Column: Serial Man Talkers

This column for JO506 was inspired by THE WORST DATE EVER. Enjoy.

The only remedy for a Serial Man Talker? Cocktails. Lots and lots of cocktials. | Image courtesy of Flickr user Southern Foodways Alliance

The only remedy for a Serial Man Talker? Cocktails. Lots and lots of cocktails. | Image courtesy of Flickr user Southern Foodways Alliance

Let me tell you, dating in Boston is hard.

As a hetero single girl, you’re faced with all types of unpleasant male tropes: Mama’s Boys, Men Who Can’t Take Hints and Pats Die-Hards Who Love Tom Brady More Than They’ll Ever Love You. But even with all the crazies already swimming around in the Back Bay dating pool, Serial Man Talkers are a painful standout.

You know who Serial Man Talkers are. They’re found in bars and bank queues the world over aggressively explaining their CrossFit routine to innocent passersby. They’re men who were never taught that a conversation requires the participation of more than one person. They have thoughts and opinions that are definitely more interesting than yours and will happily spend all day telling you about them. Have something insightful to say about this election? Too bad. The Serial Man Talker at the bar counter has some dissecting of the Bruins’ 2009 defense strategy to do.

Bars and bank queues excluded, nowhere is this educational oversight more obvious than in the dating scene. Serial Man Talkers are everywhere when you’re a single girl. Getting coffee with someone you met on Tinder? You bet he’ll spend the afternoon telling you about the awesome new app he’ll never develop. The dude your friend dragged you on a double date with? Obviously this is the perfect time for him to expound on the trials of community musical theater. But the second you try and talk about the internship you had last semester? Serial Man Talker’s glancing at his phone blatantly uninterested in the thoughts in your head.

Serial Man Talkers take note: monopolizing a conversation is far from the way to a girl’s heart. I don’t care how attractive you are, if I wanted to hear someone deliver a 20-minute monologue I’d find the nearest production of Hamlet. Stop using women as a dump for your own self-interests. Instead, treat a girl like a real person and engage with her. Ask a question or two and take a genuine interest in what she has to say; you could be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Okay, obviously some men learned how to listen. And conversely, there are absolutely women who missed the two-to-tango lesson day in kindergarten. This is not meant to be a one-sided rant about “all men.” I’ve encountered plenty of men who are courteous in their manner and conversation. They know how to ask questions and they genuinely care about how your day went. But those dudes must all hang out in the Amazon in their free time because I meet far, far too many Serial Man Talkers.

The question is, what turns a regular man into a Serial Man Talker? My guess is intrinsic societal prejudice. It’s as if somewhere along the course of life, boys were encouraged to speak up and girls were encouraged to be, well, silent.But as adults, that excuse shouldn’t hold up. An individual’s inability to recognize others as thought-having people can’t be purely blamed on society. It’s a fault of the individual.

The bottom line is, Serial Man Talkers don’t see women on an equal level. They only view women as a canvas on which to splatter their definitely-more-important thoughts and opinions. Why else would they so one-sidedly communicate with the opposite sex? They simply don’t believe a woman could have anything valuable to say.

The only other explanation is insecurity. Are some men so threatened by women that they can’t bear to go toe-to-toe with one? Or are they so obsessed with proving themselves that they can’t give a girl some room to speak in a conversation? Heads up, boys: there’s nothing sexy about overcompensating. To quote a recent Boston Magazine article about being single in this city: “If I have to hear one more fucking story about a man’s gym routine I’m going to light my body on fire.”

Nothing kills romance like realizing your date would rather talk about data analysis than find out how you like to spend your free time. So bear in mind Serial Man Talkers, if you want to take things to the next level you’ve got to learn how to communicate with a girl. Step back and listen; it won’t kill you. A conversation, just like an actual relationship, takes the effort of two people to make it work.

But if you need that spelled out for you, you’re likely too busy talking to hear it anyway.

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