He’s Just Not That Into You? Really?

He's Just Not That Into YouIt was finals week. I was at the public library in downtown La Jolla without wireless internet, suffocating under the heavy weight of a quickly approaching final exam.

Apparently I am incapable of studying by myself. I start off strong– documents open, headphones on, fingers hovering slightly over the lettered keys. I type my first sentence. Pause. Adjust the margins, fix the spacing, change the font to fit my current mood. Times New Roman when I have to focus, Calibri for the duller assignments, and (on occasion), Courier New to delude myself into thinking a typewriter font makes me more of a writer. And before I know it, my mind is completely gone. I wander off, and end up in the section with books like:

  • What Men Won’t Tell You, But Women Need To Know
  • Don’t Call That Man! A Survival Guide To Letting Go
  • Make Every Man Want You (Or Make Yours Want You More)
  • Man Magnet: How To Be The Best Woman You Can Be

And I’m thinking: Sweet Jesus, how did I get here, and someone please take me to the Harry Potter section. I spent at least 15 minutes suppressing my laughter as I pulled book after book from the shelf. Bright, bold covers pasted with provocative statements. Exaggerated cartoons of single women holding a cosmopolitan in one hand and cigarettes in the other (clearly, the shining image of feminine independence). Then, amongst the rubble, I found it– He’s Just Not That Into You.

I think it was a poor thought process, surely brought on by extreme sleep-deprivation and unparalleled hunger (i clearly remember it being past 1:30pm). But after watching the movie only to leave the theater disappointed and $10 poorer, I naturally reasoned that books were always better than movies and this had to be the case. It had a clever title– blunt, honest, catchy. So I thought, what the hell! My papers can wait! I found an empty table hidden behind thick bookshelves. No one would see me, particularly not with the book. I slid my gigantic, Princess Leia headphones over my ears and used my hair to cover most of my face. I was settled, conveniently hidden from judgment and quite incognito. I was ready to read.

"The Girl"

The book is basically a large compilation of fictitious letters based on real stories, and advice for each situation from a supposedly wiser love guru-ish person. Chapters are divided as follows:

He’s just not that into you if… [insert something here].

He’s not that into you if he’s not asking you out. He’s not that into you if he’s not calling you. He’s not that into you if he’s not dating you. He’s not that into you if he’s not having sex with you. He’s not that into you if he’s not marrying you ETC. ETC. (Hate to be harsh, Greg, but I think you overused the phrase.)

But basically, each section contains a whole mess of messes created by women themselves. I thought it was going to be funny, and sometimes it was, but mostly it was just depressing. Girls are awfully crazy. I knew that, but I know it even more now. It’s basically sad, pathetic story after sad, pathetic story, peppered by sobering advice that says the same thing over and over again. And I think it’s pretty clear by now– by the third chapter, really– what that advice is.

I admit that Greg Behrendt makes a valid argument. I generally agree with him. Sometimes we just have to swallow our pride, take a deep breath, and admit it: he’s just not that into me. I just don’t think I agree with his genre, this whole self-help, advice for single women, “how to find love” sort of section in libraries and bookstores. I don’t think it’s that easy.

Maybe it’s lack of experience, maybe it’s cynicism, maybe it’s just me. But I don’t think anyone is going to change just because some hotshot male consultant for Sex in the City wrote a book about how guys really are. You like who you like until you don’t, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if people tell you not to, even if you know it’s not worth it.

I don’t think it’s that easy, to just present a bunch of real-life unromantic mishaps (along with an enlightened male perspective on them) and assume that’s it. There’s nothing to it. There are too many variables and too many situations. Everyone is different and everyone approaches life and love in their own twisted, complicated, unusual manner. There’s no way a book with thick pages and large font can really be an all-inclusive guide to understanding relationships. There’s no way a library filled with books of a similar nature could even begin to reason through any of it.

Music and Girls

I think the movie is a pretty clear statement of that. Not to ruin anything, but it basically establishes these rules and concepts, only to break them for the sake of a happy ending. He doesn’t want to get married, but she does, so he proposes so he can be with her. She’s usually the rule, but she’s his exception. It’s contradictory.

I can tell the movie tries to stick to the heart of the book, but the fact is, the heart of the book doesn’t map out the right Hollywood “chick flick” endings. It’s a book meant to act as a proverbial slap-in-the-face… he’s just not that into you. It presents a lot of embarrassing, but frankly realistic situations and uses them as models to shed some blindingly harsh light. It might just be my biased opinion (I just couldn’t handle the amount of awkward in that movie), but I think the movie missed that.

Generally, everyone conveniently got what they wanted. Random characters, caught in the fictional web spun by some idealistic romantic, somehow ended up together by the end of the movie! It wasn’t convenience, it was fate! They were pulled together by the magic of love! And lived happily ever after! And waltzed into a glorious future of rainbows and sunshine and fluttering hearts!

PLEASE. I like my fair share of corny and idealistic, but a girl has to draw the line somewhere.

Love

I’m not saying it’s necessarily a horrible book or even a horrible movie. I’m just saying, it’s not for me. Contrary to what I may sound like, I don’t claim to be above the book/movie or what it preaches. I certainly do not absolve myself from any of it. I am just as neurotic and confused and ridiculous as every other girl, tragically and admittedly so. Sorry, boys. I understand, and (ironically) by association, am part of your pain. The feminine mystique, complications and insanity and all the exhausting adventures that come with it.

Maybe that’s why there’s such large market for these types of books lately. People want to know. We all want answers. Easy, straightforward, simple answers. We want it all condensed and packaged in a paperback book that requires no more than an hour or two to read. But I don’t think anything is that easy.

I guess everyone just wants someone to try and make sense of the madness, even if it is a little hopeless.

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About Booki
"Somewhere man must know that self-perception is the most frightening of all human observations. He must know that when a man faces himself, he is looking into an abyss."

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