Frustration is this inevitable part of the dating process.
Sometimes frustration comes in how horrible the person across the table from you is. There’s nothing you can do about it, but the feeling simmers there still. Sometimes you’re disappointed by how you acted. Or there’s the opposite. You spotted chemistry. You thought you and a date vibed, clicked, or whatever sort of word you prefer. Then, nothing. He fades out. He doesn’t seem to want to continue whatever started. Again, there’s not a whole lot you can do. The power is, as they say, in the person who cares less. Ironically and tragically sometimes.
Well, I’m in that last scenario. Lately a few different guys who I’ve seen have intrigued me. I expected an immediate text post-drinks or dinner or at least another date invite to follow somewhat quickly. It didn’t. My stomach sank. “Did I read this all wrong? Was he just trying me on, like a pair of jeans? Is that his thing, just meet up once or twice, chase the girl and move on? Do I not even know how to recognize quality banter and sparks anymore?”
It’s amazing how fast my mind jumps and how much of a tendency there is to assume I’ve screwed up.
When it comes down to it, the more that I think about it, one of the most important elements in a budding romance is equality. If both people aren’t on the same page, forget it. If both people don’t feel a pretty equal amount of attraction or a desire for the same level of relationship, forget it.
And then I remembered a book that resonated with me and is centered on this idea.
“He’s Just Not that Into You” was a common-sense, no nonsense book penned by Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt, a consulting writer on “Sex and the City,” in 2004. (Side note: It became a movie too, with big names like Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck acting out the scenarios and concepts. Skip this. Focus on the written version.)
I know what you’re thinking. So many self-help and relationship books exist. I normally hate them. They’re cheesy or they really just instruct women to be ladylike and passive and to conceal the unappealing parts of themselves to snag a man in a deceptive game. Very insulting and demeaning to women as people and stakeholders in the relationship. No thanks.
The book is a tiny smack to the face that, let’s face it, many of us need in the trenches of dating. It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to think, “Will this opportunity ever come again? If it doesn’t work out with him, will there ever be anyone else.”
Malarkey is essentially what the authors say to all this.
This is how I explained the central idea of “He’s Just Not That Into You” to a friend the other day:
• Guys are simple creatures. If he likes you, you’ll know it.
• In that case, he’ll be doing the stuff he’s supposed to do. He’ll call, he’ll take you out again, there will be a progression of your physical relationship. And on top of that, he won’t cheat on you or be generally mean or rude or inconsiderate.
• If it seems like he’s blowing you off or inattentive in some way, he likely is blowing you off.
• Women often will make excuses in their heads. “It’s been five days and I haven’t heard from him. But he must have a really busy week at work.” There is no busy and no excuses that come into play when a man is into a woman. He finds a way.
Interestingly, the book came about from a “Sex and the City” episode. On the episode, Miranda is talking about how she’s had a good date yet she hasn’t heard from the guy. The other three ladies assure her that he’ll call and that, of course, he must be crazy about her.
Then Carrie’s then-boyfriend cuts through all of that flattery and wishful thinking. They’re all wrong, he declares. “I think you have an uncomfortable voice mail coming your way,” he says. Jack’s right.
Instead of being angry, though, Miranda feels free. She can devote her energies to the men who obviously and undisputably show that they value her. Screw the other ones. Forget about the one who was lukewarm and made her analyze whether there was interest.
That’s what I’m trying to do. Forget the nonresponsive males. Maybe I didn’t do anything wrong. They’re just not into me. It’s a lesson that holds up. Besides, my frustration can easily find another home.