Conversation Discussion Part 2 of 3

Part 1

With a stranger, you can part when it gets slow. But with a date, you’re stuck, so you get anxious about making the experience flow. And the more you worry about making it work, the stiffer you get and the less it works. Keeping a conversation going is easier when you’re relaxed, because your brain isn’t freezing up with “Ohmigosh we’re accelerating into a dead end!” whenever it slows.

It’s also a bit about how much you care about coming across well, and how much you perceive the other person as caring about how you come across. You assume strangers and friends give you leeway for idiosyncrasies. It’s no big deal: most people have friends they would never marry. You know how it works: it’s an idiosyncrasy when you don’t have to live with it, an annoying habit when you do. And suddenly on a date, watching your partner’s reaction to something you’ve said or done, you uneasily begin to wonder if your friends aren’t more tolerant than you realize.

Then suddenly you’re terribly self conscious. You wonder which parts of your personality are the more easily digested, and if maybe you’re laying it on a bit thick too early. For example, I often deadpan lines that are intended to be humorous. It’s a technique more in use across the pond than in the USA, hence the British belief that Americans are functionally unable to recognize sarcasm.  My friends are apparently broken in, but on dates I sometimes find myself lamely explaining, “Um, sorry – I didn’t mean that seriously.”

That, of course, kills things quite quickly, because another thing both partners try to do during a date is react properly to everything. Hence, laughing indulgently at perceived jokes and nodding sympathetically when you’d tell a real friend “You moron, you deserved it.”  When a statement is ambiguous, it can really stall the conversation, while the other party grapples with the meaning. “That didn’t really make sense – maybe it was supposed to be funny? But it isn’t – or at least, I don’t get it. Help! What do I answer?” Instead of “Um, was that supposed to be a joke? Because I so don’t get it.”

Part 3

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18 thoughts on “Conversation Discussion Part 2 of 3

  1. Sigh, the irony of being put in the position of defending Touro. This isn’t about Touro. This is about a unique individual who is a “differently” shaped pot and who needs a matching “cover.” No matter where b4s would be shopping she is still in need of someone unique. I teach at CUNY as well and trust me, the frum boys there aren’t all that different from the boys at Touro; they just all like to believe that there is a difference. They “don’t get the jokes” any better than the Touro boys.

  2. The question is whether bad4 needs the unusual guy who’s like her or the sort of guy who just appreciates the unusuality.

  3. Bad4 is not “unusual”! She has a personality and a brain which is being put to use, which does exist in other flatbush residents (case in point: miou?) there are more of us out there. She’ll find.

  4. I’m not saying she won’t find. What she needs is a top-line designer model, not an off the rack shmate. And that’s “moi.”

  5. Bad4 is as unusual as it comes. She’d be eccentric if only she were twenty years older and had a few cats.

    It is, undoubtably, a considerable portion of her charm. You’re barking up the wrong tree entirely if you think any old nice normal guy will do, even if he’s got considerable brains put to use.

    Generally, the kind of guys who appreciate it when someone is more than just like everyone else are not the sort of guys we were raised to want.

    Call me modern or whatever, but I recognized a that regular smart yeshiva bochur just wasn’t going to cut it for me either and went after something else.

  6. Lawyer,
    Why would you assume b4s is in Touro? 😉

    Girl WBIG,
    To say that b4s is not unusual is, imho, one of the biggest insults you can accord to one of the more exceptional people I know.

    B4s,
    Well, no surprises here, though the comparison raised in part 1 was a worthy observation. And I’m not concerned about how my humor comes across. Many people don’t “get” me, and I don’t think I’d be able to live comfortably with someone who doesn’t have at least a basic appreciation of my style. Just go on being you — after all is said and done, that’s who your chatan will have to go home with, so he may as well know it now.

  7. B4S: perhaps (yichud issues aside) dates should include activities rather than just sitting in hotel lobbies – go and actually DO something, whether its walking in a park or some other activity. If chosen well, this shared experience will be a source of conversation and should lighten the mood away from the very specific focus that a shidduch date would have in a hotel or similar setting which can be stultifying. Keep up the great blogging!
    Anon613 – London

  8. I’m blushing, dreamer. Sheesh – I’m sure my little sister wouldn’t concur with any of the complimentary stuff, though she does think I’m weird. 😀

    Thank you, G. I won’t be surprised, but I will be flattered.

  9. bas melech-

    I don’t think that lawyer is “assuming” that B4s is in Touro, she mentioned to us a few times that she actually is.

    (It could be that she wishes she wasn’t…)

  10. To frumgirls in comment number three- someone who really is an individual won’t be happy with someone who is regular but can “appreciate” it. We can all appreicate different things about each other. It doesn’t mean we want to live with them or choose them as our partners.

  11. I have to disagree with you there, Mindy. Sometimes opposites do well together. For example, many quiet people enjoy loud people (listening, discussing, or watching), and two loud people would not make a very good match. As an example. The loud person would “appreciate” the quiet person and the quiet person the loud, and they would hit it off well, but not be the same.

    It could be the same in other areas as well. Romantic people often do well with someone down-to-earth who appreciates their fancifulness even if they don’t share it (or because they don’t share it) (just look at EB White. The happiest years of his life were those with Katherine Angell, the most down-to-earth and practical woman ever). Similarly, an ordinary person might hit it off with a non-ordinary person, because each appreciates/admires/enjoys the other person’s approach. And they can be complimentary.

    Whatever.

  12. Pingback: Conversation Discussion Part 1 of 3 | Bad for Shidduchim

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

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

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