As a bochur in shidduchim, I have the following problem, which I’m hoping can be resolved by the esteemed panelists.
Boruch Hashem, I was gifted with a good brain; I am what they call a “baal kishron” – or so I’m told. During conversations on dates, I often find certain topics that have some depth, and I have some sort of cheshbon to reach the outcome of the overall point of conversation. Since I have epes some kishron, this cheshbon is all there in front of me, and I don’t speak through the whole cheshbon; rather, I talk about the final point of the conversation.
Now, even if the girl is also a baalas kishron, I understand (and so have I been told) that the teva of a girl is to enjoy in-depth conversation (DMC – deep, meaningful conversation), and to speak through a certain topic in its entirety. When I then go ahead and cut off the whole cheshbon by discussing only the point of conversation, this is contradictory to what the girl wants and appreciates. She then takes this as a siman that I am not a caring person, and I have no interest in her topics, and that as a husband I will be doing the same.
I fully understand this matzav, and so I ask the esteemed panelists the following: Since this type of conversation is not my way, how do I train myself to have this kind of conversation on dates (and for the rest of my life as well)?
The first step in correcting a problem is recognizing that there is one to begin with, and I commend you on your honesty and forthrightness with acknowledging that you have a middah which needs rectification.
It is also worth noting that it is not just women who like to be heard out. Most people expect to be respected enough by those with whom they are talking to be given the time and opportunity to complete their thoughts and move through the topic of conversation.
While it may be different with a long-time chavrusah, where there is a mutual understanding of learning style and a certain geshmak in chapping a prat and being able to move on to the next step with certain cheshboinos either left unspoken or quickly addressed b’rmizah, that is generally not the case in social conversation. It just doesn’t feel good when the meat of the matter you are discussing is cut out and left assumed.
Additionally, even though you might think that you have the cheshbon all laid out in front of you, unlike chidushei Torah, it is nearly impossible to be prescient when it comes to topics dealing with interpersonal relationships. You simply never really know what the person may be thinking or feeling. If you let someone talk and listen intently to what they have to say, and work through the conversations together, you will likely find yourself quite surprised with what you can learn about people, and perhaps more importantly, about yourself. That construct is one of the first steps in creating and building a relationship and getting to know and appreciate another person.
Instead of viewing the middle of the conversation merely as an anfractuous interruption between its beginning and end, you must recognize that the middle is where you can establish common ground, connect with, and learn about one another. In many cases, what is gained in the middle is far more meaningful than what is reached at the end. And lastly, reaching the conclusion together, after putting in the mutual effort to work through a topic, can be much more rewarding and satisfying on an emotional level than jumping to the end with the supposition that the middle is all figured out.
Boruch Hashem, you were blessed with a gutteh kup, and what you now need to add to your intellectual intelligence is emotional intelligence. There are no magic tricks that will allow you to have these types of conversations; and instead of endeavoring to train yourself how to have these types of conversations, you would be far better off learning to appreciate why these types of conversations are so valuable and necessary. Rather than learning how to have such a conversation, you should learn to want to have such a conversation.
It will take time, patience, and self-control, but you are a smart fellow, and with some sechel – not kishron – and sensitivity, you should be able to see why these conversations are to be prized when it comes to dating.
B’ezras Hachoinein l’adam da’as, you will be successful in adding this skill to the many others in which you are proficient.