‘I just don’t get it, but friends and ex-girlfriends have told me I am dull’

Tell Me About It: What you have discovered is that what you do is not necessarily what makes you interesting – it has much more to do with your interest in others


After three months, my most recent girlfriend dumped me. This was the longest relationship I have ever had and, as a 32-year-old serial dater who has never been the one to end things, I have been left wondering why this keeps happening.

Shortly after we broke up, she started dating a guy I know from my village. He is a nice chap who has barely ever left the county and has done very little if anything with his life but hang around local pubs and restaurants. I continue to be in contact with her through socials, and one night, when I had a few drinks, I asked her why she chose him over me. She came back with an answer straight away. She said he is charismatic and charming and there is much more depth to him than there is to me.

To be honest I was not really shocked by this, as I have got similar feedback from lots of girls over the years, and even my friends have jokingly referred to me as dull. But I just don’t get it. I am well educated, very well read, have published academic papers in my area of interest, and I have had travel experiences that would make a good Netflix series. I have got lost while trekking through the desert, witnessed a carjacking in South America and narrowly missed arrest at a Thai Full Moon Party. I am good looking, I am articulate and I would have imagined that most people would find me interesting, but apparently not.



What is really great is that you are asking questions. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living, and you are beginning to examine who you are. If you continue this quest you might come up with some answers, or at least some directions you can take.
What you have discovered is that what you do (adventures, etc) is not necessarily what makes you interesting, it has much more to do with your presence and your interest in others. What your ex said about choosing someone who is charming and charismatic is a clue: both those characteristics are focused on the other person, putting them at the centre of attention and making them feel special. You wonder how you can be more interesting to others, and while you have all the exterior assets (good-looking, intelligent, high-achieving), you are discovering that what truly connects people is something more than that – it involves kindness, genuine interest, empathy and thoughtfulness.
There is no doubt that you have some of these characteristics, but perhaps now it is time to grow them so that you can have the full life that you are looking for. One of the most direct ways of starting this process is to see a psychologist (www.psi.ie) who might do a personality test to help you target areas for development, or indeed do an emotional intelligence test (www.rochemartin.com) that will offer you clear direction on the skills and characteristics that could be developed and how to develop them.
Change is hard, old habits are difficult to break, and establishing new ones requires continuous practice

Emotional intelligence is not set in stone and can be learned, and so can lead to more success in private and business life. These paths will need the guidance of a coach or therapist to assist with the journey. Another option is to consider a more spiritual path to self-awareness. Meditation has a 5,000-year history, a practice to quieten the mind so that true self-knowledge can arise. Be warned that this path is long and disciplined and will take considerable dedication, but for those who practise, the outcome is truly rewarding, often granting the practitioner peace and bliss.

Mindfulness courses of all types are available and are well researched and robust, if they are something you could commit to, with the added advantage that you will have fellow travellers on the same path. If these suggestions are out of reach for you, you might try a more local path of approaching your friends and asking them for genuine feedback and suggestions. Because they care for you, you can trust their comments and perhaps ask one or two to help you draw up a plan for implementation of the proposals.

Change is hard, old habits are difficult to break, and establishing new ones requires continuous practice, so your plan needs to take into account your own motivation and potential pitfalls. However, even drawing up a plan will increase your self-awareness and ultimately make you more attractive to others.

Your aim of a long-term close and committed relationship speaks to your principles, and so investing in yourself should be rewarding for both you and your future partner as you become the kind of person that others admire and seek to be around. There is no downside to this endeavour, and you have already started the self-examination by speaking to your ex, so trust your instinct and keep on inquiring.