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He Brags Too Much?


Boasting is an art. Julius Caesar’s “veni, vidi, vici” is memorable for the way it captures an enormous event in three tiny words. Mohammad Ali’s “I’m the greatest!” is a classic because it’s both brief and flamboyant.

When senior men brag, they do it in ways that were not possible when they were 20-somethings. Young men’s whole lives are ahead of them, and so are their real achievements. While they chat about sports, video downloads, and their start-up jobs, their raging hormones take care of the rest of the courting dance.

On the other hand, senior daters have an underpinning of learning and accomplishment earned through decades. Many senior men (many women, too) feel an impulse to convey who they are in terms of what they’ve achieved – all this in the time it takes to share first-date coffee at Starbucks. In a situation like this, bragging is unavoidable.

A senior guy bragger is going to hit the high spots (nothing about being fired from his job in 1983), but it’s not for us to limit the amount of detail he wants to share.  A senior man who boasts without too much exaggeration or pretentiousness is still a catch. Not so a man whose bragging reveals him to be arrogant, deceitful, or hopelessly insecure. Not sure where to draw the line? Here are some bragger types to help you work out just how much tolerance you may or may not have for men who brag.

The Practiced Self-Promoter

You will not immediately find this man tiresome because he narrates his success story with such charm. Eventually you’ll discover that his audience is everyone, everywhere, all the time. He may not know the effect this is having on you and others. The good news is that when you tell him, he may agree that it’s bad to monopolize conversations by retelling the same story, no matter how enthralling it may be.

The Intellectual Snob

He has high standards. He watches PBS, belongs to an international film club, and plays tournament chess. He’s continuously checking your culture credentials (can you name three operas by Verdi?). Don’t wait around until he finds a French literature professor who is half as old as you are and twice as crazy about James Joyce.

The Oversharer

He begins with his first after-school job. Hours later you are only part way through a survey of his life work. He doesn’t stop talking long enough for you to interrupt, so you can’t tell him that a brief summary will do. You’re a good listener, but there are limits…you’ll have to strike long-windedness off your “no” list if you want to spend the rest of your life with this guy.

The Unappreciated Genius

Throughout his career, he claims, co-workers and supervisors were out to get him. Promotions to which he was entitled went to others less capable. His ideas were brilliant, but they were stolen by his boss. This man’s theme is unfair treatment by people who were jealous and small-minded. What we might call “inverse bragging” is just the tip of the discontent iceberg. You’re only weeks away from being tagged as subversive yourself.

The Humblebraggart 

Too much false humility is cloying. If your senior man is constantly saying things like, “I didn’t expect to like my new Audi as much as I liked my BMW,” or “I know I’m not young, but today a client of mine thought I was his age and he’s 51” –he’s doing the humblebrag. If this seems artful to you, go ahead and tell him that although your granddaughter almost didn’t make the varsity basketball team, she’s now playing first string.

The Modest Achiever

This man finds bragging vulgar, but he want you to know how accomplished he is. He speaks in third person or in hypotheticals. He’ll say, “It’s very rewarding for a person to win the employee of the month award,” or “Can you imagine the thrill of catching a 5-pound bass?” It’s nice that this man is without arrogance, but he may ultimately be too bland, too meek, or too opaque to keep you interested.

The Money Man

In general, the more money a man has, the less likely he is to talk about it.  His bragging about money usually means that although he hasn’t got much, he thinks wealth is the measure of a man. This guy is living a big lie, and when he begins coaxing you to pick up some unwanted tabs, you may want to exit the relationship before it becomes increasingly expensive (for you, not for him). And especially before he makes his inevitable request for a loan.

The Sex Expert

The principle that applies to men who talk about their money applies to men who brag about their sexual prowess. Senior men are under pressure to perform, thanks to the Viagra-generated myth that unmedicated sex is over at age 50 (the spectre of erectile dysfunction looms, if only in the minds of over-50 males). The language of sex-boasting varies from delicate to disgusting. When it moves toward the latter, and he ignores your pleas for less leering and more elegant descriptives, it’s time to say goodbye.

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'He Brags Too Much?' have 11 comments

  1. July 5, 2015 @ 2:42 pm Sienna

    Dee – Oh my, yes! This probably happens too often to women dating senior men. It may be that older men are in more of a rush than younger guys because they are in the must-prove-it stage. Too many men in our culture are victims of the “Viagra scare” — they worry erroneously that aging brings impotence. They’re rushing to that dreaded final performance.

  2. July 5, 2015 @ 12:58 pm Dee

    I have encountered guys who are determined to make it clear that they are “sexual” and are not willing to wait until we actually know each other to demonstrate their mad skills. Really? From a stranger in Starbucks over our first coffee together? Their profiles seemed to be thoughtful and they said they were looking for relationships. I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination and hope to have a very active sex life again, but with someone I know and am feeling a connection with. This type of bragging, marketing – whatever you want to call it – is crass and rude. It’s counterproductive, too. What’s going on here?

  3. January 18, 2015 @ 3:21 pm Carla

    I am with a humblebragger. They are worst than outright braggers. I’m so tired of hearing I’m sure you know people who are just as smart as this, but…or I had a lot of help on this, but….or I don’t like to brag, but….

  4. December 21, 2014 @ 2:23 pm Sienna

    Yankaleh – Thanks for your comment. I get the reference, and I like a confident man, but being for oneself MODESTLY works, too.

  5. December 21, 2014 @ 2:11 pm yankaleh

    A very detailed discourse. However, I wonder if you know the adage ” If I am not for myself who is for me “.

  6. December 21, 2014 @ 8:02 am Lily

    I’m with a bragger now and it’s getting easier because I call him on his nonsense. For one thing he does have some good accomplishments so he is justly proud of them. What he does more of is hide things like the fact that he didn’t save his money when he was younger and doesn’t have much now.

  7. October 31, 2014 @ 9:38 am Sienna

    I hear you, Tina. I met a man who seemed ideal until he launched into a worshipful description of his wife. He credited her with an amazing number of achievements – chess champion, scratch golfer, book author. And did I want to come to his house to see her award-winning watercolor paintings? Uh, no….

  8. October 5, 2014 @ 2:19 pm Tina

    I could write a book about this. I had a date with a guy who bragged about his ex-wife so much that I had to interrupt and say I didn’t want to hear about her. She had a high-paying job and she was a good mother, and so many other fine attributes. He never said anything nice to me, like he was glad to meet me, or that I look nice in blue or something. He was amazed that I didn’t want to go out with him again.

  9. October 4, 2014 @ 6:24 pm Sienna

    Good point, Alicia! There are lots of sports braggers. I had an experience similar to yours — with a former jock who couldn’t face reality. He was living the 1966 vida loca.

  10. October 4, 2014 @ 1:15 pm Alicia

    I’m with you on the bragging but you left out the sports bragger. I dated an ex-football star and he bragged a lot about his athletic ability. We went on a hike and we had to turn back half way through because he was winded. I also know a money bragger, and he actually does have money but unfortunately, he doesn’t want to date me. lol

  11. October 4, 2014 @ 11:09 am Sasha

    I do not like the braggers. They talk all the time and they do not let you talk. Most of them are bragging about things they don’t really do.

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