He’s just not into me (because my titles are dull)

Posted on October 24, 2007

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I have some female friends who are really down on the book “He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Lucillo. The book is basically a manual for all the things a guy who’s not into you is doing. Chapters have headings like: “He’s not that into you if he’s not asking you out,” and “He’s not that into you if he’s married” with innumerable subheadings and examples.

The authors were writers on the show Sex and the City, and one of the female writers asked Greg what he thought about a man she was interested in who she said was giving her “mixed messages”. Greg pointed out to her that there were no mixed messages, and that the guy just wasn’t that into her. This was later featured on an episode of Sex and the City which I watched yesterday, and inspired this post.

My nay-saying friends contend that the book’s assertions are self evident, and they can’t believe someone is making money out of stating the obvious, and what kind of fool women need this shit?

Well, me. And since there’s me, there must be lots of other women like me. For example, the book states that if a guy is not calling a girl, he’s not into her, and by way of illustration features the following fictional letter:

Dear Greg,

I live with my boyfriend who doesn’t like to talk on the phone. So when he goes out of town, he won’t call me—even to let me know that he got there safely. He just won’t call me. He goes out of town fairly often for business. We fight about it all the time. Sometimes I think that our styles are just different, and I’m going to have to learn how to compromise. But then I think that if you’re into someone, you would want to call them and talk to them while you’re away from them. Am I crazy?

Rachel

Now, this actually is me. I HATE talking on the phone. I hate calling people, whether I like them or not. I only speak on the phone to arrange to see people face to face. So it stands to reason there are guys like that too. According to Greg, however, the dude should respect and care for her enough to call her, if only because he knows that it will make her happy. But who wants a dutiful cursory phone call? Not me. You see why some of the premises of the book are not exactly self evident – but I do realize that non-callers who like the girl are the exception. And it doesn’t do to rely on exceptions.

Or this:

Dear Greg,

I met a really cute guy at a bar this week. He gave me his number and told me to give him a call sometime. I thought that was kind of cool, that he gave me control of the situation like that. I can call him, right?

Lauren

I had no idea that this was some meaningful shit. This has happened to me, in fact, and I also thought it was cool. According to Greg, however, when men want you, they do the work. He says:

We know women are capable of running governments, heading multinational corporations, and raising loving children—sometimes all at the same time. That, however, doesn’t make men different. I know it’s an infuriating concept—that men like to chase and you have to let us chase you. I know. It’s insulting. It’s frustrating. It’s unfortunately the truth. My belief is that if you have to be the aggressor, if you have to pursue, if you have to do the asking out, nine times out of ten, he’s just not that into you.

Meanwhile, Liz voices my thoughts:

We’re just supposed to put on our little dresses and do our hair and bat our eyes and hope they choose us. Why don’t you just tie my corset too tight so I can faint in front of some man who’ll scoop me out of the way just before the horse-drawn carriage runs over me? That’ll get his attention.

Really, in this day and age, the hardest thing to do for many women, particularly me, is nothing. We like to scheme, make phone calls, have a plan.

But then she says:

But guess what: My way? Has sucked. Hasn’t worked at all. I’ve never had a successful relationship with a guy that I’ve pursued.

I was talking about this to a male friend of mine last night, who not having read the book said to me that it was dangerous to accept it as a guide to all relationships, that they are more nuanced than that. I said, “But if you liked a girl, you would call her, right? You wouldn’t wait for her to call you.”

“That’s…true.”

So fine, I’ll just sit back.

Having accepted the above as the gospel truth, it’s had mixed application in my own life. For the most part, however, the guidelines have been instrumental in indicating quickly to me what is going down. When my last boyfriend liked me, he was in full compliance with all the book’s requirements, kooky as he was. And when he didn’t, he exhibited all the detailed signs. And when I might have been making excuses for his behaviour (and he DID in fact have some shit going on) I just accepted that it was over and got my upsetness out of the way slightly earlier than normal. M, however, was the 1 in 10 that the book says may exist: he didn’t call me, I called him – but this was because he actually had appendicitis (I checked for scars, believe you me). For the first few months he was all weird and distant and didn’t even want to hold my hand because he had just come out of two back to back serious relationships and didn’t want to get into anything else so soon. So I got sick of the weirdness and broke up with him, but then a few months later he landed in Cairo with protestations of love and we went out for more than a year after that. When we finally broke up it most definitely wasn’t because he wasn’t into me. But that’s just him. He’s clearly an exception to most known rules, it has been widely acknowledged. So I have set that experience aside and carried on about my business, applying the rules to guys I meet.

Regrettably, what with Cairo being full of ugly, boring motherfuckers, there haven’t been many instances that necessitated any analysis whatsoever. Recently, however, a friend kindly informed me that she had met a hot Italian guy (we’ll call him Claudio) and she was going to hook me up with him. I told her I didn’t like foreigners and she said Italians weren’t foreign, they were sa3ayda. Which I accepted as valid. Nevertheless, I was grievously astonished and mortified when she invited him to a dinner I was organizing as a goodbye party for E. When he showed up she called across 14 people to me: “Hey! He does the same job you used to do!” wink wink wink wink wink. They were mental winks, but I could hear them.

“Hi,” I said and waved. Then I furiously whispered abuse to my end of the table. E said, “You should thank the girl for having your interests at heart!”

So I took another look. He was indeed cute, in the classic TV-ass Italian way, with longish soft hair and all that. Hair, people. I went and had a chat with him to a background of catcalls. I wasn’t feeling any zing or click or whatever, but I don’t know if you can even do that in a second language (besides Arabic). Well, nevertheless, a few days later I got his number off the W and called him and invited him out to have kebab with some friends at El Rifaie, which goes, of course, against everything the book says. I did this on the advice of Joy, so I place all blame for infractions at her door. That, and I don’t think the authors took Middle Eastern culture into account much.

While we were sitting there and I was trying to force everyone to eat testicles, it occurred to me that I had no idea if he even liked chicks. I communicated as much to Joy, in Arabic. Luckily he hasn’t been here long enough to know what “khawal” means. She conceded that this was a good point, but that it was rude to talk Arabic, even though had we been in “his country” there would most likely have been much babbling in “his language”. We were carefully not to say “Itali” or “Italia”. Either way, we had a nice time, and he even asked me to show him around Cairo, but there has been deathly silence from him ever since Sunday. I’d like to think that perhaps he is wary of transgressing boundaries in a culture he knows nothing about, and he’d be right to worry about it (some girls are insulted by being asked out) – but he’s probably not into me. Or he’s a khawal. Sigh. I was mostly in it for the food anyway.

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