I am a male student who has been an introvert almost my entire life, and not having many female friends. Currently, I’m in college and due to the nature of my course, I did not have the chance to meet many other female students.
I have been using dating apps for a while now in order to connect with women and maybe in the hopes of looking for my special someone. After meeting a few of them, they told me I am at most friend material and not boyfriend material, because I was insensitive, opinionated, arrogant, defensive, intimidating.
These are just some terms off the top of my head, and some of the reasons why people might think badly of my character or conversational skills. If I were to reflect and rigorously categorize how I could improve my character and conversational skills, it would be in terms of the following:
1) Relevance of my content to the topic
2) My bias and openness to different point of views to the topic
3) My tone, in the post’s context, my texting tone
I have accumulated this feedback from previous mentors who have assessed my spoken skills before, but only for a short period of time. I believe these flaws of mine account for different proportions of why someone do not like to speak with me, but I did not manage to estimate the proportions, which problem I should prioritize to fix, and how actually to fix each one of them.
Giving this in-depth analysis to anyone in a casual chat with me will likely scare them off. Regardless of which, I tried to fish out examples of certain topics which gave them those impressions of me. Many said that my replies were intimidating and it seemed like I always have something to reply to, and that will leave them speechless. My side of the story is that this arises partly from the nature of dating, which is dominated mainly by a virtual texting component, especially so for my country, Singapore. For this post, I will focus on the virtual interactions.
Before we go on a physical date, women prefer to chat, mostly via text, for a relatively long period of time before meeting up, for a minimum of 2 weeks. The frequency of the chat is rather active, adding all the random intervals of time in the same day will get me around 3 hours. If we do not have common topics to chat, a lot of small talk gets involved. My personal policy for these chats will be generally to reply by the minute if I have the ability to, if not by the next time I’m free which should not be longer than 2 hours. Not to say that my texting skills are great, but generally speaking, I think women in my country are not good texters. They often take on the role of a responder, always waiting for men to initiate topics and let them do all the questioning, not even taking the opportunity to ask “How about you?” after they are asked a question.
I think that the “What do you do in your free time?” question pops out a lot in getting to know each other, so I’m going to use this as an example of a small talk question. In response to this question, some of them will try their best to hold the conversation by giving longer replies, which I really appreciate because they give me more personal information and fuel to carry the conversation. Most of them will just say something like “I like to eat” and “I like to sleep a lot” and I eventually run out of things to say if the conversation really stayed at just food and sleep. Even if I had a lot of fuel from the earlier conversations, my fuel is somewhat finite and I have trouble sometimes maintaining “3 hours a day” for at least 2 weeks.
In a desperate attempt to drag the conversation of the current topic, I force replies to “dead statements” like “I like to sleep a lot” with a comment, for example “Wow you must have some really sweet dreams”. Bonus if the comment ended up to be some kind of tease that acts as additional fuel for me, but I can’t think of a particular good example to illustrate what I mean by a tease. Usually I don’t expect a response from this comment, and proceed to ask the next question to expand on the current topic or switch the topic, if either were possible.
Snippet of text which may reflect my problem
Here is a transcript which is said to reflect my problem, and possibly containing a comment that has gone wrong, according to one of my female peers, call her B. The whole conversation started as a rant about another woman I met elsewhere who told me it was difficult to chat with me.
Me: //Rants before this snippet ...
Me: I wanted to ask, after talking to me for “not a very long period of time”, do you find me a bearable person?
B: Hmm, I can say you have your own thoughts, but it’s quite unbearable for me. I mean, as a friend, I'm willing to listen to you talking or ranting or just giving out your opinions in stuff. But as a bf, I don't think I can stand listening to something that make me intimidated like talking to a robot.
Me: Thanks for your thoughts, I did hear this from others as well. I don’t really know how or where I did wrong about the ranting or how I can “cut short”. It doesn’t feel like myself that way.
B: Yes, I understand. What exactly is the impression you want people to see from you?
Me: Ideally I want people to see me for who I really am, because even if I can fake up a good person in the virtual texting world, the real me will disappoint others. But I know that many can’t tolerate my kind of person, so I’m trying to improve. I just don’t know why I keep giving people this intimidating feeling.
B: Would you want to guess what it is?
Me: If I could guess, I won’t ask. Maybe it’s the way I try to push a conversation, when we really don’t have much in common. All girls talk about shopping, travel or food that contains too much sugar, then I become speechless. I think I’m too judgmental also, and reply too fast. I have something against being silent as “it’s bad to ghost” and can’t really flirt like other guys. Maybe I think I’m different from most guys but actually I’m making the same mistakes.
B: I think not being to flirt is okay, replying fast is a good trait. I’ve met a lot of guys like you. Being introverted is very normal, now people are learning how to talk to them. My sister is almost like you, only difference being she's not into tech. In my opinion, I think you're too proud. Proud of being you, proud of being the introverted smart guy, and since it is not normal among other guys, you think this makes you a bit special.
Me: I get that too from other people, just I don’t know where and how those vibes came in. I never boasted about my achievements and I actually don’t have much to be proud of. I make a conscious effort to avoid the red flags other guys do, but it’s quite tough.
B: I think you just never learn. You're too privileged, you know how people think about you, and yet you never change. If you want people to see the real you, then you should expect the same result like the rest of the people you’ve met before. Unless you're lucky enough to find the person who can accept you the way you are.
Me: I think it’s not that I know how people think about me. It’s like similar to this analogy of me contracting COVID-19, touchwood. Everyone is telling me I have it based on a possibility that I’m linked to a previous patient medically proven to have it, but how do I cure something I can’t even be sure I have.
B: You could always take the medical test to prove that you don’t have the virus.
Me: I hope you do know that the test conducted by the clinics is not exactly accurate. There’s a lot of false positives and negatives and the doctors may not be too sure of it themselves.
B: Could you see the problem now?
Me: My problem of being defensive and argumentative?
B: Yes, you always have something to reply. I was so impressed by you after you talk about how in texting, each party have equal responsibilities in keeping the conversation interesting or on going, but that’s just my opinion. Sorry, a girl sees every detail seriously.
What I’m saying is, a "wrong comment" will appear when I least expect it to be, especially when there are progresses in our conversation. The topics become deeper and the replies may turn out to be really subjective and reflective of one’s values. I am not that good in simplifying my thought process into precise and concise sentences, and the end product of a failed attempt will turn out pretty “naggy”, like how this post looks now. Due to the nature of my texting environment, the “dead statements” occur to me quite often, either because we don’t have much in common or that the conversation was really starting to go dry. These frequent “dead statements” caused me to give my comments, which in high volumes will one day give off the vibe that I am “insensitive, opinionated, arrogant and defensive”.
In my defense, I’m really trying to carry the conversation in hope that the conversation does meet the quota, and I have a chance to physically meet with these people to have a real connection, with facial expressions and body language etc. In a way, these comments are a “necessary evil” for me to achieve my goals. Now that this has become the very reason why no one might like to converse with me, I am feeling a bit conflicted on how to amend my chatting behavior to achieve the same goals. My male peers who have known me for a long time, do not find my chats problematic and in fact like me for my liveliness in chatting frequently.
Can someone advise me, how should I attempt to change my texting habits to achieve the best of both worlds? To not be seen as a “insensitive, opinionated, arrogant, defensive, intimidating” person while talking frequently enough to meet people. From my perspective, I recall hearing “insensitive” the most, so on the assumption that every person who commented agrees that my tone is the main problem, I will like to prioritise addressing this. That being said, I’m open to listening to solutions to help me improve in all 3 areas as previously stated.
I mentioned "2 weeks", but this information holds true only before the outbreak of COVID-19.
Most other women I’ve chatted with will not volunteer to reproduce a snippet which showcased my weaknesses, and this friend, although she volunteered to help, did not bring up a previous snapshot, but we accidentally created one while discussing my problems. She’s not a Singaporean, but she’s working in Singapore. Hence the language of the text, is mainly in Singlish and her best standard of English, in text form (with improper sentence stoppages, grammar errors and texting shorthands). I tried my best to fix them to basic English and merge them by speakers to make it more reader-friendly, but since they’re processed 2nd hand, the nuance of it may not be completely captured by me. It will also be intrusive to ask her to clarify what she meant.