If your date is yawning uncontrollably, it may be time to rethink your conversation.
The other night I had a really late dinner at my neighborhood Bistro. Because of the hour (and the weather not being very conducive to late eaters or romantics), the bistro was empty. That gave me an opportunity to witness the following scene (in the mirror, of course, as I would never stare at people openly!) At about 9:30, a man in his late thirties, early forties (I'll call him Jim) came in and sat a table for two. At about 9:45, his date, a big-boned blond of about 34-36 showed up and (I'll call her Lisa) joined the man at the table. Judging by the initial exchange, it was not their first date.
Nonetheless, their body language and interaction told me that even though they have had a few dates, they were not 'boyfriend and girlfriend' yet. After settling in and ordering appetizers, Lisa proceeded to tell Jim a story about something. Being polite, I refrained from leaning closer to hear the subject of the conversation, what turned out to be a rather lengthy, story. This story took all of Lisa's time on the date. It lasted all through appetizers and main course. During the telling of it, Lisa's facial expressions changed from happy to sad to surprised and shocked and back to sad and happy about three times. Jim's facial expression, however, remained the same: bored. Not only was he bored out of his skull; he was trying very hard to keep himself awake. He fidgeted in his seat, robbed his face with his hands, tugged at his eyelids in the clear effort to stay awake and continued to stare at Lisa with a very intent but blank expression.
It was clear to me that at that moment; Jim was somewhere other than the present. He was playing golf with his buddies, having a haircut and watching the Giants' game in his head. Whatever he was doing, it was far away and very disengaged from the lengthy story that Lisa was relaying. After about thirty minutes, Jim had given up hiding his lethargy and proceeded to yawn widely. After about 50 minutes, Jim had asked for a check, paid it and left with Lisa still talking. During this whole time, the only verbal exchange Jim had was with the waiter. Lisa, on the other hand, looked like his prey, that he was about to pounce just as silently once they got to his apartment. The only feeling Jim's bored face relayed, other than painful tedium, was impatience. All he wanted is for the dinner (and the never-ending story) to be over so that he can get to the main part of his evening: sex.
Yes, he would have to pretend to be enjoying Lisa's company for 45-50 minutes in order to get to that part of the date, but for him that lackluster time-spent was clearly worth it. Sadly, I can see how eventually, even patient Jim will no longer be willing to sacrifice his Saturday nights for monotony and dreariness. He will politely (one hopes) tell Lisa he cannot see her again. Lisa will be left wondering what she did wrong and why men are such jerks that a catch like her cannot find someone 'normal.' In reality, all she had to do was stop, every few minutes, gage the situation and try to engage Jim in a conversation they both enjoy. Unfortunately, Lisa is not alone. I have seen many women totally lose men ten minutes into dates because they were so preoccupied with something so important to themselves, that they never realized how meaningless and unimportant the subject was to their dates.
So what should you be doing differently to ensure you engage your date?
- Keep your conversation flowing as a dialogue, not a soliloquy. Banter should be flowing both ways, not just out of your mouth and bouncing against his skull. A date is a good time to get to know each other, not to relay lengthy stories about you and yours.
- Keep it focused. If you insist on telling a story, make it an anecdote. Something short and something with which you wish to either make or illustrate a point. Starting the story ALL the way from the beginning will lose your date about 1/3 of the way through. Skip the unnecessary descriptions (i.e. she wore this pretty lavender blouse, that I once admired at Bergdorf). Chances are, he does not care about the lavender blouse, nor does he know who or what Bergdorf is.
- Pay attention to his body language. Is he fidgeting? Is he rubbing his face/arm/chest? Is he staring blankly at you without as much as a grunt? If so, he is bored and is patiently waiting for this dinner to end. He is just too polite to interrupt or just tell you to shut up.
- Your story may be fascinating to you. Can he relate to it in any way? Would you be able to sit through a 20-minute monologue about the latest golf bag that not only fits all of his gear but also has room for accessories and is ever-so-light to carry?
- Ask questions. Has it been more than ten minutes since he uttered a sound? Time to stop and ask him something — anything. Engage your date in an even tête-à-tête and you just might find out fascinating stuff about him. Left silent, however, you will continue to wonder if he is interested in you or your sexuality.
To be sure, I have seen some men as well, who so love to hear themselves speak that they get carried away in lengthy discourses about themselves. But that is a whole different story in itself!