He’s just not that into you – a dating revolution or one giant step backwards?

The NY Times bestseller book, “He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth To Understanding Guys” is sweeping the nation with its new catchcry. But just how empowering to women and relationships are its teachings and concepts? A human behavior expert weighs in on the discussion.

It is a decades old struggle –to understand the opposite sex. Many men say they have no idea what a woman wants. Many women spend a lot of time, energy and heartache trying to understand and sort through the mixed signals that men send out and the confusion it creates.

The book by former Sex in the city writers, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, sets out to answer the puzzling question for women of how to understand men. The authors offer one simple answer: He’s Just Not That Into You!

No matter what he puts you the woman through, no matter what your complaints about him might be, the authors say the answer to his behavior is simple; He’s just not that into you. For all these scenarios, the authors say the answer remains the same, and you the woman need to forget about him and move on because, they say, if a guy is really into you then he will move mountains to be with you.

According to authors, Behrendt and Tucillo, he’s just  not that into you when:  

  • He’s too busy to call you
  • He says he’s afraid to get hurt again
  • He says that he doesn’t want to ruin the present relationship
  • He appears to be intimidated
  • He just got out of a relationship
  • He says he see himself being married to you, but…
  • He only communicates by email and text messages, not by phone or in person
  • He makes excuses for not having sex with you
  • He’s not willing to commit. He says he loves you but is not in love with you
  • He doesn’t naturally want to hear from you everyday
  • He makes plans for everything else except you and your relationship
  • He says that he’s too tired to see you
  • He never makes any plans for you and your relationship
  • He’s always drunk or high when he has sex with you

To many women, this harsh cold message of he’s not that into you, forget him and move on, seems to be like a blessing and a revelation. Thousands of women around the country are taking comfort in the thought that the answer is so simple and clear: women don’t need to understand men at all. According to the authors, there is nothing to be understood: men are simple and shallow. If a man is “into” a woman he will do anything for her, he will do everything she wants, and he will be perfect.

But is this the reality or just pop-psychology? Are all men the same? Why should men ultimately set the agenda?  Should women just be passive and sit back and wait? What happened to equality of the sexes? And don’t women play any part in the success or demise of a relationship?

Ultimately the authors are playing into the current appetite for instant gratification where there is no responsibility, work or commitment required to make a relationship succeed. It is akin to saying; walk away if the going gets tough. The authors recommend against trying to fix the relationship and suggest finding someone new who will be “into you”. Ironically, this book encourages women to do the very things women have been criticizing men for decades: don’t commit, don’t take any responsibility for your actions and don’t work to make the relationship succeed.

It is true that men are different from women. Science has proven that the male and female brains process and communicate things differently. In the most recent studies on gender differences, Carol Gilligan, internationally acclaimed psychologist and author, University Professor of New York University, has revealed that women seek connection more than men do; men think in terms of rules and justice while women are more inclined to think in terms of caring and relationships. If these are inherent qualities, then it is ignorant and damaging to teach women to go against their very essence by telling them to stop caring and simply give up on the relationship.

In the most basic terms, men are primarily thinkers, motivated by logic, cause and effect. Women are primarily feelers, motivated by emotions. Men are generally competitive, aggressive and concerned with achievement. Accordingly, men prize that which they have to work hard for or compete to achieve. Men are hunters. They appreciate the woman that is a great catch. For her to be a great catch implies she must also take responsibility for who she is as a human being.

According to Behrendt and Tucillo all men are the same, think and act the same. If that is so, and if one man is not into you (i.e. he doesn’t think you are a great catch) then does it not follow logically that all other men will also not be into you

The authors claim men are not complicated and do not send mixed signals. This is false.  Any woman will tell you that men do send out mixed and confusing signals. Similar to all human beings men experience doubt, uncertainty, frustration, anger, confusion, irritability and a host of other varying emotions.  These emotions may easily account for some of his negative responses or actions. Maybe the man started off hot and has now cooled off. Perhaps he was really into her until he got to know her and her problems, and he now realizes she is not the one. The woman may have indirectly triggered the man’s fears and issues or possibly the woman changed and the man responded accordingly. Contrary to what the authors may tell you, a woman does play a part in the outcome of the relationship. If she didn’t, then she would be totally powerless, and would be at the mercy of men.

And no relationship is black and white nor is it smooth sailing. Even when the man is that into you, that fact alone doesn’t make him Mister Right. It also does not guarantee that the relationship will succeed or that he will single-handedly overcome his issues or the woman’s issues. Instructing women to move on whenever the boyfriend does not come up to par or something goes wrong in the relationship is destructive to the very concept, security and growth of a relationship. A relationship only grows, deepens and strengthens according to the way it responds to the challenges it faces.

Unfortunately the premise of this book is most enticing to women. It fools women into thinking that they no longer need struggle to understand their boyfriend’s weird behavior or make the relationship work when all they need do is dump him and find another guy. That gives women false hope: no work required here lady -just find a better guy. The danger is that this proposition now makes women helpless, powerless and dependent, by claiming that if she doesn’t get her desired result then he must not love her. The book undermines equality of the sexes, regressing us to a time when women were waiting for men to rescue, dominate and make decisions for them.

The book is damning to men because it expects men to be prince charming and perfect serving a woman’s every needs and desires. The authors unfortunately reduce relationships to unrealistic black and white terms; to fairy-tales where the woman is number one 24/7. This creates false expectations that no man can live up to. Once a relationship begins, other dynamics enter, such as responsibilities, expectations, money-matters, personal issues and baggage.

Human emotions and relationships are truly complex. There are various problems that both people will encounter in the relationship, and hard work is required by both sexes to make a relationship work. It is critical for women to note that the greatest issue and challenge that faces almost all men, is the fear of commitment, which is ultimately the fear of rejection and loss of independence. Even when a man does truly love and want to be with a woman, it will not help him to overcome the fear of commitment because it is the love and intimacy that spurs that fear. Dumping the man isn’t the answer either. When a man loves a woman, he still wrestles the demon of fear of commitment and intimacy, and he can only conquer it with her help in a loving, trusting and safe environment. No man will express intimacy or vulnerability when a woman says, do as I want and be perfect otherwise I am out of here.

It is also destructive to a woman’s self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of personal power to tell her to just sit tight until her knight in shining armor shows up, and that, when he finally does, he will decide how their story will unfold. It is turning the clock backwards to say that women are weak, men should dominate and men should determine the timetable, schedule and syllabus for a woman’s life.

The truth is women do have power over men. If they didn’t, no man would fear commitment or rejection. And a woman’s personal power is achieved when she can determine how she will feel regardless of her external circumstances. For a woman to feel powerful, she needs to love, like and accept herself. This is personal power. The higher her self-esteem, the better quality man she will attract, and the better he will treat her. Every one of us, man and woman, needs to evolve, grow and heal our own issues by learning to love ourselves and others. Neither men nor women should accept second best or poor treatment by their partner, but don’t confuse perfection with second best. No one is perfect and no one should give up when faced with challenges. It is only through the challenges and deep connection in a relationship that both a man and woman can feel truly satisfied and fulfilled.

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    Deborah says:

    With respect Patrick, the book “He’s just not that into you” gave advise pertaining to the beginning stages of getting to know a guy, dating. What you write about is an established relationship. Very different.

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