"He's Just Not That Into You" -- Postmodern Secular Romance
- Monday, December 20, 2004
The authors offer a series of excuses women make in order to rationalize the fact that the relationship is not moving forward in a way they would desire. The issue here is really quite clear. According to Behrendt and Tuccilo, women are looking for men who will initiate the relationship, sustain its development, engage in sexual relations in order to establish compatibility, and then move into deeper maturity on the way to marriage. This is the fairy tale as presented in both Sex and the City and this illuminating little book.
In the background to all this is the fact that many women are experiencing great grief in relationships with disinterested, immature, and lecherous men. However, the most interesting insight from this book is the fact that there must be many women--this is The New York Times' best-selling nonfiction book, after all--who are doing their best to rationalize why the men in their lives appear to be disinterested in romance and responsibility.
The authors dismiss excuses such as "he doesn't want to ruin the friendship," "maybe he's intimidated by me," "maybe he wants to take it slow," and "maybe he forgot to remember me."
At times, the authors write with a combined voice, while individual messages from Behrendt and Tuccilo are inserted into the text. Behrendt does the hard labor in this partnership, serving as the wise and experienced man who can offer his testosterone-filled insights into the decadence, disinterest, and depravity of his fellow men.
The book is a litany of female complaints against men, followed by hypothesized reasons why men fail to deliver on their commitments. "Annie" wrote the authors to explain that her date almost never calls when he says he will, even when it is supposed to be only a few minutes later. Greg responds on behalf of the writing team, suggesting, "Here's the deal. Most guys will say what they think you want to hear at the end of a date or phone call, rather than nothing at all. Some guys are lying, some guys really mean it. Here's how you can tell the difference: You know they mean it when they actually do what they say they were going to do. Here's something else to think about: Calling when you say you're going to is the very first brick in the house you are building of love and trust. If you can't lay this one stupid brick down, you ain't never gonna to have a house, baby. And it's cold outside."
That response pretty much sums up the style of the book and the depth of its advice. Actual functioning, mature, working marriages are a far-off vision for these women. In an odd note, Liz Tuccilo tells of working with Greg Behrendt on the book in New York City, noticing that Greg "would often call his wife just to tell her that he couldn't really talk to her right then, but he was thinking of her and would call later." This kind of loving gesture is obviously foreign to Tuccilo's experience. "It didn't look like the most difficult thing in the world," she said, "but it sure seemed nice."
Moving on to other issues in the romantic relationship, Behrendt and Tuccilo suggest that "hanging out" is not the same thing as dating. If a man does not take responsibility to invite a woman on a date, make appropriate arrangements, and invest in the experience, he's just not that into you.
Inevitably, the issue of sex arises in just the way we would expect, coming from writers for Sex and the City. According to these authors, if a man is attracted to a woman, he will move directly to initiating sex. "If he were into you," they explain, "he would be having a hard time keeping his paws off you. Oh the simplicity of it all! If a man is not trying to undress you, he's not into you."
They completely dismiss men who do not move immediately to demand sex or men who think that sex ought to wait for marriage.
In a chapter that would seem to be unnecessary, even for the lovelorn readers of this book, Behrendt and Tuccilo explain that if a man is having sex with another woman, he is probably not a good candidate for future romance. Get this line: "If he's sleeping with someone else without your knowledge or encouragement, he is not only behaving like a man who's just not that into you, he's behaving like a man who doesn't even like you all that much."
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