Friday, April 15, 2011
Review: He's Just Not That Into You
Author: Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
Genre: Self Help
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
For ages women have come together over coffee, cocktails, or late-night phone chats to analyze the puzzling behavior of men. Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo are here to say that —despite good intentions— you're wasting your time. Men are not complicated, although they'd like you to think they are. And there are no mixed messages.
The truth may be, He's just not that into you.
He's Just Not That Into You —based on a popular episode of Sex and the City— educates otherwise smart women on how to tell when a guy just doesn't like them enough, so they can stop wasting time making excuses for a dead-end relationship. This book knows you're a beautiful, smart, funny woman who deserves better.
I loved He's Just Not That Into You (the movie). I thought it was funny and smart and had a great ensemble cast. However, I had never thought to pick up He's Just Not That Into You (the book). I'm not a fan of self-help books. Normally I'll start reading them and diligently nod my head at what I assume must be such sage and wise advice (after all it did manage to get published). But somewhere around a fourth of the way through I always end up setting the book down because, as awesome as the advice sounds on paper, it doesn't seem feasible in my life. Sort of like a crash diet- maybe I could keep it up for a week or two, but down the line I'd be right back to all my old habits.
I started He's Just Not That Into You with even lower expectations than that. To be honest, I started it with a bad attitude, fully planning on hating it and making fun of it. A few weeks ago while surfing the interwebs I came across an excerpt of this book that had me up in arms. The very first chapter (and the excerpt I read) says that if a guy is into you, he'll ask you out, no ifs, ands, or buts. In otherwords, stop asking men out and wait for them to ask you. The whole idea sounded so infuriating and anti-feminist to me! What could this book possibly say that's worthwhile? Let me get this confession out of the way early: I was wrong.
The whole point of the book is summed up in a phrase use right in the intro: don't waste the pretty. You're pretty, you're smart, you're interesting. So don't waste the pretty on men who don't reciprocate, or who make excuses, or who don't make you happy. Don't waste the pretty on men who waste your time.
He's Just Not That Into You is divided into a series of chapters all starting with "He's Just Not That Into You If..." and then tackling a specific issue such as asking you out, calling, and seeing other people. Within each chapter Greg responds to letters that have different dating and relationship dilemmas where, you guessed it, he's just not that into you. Each chapter ends with further remarks from Greg and how Liz (the single girl like the reader) is handling the subject, and then a silly "exercise" to drive home the point.
The book really had a way of punching me in the gut then making me stand up straighter. I'll start with the feminist who-aks-out-who debate. Greg points out that men have been given all these advantages in our society, so despite what many would have you believe, they are fully capable of asking someone out, especially if it's someone they're into. It's painfully logical. He doesn't say everytime a gal asks a guy out is bad- the point of the chapter is more to push the point that there is no reason to ask out (and continue to call) a guy who has not proven that he is into and therefore worthy of your time and prettiness. We have a right to expect better for ourselves. Way to go Greg for reminding us.
Greg deals out a lot of tough love in the book. Most of it is harsh and hard to swallow. If it had only been his opinion, I still would have thought it was a good book. Liz's sections added the gal's perspective, voicing all of our worries and doubts and acknowleding the complexities of the situations, ultimately concluding (using Greg's advice) all we can do is make the best choices based on what we know. This dual perspective made the book not just good but great.
That sounds really sad and depressing, but it's not, it's empowering. What I realized is if I hadn't been wasting all my time with all those guys who weren't that into me (and who often I wasn't that into either) I probably would have found or noticed a guy who was into me! Clearly I'm not the only woman who felt this way. The library copy I got was thoroughly dog-eared, even before I checked it out.
The final chapter is the only place with a serious exercise. It's where you have to create standards for yourself- actually write down concrete behaviors you will not tolerate. I thought hard over this one, so here's what I came up with:
1. I will not go out with a guy I have to ask out beyond the first date.
2. I will not go out with a guy who doesn't make clear he's dating me.
3. I will not go out with a guy who doesn't regularly communicate with me.
4. I will not go out with a guy who already has a girlfriend.
5. I will not go out with a guy who cannot speak openly about sex or deal with with sex-related issues.
6. I will not go out with a guy who uses drugs or drinks excessively.
7. I will not go out with a guy who whose political or religious views make me uncomfortable, or who makes racist or homophobic remarks.
8. I will not go out with a guy if making me happy isn't one of his priorities.
9. I will not go out with a guy if he won't show me off to his friends or won't stick up for me in front of his frineds.
10. I will not go out with a guy if I cannot see myself having some sort of future with him.
Liz (sans Greg) wrote a section at the end of the book about life and dating after writing He's Just Not That Into You. It's about the process that went with putting these ideas into place. Obviously some of it can be intimidating. Why be alone when you can be with someone who's good enough for now? She suggests waiting a year or two before reading the section. Normally I'd disregard that statement and read it anyway, but for once I did what I was told. Yes, I thought the book was that worth listening to.
I know a lot of people who read this blog are happily married, but I'd still recommend this book because we all have at least one friend who needs to read it. 5 out of 5 stars.