Confessions of a Talkative Female

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I didn’t expect these doors to upset me as much as they did. I mean, cliché fonts and misspellings do normally upset me, so I was prepared for that. But I wasn’t prepared for a huge wave of insecurity over the age-old stereotype that women talk more than men.

Look, I do my best to smile thinly at gender stereotypes and move on. Most of the time I can rant underneath my public face about how I know half a dozen women who aren’t like that and how no guy I know would ever say this.

But this time the gender stereotype cuts too close to home. I talk a lot. I do. And I’ve always felt insecure about it — particularly when it came to my relationship with Erich.

We could have been the inspiration for this stereotype. Erich can sit in silence for days. The only reason he doesn’t is because, if he fails to respond within one minute, I wail about how he doesn’t love me anymore. To which he says, “Huh, no, I love you,” with that exact inflection, and I say, “See?” and we carry on with that topic for awhile until I realize that he doesn’t require normal human conversation to sustain existence.

Me? I talk to myself. In the mirror. In the shower. In the car. Out loud.

Erich has only commented on this once, early on in our marriage, where I took a particularly long shower and decimated bad theology in one go. “Are you talking to yourself?” he called from a room away.

“No,” I called back, and whispered the rest of the conversation to myself.

Talkative people get a bad rap in general — people who prattle on and on as if their companion is listening (or cares), whole “conversations” where only one person is relaying all the movies they’ve watched in the past year (in detail) and the other person smiles and nods until they realize their smiles are turning into yawns and their nodding is turning narcoleptic.

I remember tag-teaming such conversations with friends. We’d decide through subtle eye movements whose turn it was to smile and nod and who could safely make up an excuse and walk away.

The irony is that though I love to talk, I cannot stand talkative people. Some days it’s so bad that the only reason I listen is to respond. It’s terrible.

My dislike of talkative people probably fuels my insecurity about how much I talk.

The other factor is being a woman who loves to talk.

Do men feel the same insecurity about being talkative? I’m curious to know. My insecurity about this gender stereotype came from Jane Austen novels and all the Proverbs groaning about a woman’s tongue. A woman’s words were dangerous. Destructive. Annoying. Unproductive. As helpful and as interesting as a dripping faucet.

(Have you ever lived with a dripping faucet before? Not a metaphorical one, a real one? I once spent a whole weekend alone with a dripping faucet. It drove me insane. Nails on a chalkboard insane. And no, I didn’t fix it because the gender stereotypes about women being unskilled manual laborers most definitely apply to me.)

Lots of women’s articles and books talked about women and their nagging, about women and their chatter, about women and their need to get a grip and give their men some mental space already.

Maybe that’s why women apologize a lot. I know that’s why I do. I lead off every work conversation with, “Sorry to bother you, but — ” Especially with men. I’m convinced my boss cringes every time he sees me open my mouth.

It’s a subconscious thing. Words, words, words. Too much of them. Too much of me.

It’s the same thought: too much words = too much of me. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Here’s the thing: I don’t enjoy “talking.” I really don’t. When I talk, I mean something — especially when I’m talking a lot. I’m not gushing blah, blah, blah. Not trying to, anyway. I’m trying to communicate something that matters to me.

That’s why this stereotype grates against my skin. It reduces my passionate rants to the drip, drip, drip of a faucet. It equates my attempts to connect and unburden with the prattle of stupid women. It assumes the mechanics of moving my jaw and vocalizing syllables is the be all, end all to this conversation. It’s all blah, blah, blah — no substance, no meaning, and not worth hearing.

That frightens me most, I think — an endless scream into a void, the perfect words falling on deaf ears, feeling disabled from communicating with the rest of the world.

And it makes sense, of course, why people would start interpreting a monologue going on ten minutes as blah, blah, blah. If your words are so important and meaningful, why air them so often and so repetitively?

***

My husband pointed out to me during our infamously horrific newlywed car rides that I “spoke in triplicate.” I’d repeat my main point three times. He’d keep count: “You just said that. Oh — that’s the third time. Do you know you speak in triplicate?”

“Yeah, well, that’s the third time today you’ve pointed it out,” I’d snap.

He didn’t mean it as an insult. He says he’s fascinated, frankly, by how much emotion and verbiage I can muster up every day. And I know he’s telling the truth — because when Erich says something, I listen. It’s easy to keep straight what he has said, because he doesn’t say it often.

Last night, for the first time in our relationship, I got to say, “Yep, you told me that story already.”

He uses that phrase with me every day.

***

Speaking of repetitive, here’s a phrase I used to use every day: hard to love. Hard to love, is how my talking made me feel. Hard to love, because my emotions — not the exhausted cry or the ticked off anger, but the soul-stuff that makes life bearable or not — were bound up in my words. Heart on my sleeve, like I said.

Nobody, I thought, could handle me with my emotion-words. Nobody, I thought, would get that I didn’t talk to fill empty space but to empty the space where I felt things the most. Nobody would understand that every time I opened my mouth (except with small talk — a whole other story), I meant something.

I felt like I prostituted my words.

My words are intimate and sacred — and I want them to stay that way, even if I talked to five different people about the same thing. But it makes me feel dirty and used up, talking so much.

It makes me feel dirty right now, writing this all down. Makes me feel whiny. Insignificant.

***

Well, I learned a few things as a talker. I learned that I wasn’t hard to love. I was quite easy to love, actually. I was very self-regulating. All I needed was a good listening ear, a hug, and some quick affirmation, and I could work my way through any problem. Erich is that listening ear for me now (and he gives great hugs, too).

Even though he’s a man, a strong and silent man, he finds me underneath the waves of emotional verbiage. He knows they matter. That I matter. I had to learn those things too, along with him, because I struggle more than he does to believe that my words and soul-stuff mean anything.

I also learned that there is some soul-stuff that no talking and no listening can fix. I use a different medium of words for those situations.

Silence is good too, I’ve found. That, or talking to myself in the shower.

Are you talkative? Is your best friend or partner talkative? How do you feel about it?

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43 thoughts on “Confessions of a Talkative Female

  1. David

    1) Aw, kiddo! This makes me wanna ruffle your hair. Bring it in range of my rufflin’ parts! Briiiiing iiiiit.

    2) Me, talkative? Noooooooo. I’m VERY concise. Proper little epigram factory, me.

    3) FWIW, *this* got a grim, sober nod: “That frightens me most, I think — an endless scream into a void, the perfect words falling on deaf ears, feeling disabled from communicating with the rest of the world.”

    I share your fear — is that a strong enough word? Maybe I should say your terror. That’s one of my biggest, brightest, reddest buttons.

    I have not one but/two/ disabilities related to communication, because I’m a special kinda fellow. (Admittedly, one is that I’m profoundly deaf, and thanks to the magic of cochlear implants, I can still hear just fine PLUS having them means I’m a cyborg. So I feel like I come out ahead on that one! Only… not.)

    So yeah, I have those disabilities and then on top of THAT, my first job out of college was working with autistic kids. This means I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about communication, isolation, and the essential unknowability of our fellow humans and perhaps also of ourselves. It’s not a FUN line of thought, but I’m glad I’m not alone in being *absolutely horrified* at the thought (or, perhaps, the totally justifiable fear) of being unable to communicate.

    Ugh. OK, so /summing up/: you’re sooooo not alone on that. But also: look! You *can* communicate. :) And actually let me end with a nice thing from literature, which I go back to every time I feel like I’m talking too much.

    4) There’s a series of historical novels called the Aubrey-Maturin books. Aubrey is a sea captain — mathematically inclined, practical, all that jazz. Maturin is a man of science and a deep thinker and blah blah blah. (Yes, I realize the irony of “blah blah blah”-ing myself on this post, but I’m doing it anyway.)

    So they’re on a boat, rowing around Aubrey’s ship in a great circle so A can inspect it for damage. And Maturin is prattling away about this design he’d seen for a diving bell, and how /clever/ it was, and on and on for like 20 minutes while Aubrey stares intently at the ship. And Maturin is just talkin’ to be companionable, you know, talkin’ to get his feelings out too a little bit, and he’s sure that Aubrey’s not /really/ listening, because after all, who would be? Who could be? Who would pay attention to him at a time like this? (I’m giving you, I hope, some picture of the flood of words and tone of voice this conversation would’ve had. And I hope you know this set of emotions well!)

    So he’s rowing and rowing and talking and talking, and he pauses for breath. And in that moment of silence, he can see that Aubrey is about to say something, and if Maturin is anything like you or me, he’s bracing for something like “JESUS CHRIST, let me /think/.”

    And instead Aubrey says, basically, “Hold on, though, Stephen. I’m not sure the air tube would /work/ as you’ve described it, because…” and then he launches into this detailed line of questioning that shows not only was he listening, he *cared.* It’s a happy-maker every time I think about it. :)

    TL;DR friendship is magic; go read some old books about boats.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Bailey Steger

      David, you crack me up!! :D

      Your personal experience, and then working with autistic kids, must have made for fascinating, terrifying thoughts about communication. I’ve been thinking of this a lot more since I started working with kids (bilingual kids, too), and am trying to work with their limited ability to communicate their feelings and thoughts and my inability to help them. Very sobering indeed.

      I absolutely LOVE that literary interaction!!! That’s perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

      • David

        Heck yes you can! They are, hands down, /the/ best historical fiction I’ve ever read. And I”m a history nerd, so I’m fierce about that. The prose has a real “you-are-there” quality, in part because the author NAILS the cadences of early 19th-century speech.

        For the uninitiated: the author is Patrick O’Brian. The first book in the series is Master and Commander, but there are 20 of ’em and you can pick any book at random — it’ll be an absolute gem. So if your library’s only got a few scattered copies on the shelves, who cares? Take the plunge. :)

        P.S. Also, I wasn’t clear on whether you *had* read them and want to *re*-read ’em, or if you’re looking to pick up the series for the first time. So I hope it didn’t feel like I was talking past you! I just, uh, didn’t know how to address both possibilities. But if you’ve already read them, for the love of God share your favorites!

        Like

  2. S O L A R I S

    Really great post, Bailey! I just typed out 640+ words for this comment but then I realised that I was talking too much. Exactly what I was talking about. Me, talking a lot. Talking, talking, talking. Words, words, words. I decided to just turn the long comment into a blog post. Once I’m done with it, just wait for a ping in response. :)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. heather

    My husband and I are the opposite. He’s a talker and I’m not. I figure one of us has to initiate conversation so it might as well be him. I do get frustrated though when it seems that he is talking to hear the sound of his own voice.

    Like

  4. Courtney

    Ha ha, oh Bailey I could relate so much to this! I also have a tendency to ramble, but like you, about important things. I honestly couldn’t care less about shoes or fashion or whatever the heck people think girls talk about but I could ramble on about theology or politics or social issues for HOURS!

    But, if it helps any, I don’t think this is a “girl thing” – I think it’s a “Courtney thing” or a “Bailey thing”. Ironically, some of my closest guy friends could talk your ear off! Oddly enough, some of the most talkative people I know are males! Meanwhile, I know a lot of girls who are strictly to the point. So I think it’s a personality thing more than anything. My personality type, according to the Meyer’s Briggs test is ENFJ, which means I talk a lot and pay close attention to emotions. One of my best guy friends is also an ENFJ so we connected pretty fast with that! I’d highly recommend taking the test, as it’s very interesting!😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gov. Pappy

    What I find interesting here is the difference in personalities. I identify a lot with Erich here: growing up, and especially as a young adult/teenager, I use my silence and rarity of speaking as a way to be heard – people were shocked when I spoke, and usually listened. My thoughts and emotions have to go through a lot of processing before I speak anyway, so that’s how I coped. I have to unify the competing voices and emotions in my head before I feel I can say anything of any value. So, after all the internal work, to be dismissed or ignored is also very defeating.

    It seems to me you have a very articulate mental process, like my wife does, and need to externalize it to yourself and others in order to validate it. My wife needs to be heard and valued through that verbalizing process, and know I’ll always try to be there for her in that way, or it all just turns into that “silent scream” in her soul. It’s different, and I don’t understand how a mind can work like that, but that’s her (and I’m guessing you lol). Just strikes me as different personalities having different needs.

    As far as “hard to love”? I can’t imagine it being easy to live with a largely silent personality like mine. To her, at least in the past until she told me and I’ve tried to deal with it myself, she’s told me that my silence sometimes indicates to her a lack of trust. And she was right, I needed to own that and let her in. She’s also come to grips with the fact that I take time to process things, and when I’m ready, I’ll spill. Sometimes I can’t take in any more information from her, and sometimes she realizes it’s just rambling, but that’s for her to decide, and not for me to dismiss her as a “babbling woman”. That’s not loving, that’s erasure of her person.

    This is also interesting in regard to transparency and vulnerability. If I look at my personality as some sort of ideal, and her need for words as some inferiority to control, that’s just evil. For you, your whole mental process is laid bare for your listener as you talk it out. It’s easier for you both to deal with it at that point. On the other hand, my wife is often getting the final conclusions from me, I’m not “showing my steps”, and sometimes I find myself midway through a discussion realizing I’m defending a conclusion with a large flaw, because the only counsel I sought when thinking it over was my own perspective. So for anyone who makes this about gender, or says women are less trustworthy or thoughtful because they communicate like this, they’re blind to their own faults. It is just as easy to manipulate and deceive with carefully curated thoughts as it is with a torrent of words – out of sight, out of mind.

    Say what you gotta say. Sounds like you’ll be loved regardless. =]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      This was incredibly insightful. Your wife does sound very much like me. And it sounds like couples with opposite communicating styles are forced to understand not only each other’s communicating style but also their own.

      Liked by 1 person

    • David

      You have /the best/ combination of user name and avatar. The BEST.

      … though now a certain song is stuck in my head. :( You know which one.

      Like

  6. villemezbrown

    I wrote a comment response to this last night, but something went wrong with my logon and it apparently did not get sent. So all my beloved words quite literally went into the void! I think I might cry.
    Or not – because if I could recover it some way I would probably see it was actually just a lot of blah, blah, blah. This way I can hold on to my illusion that it was brilliant and insightful.
    Oh, yeah, I’m a talker type.
    Adele

    Like

    • Bailey Steger

      Oh, my goodness. You are the third person who has lost their comment on this post! Whaaaaat even, WordPress?

      Haha!!!! I always find your comments brilliant and insightful, so keep imagining your lost comment as such. :)

      Like

    • Gov. Pappy

      Mine did the same. I lost essentially the wall of text I left up there earlier, but I always feel like I say things best the first time. So frustrating. I’ve never had this happen at wordpress before until today.

      Like

      • Allison Caylor

        I recently made a WordPress account, so it decided I need to sign in every time I try to post a comment, and if I get my password wrong, it deletes everything (out of spite maybe?).

        I remember my password now, so I should be good. :)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Allison Caylor

    I started writing about my joys and struggles in marriage as a quiet introvert married to a bubbly extrovert, but when I glanced back through your post, I realized I was missing something more important. It’s the simple fact that there are different kinds of “talkative” people. You know?

    My husband, and — it seems like — you, are the kind of people who are constantly figuring out what’s inside themselves, and expressing it to those around them. At the same time, though, you’re figuring out what’s inside others. You’re building connections. Look at your blog! You’re articulately, externally working through issues that affect you, while drawing people in to share your journey and express their own. It’s a grand illustration of this personality trait, which is a strength. Let me repeat that: it’s a strength.

    Which brings me to the other kind of talkativeness — that which is self-centered or downright spiteful. That person droning about all the movies he’s seen? He’s ignoring you as a person. Everyone hates to hear people like that talk. And those verses in Proverbs are talking about a nagging or contentious wife. Not “talkative.” (!!!!!!!!!) If you’re sensitive to others’ responses, concerned about irritating them or coming across as self-centered, that’s a big giveaway that you’re in the first category, those wonderful, articulate connection-builders. Yes, wonderful! Remember Matthew Cuthbert and Anne? Quiet people *love* talkative people. We can enjoy that friendship and connection without the pressure to find too many words of our own.

    I have to work to bring out deep or distressing things even to my husband, and it causes challenges for us at times. On the other hand, I never have to wonder if he’s upset, anxious, or happy. I get to share his heart at every moment, and I love that! So wear your verbosity like a crown, Bailey. It’s an awesome gift.

    Like

      • Bailey Steger

        It’s good to hear you say that. I know it’s just meant as a joke, but it just comes across as really dismissive and rude nonetheless — particularly to women but also to talkative people in general. I actually heard of lots of men getting offended that the doors portrayed them as incommunicative neanderthals.

        All that to say, these doors weren’t the best idea. :D

        Like

      • asplashofcreamblog

        When I mentioned writing, I was talking about writing a comment. But by some sort of weird coincidence, in the past few days I have been working on starting a more serious blog (after casual attempts in the past). I finally overcame my desire for an utterly perfect design without spending money! haha… It’s mostly food with some thoughts/life and has a grand total of 2 posts so far. :P

        asplashofcreamblog.wordpress.com

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  8. Alyssa

    I’m a very talkative person… when I feel safe with the people around me. With my close friends, I do not shut up like EVER. (To the point where it’s easier for one of them if I communicate with cute cat pictures instead of words. Srsly. It’s easier for him to say “already seen it” and move on than to listen to whatever random story I have about something that happened to me that day.) Or when I’m around a bunch of new people and I want to see if I can get *new* friends out of the situations. Or when I’m in defense mode – defense mode me (usually the version who has to deal with the super-homeschooled people from my past) is VOCAL. But in most normal situations? I’m a mouse. My coworkers think I’m quiet, which was the funniest thing when I found out ’cause I am *not*. I describe myself as an ambivert who just doesn’t LIKE most people, and if I know you, I’m probably gonna keep my mouth shut. But if I’ve never seen you before and I like your hair or your t-shirt?? Ooooohboy.

    Like

    • Bailey Steger

      Oh, my goodness!!! Ambiverts for the win! You sound like an amazing person — someone who can talk forever and also be silent? We’d get along just great. ;) I’m really quiet in certain situations too, particularly work or formal situations.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jameson Roxx

    Get out of my head!! I feel like you know me and vice versa. I have so much to say after reading this but I will refrain simply because I think I will be repeating what you already said but in my own weird way.

    Like

  10. Rolje Rsingimrum

    I am not a talker around people I don’t know but around people I feel safe I can talk for years…and I think people get tired of me because they think I’m just filling the air. This piece is so full of emotion, I felt like you’re saying all the things I want to tell people when they start to check out when I’m talking. I really enjoyed this read!

    Like

  11. Rebekah

    Boy, do I relate! An unpleasant childhood memory of mine is when a family friend castigated me for being “such a chatterbox.” I was around nine or ten years old, and I wasn’t at all used to being talked to that way. I felt that all of my precious thoughts about the world were being judged and trampled upon — that she would consider the world a better place without them.

    My parents’ approach was far more sensible than the family friend’s. They knew I was always full of things to say. After all, I had started babbling to myself when I was a eight-week-old baby! But they never told me that I talked too much, probably sensing that I didn’t talk merely to fill the air or to hear the sound of my own voice, but because I had an active mind and ideas that I wanted to share. They gave me advice contextually, encouraging me to pause and listen to what my friends were saying. When I was twelve or thirteen, I became close to a girl who was very quiet and hesitant and a slow processor, but once she began to talk, she had wonderful insights. My dad told me that he thought that she had opinions and experiences and ideas that she wanted to share with me, but that I needed to be patient — to share the conversation with her and not have it be too one-sided. He was right, and I ended up having many good conversations with this girl.

    My dad’s admonition reinforced that the problem is not having a lot to say — talkativeness only becomes a problem when it crowds out the insights of others. I don’t always do a perfect job at this (sometimes I ramble on too long!), but now, whenever I have a conversation with anybody, I don’t think, “Am I talking too much?” but “Am I listening to this person?”

    Like

  12. acebunny

    I couldn’t stop reading this post. I’m oooo glad I stumbled on this. I don’t know if it’s weird but this is me totally. There was one time someone told me I talked too much. I know I do. But hearing it from someone else. The insecurity. I have decided to just be me and that includes talking albeit alot. Love your blog by the way. So real and ordinary yet elevating and deep.

    Like

  13. fevenb9030

    “Here’s the thing: I don’t enjoy “talking.” I really don’t. When I talk, I mean something — especially when I’m talking a lot. I’m not gushing blah, blah, blah. Not trying to, anyway. I’m trying to communicate something that matters to me.
    That’s why this stereotype grates against my skin. It reduces my passionate rants to the ***drip, drip, drip of a faucet***. It equates my attempts to connect and unburden with the prattle of stupid women. It assumes the mechanics of moving my jaw and vocalizing syllables is the be all, end all to this conversation. It’s all blah, blah, blah — no substance, no meaning, and not worth hearing.”
    I connected with this SO much!! Thank you for putting these thoughts and feelings into words! I truly appreciate it!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Mbalenhle

    Haha! This post made me laugh so much because I could totally relate. I am forever and always talking BUT only when I am with my family and my partner (well because they never talk – they could literally say one sentence a week and find it perfectly normal). It has become such a norm for my partner to say this at least 3 times a day, “Should I respond to what you just said or did you just respond for me?” Lol. And I would just brush it off!

    Like

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