A couple of weeks ago I was attending a happy hour where one of my friends was relaying the story of her roommate’s recent breakup. It had seemed sudden she said, but after reading He’s Just Not That Into You, her roommate discovered that the signs had been there all along. My friend even went on to say that, despite its somewhat off-putting title, the book was actually quite empowering and encouraged women to raise their standards and find decent men who treat them the way they deserve to be treated, dammit! (My wording not hers.) Because I figured I could use a healthy dosage of empowerment and because I was highly incredulous that any book by that name could boost my self esteem, I resolved to give it a try.
The next day I checked the book out of the small library across the street from my apartment, shocked that it was even in stock. I was still doubtful and more than a little embarrassed that I’d be spending my weekend reading all about why boys didn’t find me as awesome as my friends do (my words, not theirs). I was walking across campus with the book in my bag when I ran into a friend of mine. She asked about my plans for the weekend and when I told her I wanted to get some reading done she asked, much to my chagrin, what book I was reading. My first instinct was to lie, but, too flustered to conjure up any of Faulkner’s titles on the spot, I embarrassedly admitted, “Um…I’m reading He’s Just Not That Into You,” and didn’t think I’d ever felt more lame.
When I entered singledom a little over a year ago, got over my self-pity, and decided to get back on the dating horse, I thought it was my job to instigate my next relationship by showing the guy I liked just how interested I was. I’d show up at his fraternity parties where he’d give me a slight head nod from the back of the room to acknowledge my existence, then return to chatting with his bros while I stood in the yard wondering where I could toss my red solo cup before hightailing it home. I even staged run-ins with him in his favorite room in the library, pretending the roar of the cafe blender wasn’t giving me a writer’s block, but was actually intellectually stimulating. After reading HJNTIY I realized that my efforts were not only futile, but also borderline creepy and more than a little exhausting.
Because here’s the thing. A guy’s disinterest isn’t your failure, but his loss. Why waste your time on someone who doesn’t think you’re worth his? If a guy likes you, he’ll make it happen. And as frustrating as it sounds to have to sit around and wait for Prince Charming to gallop up to your doorstep on his white horse, it’s also pretty liberating. Instead of wasting the live long day, waiting for him to realize that three trips to the library printer in 10 minutes it pretty excessive—even for an English major—you really can focus on that paper instead of ways to attract his attention.
This wakeup call reminded me of the first time I considered my dating standards. When I was fifteen, my mom and another woman from our church decided that their daughters would benefit from weekly lessons of Theology of the Body, a Pope-approved Catholic workshop designed to convince little girls like me that premarital sex was a one-way ticket to hell. I distinctly remember sitting cross-legged in this other woman’s living room as she explained why all good Catholic girls should want to be chaste. I nodded eagerly in agreement and said a mental “Hell yeah we do!” before bowing my head to pray. It didn’t dawn on me until quite some time later that she’d said c-h-a-s-t-e and not c-h-a-s-e-d. But I’d already made up my mind.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of girls who have made the first move in asking a guy out—myself included—and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m all about women having the confidence to make the first move, but from what I’ve seen, it seldom works out in our favor. And at the end of the day, I stand firmly by my 15 year old self and know that I want my next relationship to begin with some guy’s pursuit. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the one sweating bullets because he hasn’t texted me back. At the end of the day, I want to feel pretty damn satisfied because he’s texted me twice in two hours and I haven’t checked my phone all day.
What I love the most about HJNTIY is that it encourages women not only to maintain their standards, but to set even higher ones. If someone had asked me a year ago what I wanted my next boyfriend to be like, I probably would have said something along the lines of, “Um, not a dick?” Today I decided that he needs to like reading, dogs, and not be put off by my circus obsession. A tall order, sure, but those are my standards.
He’s Just Not That Into You is as hilarious as it is real and there’s something to be said for hearing the blunt and honest truth. It’s a wakeup call we all need to hear. He isn’t into you, but you can bet there’s someone out there who is.