Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why "He's Just Not That Into You" Is Bad For Women

I'm not talking about the book. I never read that (though plenty of girlfriends carried it around like it was a Bible, preaching the message). When I heard that gospel, I couldn't believe it took a book for my friends to understand that if a guy doesn't call you, he's not interested. Duh. Also, I might be a smidge jealous that I didn't write that book first.

Anywho... I woke up Saturday morning with the same headache that bothered me Friday night. I climbed out of bed and plopped down on the sofa. I was looking for mindless television. I came across the movie version of this book. It has done two things to me: made my head hurt and made me get on my laptop to try to save you ladies from yourselves.
The movie starts off with the little lessons I've gathered from the book. WARNING: I'm getting into details on this movie, so if you haven't seen it but want to, stop reading now. I mean it!

The movie starts with this couple. First date. Awkward conversation. He's nice. She's eager. Too eager.

He sticks around for a second drink. She's mentally preparing her wedding registry.

End of the night, he says he'll call. She immediately calls a girlfriend, optimistic that they have chemistry and that he might be "The One."

Days pass. He doesn't call. She begins the analysis. Friends tell her he'll call. She resorts to stalking him. Her biggest mistake: the guy who owns the bar is friends with her potential soul mate. He becomes the truth teller: that guy isn't going to call because he's not into her.

And after many more lessons, mostly involving whether a guy will call (ladies, if he's going on any kind of trip, he can still call you - and if he says he can't because he's "going off the grid," there's a good chance that's code for "spending the weekend with my wife" or "checking into my court ordered weekend jail time" - RUN), she convinces herself that this advice giver loves her.

Here's where I roll my eyes first. She's dumb. He sees that. He wants to help (if you don't have guy friends who will be honest with you about this, you're making a huge mistake, ladies). But in the end, the guy does fall for her. They wind up at some game night where they win by her shouting "LOL" stands for "laugh out loud." One more dash of "lame." What's the lesson learned from this? Cling to the manfriend who keeps you from making a fool out of yourself because one day he'll realize he loves you.

Here's the sad, makeup-free who is overwhelmed by technology. She actually discusses all the ways a guy can reject you (MySpace, email, voicemail, text).

She even resorts to an iChat date, only to realize she got played.

She finds love with the first guy in the movie. He advertises his real estate business in her gay-friendly publication. She sees him across a not-so-crowded cafe and they chat.

By the end of the movie, it's love.

Message: mope about the losers who make you feel bad about yourself and one day, you'll finally connect a voice you've only heard to a face you've just seen for the first time. If a fairy godmother had been there to wave her magical wand over this couple, I would have thought, "Oh. Now that makes sense."

Only, he didn't find love with the sad girl until he got dumped by the pretty girl who thought he was nice, but didn't feel any chemistry with him.

He saw a future in the girl who invited him over to give her back rubs and cuddle with her. Cuddle. That's all. Even the gays in his life told him that was bad news.

Once she told him she wanted the whole marriage and kids thing, just not with him, he moved on and so did she. To India.

She thought she had found love with this guy. She met him at a store. He offered to help her get into the music business. Ladies, if a guy ever offers to help you get into the music/modeling/acting business, DON'T DO IT. Unless you know for a fact (and by that, I mean know real people he's helped - not this "a friend of a friend" business), then there's a good chance that help will involve a drugged drink and a casting couch.

Her error: this guy is married. He's not in a happy marriage, but still, he told her he was married. But when her friend (makeup-free girl) tells a story about a man who was married but met a woman he believed he loved, he ended that marriage to start a new one, she believes that story can be hers, too.


A man who will cheat with you on his wife is bound to repeat his ways. She gets out of this mess when she's hiding in a closet, half-naked as his wife asks him if he wants to fix their relationship. He says he does. The wife leaves. And so goes the girl. The lesson: you cheat, you wind up alone. Until the next girl.

That wife, seen here on the right, learns of his cheating and decides to try to work it out.

They have a lovely home they've been remodeling. Everything looks perfect.

Oh, but it's not.

It's not the cheating that breaks her. It's a carton of cigarettes he's been hiding.

Does she go crazy to dump him? Briefly. She breaks a mirror, sweeps it up, then neatly folds and lines up all his clothing on a staircase, complete with a note saying she wants a divorce in perfect handwriting. Her lesson: you can look like the perfect couple in a perfect home, but the only thing that's perfect is your unhappiness. Sad girl.

In the beginning, they appeared happy. They weren't married - he was opposed to the whole "paying for a piece of paper" thing. While she said she was OK with that, she really wasn't.

They split up. She has family drama and he comes to her rescue. She decides she wants to be with him anyway. He eventually proposes. By the end of the movie, they're putting a ring on it while on a sailboat.

The lesson: hang in there for a decade or so, and you'll be the one getting married.

This whole movie preaches about those stories being the exception, not the rule. But in the end, everyone breaks those rules and becomes the exception (well, except for the couple that breaks up, but that was their own happy ending). What kind of message is that? It gives women the idea that they should make every date into a relationship. And every relationship should lead to marriage and family. If it doesn't, you're the sad girl who is all wah-wah about guys that don't call or guys who only make booty calls.

I understand why women love these movies. But I also think the movies should come with a warning that the stories are fictional and should not be turned into some fantasy about how life should be. We don't all get to have the perfect ending - and that's what's really wrong with these movies. They make women think that's what they're supposed to have. It doesn't work out that way for many people. That's life. But these movies also make guys presume all women are desperate to be married and have children. The slightest hint of clinginess or baby craziness and he's out the door. You become "Crazy #167" in his book and "Do Not Answer" on his phone.

So, ladies, I offer this to you as a cautionary tale. Go. See those movies. Read those books. But don't feel like you have to make that your life. Our paths are all different. You don't get to wind up on the table eating birthday cake with Jake Ryan.

That was a movie.
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