I am about to tell you six words that will change your life:
He’s just not that into you.
I know, it was the title of a hit movie that I haven’t seen. Before that, it was the title of a bestselling book, which I did see. I was never entirely clear how they made a movie about it, since the book has no storyline. It’s an advice book. Non-fiction. Self-help.
I also can’t recommend the book without a very big caveat, since it’s extremely vulgar and decidedly un-Catholic in places. (The author, Greg Behrendt, was a writer for Sex And The City. You do the math.) But I can wholeheartedly recommend the concept. You can even replace the “he” with a “she” if you’re a guy, and it all still applies. (But for the moment, I’m sticking with the “he” just because it’s simpler, and I figure if it’s good enough for a best-selling book, it’s good enough for me.)
I have, over the years, talked to a lot of singles who came to me to help them analyze the people they were dating. (It is also possible that, at various times in my life, I may — just possibly — have been that person trying to analyze someone I was dating.) It’s always the same – you want to know why. Why does he act so crazy about you, but then he doesn’t he call for days or weeks on end? Why is he unwilling to marry you when you’re both clearly so much in love? Why is he breaking up with you when everything was so perfect?
You know there must be a reason. He has fears. He has an addiction. He has deep-seated issues related to his childhood and his mother. He has a neurosis, or a psychosis. And you – yes, you – can fix it and save him.
The truth – the truth that we hate to face – is that there is a reason, and it’s very simple. He’s just not that into you. Sure, he may not be into you because he has fears, or a psychosis, or some deep-seated issues relating to his childhood and his mother. But that doesn’t change the resulting truth, which is that he does not possess the necessary enthusiasm to fuel a healthy relationship with you. Which, in the end, is really all you need to know.
We, of course, don’t want to hear that. So we believe the excuses. Take, for instance, this excerpt from the chapter “he’s just not that into you if he’s not calling you”:
“Oh, sure, they say they’re busy. They say that they didn’t have even a moment in their insanely busy day to pick up the phone. It was just that crazy. Bulls**t. With the advent of cell phones and speed dialing it is almost impossible not to call you. Sometimes I call people from my pants pocket when I don’t even mean to. We may try to make you think differently, but we men are just like you. We like taking a break from our generally mundane day to talk to someone we like. It makes us happy. And we like to be happy. Just like you. If I were into you, you would be the bright spot in my horribly busy day. Which would be a day that I would never be too busy to call you.”
You get the idea. The table of contents reads like a cautionary tale of situations not-to-fix. He’s just not that into you if he’s not asking you out, or if he’s not dating you, or if he’s cheating on you, or if he doesn’t want to marry you, or if he’s breaking up with you, or if he’s disappeared on you, or if he’s married, or if he’s a selfish jerk or a really big freak. (I skipped the chapter on how he’s not that into you if he’s not having sex with you, because we all know there should be other, very noble, reasons for that. But if he shows no interest whatsoever in the whole idea of having sex with you, I’d consider that a red flag.)
Why do we tolerate bad behavior or pursue people who are blatantly un-interested in us? Why are we so hell-bent on believing the excuses, or even making up excuses of our own? There are probably lots of reasons. Maybe we want to hang on to the fantasy of what we thought this relationship could be. Maybe we don’t want to believe we’re being rejected. Maybe we’re afraid this is the best we can do. Maybe we were the unpopular kids in school, and we still have this idea that we can’t get one of the good ones, but we can take on a fixer-upper and build him up from there. (To his eternal gratitude, of course.)
Greg Behrendt has a simple response to this: don’t waste the pretty. Or, as Jesus would put it, stop casting your pearls before swine. You are created in the image and likeness of God. You possess gifts and charisms and a unique dignity. Start acting like it. You demean yourself when you allow yourself to be treated badly, or when you settle for someone who doesn’t respect you or isn’t excited about the prospect of being with you.
If he’s not that into you, that’s all you need to know. You don’t have to be a diva to refuse to tolerate bad behavior or to end a relationship with someone who isn’t really reciprocating. It can all be done with a smile and a sweet “good-bye.”
I know that’s easier said than done. I know there will often be pain and a grieving process and more than a few dates with Ben and Jerry in the mean time. But I’ve always said there is good pain and there is bad pain. Bad pain is sticking around and putting up with the constant rejection. Good pain is facing the truth, and the hurt that comes with it, and moving forward with our lives centered on Christ.
Let Him – the One who sees your deepest beauty – guide your search for a spouse. I suspect He’ll keep your standards high and keep you from settling for someone who’s just not that into you.