Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Self-confidence and He's Just Not That Into You

I saw the movie He's Just Not That Into You last weekend and basically hated it. CAUTION: there's sort of a spoiler ahead so if you haven't seen the movie but plan to, feel free to stop reading. On the other hand, I don't think anything I write here can really be considered a 'spoiler' because do you really not know how it's all going to turn out?

The only storyline I found somewhat appealing was the one with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck - she basically issues an ultimatum and actually follows through with leaving him when he won't marry her after 7 years together. They get back together when she realizes that having a man who loves her and who IS committed to her even if he doesn't want to pin the label of marriage on that commitment, is more important than having that label. I would have felt the movie was actually worth my money if they had ended with that and shown a couple that was truly happy and committed without being married, but I guess that's too much to ask for.

Part of what was so disappointing is that I'm actually a huge fan of the book. I know there are plenty of women out there who think it's too simplistic but like Miranda in the SITC episode where the phrase first appeared, I find the idea liberating - forget the games, give up the drama, just accept that he's not into you and move on. In the book (but, I felt, mostly missing from the movie), Greg Behrendt makes the point repeatedly that we all deserve someone who recognizes our fabulousness, that if someone is not acting like he's into you, you deserve better. And the first time I read that, I did my impression of Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally - you know, where she keeps saying "you're right, you're right, I know you're right" when Meg Ryan tells her that her married boyfriend is never going to leave his wife. We all know that we are supposed to be with someone who thinks we're fabulous and that we should walk away from anyone who doesn't treat us as we deserve to be treated. However, what Behrendt doesn't tell you in his book (and CERTAINLY is not shown in this movie) is how to do that, how to stop wanting someone who isn't into us, how to actually walk away and let it go.

The problem is that you have to have a certain level of self-confidence to shrug it off when someone (who you presumably are into) is not that into you. There's an irony here that took me years to appreciate: if you think you're awesome, it's a lot easier to accept that someone else doesn't think so. It's not personal, it's not damaging to your own self-esteem, so you don't need to dissect it, you can just let it go. And the even more ironic catch-22 is that the more you chase after people who are not that into you, the harder it is to find that self confidence, but actually BEING with someone who believes you're fabulous - or simply surrounding yourself with supportive friends who always make you feel great about yourself - can't help but make you feel more self-confident.

I wish they made more movies that showed that!


Flirt said...


Building confidence for men

Clever Elsie said...

Hi, thanks for commenting over at Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles! I added you to my blogroll--hope that's all right. I'm always on the lookout for singles who have something interesting to say.

Ironically, I think I kind of liked the movie for the exact same reason that you didn't like it--I never cared for the book, so I liked that the movie inadvertently disproved some of its theories.

Walking away IS much easier said than done. That's so true. And you're right that remaining in a relationship with someone who doesn't treat you well is a vicious cycle that further damages your self-esteem and makes it harder and harder to leave. We hear about all kinds of exit strategies to make this process easier, but, in the end, it's sort of like learning to eat your veggies; you have to accept that it's going to be painful and allow yourself to be in pain for awhile for the sake of your ultimate wellbeing. What I've noticed, though, is that it's amazing how quickly the pain starts to recede when someone who doesn't really love you isn't there to remind you how much he doesn't love you all the time. Pretty soon you start to feel a lot healthier--just like you do after eating your spinach and broccoli. ;)

Jenn said...

Ooo, thanks for the reminder - I haven't updated my blogroll in ages!

I like the 'eat your vegetables' analogy! I spent way too many years in two different relationships with guys who 'weren't that into me' and it wasn't until the second guy physically moved away that I began to see how insidious it was. Now I thank god that he moved, though at the time it was horrible. When I remember that time, I'm often amazed at how different I feel today...

Lauri said...

The reason I don't like the whole "He's just not that into phenomenon" is that you never hear anyone say "SHE'S just not that into you." Once again, the entire idea of dating is that women have to change something, women have to accept something, women are doing something wrong, etc. It also suggests the old sexism that women are needy and clingy, and only want long-term relationships. Sometimes, I'm just not that into HIM.

Anonymous said...

the MAJOR problem I have with the entire dating self-hep genre is that it basically rests on the assertion that women who fall for men who pretend to like them by definition, stupid or dysfunctional while ignoring the degree of reprehensibility in engaging in such deception on the men's part. Basically, it's "women are crazy and it's their fault their emotions are in tact, so it's their job to adapt because boys will be boys, shrug!"
They send women on a wild goose-chase of "self-improvement" that none of these people who are giving the advice out would ever send men. It's condescending, manipulative, and sexist.