Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

My wife is boring

(61 Posts)
sands67 Sat 05-Apr-14 12:14:57

OK, to sort out the flamers and haters from the helpers. Let me clarify. My wife is not very good in social situations. She struggles to converse and I would like some constructive advice on how to help please.

Making friends has always been difficult for her, long before she met me probably since school. When I first met her I couldn't understand why she didn't have more friends. She is a nice person, caring, thoughtful, helpful, genuine and one of the most simple and straightforward people I have ever met.

Yet people will make reasons not to meet up with her or politely avoid her in social situations. She thinks it is because she comes across as stand offish because she avoids conversation. I think part of that is true but having been out on many occasions I think it simply because she is not very good at making conversation, she can be a bit boring. Ironically she is not boring, she has a real zest for life, she is a successful business person and very good at what she does. But socially...she struggles.

I have wondered whether I should try and explain this, but to basically tell her she is boring would be devastating to her. I would like to help her but I am not very good at being supportive. She doesn't have many friends yet you wouldn't hope to find a better friend.

She had been at a business event and someone she met on the first week, really liked and thought she had got on with very clearly avoided her this week and it brought out all her insecurities.

I took the opportunity to give her a couple of books that I ordered for her a couple of years ago, books along the lines of "the art of conversation". I can't remember what specific event made me buy them or why she wouldn't read them but I gave them to her, she looked a little flat when I did (unsurprisingly).

I tried to find a course that she could go on "better conversation" on Google brought up language classes and other phrases didn't' fare any better so I wondered if there was anyone on here that could suggest ways to help. Soft skills classes, social skills courses. That sort of thing or even some practical advice. It is making her unhappy and I want to change that.

AnUnearthlyChild Sat 05-Apr-14 13:25:56

mrsatticus I thought just the same! I am the exact opposite of the OPs wife, socially very outgoing and appear very confident.

However I secretly think /worry that I am actually not lively and fascinating but full of of shit and a crashing gobshite who won't shut up.

I talk more under pressure or when in an unfamiliar situation, So the shy ones who don't say much make me feel insecure and envious because they seem poised and quiet. All the things I can't pull off!

Please reassure your wife that us chatty ones might not actually be looking down on her, but are envious of her ability not to get verbal diarrhea in a social situation.

BoffinMum Sat 05-Apr-14 13:29:23

Clearly she is not actually boring per se, she just comes across as sounding boring, which is a different thing.

Conversation is a skill that needs teaching and learning. My parents and school taught me, I give tips to my children, and I think that's all stuff your DW must have missed out on.

Key to it all is asking people about themselves and remembering small details about them for next time, also ignoring the inner voice that criticises your own efforts and makes you doubt if you are getting it right.

Pippilangstrompe Sat 05-Apr-14 13:39:54

From the example of the person who she met at the business event, I wonder if the problem might not be that she is boring but that she comes across as clingy? I have always found it easy to make friends (i'm lucky, I know) and I go to lots of business events. I usually end up with a group of people who I hang out with. People being "boring" doesn't actually bother me at all. Some people are shy and take a while to open up, some people are quiet and just want to tag along. No problem with that at all. What would make me avoid someone like the plague is if they are at my elbow the whole time and are in every conversation I have.

I think adult friendships are different from children's friendships in that way. People need room to breathe. They need to be able to come and go without having someone else tagging along. If I were you, I'd check out to see if your wife is doing this first.

mercibucket Sat 05-Apr-14 13:41:30

aspergers in women is usually not picked up on, could it be this?
a diagnosis in adulthood can be a big relief for someone who has alwsys felt 'different' but not known why
just an idea, not an online diagnosis

Viviennemary Sat 05-Apr-14 13:45:08

I agree with joining an amateur dramatic society. Even if it's just helping with costumes and scenery. Some of the members will be very outgoing but there will be quiet people as well I would imagine. Just because somebody doesn't talk much doesn't mean they're boring.

sands67 Sat 05-Apr-14 18:50:42

Thanks all - and for those who haven't read/fully understood my post. I am not going to even suggest she is boring, I am concerned she may come across that way (she really isn't) The post title was really intended so that the post got read. I have had a number of really helpful posts.

@SuddenlySqueamish - thank you for your thoughtful post
@AnUnearthlyChild thank you
@Pippilangstrompe its' worth considering as i hadn't

TheTwistedYarn Sat 05-Apr-14 19:54:08

For people who are shy or socially awkward, it's far easier to chat and make friends whilst doing something together. It immediately gives you something to talk about. What does she like doing? If she hoes running, she could join a running club. Reading? Join a book group. Knitting? Join a stitch-'n'-bitch. Painting? Do an evening class in art.

It really really is the easiest way to connect with people.

Well, that and alcohol.

TheTwistedYarn Sat 05-Apr-14 19:54:58

GOES running, that should say!

Zipadeedoodaa Sat 05-Apr-14 20:09:54

Oh this is so me, and to be honest, I think it is lovely that you are trying to help her.

Zip x

Zipadeedoodaa Sat 05-Apr-14 20:10:57

Lol'ing at Stitch n Bitch....

EverythingCounts Sat 05-Apr-14 20:26:26

I think the phrase I would use to her would be something about developing her networking skills. No-one likes to be told their conversation is not sparkling, but it's much more acceptable to admit you're 'not good at networking'. Lots of the advice books on networking would give very similar guidance to the confidence/conversation ones.

Like pp, I have heard good things about Toastmasters or drama/improve. Also stand-up comedy courses can be very good for improving self-confidence. But books-wise, the old classic of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is actually great. It says what someone mentioned earlier about asking lots of questions rather than talking about you, but really rounds that out.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sat 05-Apr-14 21:03:23

You've had a lot of great suggestions OP I just wondered, is it that DW isn't very confident with small talk?

I know some people roll their eyes and think it's just drivel but it's a bit more than wittering. It puts others at their ease.

We knew a bright guy, very nice, who wasn't really a Victor Meldrew but when asked at a social gathering,
"So, how was your day?"
answered too truthfully so that the listener gradually glazed over and moved away.

He even wondered if it were something to do with lack of "fresh breath confidence" and ate mint sweets but it was simply that he was a bit downbeat.

People like to hear light topics not a litany of worry or complaint.

Eliza22 Sat 05-Apr-14 22:38:31

I find social situations hard and need to psych myself up, to get through them. I've learned how "to be" because it doesn't come naturally. My son has Aspergers and it doesn't surprise me. I see much of me as a kid, in him.

You sound as if your trying to help your partner but does she feel up to it? Personally, I'm happily married, have a small family, 3 close friends and that's enough for me.

Broen Sat 05-Apr-14 23:19:55

I wonder what your own self-esteem is like OP. And don't file me under hater.

I used to worry that my x reflected badly on me, (although I'd never have been honest enough to acknowledge that at the time). I was embarrassed by his lack of small talk. He certainly didn't think he was boring although in his case, he reaally was but I don't think you should bring it up with your wife. There is definitely room for a person who can listen in any group of 2 or more!

MsAspreyDiamonds Sun 06-Apr-14 01:05:20

Your description of your wife is similar to that of my dh however he is autistic. Over the years he has learnt to mimic socially appropriate behaviour & read people better but its been an uphill struggle. I am not suggesting that your wife is autistic as that would
require a diagnosis from a medical professional. But it could be another avenue to explore & consider if you think appropriate & it might explain her behaviour.

www.autism.org.uk/

Dirtybadger Sun 06-Apr-14 01:31:47

I sound like your wife, OP. I would be mortified if someone tried to tell me I need to improve my talking skills. I have no interest in talking to people about things neither of us care about. I typically get drawn into topics where I do care (politics, etc). I'm not shy, I just find "small talk" boring and a waste of time. I don't have low self esteem.
I find people who do it "boring" much like people who are good at it probably find me boring. And maybe rude because it makes me uncomfortable so I try my best to cut it off. In extreme cases I have been known to walk off mid conversation but I recognise this is very rude so I really do my best not to.

Why does your dw need to be better at it? Does she know she's not brilliant at it? This to me is important. I know I am not "good at it" and will verbally acknowledge this to people if I am likely to be imminently "rude" or "odd" to by accident. On the plus side, like your dw, I am "straight forward". Which is a good attribute to have and one which isn't always available to small talkers IMO. Swings and roundabouts.

Does it regularly create problems for her? I think it's a bit mean for someone to avoid her just because she wasn't very chatty; assuming she wasn't unpleasant.

sands67 Sun 06-Apr-14 12:11:34

Autism/Aspergers/Avoidant personality etc.No, perfectly capable, successful business person. Just not good at the social side with strangers.

@TheTwistedYarn I'm going to try and think of some things we could do together and meet people

@EverythingCounts nice phrase and would be appropriate from a work POV, i'll look at this

@DonkeysDontRideBicycles i don't know, she does understand how conversation works

@Eliza22 she isn't happy with her lot, she wants a small circle of friends to do things with

@Broen Fair question, i am quite good at this sort of stuff, which probably makes it harder for DW, i have wondered if i was overly sensitive (and therefore being selfish) when we have been out with a group of friends and i have cringed when she has tried to be funny and it's failed miserably and consequently decided it might be me. It isn't me, she isn't very good at this so when she said that she feels she is not good company (and is unhappy with that though) i came on here.

@Dirtybadger its not that she doesnt' want to do small talk, she just doens't know how do to it. If you are trying to build rapport it can be a useful tool to get to know people, find common ground to build on. She is VERY aware she is not good at it. She is never unpleasant or rude, she has always found this difficult and situations where others make friends DW wont'. It's like other women, just dont' get her.

Matildathecat Sun 06-Apr-14 12:43:22

Get a dog! Honestly the most social thing in the world. Dog owners are almost always friendly and chatty. It's also so easy to chat and stroll with friends. I have slightly difficult circumstances ( quite recently disabled but can walk a bit) and getting to the park with doggy friends is so therapeutic.

If dog not possible a walking group might have a similar effect. Totally agree with others who've said it's better to be doing something.

Small talk with strangers in social settings is boring. Especially if you have to keep repeating information about yourself to people you'll never meet again. And some people are bloody rude, I often get 'dismissed' by people because I don't work any more. In fact I'm perfectly interesting and very sociable but it makes you feel crap and if you feel uninteresting it's hard to break out of that IYSWIM?

HecatePropylaea Sun 06-Apr-14 12:44:58

I am in no way attempting to diagnose your wife but as a general response i must clarify that a person can be a very high functioning, intelligent, articulate, loving, successful business person and still be on the autistic spectrum. This is because one of the main issues is inability to function socially or lack of intinctive undersyanding of social interactions and the unwritten social rules that nt people grasp without even realising.

sands67 Sun 06-Apr-14 12:55:23

@HecatePropylaea understood. but she is is very good in other areas that an autistic woudn't be. For example i would say her emotional intelligence is very high.

Lovingfreedom Sun 06-Apr-14 12:59:53

You cringe at her jokes and call her boring on a public website and highlight her insecurities...you sound charming OP... Give your wife a break. I'd be interested in her point of view.

Falconi Sun 06-Apr-14 13:06:20

This thread is really helpful. I was thinking about starting one with similar questions as I am a bit like the OP's wife.

save4it Sun 06-Apr-14 14:22:11

Sands, your wife hasn't got any problems it is the rest of the world. For many years most people I ve met never want to have any thing to do with me or stay away from me. I just gave up trying too hard and just relaxed about it.

Dirtybadger Sun 06-Apr-14 14:56:44

I don't understand why if she is aware there is a problem and she would like to improve, she isn't looking for courses/solutions herself. Leave it to her. That way if she decides she's happy as she is, she won't feel like she still needs to pursue her "improvements" for you.

oldgrandmama Sun 06-Apr-14 16:41:52

What saraquilt said upthread:
The key to conversation is asking other people questions about themselves as everyone loves droning on about their own lives. Once she gets that she's set

Absolutely true. I was cripplingly shy (thanks to godawful parents who made it their life's work to knock every shred of self-confidence out of me). Then someone told me the secret of asking questions of the other person ... it works! But please, never tell her she's boring - she isn't, she's shy.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now