Is he or isn't he? Who gives a shit?
A little story that might be illuminating: A friend and I were laughing over his dating woes yesterday. He had gone a two dates with this girl that he thought went swimmingly. They went to extremely fancy dinners, the whole nine yards. But he just didn't feel the chemistry, so he quit returning her phone calls. "I didn't owe her a huge explanation after two dates, did I?" he asked me. I said I didn't think so. She called him 4 times in one week, and each phone call made him feel guiltier and guiltier. But eventually she got the hint and didn't call again.
Typical, huh? It's this sort of situation that He's Just Not That Into You was written all about. Except that this book wouldn't help this situation at all, because I just made it up. Well, sort of. I did have this conversation with a friend who had to let down someone easily. But my friend is female and the persistent person who had trouble catching a hint was a man. Really?! I thought only women had problems taking a hint!
Rebecca Traister at Salon has a lot of problems with the premise of the book, but she skirts the number one problem--it's hugely sexist. Well, she does have that problem with it, but she never states it outright like that. She doesn't like that the book posits that the most empowering thing a woman can do for herself is to passively wait for a man to deem her good enough to call back. But mostly she just doesn't like that it boils down complex men's various reasons for jerking women around. (It's assumed for some reason across the board that women don't jerk men around. Uh-huh.)
Of course, one of the big reasons she doesn't want the women she knows assuming that all their problems with men boil down to the fact that said men just couldn't work up the enthusiasm is that it's destructive to your self-esteem.
Zuritsky continued, "What we have been doing to ourselves is masochistic. This lets you off the hook and cuts off the urge to pull yourself apart and try to correct the actions that might have caused him to not be into you." Yes, but only if you can stop that 3 a.m. voice at "So? He didn't like me. Big deal!" before it drops an octave and murmurs, "But what if I were skinnier?"
Bingo. There's no reason that this book will tell women to quit correcting themselves. Once you decide that the only important factor is finding a guy that into you then instead of analyzing why the guy you like isn't calling or whatever, you'll be sitting there making lists of reasons why he can't possibly be into you. (Actually, many women are so trained into self-loathing that they already have these lists. I cannot tell you the number of times I've decided that a guy I'm dating is holding out for someone with bigger breasts or whatever.)
The truth is that if a guy is stringing a girl along, he could just be using her. Or he could be in love but is fucked up and thinks that he needs to string her along in order to get the upper hand. Or he could just be a misogynist who doesn't want to be sullied by being nice to a woman. Who knows? Who cares? If a relationship is making a woman miserable, why should she have to wait to find out what the guy thinks before she can move on? It's not the moving on that's the problem. But saying "He's just not into you" is basically saying, "He's already decided for you, so it's not like you have to make an actual decision or anything."
It's a pretty good article. Traister has some pretty outrageous examples of women applying this mantra to inappropriate situations. The best is a woman who decides that her first husband's unwillingness to eat something she made demonstrates that he didn't love her. Forget the fact that he married her.
And then there's this:
Ian Kerner, a sex therapist and the author of "She Comes First," will publish a response to HJNTIY in February. "Be Honest: You're Not That Into Him Either!" will be released by HarperCollins' ReganBooks.
Hee hee. I found it harder to learn to hold out for someone that I actually like than to learn to take a hint.