Conversation Discussion Part 1 of 3

A few weeks ago I met a very old friend at the library checkout. By “very old” I mean we went to elementary school together, and I’d maybe seen her physically once in the last seven years, and communicated less frequently. We were both delighted to bump into each other again, and chattered so much that the guard ordered us into the vestibule to continue our conversation. Ten minutes later he reappeared to kick us out into the rain. We agreed to get in touch via Facebook and meet up for pizza some time in the future, and parted ways.

Two weeks ago I sat down in biology class, not knowing a single soul there. The professor was the sort who enjoys shocking his audience with strange but true facts, and while grinning appreciatively at a particularly entertaining fact, I caught the eye of another woman. This happened a few times, and after class we introduced ourselves and chattered all the way to the library and back, hashing over everything from personal histories to mass transit strategies. We ended up lab partners, and started swapping copious emails.

A few weeks ago I met Bas~Melech and Scraps for ice cream. One I’d met once before, the other never. Yet we had no trouble filling two solid hours in loquacious companionship, and could have kept going, but time was a-passing.

Compare the above to what I observed this past motzai Shobbos, watching the daters in the Marriott. They sat attentively and politely, taking turns talking, swapping stories or ideas in hushed tones with little laughter. Compare the above to some of my own dates: searching for something to say, deciding if it ought to be said, and then formulating how to say it. Cracked jokes that land awkwardly and die uncomprehended; questions greeted warily, considered carefully, and answered cautiously; or stories received with a restrained similitude of the natural reaction. I have no trouble striking up lengthy conversations with strangers on street corners; why is it so hard to talk on a date?

(My own answer(s) forthcoming, but feel free to steal my thunder – it’s been done before.)

Part 2


21 thoughts on “Conversation Discussion Part 1 of 3

  1. A – With a stranger on the corner, you’re not worried about being judged so you act like yourself without constantly worrying if you’re saying something stupid. That’s not the case on a date.

    B- I have never had conversation problems on date. Just be yourself…that should come naturally.

  2. There’s a male/female dynamic, which is different than in all your examples above. How often do you spend 2-3 hours talking to a guy comfortably? The big breakthrough for me was once I started going to law school and interacting with members of the opposite sex. I learned a lot about girls and dating.

  3. Here’s why:

    – Stakes are high
    – Job interview dynamic
    – Every tic analyzed

    Solution: Small glass of wine, scrabble :>)

    By the way, there’s a myth that husbands and wives should be “best friends,” otherwise their relationship is in trouble.

    They can and they should, but should also maintain a confidential and non judgemental relationship with objective third parties.

    Armchair observation.

  4. For me, it’s because even though i’m always the one talking up a storm, i’ve been warned about overdoing it… so im constantly checking and double checking for ineterest in what i’m blabbing about.
    I don’t want to marry someone who is going to be polite and listen to what i have to say when it doesn’t interest him in the least. I’d rather he tell me that the subject bores him to death and we switch topics. If only they would speak up. But never. On a date?
    And to respond to the others, for some people it may be not being used to chatting with the opposute gender, but most of us grew up with lots of brothers and cousins and it’s not a problem (even though most people will lie and say that it is)

  5. And to respond to the others, for some people it may be not being used to chatting with the opposute gender, but most of us grew up with lots of brothers and cousins and it’s not a problem (even though most people will lie and say that it is)

    Oh come on, there’s no comparison between talking to a guy you might marry and someone you grew up with.

  6. Oh come on, there’s no comparison between talking to a guy you might marry and someone you grew up with.
    Unless…y’know…you’re from Kentucky or West Virginia.

  7. On a date you are being evaluated and judged. Sort of like testifying under oath. You hear a constant voice in the background saying “You’d better be careful what you say!”

  8. nephtuli, all i meant was that for most people the ACTUAL gender difference isnt the problem. its the fact that you mentioned that is. they just blame it on “cuz its a guy”

  9. G – not cool. Even if the state I live in uses the motto “Thank G-d for Mississippi,” which in turn uses the motto “Thank G-d for Arkansas,” you shouldn’t stereotype Southern states like that. There’s just as much inbreeding going on in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont as there is in ‘Bama.

    As to the topic of the thread –
    Simple difference – On a date, the stake is waymore than just a casual conversation. It’s the difference between playing in your home poker game and getting a seat at the WSoP.

  10. And that’s the problem… The stakes should be a few bucks plus a few hours… Of course when hundreds of hours of ‘research’ goes into every date the stakes are (artificially) forced up.

    But don’t ya’ll believe that HaShem sets up the shidduchim? Do you really think you’re going to ruin His plan because you made a bad joke?

    I always talked on dates and never tried to hide my opinions (which wasn’t always appreciated).

  11. Actually, on dates one should stop trying to be perfect and instead try to be themselves. That way, if your date doesn’t like you it’s valid and if he does he’s liking the real you instead of your perfect face.

    (My husband decided he liked me when I dropped my fork on the second date and laughed. He says it was the first time he saw me as a “real person.”)

  12. why is it so hard to talk on a date?–> the pressure of just being a date, the impressions you want to leave etc. And frumgirls said what I was going to – just be yourself. It’s actually easier than trying too hard to impress.

  13. “Be yourself, because the people who care don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t care.”

    I think that’s my response to the post, to G’s comment, and a few other comments.

    I’ve found that the people who are best able to be themselves on dates have a much easier time on dates.

  14. Hence the problem with stiff and stifled shidduch dating, thus the preference for natural meetings.

    I always say that I can’t imagine marrying someone that I meet through a shidduch date… It’s just so akward… Never mind that I am the world’s biggest blabbermouth and can talk a mile a minute if I feel like it… See train sketches….

  15. Dunno; judging by your explanation of your lab professor, I would hazard that you’re in Meridian’s lab. Am I right?

  16. Pingback: Conversation Discussion Part 2 of 3 | Bad for Shidduchim

  17. Pingback: Friday Repost: Why is Conversation So Hard? | Bad for Shidduchim

  18. When you meet for a date, you are looking to see if the match can be integrated into your life as a lifetime mate. That’s hardly the approach you take with others you converse with. With the latter you seek to gain advice, ideas, anecdotes – whatever – but not the significant stuff that has to do with your personal requirements.

    On a date you “invest” a lot – first by cleaning yourself up, dressing up and arranging your schedule AROUND that upcoming date that takes much focus. Then, when face to face, and the attraction is at least somewhat riveting, then you begin to explore deep personal involvement. This is no simple task for often it means divulging something you’d not normally tell people but you would want your spouse to know. This takes commitment and commitment is rewarding – if it ends up as a productive match. However, if the match proves unrewarding in the end, the commitments made, by divulging this and trying to sense that, can drain you, spiritually and physically.

    Then, because you’re not yet with a mate, you’ve got to give it another try, and go at it. Do this once, twice a week, or once, twice or thrice a month, and you become DRAINED. That’s why it’s so hard.

    It takes much effort in wanting something badly and being disappointed, over and over again; Not because the mechanics of the date is hard – but because of the spiritual letdown. After all, what you’re seeking is a spiritual uplift.

    But for those who worry about their letdowns, take comfort in knowing that every failed letdown is one step closer to the ultimate uplift.

    After all, the Olympic highjumper, to gain his ultimate height, must take a few steps back before he makes his winning leap. Similarly, a seed that is planted in the earth, must first experience a rotting – before it can blossom into a beautiful big tree bearing much sweet fruit.

    As chassidus teaches – each temporary downturn is nothing but a:
    ירידה לצרך עלייה

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