I approach the keyboard with fear and trembling for, lo, it is the hour to advise men on how not to be boring, and I fear that there is not much point. A few women--Boadicea, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, St. Teresa of Avila, Margaret Thatcher--are natural-born leaders of men. I am none such. My influence over the male sex in general is limited. Commanding Officer--no. Siren--no. Mother--no. Although I do have some success in teaching men how to write well, my sphere is almost entirely Auntie. Would the Nice Catholic Boys of the blogosphere, having sawed through the apron strings of mothers and elementary school teachers, take seriously the veiled critique of an Auntie? I can only write, "Perhaps."
The other problem is that I am having difficulty calling to mind what it was about boring men that so bored me, for understandably I have shoveled their conversations from of the parlours of my mind into the lumber rooms at the back. However, I will try to assemble a short list. Women who supplement this list in the combox are asked to do so with a light touch and with motives of Christian charity.
1. Pay attention to the woman with whom you are meeting. Hold the door. Help her out of her coat. Ask her if she would like a glass of water or a drink. Ask her if she would like a menu. Many women find it both startling and agreeable to have a man be so attentive them. If she says "I can take off my own coat," she was born in a barn, so don't ask her out again. And don't argue when she insists on paying half the bill.
2. Don't be serious all the time. One of the most amusing men I know constantly comes up with puns. Sometimes they are clever, and sometimes they are absolutely frightful, but they all point to a quicksilver mind and a light heart, two qualities women adore. Women like men who can make them laugh. Like many cliches, it is true.
3. Keep your language scrupulously clean around women. A man who lards his conversation with the F-bomb and allusions to sex is not only dull to most NCGs, he's faintly disgusting. Men who watch their language around ladies make the ladies feel like ladies, which NCGs tend to like. It can be a nasty world of coarse thoughts and language, and we'd like you to protect us from it, not subject us to more of it. Only one of the few men I talk to these days ever drops an F-bomb, and as he is older than my mother, I let him get away with it. I don't like it, though.
4. Some talk about yourself is okay, but a lot is not unless you are asked. Women too like a whiff of mystery, and you should stretch out the revelations of your manifold excellences over a period of time. Otherwise you might sound like you are bragging and arrogant. Many a humble lad, just hoping to impress a lovely girl on the first date, has been wrongly dismissed as arrogant. You can avoid this by saying, "But enough about me. Are you enjoying your career?"
5. Do not play mindgames. Gentle teasing and banter are okay, even excellent, but if you are reading Pick Up Artist manuals (or, God forbid, taking PUA courses), you are no longer a nice man.
It is true that it is a good idea to wait two or three days after a date or meeting or whatever before calling a twenty-something or an unusually fragile thirty-something woman again. This is so she has time to process and not be made nervous by too anxious a courtship.
6. As I said to women, be well-informed about the news of the day and have a smattering of general culture. Don't bang on and on about your favourite subject unless you are sure the woman is actually interested in that subject. And the fact that she says she is, is not positive evidence that she is. Women forget that men don't communicate the way women do and are lousy at mind and atmosphere-reading. Gauge her interest by the questions she asks. Some women will sit through an offensive-to-them monologue in stoney silence for ages, enjoying the contempt growing in them, before storming off. Alas.
7. Don't talk about something you know absolutely nothing about. If you know absolutely nothing about something, don't fake it. Just ask intelligent questions or listen in attentive silence.
8. Drunk is boring.
9. Too much silence is boring, although many women still do like the Strong, Silent Type. Remember to grunt occasionally, to show you are listening. And go work out at the gym, so that you actually are strong. The Weak, Silent type is not very popular.
10. Your personal problems may be intensely interesting to you, but they are boring to the vast majority of women. It is not nice to use women as unpaid therapists. By all means hire a real therapist, and keep conversations with other women baggage-free.
11. If you really love a woman, ask her to marry you within a year. Otherwise she might grow bored of you-as-boyfriend. Nicer, kinder women than I may protest, but frankly I cannot see the point of boyfriends-as-boyfriends. I am glad I married B.A. within 8 months of meeting him because it would have been very boring indeed to be a long-distance girlfriend. Being a long-distance fiancee at least gave me something concrete to work towards. And if we get mad at each other, we have the grace of the sacrament to help us get over it, which is not something boyfriends and girlfriends have.
12. When a woman says "It's Over", it's over--unless there was an ultimatum attached. If she kicks you out of your shared apartment saying "Don't come back without a ring", don't come back without a ring. If she says she doesn't want to marry you, she doesn't want to marry you, so don't nag and cry and go on hunger-strike. (Don't laugh--a guy did all that to me.) If you've decided to "be friends", don't sulk during your catch-up coffees. I don't know why you would put yourself through that, though.
I hope this is helpful. Deep down, I adore men. Men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life.