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Is 'He's Just Not That Into You' an Outdated Concept?

Updated on November 3, 2017

We all remember the Sex and the City episode when Berger (Jack) announces to Miranda "He's just not that into you" after she asks for an analysis of why her date declined her end-of-night invitation of going upstairs with her. Horrified by Berger's audacity, Carrie and Charlotte were quick to reel-off a string of excuses which I'm sure every single girl has once told herself. Of course, Miranda said that she felt "liberated" by Berger's bold statement and wished someone had told her this 20 years ago.

After watching that episode, I also felt liberated (along with millions of other single women) and in 2004 when I heard there had been a book written which had been inspired by the episode, I couldn't wait to go out and buy it - these were pre-Kindle days when you had to actually go to a bookshop to buy a book. I read the book in one sitting and felt even more liberated. At 22 years old, I finally understood that if a man in whom you are interested in is not making an effort to pursue you, then he is simply "not that into you" and you should move on. Simple.

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And so I navigated my way through my twenties playing by the 'rules' and refused to wait around for a guy who was not pursuing me and thought of myself as a prize; an object. And when the guy finally pursued me, I would need to ensure that I kept him on his toes at all times, because of course "a man who wants to make a relationship work will move mountains to keep a woman he loves."

But then I met someone who showed interest in me but didn't chase me. Frustrated by his lack of pursuit, I flirted with the idea of asking him out but worried that by breaking a rule, I would lose all power and I would look needy. I became impatient though and decided to ask him out via email but had already convinced myself that he would reject me; perhaps he would use the 'girlfriend' excuse or perhaps he was about to move to Yemen? To my surprise, he actually said that he'd love to go for a drink sometime and gave me his mobile number to let him know when I wanted to meet and where. Suddenly I was forced with another rule that I had to break: I had to contact him to arrange the date. What kind of psycho was I about to date?

And that psycho became my boyfriend for 3 years. Someone who wouldn't put up with my diva behaviour, someone who showed me that a relationship was all about balance and expected 50/50 when it came to doing the pursuing and someone who had a professional job and sometimes didn't come upstairs at the end of the night because he actually had an early meeting the next morning.

A 2009 movie was released, based on Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo's 2004 New York Times bestseller.
A 2009 movie was released, based on Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo's 2004 New York Times bestseller. | Source

After a mutual and amicable break-up in my early thirties, I suddenly found myself single again in a foreign dating land filled with social media, online-dating and WhatsApp. Suddenly no one was talking to each other IRL (in real life) anymore and it seemed the only way to get a date was to go online which completely threw me off balance because I found that I started following the "He's Just Not That Into You" rules again but in a dating world that did not seem to understand the rules. Once again, I considered myself the prize; an object. I found myself adapting the rules; suddenly, the "do not go out with a guy that keeps you waiting by the phone" rule translated into "do not waste time on a guy whose WhatsApp is showing two blue ticks but hasn't responded in 3 hours" rule. I became obsessed with looking at the 'last seen' time on my potential date's WhatsApp to decipher whether they were really into me or not! I was struggling: how could these rules that were only written less than 10 years ago seem so out of date?

I found that some of the advice in the book hadn't dated however, such as "don't be with someone who doesn't do what they say they're going to do" and "these guys {assholes} exist because there are a lot of women out there who allow them to." These two pieces of advice are about having self-worth and aren't even necessarily only applicable to men. The same rules can be applied to men dating women.

The main problem with "He's Just Not That Into You" however, is it goes against equality by objectifying women and assuming that men have a biological need to pursue women. Yes, the book is good at empowering women to stop making excuses for those men who are not treating them well and to accept when a relationship is going nowhere. However, to move on simply because a man is not chasing you sends the wrong message that one person should be the object and one person has all the power. The key to successful dating is all about balance. If one person is doing all of the chasing, then the relationship will lose balance and become out of sync. The same can be said if a woman is chasing a man - there should be no chasing - it should be 50/50. They should be making an effort as much as you are. So remember, it is fine for a woman to ask a man out because they just may well be into you! And it's fine for you to text, to call and to arrange dates, however, if you find that you are making most of the effort with little return, then stop and regain balance. If they don't ring you back, they don't ask you out on another date or if you don't hear from them again; then it may be that they weren't that into you after all and then you can move on and not waste anymore time.

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    • BeyondTDL profile image
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      Laura 2 weeks ago from London

      Thank you for your comments @dashingscorpio and I love the Oscar Wilde quote!

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 2 weeks ago

      "The main problem with "He's Just Not That Into You" however, is it goes against equality by objectifying women and assuming that men have a biological need to pursue women."

      - Excellent observation!

      The reality is each of us creates our own rules!

      Each of us (chooses) our own friends, lovers, and spouse.

      Each of us has our own mate selection criteria & "must haves".

      Each of us has our own "boundaries" and "deal breakers".

      It really doesn't matter who initiated the conversation as long as in the end there is (mutual) interest. The important thing is a conversation took place.

      Commonsense however dictates that when someone is "into" someone they'll treat them differently than someone who they're not {into} or feel "indifferent" about.

      As you noted it's important not to be in a one sided union.

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde

      Know yourself, Love yourself, Trust yourself.

      If something doesn't feel right to you it's probably not right for you.