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Parallax - Advice

July 22, 2002

She chats—he chokes

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!My girlfriend says we should talk more when I talk to her on the phone. I have no idea as to what to talk about other than stupid little things. What should I talk about? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Tongue-tied,

Talk about the moon and the stars. You may need to do a little homework first. Read T.S. Elliot, J.D. Salinger and Franz Kafka. Add Dostoevsky, as well, if you're feeling a bit more on the ambitious side.

Tell her your daily philosophy of life and any epiphanies you may have had over the prior twenty-four hours. Let her know you won't be speaking to her for a few weeks so that you can brush up on some literature and collect your thoughts. When you feel you have something compelling to share, give her a call.

And here is your epiphany for today—girls love to yap. They don't care what they yap about. They do care about with whom. She just wants to yap it up with you because you're her guy. Your topics don't need to be particularly compelling: You can discuss your laundry, the errands you completed or the weird guy at work.

Don't even have a plan for your conversation when you call her. Just dial and start yapping.

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His view:

Dear Tongue-tied,

This is where my raisin-brained colleague will draw up a nice list of suitable topics for you and the missus to discuss. She may even suggest you plan ahead and think of some interesting things to say before dialing.

Please ignore her.

So your girlfriend wants you to talk more? Let her lead the conversation. Who does she think you are, anyway, Socrates?

Business people use the telephone for conference calls because they'd rather not bother seeing their counterparts in person. Unless you are in a long-distance relationship (or for some reason are unable to see the girlfriend on a regular basis, in person), you should only need to use the phone to make plans for the following date. If she insists on gabbing, tell her to call one of her female friends—the two of them can yap it up all they want.

Now, if you are in a long-distance relationship (and therefore relying on the phone for the bulk of your communications), you may have an issue. Not having much to talk about could mean the two of you are incompatible.

There is no point in forcing conversation. If you try, it will seem stilted, you'll get more self-conscious about it, and you'll be able to say less and less. In that case—and only then—you may want to try my colleague's suggestions.

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