Verbal Cartwheels

For most of my life, my impression of how men operate on a personal level has been formed predominantly by books. (Brothers don’t count, as they are generally not held to be representative of normal human beings by anyone related to them.)

Since I began dating, I’ve realized that authors, apparently, haven’t either met many real human men either. (Possibly they base it on their brothers.) I’m still trying to figure out how much of that stuff is accurate, and recently, wondered about one particular stereotypical fiction-guy behavior.

According to fiction, when a man is besotted with a woman, he reverts to the same knocke-em-flat tactics he employed as a 6-year-old: namely, showing off. Now, the modern man knows enough not to do cartwheels in front of his beau belle’s house, a la Tom Sawyer, but he does still have other, more verbal, options open to him. He can brag about his exploits and he can snub the ignorant masses. Not grossly. I’m referring to telling stories wherein most people are badly informed and he gently corrects them, about his great feats of physical daring, or humorous anecdotes about some of the foolishness he’s seen (“Just between us two Thing-knowers, can you imagine?!”) and so on.

If you have reason to suspect that he’s besotted (the little pink hearts in his pupils give it away), is this excusable? Or does it not matter, and you can put him down as somewhat smug?

Is there even such a phenomenon in the first place, or can men keep their heads even when it’s over their heels?


58 thoughts on “Verbal Cartwheels

  1. Bad4:
    Hope this is an insightful question arising as a result of you becoming Good4 ???
    Keep up the great posting!

  2. I would think, if “smitten” is on the table, the fellow in question would be so breathless with joy that he would not dare mar the beauty of the moment by polluting it with his mediocre expressions of worthiness.

    I’m not interested in any sort of chest-puffing of any kind, no matter the motivation, as I myself, oddly, tend to self-deprecate when faced with an object of my affection, while I tend to boast when seated across from pompous idiot.

  3. It makes more sense for guys to brag when trying to get a girl, who they probably see as being “better” than them, to think they are worthy of her. What I don’t understand is the self-deprecating that guys do on dates. Honestly I can say that I have done both, even though I try not to. Usually what happens is I’ll get nervous and make a self-deprecating joke, then I’ll think that I gave her a bad impression of myself so I’ll overcorrect by bragging about something. Fortunately this is usually only a small part of the date and the rest of the time I act more normal. If you wonder why guys take long bathroom breaks, sometimes we’re just in there banging our heads against the wall for saying such stupid things, or maybe that’s just me.

    You must read different books than I do b/c in the books I read (e.g. Stuart Woods and W.E.B. Griffin) the guys are always perfect, rich, tall, good looking and well mannered (i.e. just like me). JK 😉

  4. Really good question here!!!!
    So far most of the boys I have dumped have been because they are full of themselves and act arrogant on the dates. Some people can attribute this to their need to qualify themselves. Whatever it is they are feeling THEY SHOULD STOP BRAGGING because it is a huge turn off. ( at least for me)
    Telling your date how cool your car is or how much you tipped the waitress is in poor taste and is probably a leading cause of “getting dumped syndrome”
    Better he should concentrate on holding the door open and not letting it slam on my face or something useful of the sort.
    Did anyone ever have a guy offer you his coat on a date? Is that weird?

  5. BJG- You hit the nail on the head. Often the girl is “better” than the guy, or he just wants to impress her. I have definitely been tempted to brag in the past, I sometimes give in and sometimes I don’t. The reason a guy does this is to try to convince the girl the he is worth of her love. He wants to be taken into her heart but why would she want to do that if she didn’t feel that he was “worthy” and could protect her. That is the feeling.

  6. Schoolgirl: I’m not trying to judge you, I don’t know you. But, I hope you’re not dumping guys after one date b/c they were bragging, they probably were either intimidated by you or just nervous and talking without thinking. Granted it is pretty weird to tell a date how much you tipped and if that same guy was letting doors slam in your face you have a right to be upset, but I would recommend at least giving them a chance to see if they’re more normal on a second date. Also guys like to talk about their cars, if they worked hard to pay for it themselves they are probably proud of it and don’t mean to brag. Kind of like parents talking about their kids, they’re not trying to brag they’re just proud (yes, I just compared kids to a car, maybe I took it too far).

    I have offered my coat to a girl on a date before, it is weird but it’s also impolite not to offer.

  7. I dont think i have ever only dated a boy once !! (ok one time but it was real bad) I think my average is 3-4 dates! So good thing you didnt judge me there. I am also not unreasonable as far as the bragging goes but often it gets way out of hand! ( and most of these boys DID NOT pay for it themselves) I guess Ill never understand the male mind but seriously this is a major issue for me.
    For some reason boys feel the need to explain how they are sooooooo open minded and not closed minded like other yeshiva boys
    how their car is soooooooo cool
    how they did sooo well on their lsats
    how ridiculous they think such and such yeshiva is
    how good at this and that they are
    bla bla bla it gets so old after a while

  8. Schoolgirl: I really wasn’t judging you, I figured you were probably giving them a fair chance. I was just making sure and at the same time giving advice to anyone who may not know better. The kind of things you mentioned in your reply are pretty bad, I can’t blame you for being turned off by them. I don’t think I’m as bad as those guys, there I go, bragging again. I guess men just can’t help it 😉

  9. When you say a boy might feel like the girl he is out with is “better” than him, are you referring to better looking, better conversationalist, better mannered, etc?

    Schoolgirl, it sounds like you’ve been out with a lot of eye-roll worthy guys. My sympathies and may you find a mensch bimheira b’yameinu!

  10. Coralcap: I don’t mean any one thing about her, although the better looking she is, the more likely the guy will be intimidated and brag. I think it’s normal to think that someone you like is better than you, possibly b/c you don’t see their faults yet. Also, in general guys (or at least this guy) think that girls are better than guys. Sensitivity, middos and looks play a part, but it’s also kind of a respect thing.

  11. Great Post! I was thinking the very same thing myself. It’s interesting to hear the Boys’ explanation of the bragging phenomenon.
    I didn’t realize it was such a common vice among Jewish men today. For me-it’s a big turnoff! However, I try to bite my tounge, and pretend to be impressed. If the bragging doesn’t stop after the first few dates….I start to consider referring them to a local Therapist.

  12. I think there’s a difference btwn being a complete braggart and modestly speaking aobut ones interests and accomplishments. I’ve had guys who literally went through their whole schedule of the day in order to show me how shtark they are, and I’ve had guys who’ve told me about their daily schedule just to give me an idea who what their life is like.

    About cars– I once went out with a guy who picked me up in a rly nice brand new car. I assumed it wasn’t his b/c he’s on the young side. Turns out he bought it himself and he mentioned that he worked very hard to be able to buy this car. He said nothing more, nothing less and I was very impressed. Ah yes, it’s not about what you say but how you say it.

  13. thanks for the sympathy Coralcap and yes everything is about how they say it!
    I dont think its fair to cover the bragging issue by saying they are intimidated by girls, maybe I am intimidated by boys but I dont brag to make up for it ? wtvr it just doesn’t make sense but i guess thats proof that girls and guys are built differently (obviously)

    I have reached the point where over purim I saw a boy I was impressed with ( relating to the bragging scale and boisterousness level) so I had myself red to him even though he is a little lower on the totem pole than the other boys I have been dating but his middos are a rare commodity.

  14. Schoolgirl: I didn’t mean to say that it’s OK for guys to brag b/c they’re intimidated. Just that when they first meet a girl a little bit of bragging is common b/c of it. If the bragging doesn’t stop after a couple dates or if it’s more than just occasional comments, it is a problem.

    “so I had myself red to him even though he is a little lower on the totem pole than the other boys I have been dating but his middos are a rare commodity.”

    Sounds like a good move.

  15. Schoolgirl:I’m totally on the same wavelength with you when it comes to middot. I know a guy who isn’t as learned as I might like, but his middot speak are incredible. There’s nothing more attractive in my eyes than a mensch. I recently met a guy who is both learned and a baal middot. Unfortunately for me, he is not dating (one of the guy bloggers should explain that one– why would a guy put himself in a place shidduch enviornment if he’s “not dating?”).

  16. I think you should pay more attention to his bragging-to-self-effacing-comment ratio, than to the mere existence of bragging. If he can do nothing else, or if it strikes you as more odd or annoying than charmingly nervous, it’s a problem.

  17. You mean my bragging about my mafia………. er business connections isn’t something women find attractive? Anyway I don’t have sisters so I have rely on other people’s sisters. Also women tend to want to know what a guy can do (we sometimes get turned into success objects) so to some degree it makes sense for guys to bragg.

  18. No one’s perfect and everyone is allowed three strikes, but I’d say strike one. Not a good sign. Eventually he may talk that way about you.

  19. Everyone has a mix of good attributes and bad attributes. You shouldn’t be excusing someone else’s behavior based on their level of attraction. If you like someone enough, or more specifically if you value their good attributes more than the bad, i.e. haughtiness, then in the scheme of things it shouldn’t matter.

    As an aside, girls do this too, just proportionately less and in a manner that is not nearly as pretentious.

  20. I say if he brags with you then he’s probably just the bragging type. But still, I don’t think the average Southerner in Mark Twain’s time acted in exactly the same way as the average Flatbush yeshiva bochur…

  21. That’s what so difficult about the shidduch system. If you were to see him with his and your friends in the wild, you would quickly know if he’s always a know-it-all, or just when he’s smitten. I guess your fallback is to see how he treats the staff (waiters, doormen, valet, etc)

  22. The fact that someone even knows how to brag is troublesome to me. If someone has middos (in my humble opinion), then they would also have a genetic defect that would prevent any boastfulness.

    If a guy tries to impress an intelligent girl by waving his magnificent plumage like a peacock, how successful do you think his going to be? I’m sure, different strokes. There are peahens out there who do go for that sort of thing. Just not this peahen.

  23. Princess Lea: Are you serious? If so I got some bad news for you, Moshe Rabeinu is not currently in the market for a shidduch. There is no “genetic defect” that keeps a Baal Middos from bragging, quite the opposite, which is what makes it impressive when someone can refrain from bragging. I believe it’s human nature and a good thing to try to make yourself look good in the eyes of someone you like. There’s a thin line between putting your best foot forward and bragging and EVERYONE (not just men) crosses it at some point when they really like someone. Also, IMO, self-deprecating, which I do way more than bragging, is just as bad, if not worse. Basically, I think that a small amount of bragging or self-deprecating = normal, and should be ignored, large amounts of either = big problem.

  24. Did you ever notice that in particular a lot of guys like to brag about their scars?

    I’ve never understood this phenomenon but I’ve found it to be relatively widespread and across the age spectrum as well.

  25. What is bragging?

    “I’m a great tipper.”

    “See my wheels?”

    “This tie? Cost $$$$.”

    This statements could be made in another way, which could come off as casual conversation rather than hitting the female over the head with the male ego.

    And, what you choose to brag about and how makes all the difference.

    “Well, I visit my grandfather every Sunday . . . I used to spend a lot of time with him when I was small, and want to keep that up . . .”

    I don’t care about your tie.

  26. OBVIOUSLY they dont say ” im a great tipper ” or “see my wheels” at least the boys i date dont Ive got to give it to them they r preeeeeeeetty classy bout it BUT thats part of the problem they will softly and slyly say something that is like HUH why wud u tell me that.
    EXAMPLE: oh dont worry we should b ok tonight even though the restaraunt is busy PAUSE I TOOK CARE OF IT (followed by huge smile)!!!!
    hello thats not something normal to say like do what u have to do and shut up about it.

  27. schoolgirl:
    basically, you’re slyly noting that they’re good (at boasting), but you’re better (at noticing what they’re doing).

  28. not really i dont think it takes too much to figure that one out its kind of in your face no ???
    i really rather not notice it – would make dating easier. Im sure everyone has at least a little part of them that boasts ( at least i do) and i think thats pretty normal but when its so apparent there is nothing i can do but say no to another date. THe way i see it is that if its so bad on date three what will happen in two years????

  29. I agree with a bunch of your examples – that it was inappropriate for the guy to say what he did to you – but I do think you are taking the whole “boasting” thing a little bit too far, to the point where you may suspect your date is boasting if he says something that can be construed as boasting, even if that’s not what he meant. I don’t think it’s wrong for a date to talk about his/her experiences doing chessed work, even though that can be construed as saying “I am so nice,” as long as the experience wasn’t told for that purpose. I also don’t think it’s wrong for a date to tell stories that include him reacting pleasantly to other people, even though that can be construed as saying “I am so pleasant,” as long as story wasn’t told for that purpose.

  30. You girls are scaring me, I thought girls were more understanding. If I’m going to talk on a date about how great I am at something, how much money I paid for something, or in general why I’m better than everyone else, I expect the girl to be annoyed. I also expect that she won’t analyze every stupid thing I say or do. Now I’m going to be nervous when I go to pick a girl up, maybe I shouldn’t drive my car b/c it’s expensive and she might think I’m bragging. I’m sure most of you are more understanding when you’re actually dating and the bragging would have to be pretty bad for you to dump a guy b/c of it. Also girls definitely brag, maybe not as bad as the guys do, but they still do it.

    Schoolgirl: The last example you gave may be weird for a guy to say but I don’t think it’s so bad, the reasons you gave in comment #9 seem way worse to me.

  31. BJG : really thats weird cuz i dont think bragging about ur lsats is so bad i mean hey if ur smart ur smart nothing u can do bout that!!
    i guess the whole money car thing gets on my nerves just bec i feel and was brought up that if u have money great but dont talk bout it. Its obnoxious!!
    Also alot of times its NOT one silly comment its the combination. I think its totally fine to discuss your accomplishments and chessed activities if you want ( that is how she gets to know you technically) but the girl is going to be more impressed if you put your fine middos and chessed like tendencies into action on the date.
    IE: I once was on a later date ( not 1-4) and it was really raining hard and the car was parked far away. SO we trudged through the puddles and by the time we got to the car i was soaking wet head to toe. NOW dont you think it would have been polite for him to get the car? I know this sounds spoiled but heck I was about to offer. I mean why should we both get wet??? ( ok and i was wearing heels)
    Same thing with opening doors. I understand if the guy wants to go in first but DONT LET THE DOOR SLAM?? I wouldnt let it slam on him. I mean when I am shopping and go into a store and there is ANYBODY behind me I politely keep the door open from the inside for them. Doesnt everybody?
    So what’s up with the whole not keeping the door open thing?

  32. BJG: That does happen to get me ( and prob most girls) nervous when a 23 yr old guy pulls up in his gleaming fancy ridiculously expensive car. Why do you need that car? Even if you can afford it. What are you going to get when your forty? lambourghini?

  33. I like a Maserati as much as the next person. JUST DON’T TALK ABOUT IT.

    And BJG: We do analyze everything you say.

    Anything you say can be held against you in a court of law.

    If you prefer to have your lawyer present, that’s your prerogative. He may assist you in clarifying statements that may be misconstrued by the defendant, I mean date.

  34. schoolgirl:
    Maybe his rich grandfather bought him the car as a graduation present, and he couldn’t say no because it was already bought. Yes, driving a ridiculously expensive car CAN indicate that his priorities are skewed in regards to $, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate this. So, just because he drives a fancy car, I don’t think that alone should be viewed in a negative light.

  35. Im not saying i dump them cuz they drive a nice car…………just i think its indicative of the troubled times we live in
    and yes maybe his grandfather bought him the car……thats why he still has the whole date to impressme and make up for it 🙂

  36. Schoolgirl: For the most part you’re absolutely right. I don’t blame you for being annoyed by that kind of behavior, as long as you give him a fair chance, The reason I don’t think the restaurant comment is so bad is that, it sounds like a stupid nervous thing to say rather than an obnoxious thing (e.g. Guys that learn by that Rebbe are not as smart as the guys that learned by my rebbe).
    The guy should definitely not make you walk through the rain or let the door close in your face, however if it was a one time thing and every other time he held the door or got the car, it could be he was just distracted. Although if that’s the case he would probably apologize when he realized what he did. As far as driving a nice car, it bothers me that someone would hold that against me. Until recently I always drove nice but not expensive cars and I found them to be boring. A few months ago I needed a new car and I figured, I’m 25, single, working and bored, why can’t I buy an expensive car? So, I did and honestly I regret it b/c it’s not much different than a cheaper car and I don’t “need” it. Bottom line is I pay for it myself and I should be proud of that, not embarrassed b/c some girl will think I’m showing off. Also, the Lambo is scheduled for delivery when I turn thirty, the Gulfstream at forty. I may come across as materialistic, but honestly I’d trade my car, house and money (not that I have much yet anyway) for a happy quiet life with people I love, if I had to. Of course I intend to have both.

    Princess Lea: I wouldn’t mind having everything I said analyzed if I got to see what conclusions the girl was coming to and if I were able to respond back. If girls provided us with a report of everything we did wrong on dates, life would be easier.

  37. We girls ALWAYS analyze everything the guy says on a date-which is not so good because I’m sure that most of the time we’re over analyzing and he didn’t really mean it that way…Also I don’t think the car thing is bad-if you make enough money to buy a nice car, go for it! Plus, I’d rather ride in a nice fancy car than an old broken car with no air conditioning in the summer (yes I’ve had that experience=not fun).

  38. I guess if the guy is working its not that weird if he bought himself a nice car…………i ll give u that one
    none of the boys i have dated have been tho so u can probably understand where im coming from with that

  39. Schoolgirl: I definitely understand that, especially if you’re going to have to support that guy and his expensive tastes. The question I always have is what to do when renting a car, I have a corporate account that gets me free upgrades so one time I picked a girl up for a date in a Camaro (really bad idea, but she didn’t mind) and the next time in a Cadillac. I know it probably makes it look like I’m showing off, but isn’t it kind of a sign of respect to show up in a comfortable car (not a Camaro).

  40. its not that i have to support him more that i think its in poor taste to flaunt ur parents money in the form of an expensive car at age 23.
    Um so the rental cars…..if i was u i would stick with the ugly fords they have and not do the cadillac thing. It would depend on what kind of guy you are. The idea of boys renting fancier or cooler cars on dates does not really get me nervous because I know boys enjoy cars. But on the other hand ( depending on the situation) it sometimes makes me think the guy is a loser……
    Sometimes the boy will excuse the rented cadillac and say “it was only car they had” or “this is what they gave me” which at first thought sounds dumb but i think they have good intentions and dont want you to think they are showing off. That is much better than the alternative of when they actually ARE showing off.

  41. Schoolgirl: Yeah, but it’s even worse if you’re going to have to support him. As far as rentals, I can’t go for the real cheap ones, I need the XM radio and I’m probably going to be driving a lot so I want to be comfortable. Also if I’m in town for something other than the date, I rent based on what’s most fun, which is how I ended up with the Camaro. It was awkward b/c everyone was staring at us and someone stood in front of the car and took our picture when we stopped at a red light (this was right after the new model came out so I guess people hadn’t seen it before). If the girl brings it up I just say that it was the same price, I don’t lie about it. Anyway, I’ve never been dumped b/c of the car I drove, so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.

  42. So what would you like the guys to talk about? What types of things impress girls about a guy? What things would you consider to be in good taste?

  43. yea exactly no one normal is gonna dump u for that so dont overthink it
    #47 – just talking and acting in a thoughtful manner. You can talk about whatever you want just do it in a way thats not annoying.
    what impresses me? – when i can tell he has his head on straight and has good middos. I also find it impressive when its easy to tell that the guy is smart.

  44. I wouldn’t hold a rental car against a guy. Not that I’d notice what car it is. I’ve had guys comment on their cars as if I was supposed to have noticed the model and recognized the year and I’m just like, “What?”

    And I’m not talking about bragging like “I’m a good tipper.” That is very obviously bad manners and I wouldn’t feel the need to ask about it online.

    More like, during the ‘do guys know halacha’ conversation that follows the ‘lemon’ question, he’ll say something like, “I know halacha – more than most yeshiva guys, I think. There was time I did this edgy thing and the other guys thought I was being over on this and this laav but really I knew it was muttar because of this reason” and then looks at me for collusion while he’s laughing.

  45. Bad4: I think that kind of bragging is just as bad if not worse than bragging about a car or tip, b/c it’s putting other people down, it doesn’t matter that he’s bragging about something good like learning. Still, I would say it’s excusable if it’s not a common theme with him.

  46. Bad4- that is a very different story than other types of “bragging”. I don’t find that to be so bad, he is showing you that if you want a guy who knows the halacha, not only does he know the halacha but is able to wade through multiple different opinions to come to a conclusion. Though often the ones who don’t know how to decide halacha so well are willing to talk about it in public, how they did X or decided Y. Anivus in these matters are an admirable trait but as with anivus in general it is a hard trait to attain in general. Maybe you should recommend to the guy that he goes to a Mussar Va’ad on anivus.

  47. If boasting is a sign of infatuation, I will have to conclude that a disproportionate number of guys, including some married coworkers, tend to fall in love with me at first sight. Somehow I doubt it.

    Really, an inclination to boast is just a characteristic some people have. From my experience, those who likes showing off will do that with everybody, never mind how attractive/appealing they find them. And those who don’t – will not.

    The one thing I did notice guys doing when trying to get in a girl’s good books is showing their ‘sensitive’ side. And yes, waxing lyrical about nature counts

  48. Someitmes singles, who have faced a lot of disappointment and rejection during their dating career, need to prop themselves up a little by recognizing their own qualities. I think it’s ok to recognize it and let it come up occasionally in conversation. Why should your date only hear about your chesed involvement, for example, from references (if they called any)? But everything in moderation.

  49. Wow this topic is generating a lot of posts! Probably because its touching on the male ego!

    But all you girls are really missing the point. The reason why a guy “brags” on a date is not necessarily because of ego.

    First, lets not use the word “brag”; that’s a loaded word. Lets call it positive self description because that’s really what it is. When a guy talks about himself on a date its not because he’s trying to “show off” but its because he’s trying to let you know his positive attributes. The same way as anyone would do on any interview. I mean, isn’t that the point of meeting someone and interviewing- that you put your best foot forward? Well, that’s all that’s happening when a guy talks about himself on a date!!
    If a guy doesn’t tell you about his accomplishments and how good he is, how are you supposed to know?! Just by a being nice and opening the door and being a sweet guy, in our mind, isn’t good enough. That’s why, if we like you and we want it to go further, we’ll tell you how good we are!

    If you take it the wrong way, then you could be making a big mistake and giving up on a good guy

  50. Wellspring: Boasting could be a sign of infatuation or it could be a sign of a boastful person.

    Sheva Yipol: As other commenters have pointed out, you can say good things about yourself without bragging. For example saying that you’re a good learner might be OK but saying that you know the gemara better than most of the other guys is bragging.

  51. Sheva yipol : its interesting bec that’s the exact response any male I have ever explained this phenomenon to has given me.
    I just don’t understand why you guys have that need!!

  52. Lets say you were pretty, smarty, great personality, and were extremely talented, and you went out with a guy that didnt know about all these amazing traits and he only liked you because he thought you had a ice voice or were a good cook or some other point that you think is trivial. Would that be ok with you? wouldnt you want him to know the attributes that you had that you thought were important to you?? Get my point?

  53. If I’m pretty, smart, and have a great personality, he’ll find that out soon enough. And as for talent, as has been noted, there are different ways of saying it:
    eg: there’s:
    “I make the most amazing cakes! I made this chocolate cake for a l’chaim that was the first thing gone in the room. Everyone went over to the couple and said “Mazal tov – who made that cake? I want the recipe.”
    “I love baking. Especially when something comes out great and everyone enjoys it – it’s very gratifying, you know? I’ve got a recipe for a great chocolate cake that never fails to disappear. I actually have it on my Treo, if you’re interested. The recipe, I mean. Not the cake.”

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