Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Feeding the Cynic

Knowing my already ambivalent attitude towards men in the context of a romantic relationship, my friends were the first to tell me to stay away from this book. A long history of disastrous (non)relationships and unrequited whatevers, watching the romantic disasters befalling my friends, and being around "real guys" much of the time have turned me into too much of a cynic as it is. The last thing I needed was more fuel to the flame - and "He's Just Not That Into You" is just that.

Being the contrary person that I am, I read it anyway.

Often times harsh, occasionally laugh-out-lout funny, but always very honest, Greg Behrendt decodes the motives of guys who disappear, guys who don't call when they say they do, guys who just "want to be friends" but with benefits and other variations on the same theme and give us puzzled women the bottom line in no uncertain terms: "He's just not that into you." Liz Tucillo, who co-authors the book and stands for all the other single women who have ever been in this boat, tackles the reason why it's so hard to swallow Greg's advice - and why we should.

It's a "he-said-she-said" approach that is no-nonsense and gets the message across. And, when all is said and done, the real message that they want to send across is that women should not "waste the pretty."

As I flipped through the pages of the book, I couldn't help a wince here and there as I recognized myself not just as a person on the receiving end of "he's not just that into you" behavior, but as the friend who has spent hours on end with another friend analyzing her relationship problems and throwing out myriad, hope-inflating what-if speculations. True, even before the book, I was always more the hold-your-horses-are-you-sure-you-can-trust-this-guy devil's advocate when my friends would gush to me about guys they are excited about, but being a closet romantic, I was capable of optimism.

I may be a master of not getting my hopes up, but this book sort of sets the standard to an all-new low.

I think women have always really known the bottom line, we just haven't been happy to accept it. So there is a certain degree of freedom gained by being slapped all of this in the face and seeing everything in black and white. Then again, there's always something to be said about living in denial - it's a lot less painful there.

Okay, okay, I know relationships are a lot more complicated than that, it's impossible to generalize, blah, blah, blah. Maybe your guy has a good excuse for not calling. Or maybe he really just isn't ready to put a label on your whatever-it-is. But I think that this book's premise is worth looking at specially if you've been putting your life on hold for a good long while - it just may give you a new perspective.

I, for one, am planning on getting some post-it, writing "Don't waste the pretty" on it, and putting it up somewhere I can see it every day. Maybe if I repeat it to myself often enough, I'll get it.


Anonymous said...

So by accepting the "new all time low" are you deducing it's best to "not waste the pretty" until it wastes itself?

Manggy said...

The problem with such a generalization is the converse. So, if a guy doesn't throw himself at your feet and become devoted off the bat, he isn't that into you? Don't waste your time ba? By the way, what does the pronoun that in THAT into you mean? As into you as stalkers are to their stalkees? I'm not really expecting everyone to lower their standards to the barest minimum but really, half the time some guys are worried about wasting their time on a woman who's not really that into them :P

Hee, watch me get worked up about a book I don't even ever plan on reading!

dr_clairebear said...

@anonymous: interesting question. to be honest, i'm not sure what to think. the idealist in me says that i would rather not settle - and if that means that the pretty wastes itself, then maybe that's better than being with someone who thinks you're just second best. on the other hand, it sucks being alone.

it would be so much easier if men and women could simply say what they mean and mean what they say, but i don't know, in romance, the above just seems to be impossible. our first instinct is always to protect ourselves, so games are inevitably played.

do i know you? :) are you a first time visitor? if you are, thanks for thought-provoking the comment.

@manggy: another good point. i don't think the guy has to be devoted off bat - that would be creepy from someone you've just met - but the author also makes a good point about how guys who do like you or are at least interested will do what they say they do instead of keeping you hanging or disappearing without another word. it's true that we women tend to make excuses for the guys we like, sometimes to the point of unhealthiness.

again, i must reiterate that it would be nice if men and women could just say what they mean and mean what they say to each other in this context!

guys have an advantage over women in that we tend to be won over by persistence, so even if there's a tiny bit of interest, you have something to go on. women, on the other hand, have to catch a guy's attention at get go - and if there's nothing there, it's basically hopeless.

listen to me talk about something i have no real clue about!

evilwoobie said...

Hey, sis. Nice one with the book review and how it made you feel. And I have this to say...

Men will ALWAYS be "not that into you" ... they're not into any woman really, because ... ready for this?...they're into themselves!

Sis, seriously, this knowledge worked for me a lot. If you find a guy who's WORTHY of your pretty, give him "drama priority" in the beginning, maybe up until marriage, because you have forever to enforce your own drama anyway.

Men are overgrown boys after all. :D

dr_clairebear said...

@woobie: THAT really clears up a lot of things, hahaha! To be honest, sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of just looking for a man - who's thinking if they're worth of the pretty? :P I'll definitely take your suggestion under advisement. ;P thanks for putting your 2 cents in. i'm looking forward to what the guys will have to say about that! :))

Anonymous said...

I first learned about the book from an episode in Oprah.

The book exposes the blatant truth that there are several indications why a man is just not that into someone. I could relate to some of the confessions from the guys in the show.

I haven't read the book but that episode is very informative and enlightening.

Dorothy said...

Hmmm... during my "desperation moments," this was one of the books on my reading list. Yeah, it actually is drastically honest, but I think, some may be hurtfully true, but some, are a bit more exaggerated also. One of our sisses warned me before reading it, "huwag mong seryosohin yan."

I suggest you read these books that have a more optimistic (and spiritual) view with regards to realtionships and men... these, acutally helped me more! :O)

When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy, What To Do Until Love Finds You by Michelle McKinney Hammond -- and all her other books.

dr_clairebear said...

@strawberryfields: that must have been an interesting episodes. having been around "real guys" for years, i am inclined to think a lot of it is true. for the longest time i've been afraid to even go out on a date because i could hear their (evil) voices in my head. it's nice having guy friends, but it's also a beyotch when they tell you too much.

@doray: hi! raissa gave me the one on "what to do until love finds you" but i left it back home. :) i guess i can read self-help books until my eyes bleed, but until i actually embrace the concept of being okay where i am in my life as i am, there wouldn't be a point. i'm taking baby steps towards that, though. :) you seem to be making the most of your life at the moment - inggit ako, i want to travel!

Anonymous said...

hey, sorry for taking so long to answer. 1. No, you don't know me. That would also be very unlikely unless you have spent longer than a holiday in europe. :) I'm just subscribed to some medblogs via rss, mostly for the medical posts, and if it's not the 1000th post about whose 4-year old got a new toy (no offense meant) I read the non-medical posts too.

Interesting to see that my comment resulted in such a lenghty reply :) Also glad you didn't feel it was inappropriate or something.

I think I know what you mean about rather not settling for second best, and that on the other hand it sucks to be alone. If you can pull that off while being happy most of time, (cause being always happy is kinda creepy :) ) and maybe for example focus on your work, that's cool. It's just that for me that would never work, even during exams or things like that, my mind always tends to drift aways from learning/work. Does that make some sense?

About everybody saying what they mean: Yeah, that's seems like a nice idea. But from my experience that will simply never happen. Whether back in 7th grade or later at boarding schoool, seldomly people said what they meant. It's also not a problem only related to communication between men and women, especially at boarding school I saw many female classmates being nice and polite to one another, only to hear half an hour later all the bad things the one thought about the other. (ewh, grammar mistake alarm...)
Making excuses for someone you like? mmmh, I think that works the other way too. But admitedly it never did any good.
I'm not claiming I have any real clue about this, but are you sure about the persistence thing? I always thought that more or less on first contact men and women (unconsciously?) decide whether there might be some opportunity/interest. If that is a resounding no already, i don't think any persistence will do much good.

@evilwoobie And girls are NOT into themselves? Probably even more than guys. (ofc there are always exceptions)
And, mmh, not sure if you meant that seriously, but if you go by this rule to "maybe drama priority" until marriage (who wants to get married anyway? not me.) and then you have time to "enforce your own drama" don't you think that will make the rest of your life feel like hell too? Just wondering ... Anyway, hope this doesn't sound too much like a lecture or so. Would be interested what you think.

Anonymous said...

@evilwoobie: I'd say "men are overgrown boys" is kinda true, because so often I would like to be back in boarding school or in the military. Life was much easier then :)

evilwoobie said...

heh, interesting views!
What I meant by "drama priority" is this... if you REALLY want him and he has a lot more good qualities that they outnumber the bad, then the goal is to make him commit to you...

As for hell after total commitment... yeah, drama from either side is hell either way, but i think life with someone is supposed to be like that... extremes. Sometimes, you're really miserable with compromising a lot of what you believe to be set rules... and sometimes you become deliriously happy because you're with the man you fought for (i.e. you fought for him against your concept or your parents' concept of what's ideal).