2009-01-23

sell-outs anonymous

Hi.

I'm Trish.

And I've been reading He's Just Not That Into You.

(I've also been listening to Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music a lot lately. But that's a problem for another day. Katy Perry's Hot N Cold, too. I think I'm just developing bad taste.)

Okay, I should backtrack. I am still making my way far too slowly through Down and Out in Paris and London.

But there was a whole rack of He's Just Not That Into You (subhead: "The no-excuses truth to understanding guys") at the bookstore. Complete with cover pictures of shiny-faced Drew Barrymore and unabashedly happy Jennifer Aniston (clearly in character, not being asked questions about Angelina Jolie) and gorgeous Bradley Cooper (who, I'm sure, will be the bad guy in the movie).

The book represents lots of things I hate. Like, books with movie covers. And books Oprah Winfrey loves. And, well, self-helpishness. Or maybe dating guide-iness? I'm on page 152 and I'm not sure if it's more dating how-to or life how-to.... I told my friend A. that I was reading the book ironically. You know, as a nod to popular culture.

"I don't buy it, not sure if anyone else will," he messaged.

"You don't buy it because you know me," I retorted. All smart-like.

So.... I realized at some point I've gone out with a lot of the guys in this book. Sometimes one guy could even be like three guys in this book, which says so much about my taste. (This is a very sad state of affairs.) But I suppose this is why women buy into these books. Because it makes us feel better to know we're not the only ones stupid enough to fall for Very Obvious Bad Habits.

And on one hand, the whole nature of the book -- the humour, the tough talk, the constant "you go girl!" stuff -- is sort of freeing. Things go bad? He's just not that into you. Done. Free. You win. (Well, you lose. But win in the long run. Yay!)

On the other hand.... This is a book about marriage.

Let's look at p. 79, the start of the chapter, "He's just not that into you if he doesn't want to marry you (love cures commitment phobia)."

*cough* Bullshit! *cough*

Okay: "Just remember this. Every man you have ever dated who has said he doesn't want to get married or doesn't believe in marriage, or has 'issues' with marriage, will, rest assured, someday be married. It just will never be with you. Because he's not really saying he doesn't want to get married. He's saying he doesn't want to get married to you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married. You shouldn't feel ashamed, needy, or 'unliberated' for wanting that. So make sure from the start that you pick a guy who shares your views for the future, and if not, move on as quickly as you can. Big plans require big action."

Gah. Okay. In fairness, I kind of see where the authors are going here. It's not really all that different from saying if he doesn't want to be your boyfriend, he's not that into you. Gotcha.

But it super -- super -- assumes the girl reading this book wants to get married. Like, now. (Where is the.... cultural touchstone.... that deals with girls who don't know what they want? The ones who don't want to get married, either? At least not now? Where's that pop culture book with a one-liner for a title ripped off of Sex and the City? Hm?)

Okay, done confused rant. But will leave you with this:

"Hey -- do you remember that movie when the girl waited around for the guy to ask her out, then made excuses when he didn't? Then she slept with him when they were both drunk, and basically just hung around until they were kind of dating? Then he cheated on her, but because she knew deep down inside that if she forgave him and kept her expectations low and was really agreeable, she'd get him in the end? He was drunk at the wedding, but they lived miserably ever after in an unsatisfying relationship that was built on a shitty foundation? You don't? That's because those movies don't get made, because that's not what love is like. People are inspired to do remarkable things to find and be with the one they love. Big movies are made about it, and every relationship you admire bursts with a greatness that you hope for in your own life." (p. 8)

Clearly the authors never watched The Way We Were. Who wouldn't have waited around for Robert Redford? Come on, Hubbell?

I have learned nothing from this book.

4 comments:

KT said...

Thankfully I picked up my copy at a garage sale for 50 cents.

And I still felt strangely cheated.

Sigh.

erin said...

You have GOT to be kidding me. If he's not "into" marriage, he's not "into" you??? And movies depict REAL love???? Excuse the overuse of capitals and quotations, but that made me throw up a little in my mouth, then swallow it again.
Marriage is a construct, initially developed in the sense of ownership and developing relationships before previously unrelated groups of people (dowry, anyone?), and despite what fluffy white dress-ness it might mean to some people now, some of us still feel that it is ownership, plain and simple, and that giving ourselves over, emotionally and otherwise, to someone else, is a betrayal of who we have spent the past 26 years working to become... but perhaps that's just me?

And the "real" love in movies? When was the last time you saw a couple that adored each other despite their really crappy sex in a movie? Or all the incredibly hard work it takes to make a relationship work? Or the number of times that one partner wants to reach out and stab the other, despite their love? Love is what you make it, and if you believe that rom-com heart gooiness is just going to fall into your lap, you are in for disappointment, no matter HOW into you he is...
Hmmm, maybe I'm a little angry tonight.

TSS said...

Not that I am defending this jackass, but he seems to have a salient point. Too bad he's sounds like an idiot when making it.

It's unfortunate that he used the word "marriage." What I think he may have been getting at is that if someone (I would argue man or woman) cannot see themselves with you for the rest of their lives, then there is something missing.

I read it as a thought excercise. The person I am with, can I see myself spending the rest of my life with them? Not that I have to, not that I should make that committment. But can I see myself growing old without this person.

I see it as a test, the best kind. It disconfirms the thing we are testing. For me, it's never about "can I spend the rest of my life with this person?" It's about "could I spend the rest of my life without this person?" Luckily, I can answer no to the second question.

And I agree with Erin, as I often do. Looking for models of success and failure in love in movies, books, songs, poems, etc, is a fool's game. It never comes to you in a swell of music and perfect lighting. It doesn't come with kind gestures from otherwise brooding men, or beautiful women finding they love the kind-hearted troll after all.

It is work, disappointment, and harsh truths. But when you got it, it's better than the movies.

Oh, and I will never watch anything related to Sex in the City ever again. What nonsense.

Trish said...

Oh, I don't know, TSS. I hear you talk about your other half and I think it just might be swelling music and perfect lighting and happily ever after.

But that's just the romantic in me.

(Note: I still, clearly, have learned nothing from the self-help book. Le sigh :) )