The Big Secret Unearthed: What do women really want? – see

The Big Secret Unearthed: What do women really want? – see

Husband admits, explains why he slept with wife’s sister – Gives shocking reason

A genuine interest in the person you’re talking to is essential for any meaningful interaction

Cosmo Landesman
We seem to be losing the art of conversation, laments Cosmo Landesman

I know a man who is not handsome, intelligent or charming. And he’s not rich, funny or famous – and yet women find him irresistible. I’ve always found his appeal a complete mystery, so I once asked him for the secret of his success. And this is what he told me: “I ask women questions about themselves – and more importantly, I listen to their answers.”

My first reaction to this was: what!? Ask questions and listen? That’s the big secret? Even Freud couldn’t answer the question “What do women want?” – so has my friend finally cracked that great mystery? That’s absurd, you might think. But, talking to my women friends, I realise he might be onto something.

That man may lack sufficient status and sex appeal to attract women, but he has something that is very attractive: curiosity. Curiosity is an aphrodisiac; it’s what drives good conversation – and good conversation generates romantic interest.

I’ve noticed that when dating experts give their top 10 dating tips they always mention being charming, intelligent, funny, showing good manners, etc – but they never mention being curious. And by curiosity I mean a real and deep interest in the person you’re talking to. An interest that goes beyond the surface pleasantries of polite chit-chat and leads to a kind intimacy without intrusiveness. And hopefully that person will be curious about you in return.

dating drinks
Add a touch more curiosity to your next date and you may find it goes better
Now ask yourself this: how often does that actually happen? In social situations are you the one who has to keep asking questions to keep the conversation going – or is it usually the other person? If your answer is that you’ve never really thought about it, then you’re probably one of those people who are never curious about other people.

I meet people like this all the time at parties. You ask them about this and you ask about that and you keep asking and asking and asking – expecting that moment when they will reciprocate and ask you something in return. And, lo and behold, it doesn’t happen. What’s so upsetting is that they don’t even pretend to be interested in you!

This is an experience a lot of my single women friends have suffered. They complain that, when it comes to conversation, they have to make all the running. “What’s wrong with these men?” my friend Kate asks. “You sit there doing your best to keep the conversation going – asking about their work, their interests, their children, their ex-wives. I remember one date whose only question to me was: ‘Shall we split the bill?’”

But this isn’t another complaint about the bad manners of the modern narcissistic man; women do it too. I’ve sat patiently and listened for long stretches of time as women have talked about their brilliant children, their boorish exes, their sexual dissatisfactions and their career dreams – and not had one question in return!

I once went on a date with an American who talked about her art and her love life for an entire evening: that is, from 6:30 to 11:45 (yes, I timed it.) At the end of the evening, after I had paid the bill, she said: “Next time we will talk about you! I promise.” Needless to say there was no next time.

Sometimes I practise what I call the gap trap: I stop asking questions and let the conversation lapse into silence, thinking that may nudge the other person into asking me something about me. The most common reply (from men and women alike) is some variation on: “So, what about you?”

When someone says they’re not curious, they’re just being lazy. The person feels obliged to ask you something about yourself, but they don’t really know what to ask you because they’re just not interested. So you end up having to ask yourself the questions they should be asking.

Yes, asking questions to conduct a conversation may sound like some sort of intense police interrogation or anxiety-inducing job interview. I’ve had dates say to me, “Why are you asking me so many questions?” But the answer is obvious: “Because I’m interested in finding out about you! And furthermore, if I didn’t make the effort, we’d both be sitting here in silence!”

Is everyone like this these days? The funny thing is that there are people who are interested in talking about you – they’re called celebrities. I know it sounds odd, but really famous people are curious about people who aren’t famous. I met Robert De Niro at a party and all he wanted to talk about was me! And when I met Madonna – this was some years ago – all she did was ply me with questions about… me! Keanu Reeves is the most loved celebrity in the world because he’s good at talking to people about themselves.

So what is going on? We seem to be losing the art of conversation. That art was founded on a simple social contract: I find out about you, you find out about me. But something has gone wrong. Nowadays I find out about you and you have no interest in me.

robert de niro
When Cosmo met Robert de Niro at a party, he found the actor was particularly inquisitive
It’s become commonplace to suggest that we are living in an era of narcissism and that social media promotes a kind of ME-ME-ME mentality. This is true of people who are so self-absorbed that they are incapable of holding a conversation. To be fair, such people can be very amusing or engaging. What we call the bon viveur – those famous conversationalists such as Peter Ustinov or Gore Vidal – are really just entertaining egotists. They have no interest in talking to people – just in performing for them.

I believe that the art of conversation is something we should teach at school. Children used to learn it naturally at the dinner table, but now everyone is eating at different times and in front of laptops and phones, that doesn’t happen as much. Talking and listening to people ­is something that takes time and a bit ­of effort.

But why bother talking to ­people when you can fire off a quick text or a WhatsApp message? A kind of dating app, swipe-left-or-swipe-right mentality has undermined the art of conversation – if our interest isn’t immediately grabbed by someone, then we look to our phones for more entertaining chat.

Our lack of mutual curiosity is a shame because there is no planet in the galaxy that is as mysterious and worthy of exploration as the ordinary person sitting next to you at a dinner party or on a date.

You don’t have to be a brilliant conversationalist with great displays of wit and insight to talk to them – all you need is a bit of curiosity and a willingness to listen.

And, with a bit of luck, you will make that human connection we all crave.

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