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"He's Just Not That Into You" - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
"He's Just Not That Into You"
Well, I read this hot new relationship book by Sex In the City writers (one male, one female), in which the guy basically keeps saying, "Stop making excuses. If he's not calling, it's not because he's complicated, it's because he's not that into you. And wouldn't you rather invest your time in someone who is?"

This is apparently supposed to be revolutionary advice. I'm going, "Meh." And trying to figure out why it's gender based. If I'm treating a guy badly, not returning his calls, and generally being a bitch, you know what? It also means I'm not that into him. And I also loathe emotional confrontations, which he claims is the reason guys don't just break up outright. I don't know many women who enjoy big emotional scenes either. (A few, but honestly, really, really not many.) Why would I assume it was different for a guy in the first place?

So for the most part, when they're dealing with common sense stuff about what's wrong, I'm just nodding and saying, "Well, yeah." Then they get into what a "right" relationship should look like.

And I'm just like, ewww.

Now, I never watched Sex In the City, mainly because I'm not all that enthralled with the Lives of the Horny and Oversexed. So maybe I'm missing some in-jokes or something. But some of their ideas include a necessity of daily phone calls, inability to stop pawing at one another (possibly in public), and generally... frankly kind of freaky, relationally narcissistic stuff. When he took a break to say that it did matter what a guy did when the couple wasn't alone together, I was actually surprised that he'd say such a thing. Everything else was focused on romance, romance, romance.

I don't want romance.

Okay, maybe in small doses, but what I really, desperately want is someone who's just comfy. I would frankly be freaked out by phone calls in the middle of the day "just to say [he's] thinking about [me.]" The hell...? I mean, maybe now and then as a very special treat--if, say, he knew I'd been upset about something at work and wanted to know how I was doing with it--but someone who's constantly calling gives the vibe of checking up on me, and would not be conducive to a trusting relationship.

Also, they advised that a "good man" was one who thought I was more important than anything else he's doing. Myself, I'd certainly hope a guy would have other things in his life. G-d knows, I hope I would.

I want a nice, comfy friendship that happens to also include cuddling and children. My ideal marriage would include someone who is there in the evenings after we both come home (or if he stays home all day--or I do--doesn't then run off with buddies). We can trade war stories and not feel pressured to romance each other all the time, which sounds very tiring to me.

I guess I'm just not much of a romantic.

However, I will recommend the book in a guarded way to knock some sense into people who get into one bad relationship after another rather than those who, like me, have a bigger problem of not getting into any relationships because we can't be arsed to put the work in (my colleague suggests treating the husband-hunt as a second part-time job). I'm not sure why people sometimes have to be told that it's not a good idea to get into a relationships in which they are publicly ridiculed, cheated on, or forced to keep things secret (married guy, whatever), but there are enough such relationships that it's clear people do. So yes, to Greg, you listen.

It's just not a book I need for its negative advice or proposes anything I find appealing in its positive advice.
26 comments or Leave a comment
gryffin23 From: gryffin23 Date: November 21st, 2004 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who's more interested in comfiness than romance. In my imagination, I'm a romantic but in reality, what it comes down to is whether or not you feel comfortable and can tolerate the other person's flaws. Romance tends to be so fluffy pink cloudish, neither of you can do wrong when the fact is, one of you might squeeze the toothpaste from the middle and one from the bottom. The relationship I just came out of ended because I read novels and he didn't (well, not only that but I think that was part of it). It's little but important and I suppose it always made me feel inferior somehow for reading fiction. Sorry, just went rambling on there. But you get the idea.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2004 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Little stuff like that definitely matters. I mean, aside from the belittling thing (which is a bigger problem than his not liking novels), it suggests some pretty major underlying differences in approach to the world that would have other consequences down the road.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 21st, 2004 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the friendship aspect of a long-term relationship (marriage, etc) cannot be understated.

My husband and I have been "together" for 18+ years and married for 15 of those. We have been pretty much each other's best friends from the beginning, although we were both very interested in each other in a more-than-friends way. I hope that doesn't sound smug, I don't mean it to.

What most women see as "romance" is basically infatuation, which wears off as a matter of course in about 6-8 weeks. The idea that a man is supposed to continue to be infatuated with a woman beyond the genetically-predisposed time has GOT to involve a serious amount of work, I think. High maintenance, in other words. Some people are a lot more touchy than others and freer with the nicknames than others, I'm not talking about the type of affection which comes naturally. (I don't think you are either.)

A friendship/romance includes mutual respect. Any man who is supposed to jump through hoops to keep an insecure woman happy will not respect her. (JKR demonstrated that for us with Cho and Harry.) A real friendship/relationship will include respect. Not that both people won't have to work darned hard to keep it going; it's very easy to get sloppy about it.

There needs to be, however, some BIG SECRETS between the couple that no one else is privy to. Yes, that's usually the bedroom stuff, but it also includes the whole shared-children thing. There needs to be something there, when you look in your partner's eyes, that is just for you. Shared secrets. It's sort of like, "no one has any idea what we are to each other". To me, forced PDA always signified a lack of secrets -- an insecurity that needs constant reassurance.

There are a lot of things that must be given up to make a relationship last for a long time. Any relationship that is TOO easy or too comfortable at first can run the risk of slouching right out of love. There does need to be a *spark* there - something that makes the other person not want to look away when you leave the room, something that makes you want to be a better person so you can be a better partner, there needs to be a huge amount of TRYING to make that friendship be a natural one. I think sloth is really easy to fall into, particularly in a comfortable relationship, and that won't help the relationship. They all do take some work.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2004 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
To me, forced PDA always signified a lack of secrets -- an insecurity that needs constant reassurance.

Yes, that's exactly what I think, and as an outsider, it makes me very uncomfortable to watch couples standing at the bus stop feeling each other up. (No, I don't do it deliberately, but they always seem to pick a spot on the platform that's in the direction the buses come from, past where the benches to wait are, so they're in the sightline.)

As to the work aspect, yup, that's my problem and a much bigger likelihood of a weak spot in my own relationships than, say, putting up with a guy who yelled at me all the time or cheated on me. I'd like to think I'd have to the energy to put into an existing relationship because I wanted it to work, but given the fact that I can't be bothered to write a personal ad, do any sort of quick dating, or even particularly look hard for someone to be attracted to doesn't bode well.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: November 21st, 2004 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to think I'd have to the energy to put into an existing relationship because I wanted it to work, but given the fact that I can't be bothered to write a personal ad, do any sort of quick dating, or even particularly look hard for someone to be attracted to doesn't bode well.

I don't know about that. I think there is a definite difference between wanting a relationship of a particular type when you haven't got one and wanting a relationship with a specific person once you know that person. Perhaps kind of like the difference between wanting to write a shippy story and wanting to write a story about a pairing between characters you've gotten fascinated with that way.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 21st, 2004 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, that's exactly what I think, and as an outsider, it makes me very uncomfortable to watch couples standing at the bus stop feeling each other up.

I always think those people look like complete idiots! I also suspect that they fight (loudly) twice as often as they make love and they think they're very "passionate" or "European" in that, and I also suspect their relationships just don't last all that long OR make them very happy. *shakes head*

I'd like to think I'd have to the energy to put into an existing relationship because I wanted it to work, but given the fact that I can't be bothered to write a personal ad, do any sort of quick dating, or even particularly look hard for someone to be attracted to doesn't bode well.

Well, you know, I have a couple of thoughts. To everything there is a season. If this isn't the right time for a long term romance, it's a blessing that you're not looking round every corner for Mr. Right. I believe in destiny and I just don't believe that Providence will let Mr. Right (or Mr. Long-Term-Friend-and-Partner) slip through your fingers just because you're being a little unenthusiastic about things right now.

However, if you're unenthusiasm is actually avoidance because you're afraid - deep down - and you're not entirely sure you're willing to risk the safe Aloneness for a Togetherness which might fail, then you've got other issues. Everything of value REQUIRES risk, I have no doubt that you've experienced that over and over in your life. Love is the exact same. You don't need to chase it, but you do need to open your eyes, then open your eyes again. (To quote Terry Pratchett.) You do need to follow that little "nudge" and take that chance.

If you're avoiding taking that chance because you just don't want the hassle, that's not a bad thing! It's good to know yourself and be contented with who you were meant to be. But if you're avoiding taking that chance because you're afraid, then I think that is a different story.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2004 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's probably a mix of both, but mostly it's in the "don't want the hassle just now" category, coupled with the fact that I also tend to believe in Providence, though it sure is taking its time and not sending anyone wandering around the fringes of my life. ;) I'm not aware of any great fear (just normal sorts of, "What if it really is because I'm plain?" fears that come and go) and I'm usually a pretty self-aware chick.
lizbee From: lizbee Date: November 21st, 2004 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Erk. I once had a boyfriend who did that calling-every-day thing, and who constantly romanced me. And after the relationship ended, he took to stalking, and still apparently reads my LJ every day, and posts long flocked rants about me in his. Charming. Not an ideal relationship at all.
lyras From: lyras Date: November 22nd, 2004 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)
He sounds pretty creepy :(. I've not had the stalker problem (!), but I did once have a boyfriend who really campaigned for my affections, calling every day, trying to take me away for holidays, basically cosying me into this full-on relationship. The result was that I was completely turned off him.

Also, with reference to the idea that you should be the most important thing in someone's life: I do kind of agree with that, but you certainly shouldn't be important to the exclusion of everything else. I'm not a masochist, but my current boyfriend was really bad at calling me for the first year of our relationship (which was a long-distance one for two and a half years) and, frankly, I found the idea of a guy who had his own life beyond his interest in me much more attractive than the one who seemed to be focusing all his attention on "catching" me.
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: November 21st, 2004 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
When one has grown up with parents who behave more like best friends and partners than lovers, this idea of constant romance can look pretty weird.

I want a comfy guy too, one whom I can talk about things with: not emotional stuff so much as philosophy and ideas and observations about the world. Someone I can learn from as well as trust and enjoy.

And if we can sing duets together, so much the better. :-)

It seems that many people these days don't understand that marriage works best when it is a partnership, and that romance cannot be expected to be 24/7.
ivylore From: ivylore Date: November 21st, 2004 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
The book sounds rather mythical to me (I haven't seen it but if it's based on romance). Enjoying the small stuff together, being comfy, is more important than romance. I'm assuming that the book is salted with suggestions involving dinners and flowers, but you know what? Having someone do all the dishes for you or make you a cup of coffee... that means a heck of a lot more.

Also, they advised that a "good man" was one who thought I was more important than anything else he's doing. Myself, I'd certainly hope a guy would have other things in his life.

Oh, heavens yes. At some point in a relationship, you realize that although a significant other may bring happiness to your life, ultimately, only YOU can make yourself happy, and that works both ways.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2004 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
He never comes right out and says "Flowers and candy" or anything. But he does seem to side with a woman who believes a huge fuss should be made over her at all times.

The book should be linked from here, the the URL looks a little ugly to me and may not work right.
ivylore From: ivylore Date: November 21st, 2004 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

People who bought this item also bought;

Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl

Stop Getting Dumped! All You Need to Know to Make Men Fall Madly in Love with You and Marry "The One" in 3 Years or Less

How do they come up with these titles?
sonetka From: sonetka Date: November 21st, 2004 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
My favourite is Men Are Like Fish: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Catching a Man.

I can't tell you how many unappetizing images that brought up at once. The fishing hook was the least of it.
ivylore From: ivylore Date: November 21st, 2004 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh heh. I'm picturing a trout in a frying pan.
arclevel From: arclevel Date: November 21st, 2004 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
"First, you lay your man on his side, then smoothly chop off his head. Draw the spine out through his neck ..."
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 21st, 2004 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Holy Cow. I just clicked through to the book AND browsed several of the "customers who bought this book also bought" books. Good grief! This one made my jaw drop. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0452283833 Are people really buying these books?

I guess if the Main Goal is to snag a husband, then this is the way to go. But, goodness gracious. I know someone who did just that - set out to snag a husband and used all the tricks in the book. She got one. Marriage IS chaining oneself to another person for LIFE. Gosh, I'm not sure using these techniques in order to secure a person to chain oneself to is a very intelligent idea. It seems like an invitation to years of serious trouble. Or. More books.
The Smart Girls' Guide to Keeping Your Husband
The Wives' Guide to Getting Your Husband to Bother with Your Children
Get Him to Do the Laundry in Six Easy Steps
Get Your Husband's Attention Away from His Secretary (or the Television) in Two Weeks

Wow. I've been informed today! I had no idea this was the dance people were doing now-a-days. It does beg the question WHY??? though!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2004 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... see why I'm sort of in a place of, "You know, I'm not up for the hassle"?

Other things bug me, too. Personal ads. Constantly, I'm being told to place an ad online stating my wonderful qualities and listing those I'm seeking in a mate. I know this must have worked for some people, but for myself, it just kind of squicks me. Quick dating. Like five-minute coffee dates in a marathon afternoon. That freaks my introvert side out!

What I genuinely miss (although I never knew a time when it was so) was married friends who introduced their single friends to one another, "social season," in which you go to a ball not with a date but with the thought of meeting and dancing with people (no committment and conversation is allowed to lag during the waltz), weddings in which you weren't invited "and guest"--you know, where you came alone, and it was reasonable to assume the bride and groom knew other people who were alone, and would make an effort to seat said people together. You know, the whole social structure that allowed you to meet people without frankly stating, "I'm seeking out a romantic partner," and all awkwardness can be fobbed off on the event... "Oh, I hate this sort of thing, don't you? But it would have been rude not to come..."
sonetka From: sonetka Date: November 21st, 2004 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

And Guest & Singles Tables

"And guest" always bothered me (and of course, Miss Manners also objects :)). If you know your friend is seeing someone, take the trouble to find out that person's name. If she's not, why make her feel like she has to find someone to plug up that "and guest" slot? There's nothing wrong with coming as a solo unit.

Obviously we didn't have any "and guests" at our wedding, but to be honest, we didn't make any special effort to put the singles together, mostly because I knew some singles who would have resented it. They didn't see it so much as being introduced as being cordoned off at the Unmarried Lepers' Table. If your friends don't like to have singles' tables and so forth, it may be that they were warned off of it previously by others, as we were.

That being said, we had two singles at our wedding who got together *anyway* and are still together two and a half years later - and they weren't even at the same table! When it's time, it's time, I guess :).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2004 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and by the way--there's a healthy-sized hold list at the library on He's Just Not That Into You, and I'm willing to bet there is on the others as well. I'll check tomorrow.

akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: November 21st, 2004 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Worddddd!!! I agreed with everthing you said. Everything! Maybe it's an INT thing?
stella_by_moor From: stella_by_moor Date: November 21st, 2004 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Books about relationships are so generalized, though, that what they say basically boils down to drivel. I'm always amazed at some of the relationships around me - married couples who seem stable and happy, and yet whose relationships are so drastically different from mine that I don't understand how they work.
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: November 21st, 2004 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am also a non-romantic, and was always more into humour, fun, and opinionated conversation than romance. I was slow-moving with my romance and never saw the point of flowers, long walks on the beach, calling each other every day, wearing stockings, etc.

To me, romance seemed unreal. People focused on romance weren't focused on the real person in front of them, and their thoughts and their ideas. They seemed to be making stuff up. You know?

The thing is... the thing is, I grew into some kind of romance. After a long time with my boyfriend, since we've fallen into a fairly comfortable routine, since my mushy and deep feelings for him are now quite genuine, and since he is living in a different city for a few months, if he randomly calls me up and comes out with the mushiest, most nostalgic piece of crap ever, I just melt.

Melting is an odd feeling, I can tell you.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: November 21st, 2004 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Relationship books are so stupid and all they are good for is making the authors rich. One time I leafed through a book for old hags over 35 who still need a husband using techniques the author learned in Harvard's business school. The author made lame suggestions like calling everyone you know and asking them if they know someone they can introduce you to. She suggests that if you're really ready to have a baby, go ahead and do it now via the sperm bank; if you're already a mother then there's no biological clock pressure on any men you meet! She forgets though that 1) raising a baby alone leaves little time or opportunity for dating and 2) instead of the pressure of your biological clock, any man you date has to face the pressure of instant fatherhood to child that's not even his. [sarcasm]Yeah, that'll work[/sarcasm]. I laughed too at the author's time line for sex with dates, assuming everyone has the same-size-fits-all ethical/moral/religious views on these things.

I'm not anti-romance but I think PDA is crass and I'd be freaked out at a guy who calls me all of the damn time. I kind of need my own space.
marionravenwood From: marionravenwood Date: November 21st, 2004 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Relationship books actually offend me because it always seems like they are using gender as an explanation for bad behavior.

I *hate* that entire section. If any of these books actually made a difference, people wouldn't need to keep buying them.
sreya From: sreya Date: November 22nd, 2004 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
My high school boyfriend was one of those "call every day" types. Worse, he was "call every day and talk for three hours."

Now, granted, he was grounded most of the time we were "dating" (I know, I know...) so he really didn't have much else to do besides study and call me. But at 16, when I was in the middle of "Ooo, look, isn't this romantic, playing at being grownups?", and I'm making up excuses to get off the phone (usually of the "I hear my mom shouting for me" variety)... well, it's definitely an annoyance, and one I wouldn't want to live through again!
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