Self Description

Ladies and gentlemen, what I am about to say is profound and new, a thought that hasn’t been thought, an observation that will blow your mind away.

You shouldn’t be self-deprecating on a first or second date.

Seriously. This goes for interviews too. Or any new relationship where the other party is trying to figure out how much of a waste of space you are. It is okay to call yourself a klutz when you trip in the company of people who know you don’t usually do that. Or that, even if you do it constantly, you are great enough that nobody cares. But new acquaintances will assume that any self-deprecating joke has a firm basis somewhere, and they don’t know of any good reason to overlook it.

Don’t get me wrong, O Dates. I love listening to your tales of misadventure – like the time you almost blew up the kitchen or the time you broke the windows you were supposed to clean. They’re very entertaining. And it’s always nice to hear that I need not be ashamed to confess a ticket or two. But boy do you come off sounding like an expensive proposition.

I mean, window glass, parking tickets, and potentially remodeling the kitchen on an annual basis? Seriously, do you think I have time to mull over the latest in kitchen concepts every time you blowtorch the oven – and everything around it?

And no, I wouldn’t ban you from the kitchen. I know of women who were that easily fooled. Their husband burned dinner or jammed the dishwasher and these naïve wives sighed and told him not to bother any more. I’m sure he was laughing all the way to… wherever guys go when they’ve got time to kill.

I know these subterfuges are passed down from father to son. When a young man gets engaged, his father draws him to the side and imparts to him the wisdom of the age: “Make sure your wife gets the bed next to the door, so she has to deal with the kids who come whimpering through it in middle of the night, while you keep snoring.” Ladies, don’t fall for it.

Of course, if he’s bragging out how inept he is even before he’s had the Talk with his father, it’s a really bad sign. Seriously: chances are, I am never going to see you cook, clean, speed, or engage in any of these other activities before we marry. So please – at least try to give me a positive impression of how you perform in these areas.


20 thoughts on “Self Description

  1. I hate to say it but I agree. I learned the hard way that you need to reserve self-deprecation for later in any relationship. Not just dating. In order to break my self-deprecation addiction, I began to think of it as lashon hara of the self.
    People should respect you for your positive traits first before loving you despite your flaws.

  2. Gershon – your comment reminded me of a rebbe I had in high school. If a talmid said something like, “Oh, I’m so dumb,” he would send him to the principal’s office for badmouthing a member of his shiur.

  3. I heartily agree with everything in this post. People just need to be aware of what they say about themselves in general on the first few dates. The whole point is to establish if there is any real connection or sense of camaraderie, not let loose with all your flaws and see if your date can handle that. Presumably these things will, and should, come to light over the course the developing relationship – but you shouldn’t hit them over the head with something that will very easily be misunderstood in a negative fashion.

  4. In the workplace it can really hurt you if you keep apologizing for mistakes or even non-mistakes. If you really screwed up, a quick mea culpa and move on.

    And in our house we call the dishwasher jamming and similar ineptitude “strategic incompetence”.

  5. “Seriously: chances are, I am never going to see you cook, clean, speed” – In all seriousness some guys do know how to cook, do laundry, etc.

  6. I self-deprecate. It’s almost a reflex; my mother begs me not to before a date, but I just can’t stop. But my self deprecation doesn’t have to do with destroying property on a regular basis.

    Appreciate the difference between a guy bragging about his juvenile misadventures with the law and self deprecation. When one self deprecates, they are usually saying something that makes them look humbler and unworthy than they are.

    The guy bragging about his driving “prowess” to the extent that the local policeman knows him by names is erroneously thinking the girl across the table will be taken with his cool dude/bad boy image.

    You’ve just been voted off the island, buddy.

  7. Bad 4, great analysis and pearls of wisdom!!!
    I kinda managed to ” self depreciate” CONSCIOUSLY in order to scare the guy away.
    I can’t say the exact comment since he may read this blog. Suprisingly, I went to a Rav/ Mikkubal who told me that even though ” I like to talk” I should not talk too much about myself in the beginning phase of my dates. Actually, that is a tendency that I have, and I am now aware and trying to stop this bad habit.

  8. I feel like vomiting when I hear people who are too self-appreciative. I mean, you shouldn’t talk about past missdeeds with honor, but you also shouldn’t try to seem like the most self-contained “JAP” to ever walk the earth.

  9. “Seriously: chances are, I am never going to see you cook, clean, speed” – then you aren’t having a full relationship! There should be at least one time when you and your potentially-though-not-yet-fiance (to avoid saying bf/gf) are going to an event together and are late and therefore may speed. You should get to the point where you are relaxed enough to venture INTO each others’ houses, and not just to sit in the living room for the parental grilling session, and thus may witness some household activity. There should be some meals that are not enjoyed in a restaurant, but are cooked at home – he for her, preferably! (although she for him is also good…)

    I speak facetiously, but not entirely.

    On self-deprecating, I think I agree. A little self dep humor is prob’ly OK, but err on the side of not…

  10. REDTred, what if his mikkubal tells him not to speak about himself too much in the beginning phase of his dates?! It’s going to be boring, and there won’t be another date…

  11. Lawschooldrunk,
    LOL- but, seriously I have a professor who revealed her true identity on the second or third class. Is that like a shidduch date equivalent?! Anyway, I actually appreciate her for her honesty besides she has great personality. Prof. even told us dating advice ( she is NON-JEWISH) on how to just allow our dates to TALK ( while we remain SILENT) because eventually the truth will tumble out!

  12. REDTred, when I date women who don’t talk, I feel I have to pull teeth. This equals a bad date experience. They may be silent as a strategy to get me to talk about myself but it would backfire because I actually like listening more than talking (even though I like talking as well). There has to be a natural give and take.

    And, not sure what you meant by the prof. story.

  13. Lawschooldrunk, I just meant that even thought my Professor told us flaws about herself – I was OK with that! For example, she told us that she has fibromyalgia-so, she may forget some words,and that she has a sensory processing disorder -which by the way- has NOT YET made it to the DSM.

  14. I agree with lawschooldrunk – going out with girls that DON’T talk is always a surprise (I’ve been conditioned to think that women are generally more talkative) and a very lengthy and painful exercise of trying to throw out starter points that should get conversation rolling. It’s utterly frustrating when I can’t get more than a one word or one sentence answer out of someone.

    I’ve been told that it is also important to get the other person to talk more than you. The complication that could arise, however, would occur when both daters are utilizing the same strategy – and no one talks. I think it’s a safer bet to consciously be aware of how much you’re talking and do your best to have a give and take in the conversation. Stop yourself when you know you’ve been droning on too long and direct a question geared specifically to get the other person talking – then bite your tongue (figuratively – although for some people it may require actual dental-tongue restraint).

  15. Afraid I’ll be the bearer of bad news, but chances are, regardless of strategic bed positioning, that the mother will be dealing with whiny kids in the middle of the night.

  16. Pingback: Top Ten “unofficial” Rules you Might be Breaking on a Date | Solely in Black and White

  17. Pingback: Top Ten “unofficial” Rules you Might be Breaking on a Date « Sibaw's Blog

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