"he's not that into you"

This is the title of a self-help book I'm sure you're all familiar with that apparently came about after another fucked up episode of Sex in the City. It's a phrase meant to stick in our heads and make us question every time someone cancels on us, or postpones, or even doesn't call/text as often/quickly as we think they should. I've found myself looking at an empty inbox and thinking, "hmm... is he really not that into me? If he was, wouldn't he make more of an effort?" Like most self-help books, it's a cute little phrase that completely oversimplifies relationships and communication and leads us to over-react in situations where we're likely better served just fucking asking... but it's also, like most such things, based in a bit of truth as well.

When I was considering this blog, I decided to read up a bit on this book as it was a while since I skimmed it(I actually preferred their one "It's called a break-up because it's broken", which as mantras go, is not such a bad one to tell yourself). I ended up reading the review of it on the F-Word, a great blog that my girlthing C referred me to a while back. Some of my personal highlights of the review, which is by Holly Combe:

"Make a woman feel like a super-duper prize and she’ll easily forget her own agency."

Now, I definitely suffer from this. If someone pampers me and compliments me, I'll tend to put up with a lot of bullshit in the hopes it'll happen again. I'd love to say I'm above such flattery, but I'm not. So, point.

"Remember, ladies, it’s all about You, You, You... You’re too busy fast-tracking your way to a commitment and if he can’t get with the programme, you’re moving on!"

I'm also realizing that this fucking book- which I haven't even read in full, mind!- has led me to be suspicious all the time. Does this serve me? Well, to be honest, sometimes, yeah, probably. I expect better communication now. But I also wonder if I'm so tired of feeling like a chump at the hands of people like Sh that I now run the risk of painting other people with the same brush as a form of defensive strategizing. Holly? Thanks for pointing out that decent men do, sometimes, have other things crop up, and it doesn't mean they're dicks.

"...what he’s (the author, Greg Behrendt) really drumming in here is the crux of the books message to women: if you pursue him, he won’t be that into you. You’ll put him off."

Now. Within reason, actually, this is a good strategy. Sorry, Holly, but it's true. You have to play this game a bit carefully, mind, but you can't just be available all the time, and calling/texting/emailing/stalking them in between. That ends up being desperate, creepy, and desperately creepy. It's just as simplistic to say that pursuing a guy will put him off- not per se, but know the difference between pursuit and overwhelming neediness. That's what I'm learning at the moment.

However, that said, if you don't do some pursuing yourself, you'll end up just accepting whatever advances you get- and you might miss out on some amazing people that way. S, G, H, Mo, another boy who I haven't nicknamed for this blog yet- I wouldn't have met them if it wasn't for me messaging them and asking for a meetup, or suggesting we hang out a bit at some event we were both at, or proposing a date. So apparently doing some pursuing yourself is a positive strategy, which Holly does point out with the next statement:

"Two things the book constantly overlooks are that the thrill of the chase is not exclusive to men and the pleasure of being an object of desire is not exclusive to women."


So, then, after perusing the blog, I checked out the Amazon reviews- in spite of some scathing ones that pointed out the logical fallacies put across as Ultimate! Truth! it still manages to get 4 stars. As per usual, the simple answer gets the worm.

One review I particularly appreciated, though, along with the ones from men calling bullshit, was one from this woman:

"I am a woman who tends to be more forward and goes after what she wants. I WILL call a guy and I WILL tell him that I am into him if I am. I have been made to feel by stupid pop psych books that I am "clingy and desperate" if I call a guy who, for all outward appearances, may be reticent. But how can we know if he is "into us" or not unless we ASK outright??"

But wait! Asking?!? That's, like, honest communication! We can't have that! That's too much like directness! That puts all these self-harm books to shame!

Oh, oops, self-help. Sorry. Slip of the fingers. ^_^

But what she says is completely right. I end up feeling like I must sound clingy and/or desperate if I make the move around trying to make plans. And some guys might take it that way. But then, they're probably not the guys for me. I'll be much more clingy and desperate if I hang out sighing next to the telephone.

And people wonder why men go to sex workers? I mean, jesus, it seems like the media and books like this exist to further the intimacy gap between people! No wonder they come to us. It's simpler.

I wonder what Greg's wife thinks about this sort of thing? "Sorry honey, not taking out the trash cause I'm not that into you".

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