Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Don't Talk Yourself Up

I've been on a number of first dates, or early dates anyway, during which the girl essentially tried convincing me that she was hot shit. This hasn't typically been outright bragging. In fact, I think in all instances that I can recall, the girl has ostensibly just been telling me about her dating history or personal experiences. But her narrative has been laced with comments about how she is usually the one to end relationships, or how she goes on a lot of first dates, or how she just can't seem to find someone that is intelligent but confident, extroverted but thoughtful, good looking but humble, etc. - all of which imply that she has options with men and is generally amazing. Other girls have talked almost immediately and incessantly about how much they've traveled, or their multiple degrees, or their great jobs. Their underlying message is "See? I am a great catch; you should want to date me." They are talking themselves up.

This doesn't annoy me or turn me off from a girl. As I said, it is usually stated very casually and comes across as factual rather than arrogant or cocky. I've never thought "Wow, this girl is full of herself," or decided that I shouldn't hang out with her again because of it. In most instances I've just listened, and quitely acknowledged that the girl was trying to put her best foot forward. Yet in most cases, after getting to know her, I've been the one to end the relationship and she's been the one trying to hold on. And she's looked stupid because, after coming in with such an obvious "look how great I am" speech, she's been the one to walk away unwanted. When pride comes before the fall it makes you look stupid, even if it isn't your pride that causes the fall.

So next time you are on a first date and trying to impress, consider the following:

1. If you talk yourself up, you are likely to look foolish to the guys that you are most interested in impressing. If you are attracted to them, chances are that they will also turn out to be/do/have the things that you consider "impressive." After initially showing off, you may gradually start to realize that the guy you were showing off for is actually in the same league as you, if not one higher. The frame will flip. Your game will actually work against you, because you will end up looking pathetic for bragging about what (to him) isn't such a big deal.

2. A man will be infinitely more impressed by a girl that reveals herself gradually and naturally, than he will be by one that plays all of her best cards at the outset. Behaving this way is attractive because it demonstrates not only humility, but also security and depth of personality. As a man gradually and naturally learns about your strengths (for example, when they come up in the natural course of conversation, or when he asks you about them), he will get the subtle yet strong impression that you are "bottomless," and that you feel no need to impress him. He will be drawn into your depth and attracted by your confidence.

32 comments:

  1. Oh, thank you for this. That's what I always though, and hearing that from a guy, totally validates my thinking. Thank you.

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  2. I agree that it is extremely annoying when a woman goes on and on about traveling. I get the feeling that women are far more impressed with traveling experiences than are men.

    A woman who brags about her many degrees typically has some serious underlying insecurities. I have a law degree from a top law school and am not easily impressed. I also know that having lots of degrees is practically meaningless if the woman didn't actually even pursue a career in the field to which the degree relates - if that is the case, why brag at all?

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  3. omg,.,.this is soooooo true!tried an tested!i am a girl by the way!u know wat they say,.,.the emptiest barrel makes the loudest noise!

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  4. Great post!
    I agree with the poster above who thinks that women may put more emphasis on traveling than men does. I particular I know some American women who make a great deal about constantly going to Europe (Paris, London..) whereas the men they know rarely go abroad. These women often think their traveling make them jet-setters etc. Do men agree? Is a woman who's always often to a different location attractive? And will her talking about it make her full of herself?

    How does men really feel about a woman's financial situation? When I was a student in another country I had this "problem". For some reason some people assumed I was very rich (maybe due to expensive clothes or sth) and I felt like I "let them down" by telling them or showing them I lived in a studio and everything was quite normal. What I mean is I FELT they might get the idea that I was trying to make myself look wealthier than I was. Will guys think this way? Say you have a certain opinion of a girl as well-off and it turns out she lives rather modestly, will you think "ah-HAH!"?.

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    1. "These women often think their traveling make them jet-setters etc. Do men agree?"

      No. Well, we might agree that they are "jet-setters," but it doesn't make us more attracted to them. As least not in any significant way. It makes them mildly more interesting, but men are not looking for a woman who is independent and has a strong sense of adventure (this is what women want in a man). I have a post loosely related to this coming up.

      Regarding finances...

      For me, what matters more than how much amoney woman makes or what class she is from, is how different she is from myself. For example, if I were rich I would probably have trouble dating a poor girl, not because she is poor per se, but because the class disparity means we are from different cultures, and would have trouble identifying with each other. Likewise, a poor man would have trouble finding common ground with a rich girl, even if her status makes her ostensibly "better." Of course there are exceptions, but I think this is true for most men.

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    2. Thanks!
      - By "independent" you mean someone who clearly has that type of attitude? I have traveled a lot and over time learned to take well care of myself and organize things, but I don't have that "outspoken" or 'career woman' attitude. I think a lot of girls have trouble figuring out how to balance this - we hear men often want to feel 'needed' but at the same time a girl shouldn't be clingy. I want to come across as someone who's able to travel and have a good life on my own but at the same time as someone who would want a man in her life.

      - Do men often want to be a BIT above their woman financially? My friend's boyfriend once said he has to make more than her unless she makes a LOT more than him (to the extent that it wouldn't be competition). I feel guys sometimes want to mark that they are better off than me, as if they're competing a bit.

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    3. By independent (in this case) I mean someone who isn't afraid to get up and leave home, see the world, expeience new cultures, etc. It takes a certain amount of courage and hunger for excitement to do this. I know women that are afraid to travel because of all the unknowns.

      In general, men are not looking for this kind of "pioneering spirit" in women. Though maybe it would be more accurate to say that, in proportion to how masculine a man is, he will be less interested in an independent woman. Women with a very feminine disposition usually lack these qualities, and therefore admire them in men. These women are liable to then make the false assumption that, because they find independence attractive in men, men will also find it attractive in them. But as is so often the case, the qualities missing in one sex are those that are most attractive to the other. Polarity breeds attraction.

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    4. Curious, where would Preity Zinta (“The only man in Bollywood” – context –http://goo.gl/Urzo5 + http://goo.gl/el5f6) & Laleh Seddigh (http://www.goo.gl/llmxS) fall on your polarity radar?


      Maybe I'm just seeing things, but… how hot must a woman be to be attractive “in spite” of the “pioneering spirit” you mentioned? Many people seem to overlook Angelina Jolie’s eccentric youth because she’s sexy, but it’s progressed to a more refined kind of sexy than Megan Fox’s. (Male parallel: Johnny Depp – wore eyeliner as Jack Sparrow, but even then he still hit the rum as hard as Tom Waits does his bourbon.) Even though both women project a wild streak, Jolie’s appeal seems less “flavor of the week” and more enduring the way Monica Bellucci’s appeal is. Bellucci obviously appeals to many red-blooded men with sexy roles, but she doesn’t come off as “disposable hot pocket” or “crassy slut trying to take on the dudes”. (I’m not sure how much stereotypes of European sophistication are at play here too.) Interestingly enough, Jolie seems to seek roles that have the same presence of Zinta’s & Seddigh’s lives (she and Seddigh could be sisters/cousins). Are Zinta & Seddigh pushy bitches that get away with it because they’re skilled & hot? Even if they’re not, is there a ceiling in which physical attractiveness compensates for deviating from the “tabula rasa” flavor of female softness? Can you think of any head-turning women you know personally who are still soft/vulnerable while maintaining the appeal like espresso – not for everyone, but even those who don’t like espresso still find her sophisticated, and are excited + warmed when she caresses receptors throughout the human body? (Credit: http://goo.gl/nm6Ng)


      This is a concern for me because I’m starting to specialize in a “practical” academic/career field – you know, those ones that eat various but greater amounts of your social life and whose practitioners carry stereotypes of being either “sexless”/”asexual”/”androgynous” (accounting, the sciences, medicine, engineering, tech, etc). While career & school aren’t everything, almost anything you invest time in changes you (something that came through in one of your previous posts as well), and while I enjoy what I am studying, that interest doesn’t mean I’m not involved for economic gain as well. By economic gain, I don’t mean that in a “bitchy career woman”-way – being responsible for sending remittances to third world family members, filial obligations, and (first world problem) buying makeup that actually matches olive skin (only luxury brands carry accurate olive shades) requires adjusting to the realities of the economy. At the risk of sounding like a naïve college girl…What are the women at your work like? I’m concerned that economically establishing my family in the US heavily conflicts with what’s conducive to keeping someone worth marrying? Concerned about becoming stuck between a rock (http://goo.gl/Orwih) and a hard place (http://goo.gl/ps5vE).

      Is there a way I can turn this deviance from “polarity” on its head that parallels how these (http://goo.gl/iHnta, http://goo.gl/cIShM, http://goo.gl/z4sar) fellow mixed-looking women parlayed such deviance from American + “ethnic” notions of sex appeal? I’ve been getting two pretty consistent but conflicting messages about how this translates to my look + demeanor: A - “Play up the cute, ultrafeminine Asian vibe so you can get away with highway robbery innocent”* B -“Emphasize the Latin/Mediterranean/Euro sexiness to attract dudes who want your energy”


      *Downside of playing cute-feminine means having to filter out stealth (less stereotypical) Asian fetishists, or dudes that “settle”. (“Settle” = trying to hide that he’s with me because he can’t get the sexier EuroAmerican woman of he really wants)

      - Serena

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    5. Serena, I don't know who those women are so it is impossible for me to say. I googled their pictures, but that just shows me that they are attractive.

      I am not saying you shouldn't pursue a technical career. That might be what makes you happiest, in which case it is the right thing to do. I DO suggest that you ask yourself why you are following that path. A lot of women become engineers or doctors because their parents make them believe that is the only path to success. Others do it because they don't feel like they can be beautiful, so they try to instead carve out a nitch in the academic world. These women are obscuring their true selves by choosing these careers.

      I think your question is big enough that (a) I can't answer it adequately here, but (b) still merits a big answer. I very highly recommend that you read a book called "Dear Lover" by David Deida. Pay particular attention to Chapter 9, or read it alone if you don't have time to read the whole thing.

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  5. Agree with this Andrew.
    But some people are just understandably nervous on a first date and talk too much just for that reason?

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  6. Good advice for women and for men. People forget that dates should be about finding about the *other* person as much (or more than) selling oneself.

    My favorite is when a man tries to impress me by bragging about his salary, $X, while I'm silently thinking that I make $2X or $3X!

    re: travel, I saw all the time on dating sites men who would say things like "If you haven't been to at least 20 countries (half third or developing) then we probably won't be a good match." or "Wanted: woman with more passports stamps than shoes." And I recall the dismissive sneer a man gave me when I said I hadn't been to Africa or Asia. An obvious jetsetter makes me think he's probably living beyond his means and a backpacker type makes me think he's probably into sex tourism.

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    1. These guys just sound like typical immature status-obsessed hipsters. Wanting someone who is interested in experiencing Europe is one thing, but expecting that you like wasting your time in third-world countries is just hilarious.

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    2. I am amazed that a man would even mention his salary on a date! A woman never asked me that question although they probably assume I do ok because I am a lawyer and own my own place. One reason to not brag is because a lot of women would expect a man to pay for everything and I certainly wouldn't want to be taken advantage of by a woman.

      By the way, who has time to travel to 20 countries? And traveling to the third world would not impress me at all - I would think that someone like that is most likely a damn weirdo!

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  7. Men do this too and it is not impressive if you never ask me anything... I like the subtle type, because that's what I am.

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  8. Unrelated topic: Andrew, could you make a post sometime about men's previous sex partners? You said once "his number may be lower than you think", and I think you're right. I also think a lot of men lie if you ask (especially if they're the cocky type).
    Is there any way of getting an idea? Also, if his number is high, it could be that he is charismatic and good with women, but could also be that he has very low standards or that he does out to pull a LOT (meaning steer clear of dating/relationship, goes to clubs a lot, goes on holiday with the guys to places like Ibiza etc).

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    1. Yes, there are ways to know. I'll add it to the list.

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  9. Whenever I'm on a date, the man always asks me where I went to college, what degrees I have, what my career plans are, and not infrequently how much attention I get from men or how often I get asked out and who ended my last relationship. These are all things that I either don't want to talk about or would not volunteer, but they ASK.

    So you see the problems. The option is A. Sit and say nothing and be a bore, and B. Be totally evasive and cagey.

    I don't think you're wrong, exactly. The woman-as-her-own-salesman is not very ladylike. But you don't seem to realize that many men are so narcissistic that they subconsciously expect women to sell themselves to them. Hence the questions and why some women seem to think this is normal date behavior.

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    1. I don't think it's that much of a problem really. It's normal for men to ask questions - it's a date, after all and you need to find out about this new person. The only way you can feel like you're bragging is if you do have many achievements or went to a top notch school, but it still isn't bragging if he asks. If he asks about your education and you went to Harvard, you say "I went to Harvard" and most likely he'll say "That's great". If he seems pissy, you're out with the wrong guy or dating below your league.
      I don't know why you "don't want to talk about" where you went to college. It's a natural question. As for the stuff about how often you're asked out, I think that's abnormal and that you might want to change the type of men you're dating. Men rarely ask me that on a first date.

      I don't think asking questions is asking someone to sell themselves. If you feel like the guy is waiting for you to brag or seems like he thinks you must try to impress him, he is either actually out of your league or just thinks he is. In both cases it's a wrong match, IMO.

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    2. "it still isn't bragging if he asks"

      I agree.

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    3. "So you see the problems. The option is A. Sit and say nothing and be a bore, and B. Be totally evasive and cagey."

      I didn't suggest you say nothing, just that you don't try to sell yourself, and reveal your depth gradually. Check out the post I just made today, too, which actually suggests avoiding the opposite extreme of saying bad stuff about yourself. As usual, there is a middle ground.

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    4. Anonymous, I don't like answering those questions because it's not a job interview and I don't want to talk about my education and career plans. It's boring. And I did go to a top notch school and now have a master's degree so it always gets a stupid reaction or I end up changing the subject quickly after it gets said. (Although I don't by any means have "many achievements, which is part of the reason I don't care for the topic of conversation because it inevitably turns into a "oh but you should have done this or that" kind of thing.) If a guy doesn't want to hear about it, he shouldn't ask. And while I do like to talk about travelling it also can get boring really fast and/or be interpreted as me bragging even though I think it's stupid to brag about travelling because anyone can hop on a plane.

      All I'm saying is--those are the things they ask me, and not if I know how to cook or who my favorite Kardashian is. I think a lot of men do confuse dating with hiring an employee. They bring those topics up, and I can imagine that my experience is not out of ordinary, so probably a lot of women think it's normal on a date to mention education, career plans, travel, etc.

      Not every guy has asked about past relationships, but many have, sometimes even before our actual date. You're probably right that I'm dating the wrong men, in any case.

      Andrew, So men want to know these things; they just want the woman to wait to be asked? I'm not so sure. I often get accused of being too quiet because I don't volunteer information about myself.

      Did you ever consider starting a blog telling men how to act? Just curious.

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  10. Sounds like projection to me. Women assume men are attracted to similar characteristics than they are. Travel and career stuff are even negatives to some guys.

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  11. StereotypicalAsianFetishistMarch 2, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    With all due respect to @Serena above, who sounds like a thoughtful young woman, I must say that I had to erupt with astonished laughter at the idea that the partner of an Asian woman would have "settled" in lieu of "the sexier EuroAmerican woman he really wants".

    Different strokes for different folks!

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  12. So then, what does a girl who is a "jet setter", has a stable job, hobbies and accomplishments, and is otherwise "independent" talk about on a date, without "talking herself up"? I think this is my main flaw when I go on dates, it is very likely come across as arrogant when I talk about my life (traveling, etc), so tips on where to lead the convo / what to say would be helpful! I'm not trying to be arrogant or cocky...i just happen to talk about what I spend my time doing!

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    1. Think about fun conversations you've had in the past - with friends, boyfriends, etc. Mimic those. You'll find that you talked about all kinds of random stuff - mostly non-serious - that there wasn't a rule or a line of conversation that anyone pursued. For early dates remember: look hot and have FUN. Forget about the rest.

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  13. Typo in the second paragraph: "an obvious 'look how great I am' speach"--*speech. Great post!

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  14. Does this work both ways? Do men lose out when they talk themselves up? Because I personally don't find appealing and instantly question it when men do this in their online dating profiles.

    Thanks Andrew for a great post. This is so spot on. I worked this out myself due to excruciating experiences and realising that men I weren't interested in who I tried to shake off by not selling myself, were becoming more interested in me. Whereas men I tried to sell myself to, were not interested. When you build your confidence, you are less likely to go that route of trying to impress a guy anyway. And it's more likely you'll then think, "is this guy impressing me?". I try and keep that in mind so I don't fall into that behaviour again.

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  15. Talked herself upApril 20, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I initiated a break up recently where he happily grabbed the opportunity. I look back and I cannot help but think I might have come across as someone who brags about her school achievements and he was turned off by it. But all I wanted was for him to see what I liked about myself. Also, in the first few dates, I was feeling really nervous around him because I was so attracted to him and the stakes were high. Once I felt comfortable with him, I started talking about the things I like about myself which I thought would make him like me and compensate for the nervousness I showed earlier. I don't think it worked out well for me. I have not asked him for feedback. I just have a hunch that I talked myself up and he was turned off. He might have even been laughing at me the whole time! I ended up feeling like a fool. I am in my mid-thirties and this has been a very embarrassing experience and I want to hide from myself sometimes!

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    1. Talked herself upApril 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      typo=breakup*

      Help in cheering me up needed!

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    2. Don't ever. I repeat; Ever. Try to impress a man.
      That's the man's job and you are robbing yourself from your femininity.
      Read The Rules (The book) as soon as you feel like you are trying too hard, you are doing too much. Relax and let him do most of the talking and impressing YOU.
      Do not be afraid of silence. Take your time to think before you answer a question.

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    3. "Don't ever. I repeat; Ever. Try to impress a man."

      What you should say is don't try to impress a man in the same way that a man would try to impress a woman.

      You will of course naturally try to put your best foot forward on a date and try to impress the other person, regardless of whether you're a man or woman. After all, you don't go on dates in sweats do you? And you make sure to take a shower and brush your teeth, right?

      Just think about what a man is looking for in a woman, NOT what a woman is looking for in a man. Then he really will be impressed.

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