Stephanie Smith: Darling, you’ve got six minutes, then I’m gone

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Ever get the feeling that your partner isn’t listening to you? That his attention, like a helium balloon, sometimes drifts up and away and floats in the direction of his shed, or his football team’s stadium, or maybe (and more worryingly) hoping to find a cosy resting place somewhere about the person of Nigella or Beyonce?

You’re not alone. This week a survey for Ladbrokes found that, on average, men can hold their attention for six minutes while listening to their wife/partner/girlfriend talk (that’s called “having a conversation” in my house). Then it’s drift-off time.

In contrast, the average man’s attention span achieves a full 15 minutes when talking with male friends, most common topics being football (well, it’s banned at home) and – get this – their sex lives.

Really? I’d be astonished if the average man actually lays bare about his own sex life to his mates. And even if he did, it’s unlikely that such a conversation would last for 15 minutes. I digress.

The point is that men don’t listen to their partner, and the survey has come up with a handy list of “female” topics that men are most likely to tune out of. Top is “people they have never met”, celebrities, fashion and shopping, other people’s relationships, Facebook, horoscopes, what partner had for lunch, partner’s feelings and dieting.

I haven’t seen a list of men’s least compelling topics, as compiled by women, but I am prepared to guess that football takes up the top three slots, followed by all other sports, Facebook, “people we have never met” (that’s football again) and “how much you are suffering with your flu” (tiny cold).

Ladbrokes surveyed 2,000 adults and found that most women test their partner’s attention and frequently find it lacking, the most common clues being that he takes ages to answer a question, has a blank or glazed expression and can’t lift his eyes from the TV, his tablet or phone. (Thanks, Ladbrokes, I might have missed those.)

To be fair, women are far from blameless, admitting that we too pay more attention talking with friends than with our partner. And our favourite topic? Other people’s relationships.

Now, this did surprise me, but I think it’s because we women are interested in other people. We care. And we prefer to discuss other people’s relationships to make us feel better about our own, in particular, the fact that we live with a man who doesn’t listen to a word we say, and thinks instead about football, sex and other women.

Right, I’m off to buy my husband’s Christmas present. He’s told me a thousand times what he wants, but still... no, it’s gone. I can’t remember. A Nigella calendar it is then.

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