Monday, December 06, 2004

Why I'm not so into 'He's Just Not Into You'

On it's face, the new "flying-off-the-shelves" book by two "Sex in the City" writers, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo He's Just Not That Into You seems a wake-up call to all self-deluding women (most of us) about the relationships that we overanalyze to death. I have not read the book but have read several articles about it, and the message is anything but subtle: the relationship or fling or crush that you are over-analyzing, often in your favor ("well he might just be to intimidated to call me") is just not interested. It makes sense. Guys, we are told, aren't complex, as one of them replied to me at a party once when I claimed not to understand them, "we're simple people." Women, the conventional wisdom goes, are the ones who make everything complex, read into things, overthink. Lately, there has even been what I call an over-analyzing backlash. I have wrung my hands over this tendency as much as the next girl, until I figured out that the reason that females engage in this practice is not because we're crazy or neurotic but because men are hard to predict (human beings are hard to predict!). Thus, if for some reason, we are interested in someone who, as is now revealed to us, has been "just not that into" us we anxiously use every sign to gauge his committment-level: see over-analyzing is not some weird thing that girls do, it's an evolutionary response, as legitimate as any other (if we subscribe to the idea that girls are most concerned about finding someone who will committ).

This is my problem with He's Just Not That Into You, however: while it claims to be freeing women from that agonizing spiral of over-analysis, it puts a new and perhaps even more self-conscious phrase into our head, the phrase, "he's just not that into you." As a woman quoted in one of the articles that I've read about the book said, why can't the title to book 'You're Just Not that Into Him?' See, the problem with Behrendt and Tuccillo's approach is that while it claims to take the pressure off the girl--to encourage her to drop the guy who's just not that into her as soon as she detects it--it still suggests that she try to interpret the relationship by trying to read the guy's every moves. Now, however, it's in the name of figuring out as quick as possible how not into you he is.

Here is how I propose Behrendt and Tuccillo could make this book well-meaning instead of just gimmicky: advise a woman to estabish her priorities--are they to go out with a guy who a lot of women find attractive but who maybe isn't that committed (some women find that attractive)?; is it to go out with a guy who will committ? What is it that we want? Or does it even matter, really, especially if we're only in our 20s? (Lord knows guys aren't advised to establish what it is they want). Anyway, my main point is, there must be more talk of what a woman thinks and not how she can detect what a man thinks. Then maybe we will see books written with a title as equally applicable to the modern world of relationships as Behrendt's and Tuccillo's: She's Just not that Into You.

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