The Depressing Phenomenon of Men Who Ask Their Dates No Questions
Nikki, a 22-year-old journalism student from Minneapolis, is telling me about the worst date she’s ever been on, with a man called Athens she met at college. “He talked about his goals, his week, his career, his meditation, his favorite books, his respect for ‘real’ musicians and how most people pronounce ‘namaste’ wrong,” she says. Nikki waited in vain to be asked a single question about herself while Athens raved about philosophy, monogamy, wanting to live in a van and how acid could lead to a higher sense of self. She waited for him to ask her about herself the entire date. “He texted me the next day about how much fun the date was,” she continues, “and he spelled my name wrong in the text.”
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Nikki’s experience is bleakly funny, but it’s far from an anomaly. In the past week, I’ve heard from more than 250 women, men and non-binary people about their experiences with men asking them zero questions on dates. For example, Diana, a 25-year-old New Zealander currently based in Indiana, recently went on a date with the man who fixed her dishwasher. Assuming she was from Australia, he monologued about snakes, Steve Irwin and prison colonies while ordering pork nachos for the two of them (Diana is a vegetarian). After several hours of unidirectional conversation, Diana hadn’t been asked to share a single personal detail. “He didn’t ask me anything,” she tells me. “Like, not one thing. To this day, I’m not sure if he knows my name.”
Some of these men went into excruciating detail about dull topics while their dates sat across from them uninterrogated about their own jobs, dreams, values, favorite TV shows and best jokes. Vanessa, a 49-year-old consultant in Wellington, tells me about a date who treated her to a speech about his new office layout without learning a single detail about her. “He talked about how Bryan at work had got a desk next to the window, which was obviously a travesty,” she says. “Then he explained at length how his phone charger wouldn’t fit the electrical plug on his desk.” I heard from people whose dates — all men — Chromecasted their haircut pictures, performed feeble magic tricks, sang songs, broadcast the date on Instagram, adopted the downward dog position, watched the bar TV or pulled out their phones and began texting; anything but ask a solitary question of their dates in return, most of whom had been sitting like free therapists for hours.
To add insult to injury, many of the women who shared these stories with me said that the men told them later that they felt the dates had gone swimmingly, often asking for a second. This makes sense: being able to speak about oneself freely and without interruption to a patient, attentive audience is a service that usually costs upwards of $150 a session. If some smart, attractive social media editor from Ohio is willing to act as a free therapist for a few hours — and as a semi-relevant aside, almost all of these men refused to pick up the check for dinner — it’s no wonder the same men were lining up for more. As Anna, another woman I spoke to about her zero-question date, puts it: “Of course he thought the date went well. He’d been able to talk about himself uninterrupted for hours, while I looked on bored.”
There’s no shortage of men more willing to wax lyrical about snowboarding, Mad Men, Socrates, their own penises, Amnesty International, mushrooms, foot fetishes, monogamy and war — and to sings songs, strike yoga poses, share the contents of their entire camera rolls and perform magic tricks — than to ask the flesh-and-blood women and men they’re presently on a date with a single question about themselves.
The kicker? Most of them walk away thinking they nailed it.