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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.

sands67 Sun 06-Apr-14 22:15:22

Again thanks. I know she could do it and she is worth getting to know.

have just bought "watching the english" going to have a look at the local drama group on Friday.

Pollaidh Sun 06-Apr-14 21:29:38

1. Could, as others have said, be purely down to the people she's mixing with. I am pretty confident but if I'm in the wrong group (say footballer's wives types) I completely clam up and don't really know how to talk to them. I also struggle with women generally, being used to all-male environments, and the women I do really click with tend to be similar to me (sciency/engineery, outdoorsy types).

2. Does she realise that in female social interaction in particular one has to open up and give information about one's self, the other participant then offers info about themselves and the conversation continues. If she doesn't offer something about herself she won't get anything back and the conversation will feel unbalanced and will stall.

3. The book 'Watching the English' has some interesting sections on women's gossip, grooming talk etc. Eye-opening for me. It's a book you might both enjoy and it's not aimed at fixing a problem - it's an anthropologist who has decided to treat the English as a tribe to be studied properly. Fascinating.

hellymelly Sun 06-Apr-14 21:22:04

I'm just like anunearthlychild. I feel I waffle on about rubbish. When people are cool and quiet I worry they don't like me and waffle more. So being chatty isn't always how it looks. I agree that learning to ask questions can be helpful, but the most helpful thing, and the simplest way to make friends, is to genuinely find the person one is chatting to very interesting. The moment that happens then it all falls into place. So I also think that maybe she is moving in social circles which aren't sparking her interest, or that she has become a little bit too inward looking and is losing sight of just how interesting people can be. Whenever I watch "Who do you think you are?" I am amazed by how fascinating other people's lives and family histories are. Perhaps finding something that she is interested in finding out about other people would help, maybe she could imagine she is researching for a book or something, and ask questions on a similar theme of people she meets. Or could she join something like a book group? At mine we all talk about the book, how we felt about it etc, and having a set common theme makes for good conversation. We are a fairly diverse bunch of women, but I really enjoy the evening, hearing all the different view points.

HogiBear27 Sun 06-Apr-14 21:07:26

Hypnotherapy may be worth a go. Just to see if there is anything she worries about subconsciously and it stops her making small talk. I hope you find a solution - you sound like a caring husband.

DaffyDuck35 Sun 06-Apr-14 21:01:25

OP IT is perfectly possible your wife could be on the autistic spectrum and be emotionally intelligent - I am and I'm (nearly!) a nurse smile agree with all the pp, dogs and dramatics are great for socialising, also the more you do it, the easier it gets to fake it and the less anxious you feel x

EmmaBemma Sun 06-Apr-14 20:47:23

I disagree that everyone loves talking about themselves, as a few people here have claimed! A lot of people dislike direct questioning; I know I do - I feel very scrutinised and put-on-the-spot. I especially clam up over anything that seems like polite rather than genuine interest. Makes me squirm.

sands67 Sun 06-Apr-14 20:43:31

@lovingfreedom OK, fair question but as you can't see the effect this is having on her you can't understand how I feel seeing it.

I am not criticizing her, certainly not undermining her but yes I would like to fix things - to make things better for her.

I don't know how to help her. This is a forum for advice. That is what i was asking for. Several people on here have said they have similar issues.

Lovingfreedom Sun 06-Apr-14 20:31:47

I've read the whole thread. If you want to help your wife how about laughing at her jokes, being supportive, encouraging her that she's not abnormal and listening to how she might improve her life instead if taking it upon yourself to criticise, undermine and fix her?

Pippilangstrompe Sun 06-Apr-14 19:48:56

Asking people about themselves is definitely the key to successful interactions at business events. People love talking about themselves.

I sometimes play a little game with myself that I am going to find the most interesting person in a gathering. So I go round meeting lots of people, finding out who they are. One time I met a woman who turned out to be Scandinavia's foremost expert in German Shepherd ears!

sands67 Sun 06-Apr-14 19:44:20

@Lovingfreedom you sound single and bitter. I'm really not interested in your POV if you can't be arsed to read the thread.

sands67 Sun 06-Apr-14 19:37:16

thanks smile

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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/

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!

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.

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.

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