Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How Not to Be Boring Part 2

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.


healthily sanguine said...

This isn't EXACTLY on topic, but may I say how much I appreciate that you have written "How Not to Be Boring" instead of "How to Not Be Boring" as your header? Split infinitives irk me to no end!! ;)

Nicole Margaret said...

One bit of advice that I was given includes not bring up the competition. It's not attractive to talk about the multiple girls after you or that you think the waitress is hot. This goes for girls too.

dark but fair said...

Dear Seraphic,

Thank you for your post. I agree completely that men are splendid. This post has lovely advice in it for ladies too.

Amy said...

My grandmother used to say, "You must be interested to be interesting." Great advice for all friendships, romantic and otherwise, whether you are male or female.

MorganLaFey said...

On #11: A guy should propose within a year? How would two people figure out within a year that they're called to be together for the rest of their lengthy, unpredictable lives?

Seraphic Spouse said...

Well, my husband and I figured it out in ten days. Married 8 months after meeting in person; still happy 17 months later.

You are called when you're called. Falling in love with a good person who shares your core values and loves you back is a very good indication.

Really, I think a year is enough for people of marriageable age to know if they can live without each other.

dark but fair said...

On # 11: I completely agree with Seraphic. While I respect MorganLeFay's question, I don't see the point of prolonging the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship for longer than a year. Even if the gentleman begins courting within the same month that he has met you (which, in my limited experience, is rare) if he has courted you for one year, he has been through it with you in all your seasons. You and he have probably had a chance to see each other sick, tired, angry, melancholy; and at least one bad hair day. You also have plenty of time to grow in friendship. I have never met a person who needed a whole year to discern whether or not they should break up with somebody. (They did sometimes after longer courstships, but they knew they should have before.) And if you have no intention, of marrying, obviously you should not be courting.
Besides, if you are growing closer together, naturally you want to grow closer and closer. If you are purposefully prolonging it, than maybe you are not that into the person after all.
I am sure Seraphic has written at lengths about this in previous posts far more eloquently than I could.

some guy on the street said...

I think I prefer to remain largely mysterious in my reflections on the matter!

Savannah said...

Can you make both posts of "How Not to Be Boring" into a pamplete or poster to be distributed to all and sundry?