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Posts Tagged ‘he’s just not that into you’

In Mike’s last post, he questioned whether love was really love if it went unreturned.  It’s a question I’ve heard debated many times, but I think it’s a silly one.  Love isn’t dependent on getting what you want; love is the opposite of “what’s in it for me?”

I think this question is a reflection of the sad fact that we’ve largely twisted the definition of love to mean something like “something that makes me feel good”.  Of course, love can make us feel good, but there’s much more to it than that.

If my adult child decides that she hates me and huffs off to never speak to me again, will I love her any less?  When my beloved grandmother’s senility eroded her brain to the point that she didn’t recognize me, did I stop loving her?  Of course not.  So why would the standard be different for love that included an element of romance or sexual desire?

The important question that seems to be raised in Mike’s post is a different one altogether:  “Should I continue this relationship?”

The answer to that question is probably crystal clear, but it’s not dependent on what that other person might or might not feel.  It’s dependent on what you need to be satisfied with the relationship and whether or not you’re getting it.

You’re not going to bring him around.  You’re not going to wear him down.  He’s not going to learn to love you if you just stick around long enough.  He’s not going to see the light and realize that you’ve always been the best thing that ever happened to him like some teenager in a John Hughes movie.   It is what it is and it’s up to you to take it or leave it AS IS.

I’ve discussed this issue with a lot of people, and there seems to be a general assumption that “take it or leave it?” in this context is somewhat rhetorical, that if you truly accept that you’re not going to get what you want, walking away is the only thing that makes sense.  I don’t necessarily think that’s true.  In fact, sticking around has worked very well for me.

For years, I had an on-again/off-again relationship with a man who loved me far less than I loved him.  For the first six months or so, it was painful, and it might have seemed the wise thing to just walk away, but I made a different decision. I decided instead to embrace reality.  What we had together was wonderful.  It wasn’t what I’d originally hoped for and never would be, but when I removed my goals from the mix and looked at the situation as it really was, it was all good.  We learned from one another, supported one another, played well together, thought well together and really, truly enjoyed each other’s company.

“So what was the problem?” you might be asking.  I certainly asked that in the beginning.  But I quickly recognized that it was the wrong question and abandoned it.  The idea that there was a problem was born entirely of the fact that things weren’t proceeding according to my original goals.  In other words, that I hadn’t been able to bend him to my will.   The reality was simple:  there were things about our relationship that really worked, but he wasn’t ever going to marry me.  He wasn’t ever even going to be my boyfriend.

If having someone in my life full-time had been important to me at that stage, then it would have made a lot of sense to walk away.  If you know what you want and it’s clear that you’re never going to get it, there’s little to be gained by hanging around beating your head against the wall and hoping that at some point it will stop hurting.  But that wasn’t how it was for me.  I was happy with where I was in life and he added to that; he wasn’t standing in the way of anything I especially wanted or needed.  In that context, it made sense to simply take it for what it was–and what it was was good for a long time.

But you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t play at accepting the way things are but secretly keep hoping that they’re going to change.  You can’t say “friends is better than nothing” when you really mean “friends leaves me in a position to keep hoping things will change”.  Reality is.  Start there, and it won’t matter in the least whether you decide to name it “love” or not.

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Seriously, Tiffany, THIS is your argument? I just want to point out that Greg Behrendt, author of He’s Just Not That Into You, is a comedian. The book is a comedy written by a comedian and not a self-help book written by a psychologist who might actually have some facts or studies to back up their findings. And yet, this book was hailed as being the Holy Bible of the dating world because Greg worked as a consultant on “Sex and the city”. It’s the need to ease the frustrations of dating with comedy that is really feeding the relationship delusions. And this is a big part of the reason why both men and women have their misconceptions about dating baked right in.

The advice that people get on dating, whether it’s from a comedy writer or friends, is typically what causes relationships to fail or not develop in the first place. We’ve all heard these little gems of wisdom but we don’t think about the message they really send. The most popular advice for when someone gives you their number is, “Don’t call too soon, it makes you seem desperate” which send the message, “Their just not that into you”. Or the ever popular, “You have to play hard to get” which send the message, “Their just not that into you”. The advice that I hear from my guy friends on how to get a woman is, “You have to be a little mean to her, women like that” which sends the message, “He’s just not that into you”. Are you starting to see a pattern here?

So, the truth is not that if a guy wants to call…he calls. He probably wants to but the majority of advice that he gets is to play hard to get or don’t act like you are interested. Women do the same thing. It’s beautiful irony that we think the best way to show someone that you are interested is to act like you are not. Heck, I could write a whole book about that and call it, “He’s just not that into you”. Women would buy up every copy trying to figure out where they went wrong after doing exactly what their friends advised them to do. “I acted like I wasn’t interested and he still never called”, …Duh. Now go brush yourself off and get back in the saddle so you can repeat this process and wonder why it didn’t work THIS time.

I’ve actually had a few women tell me that they wanted to call me but didn’t because they were taking advice from their friends. What am I supposed to think when I ask a woman out and she says that she is too busy but will call me when she is free and she never calls? I think that she is telling the truth, she is too busy and I would just be bothering her by calling. Honesty is simply not a widely accepted concept when it comes to dating. It’s asinine but we are taught that we have to play the game rather than just communicate honestly. With this in mind, it doesn’t matter what I say because her natural assumption is going to be that I am lying.

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Oh, please, Mike.  It’s true that most women don’t ask the questions you mention, but it isn’t because they’re too quick to write a guy off.  It’s because they’re too quick to make excuses for him.  There’s a reason that He’s Just Not That Into You was the literary version of a shot heard ’round the world: “It’s hopeless” is the absolute last possibility that most women entertain.

We don’t have to ask you whether you’re hesitant because you’ve been hurt before–most of us ASSUME that if a man doesn’t say “I love you” it’s because he’s frightened or had a bad experience in the past or thinks it shows weakness or…almost anything except the almost-absurdly-obviously “maybe he doesn’t love me”.

The failure to ask those questions, in most cases, isn’t because a woman doesn’t entertain those possibilities, but because she’s entirely confident in them.  The poor baby.  He’s really a great guy, but he’s been compelled to act like a jerk or withhold himself or fear commitment or any of a hundred other flaws because of his last girlfriend or his family or because he’s really stressed out at work or he’s having a mid-life crisis or his left knee sort of hurts today.

The truth–and on some level we all know it–is that a guy who wants to call…calls.  A guy who wants to be close opens himself up.  And in those rare cases where a guy really wants to open himself up and just can’t because of all this baggage from some past damage, he needs to do some serious internal work before he tries to get close to you anyway, so he’s not a candidate for a serious relationship.

The last thing we need is one more way for women to explain away the truth and justifying the endless wait for something that is never going to happen.

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