Before Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Justin Long and Ben Affleck took He’s Just Not That into You to the big screen, it first started out as a dating guide book penned by a consultant and writer of the hit risque HBO show Sex and the City. Greg Behrendt, the show’s consultant, came up with the phrase, which eventually became the title of the book, during a writers’ meeting when a staff (a woman) asked for a feedback with a man she was dating.
When they asked Behrendt for a male perspective, his response was “it sounds like he’s just not into you (Behrendt and Tuccillo, 2004, p. 1). That clear and simple remark became the backbone of the 165 pages international bestselling book. Additionally, the title also became an episode title of the show (this was before the book was released). Written by married Behrendt and the single Tuccillo, the book serves as a guide to ‘understanding guys’ as the note on the title says. The book is divided into 16 chapters and the first 11 chapters deal with scenarios that denote that someone is not “into you”.
It starts with the phrase “He’s just not that into you if” and end with offenses. These include if “he is not asking you out, not calling you, not dating you, not having sex with you, sees you when he’s drunk, doesn’t want to marry you, breaking up with you, disappeared on you, he’s married, and he’s a selfish jerk, a bully, or a really big freak” (Behrendt and Tuccillo, 2004). Each chapter provides an explanation and questions supposedly taken from real life situations, a sort of advice-column style query wherein Behrendt provides answers.
At the end of that, there is an “It’s so simple” header which reinforces the chapter title. For example, in the first chapter entitled “He’s just not that into you if he’s not asking you out,” Behrendt reasons that if a man is indeed interested in a woman, he will ask her out, as simple as that. He further expands that men” like to chase” and women allow that (p. 17). Behrendt is man enough to admit that this is true and that if women do the chasing, it’s a clear cut sign that the man is not interested in her (p. 17). As the header says, “it’s so simple! ” (p. 17).
But remember that there is a woman perspective in the book and this is provided by the single Tuccillo who seems to emphasize with the readers, discussing how difficult it is (initially) for women to accept Behrendt’s nugget of wisdom. She whines about her personal love life before accepting the male perspective and finding out that the man truly knows what he is advocating. Afterwards, Behrendt provides a “This is what it should look like”, which tackles how the situation should be (2004). A header entitled “Greg, I get it” follows, supposedly from a woman who finds the advice cathartic (2004).
A highlighted “If you don’t believe Greg” provides a poll of men who hammers in Behrendt’s thoughts and usually has a 100% or twenty out of twenty men abiding by the chapter’s canon (2004). The chapter ends with a “What You Should Have Learned in this Chapter,” summarizing the ideas before providing an “Our Super-Good Really Helpful Workbook” which usually asks the reader to test out some ideas (2004). The workbook at the end of each chapter is a conflicting move. On one end, putting it there sends a clear message that indeed, the book is a guide and as such, the suggestions presented in the “workbook” section reinforces that.
The workbook is intended to allow the readers to act out, in a way, the “lessons” dished out by the authors, to have a put the theory into practice, so to speak. But somehow, it seems that most of the to-do lists in the work book are products of an underactive imagination, rather childish entries instead of coming from authors who are truly credible of what they are saying. But then again, the authors do not really have established backgrounds. Their rise to being “authorities” in the subject is their involvement in a show whose subjects are four women that are trying to empower themselves by hooking up with the wrong people.
The subtitle of the book speaks of “understanding guys” but once reading the book, there are neither direct explanations nor even apologies as to why men behave that way. The book depicts man as rather one-dimensional, that man’s responsibility in a relationship is limited to whether he is there physically and maybe even emotionally but there no justification as to why a man behaves the way he does. It sends a wrong message to women, that what women want are the aggressive males. Never in the book that it state that a man that does those things, i. e.
become aggressive, be able to express themselves may only be putting on an act precisely to get a woman sleep with her. Reading the book, it would seem that the book’s agenda is not to guide women on how to understand men but to somehow tone down the woman’s expectations so that men could continue doing what they’re doing. For example, if a man does not only call you but have sex with you and granted that he’s not married, you’re supposed to believe that he is a good catch. If he does not have sex with you, you’re supposed to drop him like a hot potato.
That is crazy. People is long-term relationships know that sex is not the foundation of good relationship, however good it may be. Behrendt writes that one should never be crazy, that women should not be the ones to initiate a call, ask a man what he thinks and all, just simply move on. If this were true, men could simply whatever they what without consequences. There is where the weakness of the authors is highlighted. As earlier stated, they are not doctors or professional in the field of studying human psychology and emotions. They are common individuals.
They do not have extensive knowledge on the subject of dating expect based on their own experience. This is where it is tricky. The fact that they are indeed simple human beings who happen to have experiences when it comes to relationships makes it easier for the readers to relate. They can be their friends, siblings, office colleagues who happen to know a thing or two about relationship. And as people that are close to them, they value their thoughts, their opinions. Reading the book is very easy. As a matter of fact, it is a breeze.
There are no big words or technical terms. It is very conversational that sometimes it verges on becoming trivial. However, as much as this simple, talking to a friend style is a bonus, the authors are unable to capture the essence of dating advice. The guidance they offer somehow lacks insight and a through digestion of the facts. True, they advice is presented in a advise-column style which the authors are quick to say are culled from real life, but there is no proof that that really happened. They may simply be making it up.
Even the “If you don’t believe Greg” segment may simply be a fabrication. There is no way to authenticate whether a poll was indeed conducted. These are the questions that may induce doubt in readers. Some of the “to- do” include as simple as coloring a flag with red to signify a man who does not want to have sex with you (Behrendt and Tuccillo, 2004, p. 58). A red flag, that’s what it is, a warning sign but the truth is, it’s not as easy as drawing a red flag. It takes more than that. It is a silly suggestion to put into even a $10 book.
Another silly suggestion is the one in chapter 2 which is basically a multiple choice question. The book is supposed to guide women to understanding men but putting in a multiple choice entry is somewhat pathetic. Everybody knows that multiple questions are the easiest to answer since there are already limited options. It also is an advantage that there is no one to grill you as to whether you told truth or merely picking the answer that may be the common choice. Another cheap shot is the entry on the workbook for chapter 8, “He’s just not that into you if he’s breaking up with you” (p.
93). According to the authors, they found a note on the floor supposedly coming from a future boyfriend telling “hot stuff” (pertaining the reader) to “get over the guy” and “find him (p. 107). Behrendt and Tuccillo say finding the note was purely coincidental but who in their right mind would believe that? It is a low strategy even for the two writers. But this is not to say that the workbook is a lost cause. Majority of the suggestions in the work book involve writing such as thinking how long one starts thinking of marrying someone she is currently dating (p.
92). The fact that it involves thinking suggests that the authors want the reader to reflect on what they read, instead of reading without understanding. This specific workbook entry was done by this reviewer. It is rather pretty hard to come up with an answer because there are many considerations to take before one plunges into something as serious and sacred as marriage. But after mulling it over, especially if one is in a long, stable relationship, it would seem that Behrendt and Tuccillo are correct.
The answer to the question depends on how long the pair is dating and that the guy does not have an excuse to finding out his answers. Another worth-trying entry from the workbook comes from chapter 9, “He’s just not that into you if he’s disappeared on you” (p. 108). This reviewer did this- going out and having a great time and came home feeling great. It is an old trick to get the mind off something or someone else for a couple of hours and usually it works. This reviewer went out, met some friends, have drinks and went home feeling blissful.
As aforementioned, this formula repeats for the first 11 chapters to the point of becoming hackneyed. In fact, the so-called reasons that point out how to differentiate a man who is interested to a man who is wasting a woman’s time may very well be summarized in one sheet or even a paragraph. But this is Sex and the City- inspired and perhaps even the authors know that the attachment is enough to attract fans to buy the book. The chapter titles are catchy and to some point true but there is no point in dragging it out.
The book is geared towards women who are looking for a serious relationship or even a marriage but reading the book, one can sense a trace of immaturity when it comes to emotion. For instance, according to the writers, if the man is not pressuring you to have sex with him frequently, then you have to dump him. He’s Just Not That into You is a fun read. True, it may infuse some words of truth but it’s not life-changing book. Spilling outs guts to family and friends (or even to the one if one really wants to) may be prove to be more valuable. Reference Behrendt, G and Tuccillo, L. (2004). He’s just not that into you. New York: Simon & Schuster.