to tell a negative story that is completely irrelevant to meeting someone new. If that dude even just told me that his coworker was a bitch, then we could have gone from there, but I don’t know you and I don’t know her. If you say she is a bitch, I’ll trust that.
The best advice I ever received is speak about yourself 10% of the time and listen the other 90%. It is a great way to find out about a person. I think when people hit it off, it’s because they are both good listeners. They both recognize conversational cues when they are speaking to someone and allow them to interject, even if it is to reply “Well, just wait, I’m getting to that.”
Whether or not you are or aren’t a monologuer, there is a writing principle called ‘Checkhov’s gun’ to keep in mind when on a first date with someone.
“Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
It’s great when we meet someone new and want to share an exciting experience that happened to us in order to keep conversation rolling that we think is interesting. If you are telling a longerish story, be sure to check in with the person listening and swear to them the story is at least half over and you have a point that is relevant. The whole 10/90 rule always has its exceptions, but when you are meeting someone new, do the listener a favor, and stick to the relevant facts. The main reason for a first date is to figure out if you want to go out on a second date with this person. I understand that we all want sparks and fireworks when we first meet someone and we want to divulge everything we can to this person (I’ll address The TMIer in my next article), but take your time and learn how to listen. There is no reason to jump the gun.