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94th Sort

Boyfriend lacks curiosity.

by Dear Jon
November 9, 2001

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94th Sort_Dear Jon-Boyfriend lacks curiosity. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

My boyfriend never asks me any questions. He says he doesn't know what to ask, and he figures I will tell him anything I want him to know. This strikes me as an appalling lack of curiosity about who I am. How does it strike you? Should I keep dating this guy who demonstrates no personal interest in me?

Curious Woman


Dear Curious,

Just to warn you in advance, anything I say in response to your question will convince you that I am an insensitive jerk. This is because of the way the question is phrased. You have already made up your mind that this fellow has an "appalling lack of curiosity." You then ask "how does it strike you?" If I do not agree with you, I am a jerk. If I agree with you but do not jump to the same conclusion you do, "demonstrates no personal interest in me," then I am a jerk. If I follow your "logical" progression and tell you to dump the guy, I am a jerk. After all, I'm not living your life so how can I tell you what to do, and shouldn't us guys stick together more?

I do want to give you my best shot at help, though, since you were kind enough to write.

First of all, you tell me this fellow is your "boyfriend." I doubt it. If he does not know what to ask you yet, it is too soon to say "boyfriend." If you have been dating and calling each other for 6 months and this is still happening, your boyfriend is not appalling so much as he is a vegetable. So I suggest that there is not a whole lot of commitment here, and there might never be if the two of you are not finding a way to communicate.

Second, I am curious about what kinds of things you want your boyfriend to ask? I know when I was dating, I would ask all kinds things of the girl I was with, but most of those questions were highly inappropriate suggestions as to our "alone time" activities. I doubt this is what you mean. Then there are the questions, "You want to see a movie tonight? Any preferences? Is 6:30 too early?" I am sure that your boyfriend asks you these things. There is the third kind of question, "What are your goals in life? Have you ever thought of marriage?" Then there is the fourth kind of question: "What is the meaning of life? Will the Red Sox ever win a pennant? Do androids dream of electric sheep?"

(The fifth kind of question, "Describe your previous marriages and any other relevant sexual history, chemical addictions, and criminal record" is a live bomb of a question that he will never ask until your pre-marital counselor forces him to.)

On the whole, men like to ponder questions about the meaning of life and hypothetical topics related to sports, politics, and science. The goal for the typical male in a typical conversation is to look smart or philosophical. Women like to talk about goals and feelings, because the goal of the typical female in a typical conversation is to be better understood as a human being.

If a man, such as your "boyfriend," asks you a question like, "So in your opinion, if Al Gore were President would we have launched a ground invasion of Afghanistan by now?" he is showing you that he respects your mind. He will learn much about the "real you" depending on the way you answer the question.

The question you want him to ask you is "How have your life-goals been evolving since September 11?" Since this is the question you want him to ask you, you end up asking him first. Then he says something stupid like, "I dunno." But of course he does not know, because men do not think that way. Most men have goals, but they are profoundly uncomfortable talking about them, because these goals often include playing forward for the New York Rangers, and many men are secretly bitter that they have never been given a chance and are stuck on a commuter train every day climbing the same corporate ladder as everyone else. Life-goals are stuff guys think about at work when they have to fill out their annual "personal career development worksheet," they are not what guys think about when they are having dinner with a cute girl it had taken them months to work up the courage to ask out.

What is on his mind (provided the two of you are not still in High School. Any boy in High School only ever has one thing on his mind)is that he is convinced that if Al Gore were President, the Taliban would be occupying Maryland by now, and this is what he is itching to share with you! Because this is what he wants to tell you, he does not do you the courtesy of asking you back the question you want to hear.

So you are annoyed with him, and you feel like he is not interested in you. I understand your logic--that is to say, I have been around women enough to realize that this is what women find logical. I am not saying this is bad logic. I am saying that men are logical in a different way. If you accuse your boyfriend of taking "no personal interest" in you he, he will be profoundly confused. He was interested enough to risk asking you out, so his thinking is, obviously he is VERY personally interested in you!

If he were writing, this letter would end differently. But it is you who are writing, so it is you whom I charge with taking the initiative to warm up the communicational environment in your relationship. I suggest you try a new tactic. The next time you see him, ask him: "So are the Bears for real?" See what happens. You might find the ice breaks up a bit. You might even find him more alert to your needs.

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