For the Peanut Gallery: Offensive Defensiveness

This came up over Shabbos:

You’re on a date and your partner is grilling you aggressively. (“What are you learning? Who do you learn with? How much do you cover?” or “What are you studying? Why? What do you plan to do with it?”) You’re pretty sure it stems from lack of experience and nervousness. You’d like to gently deflect the questions and change the course of the conversation to something lighter and friendlier without offending the other party or making them think you have something to hide.

What do you do?

12 thoughts on “For the Peanut Gallery: Offensive Defensiveness

  1. “I appreciate your enthusiasm and interest but I feel like the inquisition didn’t end in the 15th century. Perhaps we can switch to something a little less intense…?”

    (Heard, echoing in the background): The Comfy Pillow! Get the Comfy Pillow!

  2. Just answer the questions. Its not a big deal and it shouldn’t take more thena couple of answer. Whatare yÖu learning ? Msaechet blank, I cover blank amount a day with such and such commentaries, my chavrusahis a great guy from blank and we compliment each others styles. No biggy and your done.

  3. As dicta, I sometimes ask “inquisitive” questions on dates because I am genuinely interested (and not nervous or inexperienced) in people and appreciate that I can learn something from everyone. I’d have no problem if my date told me she felt under the spotlight. I understand that my curiosity and questioning, which is the norm in my family (yes, we’re the ones asking really probing, in-depth questions on a tour of a fishery, historical site, or wherever), can be misunderstood by the more relaxed type. However, I feel that if a deep topic arises (usually the topics that most lend themselves to probing questions and playing devils-advocate), I won’t shy away from the chance to further understand my dates’ perspectives even though I know that there are some females out there who are pre-programmed by the “rules” to think that all conversation on the first couple of dates should be “light[].”

    My perspective is: why waste the first three dates with ONLY the same inane banter of seminary stories when you can cut to the chase and ALSO discuss things that actually matter. What’s that, I hear? It takes females time to warm up to a guy and start talking about less trivial matters? I may be an outlier, but tough luck. Some guys don’t have the time or money to wait X meetings before their dates open up or warm up or however you want to describe casting off a robotic personality for a human one. I am not necessarily talking about you, reader, but instead am thinking of some past dates of whom I was told that they need, i.e., a good 7 dates before they open up. That is a bit extreme, but the same thing bugs me that females can’t totally be themselves on the first date.

    Bad4, I know this is not what you were directly discussing, but it is tangential. Please, answer me this: why do you want to “deflect the questions and change the course of the conversation?”

  4. I’m usually myself on first dates.

    If I’m being grilled, I’ll answer to the best of my ability. If the guy is a griller, he usually doesn’t like what I tell him. On a phone call a guy asked for my rabbinic role models. I blinked. He rattled his off. We never went out.

    But if you’re in a playful mood, grill right back.

    “What sort of relationship do you have with your mother – healthy or unhealthy? And by unhealthy is my own personal opinion of what it means.”

    “Which playgroup did you go to at age 3? I want to make sure we have matching hashkofos.”

    “Are you a fan of cottage cheese, and if not, why?”

    In my view, first dates should be more about seeing if personalities can click, and that is not based on facts and figures. Maybe the question and answer session can take place in ten minute increments over the dates so the other party doesn’t feel like they may be incrementing themselves.

  5. Sorry can’t really advise. because…
    LSD (Law School Drunk did you ever realize what your acronym stands for, I’m seriously laughing in my head right now) So far, I’ve had the opposite: I’m ready to actually talk about something of substance, while the guy just wants to chill and have a good time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge proponent of chilling and having fun, but I have friends for that. I don’t want to waste my time doing that with a guy unless I feel like it could go somewhere. And I won’t know if that can happen until we talk “hashkofa.”
    I’m comfortable with the first and maybe also second date filled with “inane banter.” But after that I get frustrated if we don’t had any ‘real’ conversations. If the third date passes and conversation is still shallow, I begin to wonder if my date is shallow too. Maybe that’s too judgmental, but…

  6. I guess I wasn’t clear enough. I’m talking about when the other party is treating the date like a job interview, only with smoothness than the average interviewer. And it has nothing to do with paying for dates, LSD – the question came from a guy. I just posted it.

  7. @Lawschooldrunk – I agree with your points. Good that someone said it.

    @Bad4 – Just stick to the line “That information was on my shidduch resume/profile, somebody didn’t do their homework or come prepared.” Say that in the biggest adult talking to child like voice you can muster (feel free to wag your finger at them for added effect).

    People that grill in a way that can be taken as offensive clearly don’t have very good social skills (good enough reason to ‘dump the chump’). I think if this were to ever happen to you just tell them to go read your shidduch profile for the answers, (maybe bring a print out just in case, kidding!) after all isn’t a shidduch profile/resume supposed to contain all necessary answers to any necessary questions? There is just no reason for grilling on a date, unless it’s a BBQ you’re doing. (Note to self… Outdoor ‘disposable BBQ’ picnic date idea.)

    Someone please explain to me.. and this is the thing I don’t get about most people going on shidduch dates. You read the other person profile before the date, they do the same for you. THIS (shidduch resume/profile) information provided, along with follow up questions to the references should clear all questions about whether or not this person is a good match. How is this so complicated for people?! I just don’t get it. I don’t think I’ve gone out on one bad shidduch date where the person was so completely incompatible it didn’t make sense… minus the times I’ve been lied to about information about the person, or the person had misrepresenting information on their resume/profile. My shidduch matches haven’t worked out for one reason or another, but that’s mostly smaller issues that only come with actually meeting the person, It’s not just me whose done the rejecting, I’ve been given my fair share of thumbs down too. From feedback I’ve been given it’s never been anything that revolutionary or anything that didn’t rear itself after we met in person, and of course there are the odd times I fumble and set a bad first impression.

    Seriously, I cannot imagine how people who are socialized normally and are healthy individuals could have dating problems.

  8. lawschooldrunk, sorry to correct you, but it’s “the soft cushions”, and then “the comfy chair”.

  9. Our main weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear.

    Ha, that can even sound like it pertains to the initial post.

  10. Check Pleaseee, perhaps you can become an evangelist and get girls to open their mouths once in a while on dates and actually add energy to a conversation. Until then, one-sided conversation can usually only be an interview.

    Let’s end the (general) female proclivity for single syllables and yes/no answers!

  11. Agreed!!! However, I always find that I am the one doing most of the talking. Now, I don’t know if thats because I have a lot to say OR because I am very very fearful of encountering an uncomfortably awkward silence. One word answers are a surefire way to end a conversation. If you are dating, you need to let your guard down a little bit and try to engage in a conversation instead of an interview. I find that with almost all first dates, people just talk AT each other. “I am bla bla I am doing this with my life…etc” I guess it becomes more comfortable after a second date.

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