What part of "Yes, I saw/read/know that" don't you grasp?

I have a relative who drives me up the wall. He insists on telling people (me, far too often) about things we already know AND which we just told him we already know. I’m talking about items of ‘news,’ here, not someone repeating favorite old family stories or something like that. The exchanges go like this:

Rel: They said on the evening news yesterday that 11 people died in France because of the heat.

Me: Yes, I saw that report.

Rel: Proceeds to repeat every detail of the news story. Exactly. Ignores any further interruptions of the ‘yes, I saw that story’ variety – he must relate the whole story just as if he were telling it to someone who hadn’t seen the story.

Now, this might be slightly bearable if this were a lead-in to something. I mean, if he wanted to be sure we had a common knowledge base before he added something to it, like further information he’d gotten elsewhere, his own life experiences, why he disputed the story, how it reminded him of this other problem…ANYTHING.

Nope. He just wants to deliver this ‘news’ that he got from a generally available source and which you just told him you ALREADY got from the very same source!

I’ve wondered for years why he does this. My favorite guess is that he needs the status of ‘information bringer.’ That is, he wants the ego-boost of knowing something you don’t, and the gratification of sharing that knowledge with someone else.

But…then why the hell doesn’t he take the trouble to learn something that isn’t common knowledge in his community already??

This is a guy who has worked a boring job (not my judgment, his) doing the same old day in and day out for eight years now. He works, comes home and sits in front of the television, and goes to bed. Add in eating meals, taking baths, and a few other mundane activities, that’s his life. No wonder he doesn’t have anything to talk about!

He doesn’t have a wife or children or even a girl friend. Or, for that matter, a boyfriend or ANY friends at all so far as I can tell. He has no hobbies, and has brushed aside our suggestions of ones he might enjoy. He plays no games or sports. He says his job is ‘fine’ and has no interest in looking for a better one or getting the education required for something that would provide more variety and challenge. He won’t consider the idea of taking evening courses even of the ‘no intellectual challenge but fun to know’ type. He doesn’t read books. He won’t even subscribe to magazines, which might tell him about things 100% of other people won’t have automatically heard about. (He gets TV Guide and that’s it.)

Why? Why? Why does this man want to be able to inform others and yet refuse to engage in any of the activities that would let him have something to inform others about?

It baffles me.

I don’t know…but you oughta get him a date, even if he resists, force the issue, don’t take no for an answer. There is a woman (or man) out there who’ll appreciate him…I know, I’ve met some of them.

There’s a woman in my building that recites the entire plotline and describes every scene of every movie she goes to. You can’t shut her up even by telling her to ‘shut up’. It’s some sort of compulsion with her and is maddening beyond belief.

StarvingbutStrong, are you my long-lost cousin?!?! The “relative” of which you speak is my dad!! No matter how many times you say "Yes, I understand perfectly and know exactly what you’re talking about,’ he always continues with his blathering as if you were mute. I have been driven to interrupting and saying forcefully, “Dad - I heard you the first time. I have already indicated that I understand. You don’t have to repeat yourself.” Then he gets huffy! AAARGH!!!

Maybe he discusses these things in detail because he has nothing else to talk about? The rest of his life is focused on work and TV so he really doesn’t have many interesting topics of conversation.


It’s sad, but most people’s conversation is 100% narrative. They can relate facts, but they can’t offer commentary, or discuss hypotheticals.

Probably the way he talks is the only way he CAN talk. Maybe you should just let him. But it is irritating for those who are ready to take conversation to the next level.

Maybe ask him sometime, “what do you think would happen if …” and spin some hypothetical out of the story he’s telling you? You might be able to help him.