How Do I Handle It If a Guy Does All the Talking On Our Date?

I often find when on a second or third date, the guy will begin to “talk at” me – telling me “how it is.” My friends have found this, too; we laughingly refer to it as a man “going into full lecture mode.” My married sister, a whiz when it comes to understanding the male mind, says that this seemingly-unpleasant behavior is actually a sign that a man likes you; he’s trying to position himself as an expert because he wants to earn your respect.

As an example, on a recent second date I had a fellow ask me (more or less out of the blue) if I fell more on the right or left end of the political spectrum. When I responded, he proceeded to talk at me for a good quarter hour about how my views were completely misguided and pick out examples of how (he assumed) “people like me” thought and then explain why these beliefs were wrong. I could have gone into debate mode (and probably could have rhetorically kicked his ass); instead smiled and gently tried to steer the conversation into less treacherous waters but he was a dog with a bone. Later, he seemed shocked and hurt when I declined a third date.

How should I handle these kinds of things? I know that you’ve described yourself as an opinionated dude who enjoys debate but I don’t want to argue with a man I’m getting to know (especially not since everything I’ve been reading lately seems to point to the fact that we educated white women are seen as b*tchy, angry cows) and I certainly don’t like being talked “at.” I try to maintain my humor and compassion; I know plenty of people are nervous on dates and many were never taught the art of polite conversation. But I haven’t yet found a way to defuse what I find to be annoying, tense situations.

Many thanks,
Henriette

On behalf of all male lecturers, I’m sorry. We know not what we do. We’ve been this way our entire lives. We don’t even realize that we’re not asking questions, because we’re so caught up in what we’re saying. Yet the most interesting thing about being a know-it-all is that it often serves us well.

It may be hard for you to see that when you’re rolling your eyes that you haven’t spoken for twenty minutes, but it’s true.

Contrast the confident, opinionated, alpha male with the insecure, introverted beta male.

The extroverted man is dynamic. He’s well-read. He’s well-traveled. He’s experienced with women. He can tell a funny story that holds you spellbound. He’s not worried about what you think about him. He likes himself so much, he assumes you’re going to as well.

It may be hard for you to see that when you’re rolling your eyes that you haven’t spoken for twenty minutes, but it’s true.

The introverted guy may be just as interesting, funny, and well-read, but if he never offers his opinions, stories, or theories, what exactly do we know about him? Not much. Apart from being a good listener, the shy man doesn’t reveal enough of his personality to make any sort of impression. Women go out with him and say things like, “He seemed nice, I guess. I just wasn’t that attracted to him.”

Why you weren’t attracted to him is simple: because he doesn’t believe in his own product enough to speak passionately about it. By offering no opinions and taking no stands, he comes across as a boring, wishy-washy guy. This doesn’t mean he IS boring and wishy-washy. It does mean that he tends to make such a negligible first impression that he may not get a second date.

Of course, most people fall somewhere in the middle. And you should probably choose men who do.

There are undoubtedly some quiet men who have great observations and sharp wits – that are only revealed when you get to know them.

It doesn’t matter if he’s great when he gets to know you; you don’t have a few months to discover if he has a personality.

And there are some know-it-all men (ahem) who are genuinely inquisitive people, who, despite their penchant to offer their opinions about everything, have the capacity to make you feel important.

It’s largely up to you to figure out where a man falls on this scale. No one would blame you if you cut loose a guy who talked over you – and aggressively argued with you – for two hours straight. That’s an unpleasant and unaware man, and you’d be hard-pressed to have a nice life (much less a nice evening) with him.

Similarly, no one would blame you if you refused to date the guy who has nothing to say. It doesn’t matter if he’s great when he gets to know you; you don’t have a few months to discover if he has a personality.

To your original question, Henriette, I have no doubt that I’ve been some version of “that guy” on a first date. At the same time, the rest of me always ended up shining through. All I can offer you is this: if you were attracted to him, had fun, and think that his lecturing side is only a small percentage of his personality, give him a second date and see what happens. But if you found the whole thing to be rather unpleasant, it’s not your job to teach him to be polite. Find a guy who gets it naturally.