Monday, May 26, 2014

The Art of Conversation

When it comes to dating, other than just giving up... I've been worried that I simply don't have the tolerance for the mundane conversation required.

Maybe I've lost my mojo. Maybe I'm just not interesting any more.
I hate talking about work. Why does everyone want to talk about work? We work to live, people. Not live to work! Let's stop making it so important.

I've never really been good at flirting. At minimum, I can flirt with someone I'm interested in, but I can't flirt for the sake of flirting. I know women who can. Not too long ago, I went out with a friend who is twice divorced and frantically searching for her next husband. She ended up spending the whole evening talking with two men over 60, who she wasn't interested in, flirting with them! I could barely even act polite after the first 10 minutes! Eww!

Anyway. Lately I've felt like the art of conversation has been all but lost.
Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm the boring one.

This weekend, I was invited to dinner with some older couples. They had a man to introduce to me. I only went because they asked. I didn't have high hopes.

But before that dinner, another couple had a little get-together at their house, and I was able to swing by for almost two hours. At their party, I met a nice young man (probably too young for me) and we naturally started a conversation that moved easily from one topic to another, each of us speaking in equal portion, laughing, smiling. He picked up on my animated nature, even stoked it a little.
We talked about our interests, mostly his... but we did not talk about our jobs at all. It was so nice.

And I thought. Wow, I'm glad I came, because this is good practice for what is likely to be a dreadful evening.

Then I went to my set up.
The man they had for me to meet was kind and polite. But making conversation was a struggle. He talked about his job and asked about mine. And the conversation stagnated.
We sat next to each other all evening, but it was all awkward.
At one point, he said something interesting that caught my attention. That he was planning a vacation and was looking forward to scuba diving.  "Scuba diving. Wow," I said, "I've always wanted to do that! Sounds like you've done it before!?"  Yes.  He turned to respond to another guest.

Whomp woomp. Dude. Time to talk about this activity you're passionate about! I just expressed interest in your interest! Roll with it!
Not another word was said about it.

As conversation moved around the table, even I had to work hard to interject... the married couples sort of dominated the conversation. Mr. Set Up had nothing to say.
And that's fine. Not everyone needs the center of attention. Not even me. But I do expect someone, a grown, adult man, to be able to contribute to the conversation.

My evaluation of this dating prospect was that he's not very outgoing. Almost timid. And if you've ever met me, it's hard to imagine me with someone who is not outgoing.
So I'm not going to feel bad for not being interested.

As I drove home, after he kindly walked me to my car in our friend's driveway, and opened my door...   I thought about how easy it was to talk to the guy at my friend's party. How conversation just flowed as conversation is supposed to. Even if we're not interested in each other, it was nice to know that IT'S NOT ME!  Maybe the dates I've been on really were THAT BAD. I don't have to blame myself for failed conversation.

Sure. Maybe I could work harder to coax conversation out of someone, to push for their interests and draw things out them.
After all, I interview people for a living. But even then, there are interview guests who don't know how to respond to questions, and I find myself treading water for both of us!

On a date, with grown, adult men, I shouldn't have to coax conversation.
If they haven't learned how to talk by now, it's not my job to make them social.

Thank goodness for that conversation with an interesting guy, or I would have thought it was MY failure. Again.