Do you know a woman (or four) who talks incessantly about herself? You could be on a call with her, put down the phone and walk away for five minutes, and she wouldn’t know you were gone!
One woman I’ve known for years could go on for hours about her boyfriend (he’s still married); her boyfriend’s problematic grown child; her frail relationship with one of her own grown children; her former boss; her friends. Blah! Blah! Blah! I haven’t met most of them, and while I wish them all well, my interest in their lives is someone near zero!
When it comes to my grown children, this woman doesn’t ask a single question. If I manage to inject a sentence or two about them into the conversation, she’ll respond for maybe 15 seconds and then promptly flip the conversation back to herself.
She doesn’t ask about how FabOverFifty is doing. She doesn’t ask about my seven-year old grandson. She doesn’t ask a thing.
Contrast this with calls I have with another friend. Our chats flow back and forth between us and cover our kids, siblings, partners, work, politics, trips, and more. They’re stimulating, never enervating.
We all need to unwind at times, but the first woman seems to be in a perpetual state of self-directed high intensity. I was empathetic to her situation when she finally left her long-time, emotionally abusive husband and was on her own after decades of being a wife and mother. I’d listen – and listen – and offer my advice.
But, after years of listening, her stories started to become tiresome. She’s been telling me all this time that her boyfriend is FINALLY selling his house and getting a divorce. And he keeps shoving his adult child’s problems under the proverbial carpet, while she doesn’t stop trying to help. I finally told her during our last call that perhaps she should stop putting in her two cents. Her boyfriend clearly isn’t listening to her counsel.
I was equally tiresome in my forties, constantly bemoaning my unhealthy relationship with a man who took over so much real estate in my brain, it’s a wonder any other thoughts could move in. Maybe this woman needs more time to learn what I eventually learned: Relationships built on delusions are destined to collapse. (Think about Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.)
In the meantime, I have stopped listening to her.