October 5, 2009
Issue: 10.1
Men Who Talk Too Much

They say that women talk more than men, but my experience tells me otherwise. I never cease to be amazed (and put out) by how much men can talk, and non-stop at that, during an initial phone conversation, which, more appropriately, should be referred to as the “initial monologue.” They also say that it “takes one to know one,” and I must admit that I certainly can talk; one need only ask any of my former boyfriends, one of whom affectionately referred to me as a “chatterbox.” However, I listen as much as I talk, something that cannot be said for the men whom I have been meeting lately.

I recognize that men have been bred to try to impress women. In prehistoric times, a caveman could win the heart of a cavewoman based on the size of the mastodon that he killed. Over time, as societies became agrarian, men used other means to win over their beloved. In a certain farming society in Africa, a man is judged by the size of the yam that he cultivates, which is considered indicative of his ability to put food on the table. Later, in the height of literary England, a man could cause a woman to swoon by his ability to pen a romantic letter, professing his everlasting love, while demonstrating his capacity to think, to write, and to make a living doing so (I was born a few centuries too late).

In this Information Age, when initial meetings take place by e-mail, followed by phone, men, at least initially, do not have a visible symbol of their masculine prowess at hand, and so they have to rely on, well, information to impress a woman. It would be considered boasting to talk about their car or house, so men have found other ways to impress upon women that they are worthy of a meeting and perhaps a relationship. But somewhere along the line, this attempt to impress has gone astray.

I have had several initial telephone conversations with men whom I have met online that have lasted upwards of two hours. It’s not that we have so much in common or that there is a mutual sharing of relevant information (e.g., what each is looking for in a relationship). Rather, it is that these men have attempted to show me, through long, drawn-out stories, that they are regular ubermenschen. I have spoken to doctors who have told me about brilliant diagnoses that they have made, attorneys who have set legal precedents, and businessmen who have “sold snow to the Eskimos.” Not only that, each seems to be the most loving father who has ever graced the face of the earth, “regaling” me with stories of heroic acts of loving kindness.

I don’t mean to downplay the accomplishments of these men. In fact, in the proper context, such information can be of interest to me. But when a man talks non-stop about his accomplishments, I feel as if I am listening to a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. I find myself moving from hopeful interest to boredom to outright annoyance within the span of about 15 minutes. Even worse, some men will continue to talk, apparently uncensored. One man let me know that, although he lived alone in a three-bedroom house, with a two-car garage, he has so much junk that he has to park his car on the street. Do I need to know this?

Junk-filled garages aside, I do recognize that this verbal “dressing for success” may, in part, be a result of nervousness. I want to tell these men to relax, that I, too, can do some of the talking and even make my own attempts to impress. Even more, I want to shout, “stop, look, and listen!” There’s another person here who has something to say. I am looking for a man who takes an interest in me and pride in my accomplishments, who can be a good companion, and with whom I can have a “give-and-take.” He also should know that what would impress me the most, by far, is his knowing not only when to talk, but also when to listen.

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