He talks endlessly about himself on the date. Should I be concerned?

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Talking about himself a lot is not necessarily a sign of arrogance, or a problem. More important is how he thinks of, and treats, others.

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The title talks about a “he” even though it could also apply to a “she.” This is because this is more commonly an issue with males – but it is not exclusively a male thing. With that gender landmine deftly sidestepped, let us move to the topic itself. Sorry to point out the obvious, but if you are still dating him, it cannot be upsetting you all that much. Assuming you are not reading from Afghanistan, you are dating this person by choice.

If it really bothers you, then it is probably not a great idea to continue dating. Here we are discussing where it may bother you a bit, but it is not majorly off-putting. The question is whether this is a sufficiently bad character defect.

Let us be clear: talking a great deal about oneself, especially if colored with a tinge of boastfulness, is not a virtue. But not being a virtue does not make it a vice. Even if one may, perhaps legitimately, look at such behavior with a critical eye, does it mean there is something wrong with the person? As the expression goes, “a good man is hard to find,” so if you think he is otherwise a decent person, should this be turned into an issue?

Talking “endlessly” about oneself is not a behavior conducive to dating. Ideally, each party should be looking to learn about and get to know the other. This requires both asking and answering questions. However, each party’s primary goal should be to discover as much as possible about the other. If someone appears to over-emphasize the talking over the listening, the balance is probably not right.

This is not about an exact parity for how much each party talks. It is not about attaining a perfect fifty percent split. If one party is quiet and the other more talkative, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who will be doing more of the talking. It suits both of them; so that is fine. But even in that scenario, the chattier one should be trying to stimulate responses from their date, not just speak all the time.

A little modesty, please

Here we are talking about something more specific. He is not just talking a lot. He is talking about what appears to be his favorite subject – himself! So, we have established that the person doing this is not perfect, and it would be preferable if he did not behave this way. But, does it rise to the level that it should be considered a problem?

This may seem like a simple yes-no question, but actually, it is quite difficult to answer. If done to some degree, it should be ignored. If done to an extreme, there is a problem. Where to draw the line? That is far from straightforward. If this talking about himself is way over the top, then clearly something is amiss. If it is above average, but within normal proportions, then there is no issue (just a matter of personal preference).

But how does one know when it is going too far? While I do not have a mathematical measure, the comments to follow will hopefully allow you consider how you feel about his (or her) behavior with greater insight.

What is arrogance?

Is it arrogance? It is true that some people are unbearably haughty. They genuinely think they are better than everyone else, and have no trouble comparing themselves flatteringly while diminishing the value of others. Arrogance is a seriously unpleasant personality trait. It is understandable that you might hesitate if you think your date is arrogant.  The problem is that we grotesquely misunderstand what arrogance is.

Some people have a personality that is more bombastic – that does not make them arrogant. Some people have a talkative character – that does not make them arrogant. Some people are naturally overconfident and ambitious – this does not make them arrogant. Someone who talks a lot, and even if he is talking about himself, is not necessarily arrogant.

Arrogance is not how highly you think of yourself. Arrogance is how little you think of others. Arrogant people are prone to squash and marginalize others, while non-arrogant people respect and empower others. A person can be bombastic, talkative, and overconfident, and be truly humble. He can use his strength of character and verbosity to lift up those around him too. The arrogant person is not the one who simply talks about himself, but the one who only cares about himself.

Arrogant people are not nice. This is not because of the features of their character, but because of their poor values. There are plenty of quiet and understated people who are lacking compassion and decency. When trying to determine if someone is a good person, what you need to focus on is their values, not their personality.

How can you tell if someone is arrogant?

How can you tell if he is arrogant, if not by how much he talks about himself or by how highly he thinks of himself? It turns out that this is quite easy to do. Look at the guy’s attitude towards others. You will be able to tell – because arrogant people are lacking in self-awareness and are very bad at disguising their obnoxiousness.

Here are some questions to consider: Does he open the door for you? Does he thank the waitress? Does he respect your opinion? Does he acknowledge the things you say? If the answer is no, he is a jerk and you know where you stand. If he is rude to people that he considers inferior to himself, if he is unfairly impatient with people, if he seems only interested in what he has to say, then he is arrogant – and you have been warned.

Some people are confident and ambitious; they sound like they are a “big shot.” That is not a problem unless you do not like that kind of person (which is entirely your prerogative). This is not an uncommon style of behavior and communication for a “type A” personality. Such people identify themselves by what they do, not by what they are.

Talking about their goals and accomplishments is not a sign of arrogance, but a reflection of their normal way of engaging in the world. Some people will not warm to that style, but many others will find it exciting and appealing. The best advice is to focus on his attitude and behavior towards others. If he is a considerate and pleasant person, you have nothing to fear from his oversized character.

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