Y Me? When a date becomes an interrogation

Posted 8:37am on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011

Dates are an awkward and terrible way to spend your time, but they are a necessary evil if you're serious about finding someone who will take half of your stuff in three to five years. Getting to know someone is tough enough, without it feeling like a job interview. Conversation is a lost art. I'm getting better about listening and holding up my end of the conversation, but I thought I'd call to attention some common mistakes a lot of people often make (myself included).

I was on a date recently with a lovely woman. She was educated, attractive and we seemed to have a lot in common. The date was a disaster. We never actually had a back-and-forth conversation. It was more like two simultaneous unrelated monologues. The problem was we were both trying to give too many details about ourselves on the first date.

When you're with someone new, it's hard to resist the temptation to try and explain who you are too quickly -- especially when you are 30 and resent dating. I understand why it happens. You've just met someone, and you want to get the awkward getting-to-know-you part over with, and just skip ahead to the fun parts. There are a lot of problems with over-explaining yourself. For one, the temptation to lie about who you are is too great.

I resent any statement that begins, "I'm the type of person who ...," because it's usually followed by a description of the idealized version of yourself you've created. In other words, it's not an intentional lie. You're just presenting a picture of the type of person you wish you were.

Another problem with over-explaining is that you have so much information to put out there, there's no time for the other person to talk. In the case of my recent date, it sounded as though she was going down a checklist of things she wanted me to know about her. I started doing the same thing, and our conversation became almost competitive.

She would say something like, "I'm really into sports; I played tennis all through high school."

Instead of finding common ground in our mutual love for tennis, I responded, "Well, I used to play baseball."

The only reason I knew she even heard me is because I could tell she was getting annoyed. The rest of the date, she just pretended to listen to me, while thinking of the next thing she was going to say.

The opposite of over-explaining is over-questioning. Too many of my dates have treated it like a job interview -- like I'm applying for the position of future baby-daddy. They don't want to have a conversation, they just want to know where you see yourself in five years.

I recently went on a date that felt more like an interrogation. I'm pretty sure I admitted to crimes I didn't commit, buckling under the pressure of my date's barrage of questions. I call these girls "interviewers." Anyone who treats a date like an interview is not interested in getting to know you -- they just want to see if you fit into their preconceived idea of what they want in a man.

It's easy to talk about yourself, but if that's all you ever do, you'll never get to know your date. And if all you do is ask questions, your date might just say whatever it takes to end the quiz. The solution is pretty easy: Don't go into the date with a script of how you think it should go. Just chat. Listen and respond. And if that fails, go see a movie or go to a loud bar where it's impossible to hear anything. Talking is overrated anyways.

Got a question or comment for Y Me? Would you like to keep questioning him until you determine whether or not he’s Mr. Right? E-mail him at dating@dfw.com.

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