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Conversational selfishness

There is an old joke that goes as follows: Two people meet at a party, and one of them talks incessantly while the other listens patiently, asks pertinent questions and sips his drink. Finally the talker realizes what he has been doing and says, “Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”

Many years ago, when the phone company was still one company, they did a survey and found that the most popular word used by callers was “I.” People love to talk about themselves. I have often either been party to or observed the interactions between two people that were more like a monologue with a single person audience rather than a true conversation.

The inability to listen and be interested in another is often rooted in childhood. Mom and Dad did not teach appropriate social skills. In addition the child may be stuck at about age 2 because they did not receive the nurture to graduate from that level and move ahead in emotional development. I own a pink t-shirt that I use as a visual aide in lectures. It would fit a 24-month-old little girl and says, “As a matter of fact the world does revolve around me.”

It might simply be annoying to be the silent person “locked into” a conversation with an individual who won’t let go of the stage when you encounter them at a social event or on a flight. However this is a major red flag to consider if you are thinking of entering a friendship or intimate relationship. Their need for rapt attention is just the tip of the iceberg of a ton of dysfunctional issues that you don’t want to explore or become connected to. Don’t get sucked into their charisma, charm, power, or position. It’s time to run.

Codependents are particularly vulnerable to this dance of madness as they don’t know how to set boundaries, want to keep everyone happy, and suffer from low self-esteem. If this is you here is a Web site of therapists in the Dayton area:

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