I'm Just Not That Into It!

I'm so surprised and bitterly disappointed. I finally got around to reading 'He's Just Not That Into You' and it is not at all what I thought it was. I thought I knew so much about this book that I felt I had pretty much read it, even though I hadn't, but I was wrong. Let me back up for a minute.

I love Sex and the City. That's putting it mildly actually. I've watched the full series six or seven times. The 'He's Just Not Into You' moment is one of my favorites. I think Liz Tuccillo is a great writer. I thought, from knowing this series and this premise so well, that I understood what the book was about. Even after seeing the movie and hating it, I still thought so because a few of my friends told me that the book was totally different and I really needed to read it. So when I saw a hardcover copy at Chapters on sale for seven bucks, I picked it up.

First of all, this book that everyone has raved about and is supposedly the new 'rules' for women, is 185 pages long. And this is the new expanded edition. Not only that, but a good third of the pages are mostly blank. There's just not that much there.

Next, there is a co-authoer. I knew that. But it had been touted as Liz Tucillo's book so I thought that the guy, Greg Behrendt, was just a contributor to give a guy's perspective. But it's the other way around. He wrote most of it and Tuccillo just comments. Also, this guy is a comedian. He is now, because of this book that he admits in the new forward was meant essentially as some light-hearted fun, regarded as some kind of relationship expert and he obviously loves it and does nothing to discourage it. He writes in the forward about how much time he spends giving women advice. This guy has no business giving advice, all he has is a catchy little tag line that wasn't even written by him in the first place! (Tuccillo does credit him with the original idea but he was not a writer on the show).

But on to the part that really boils my potatoes. This book is really just thinly veiled misogny. He claims to be writing all these things because he loves women and he thinks they really sell themselves short and put up with behavior they don't deserve when it comes to relationships. But his advice is very condescending. He thinks he can wave that away with several well-placed 'you're too good for that, honey's' and 'believe it, hot stuff!'s' but it's pretty clear. He thinks women are too stupid to figure out any of these things for themselves.

He also has a very traditional view of gender roles. Women, he says, should never call a man and never ask a man out on a date. If he likes her, he will call her so she doesn't have to. And calling a man smacks of desperation. Men like to chase and if you call them, you deprive them of the chase and they lose interest. He seriously claims all of this and offers this as advice at the same time as he exhorts women to stop accepting manipulative tricks from men. But they should let them chase them, that's okay. Direct and open communication - just coming right out and saying 'I like you, when can I see you again.', is desperate.

He boldly claims that all men are alike. He does not accept the idea that some men might be shy or insecure and uncomfortable asking women out. He doesn't think it's possible that some guy might really like you but not have the guts to tell you that. According to Berhrendt, if a guy likes a woman, he will ask her out, he will want to see her all the time and he will not be able to keep his hands off her. All guys are exactly the same. He also doesn't believe that men can be conflicted about anything - they are always sure of themselves. If they say anything that might be interpreted as a mixed message or uncertainty it means that they don't want to be with you and are just too scared of hurting your feelings to tell you so directly.

While claiming to want to help women be strong and independent and good decision-makers around relationships, he paints a picture of woman-kind that is exactly the opposite. We are all stupid, insecure, clingy masochists who can't stand up to men.

I liked the original concept behind 'He's just not that into you'. I even liked some of what I saw in the movie. I do think there's some truth behind it. But the part that really resonated for me is how women do tell themselves all kinds of stories about why unacceptable behavior is acceptable - and we encourage each other to do it too. But I don't think it's because we're stupid. I think we know all these things, we just don't want to admit we know. It's just that for those women who are single and for whom marriage and children is a main goal, dating is really tough. We just really want it to be over. We want get past all of that initial stuff get to the part where we can be comfortable with someone - that nice companionship, don't have to explain ourselves anymore stage. So for many of us, if we reach that stage with someone, we don't want to go through all that work again, so we'll hang in there even when we know we shouldn't because we're hoping maybe it really can turn into what we want, instead of having to go back out there and try again. We are not stupid, we are simply hopeful, and perhaps also tired, and a little too forgiving and generous at times. I don't think these qualities warrant the condescending tirade that is this book.

We don't need men to tell us they are scum. We can figure that out for ourselves. And things are ever so much more complicated than this book would have us believe. It saddens me that, yet again, a simplistic book written by someone who is not qualified in any way to offer the advice he's offering, that provides nothing more than pithy catch-phrases and all-or-nothing thinking became a huge bestseller.

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