Tuesday, March 01, 2005


He’s Into Me – He’s Into Me Not

There’s not a lot of career advancement opportunity to be had from making sweeping generalizations about the differences between men and women – just ask Larry Summers or Kevin Drum. Unless, of course, you’re talking about dating.

He’s Just Not That Into You made its splashy debut last fall and received lots of attention for its extraordinary potential to change dating behavior forever. Lately, I keep hearing very smart women claim that they find it eye-opening. Making Oprah’s book club is one thing. But what really caught my attention was that it recently became the selection of Mariam‘s book club over at Accident Prone.

Oprah says the book “deserves a place on every woman’s night table.” Mariam says
Great book, recommend it to all women. And men. And men who want to be women. Or have sex with them.
What is the missing piece of information this book provides that will change dating forever? It’s that if a man doesn’t call and ask for a second date, or makes a bunch of lame excuses to put off seeing you, or would rather hang out with his friends playing Madden NFL 2003 on his Play Station 2 than spend quality time with you, then “he’s just not that into you.” So, hey gals! Don’t waste all that time and energy making excuses for him and looking for clues that he really wants to be with you.

You can see why women would find this revelation so surprising. Women, of course, have very little experience in rejecting men, and on the rare occasions when they have to, they always manage to do it with absolute candor. Every woman I have ever met would much prefer to reject a guy in a frank, head-on way, than to leave a guy hanging helplessly with deluded hopes, simply to avoid the momentary discomfort of saying "I'm just not that into you." Can you name any woman who would even think of, let alone deploy, one of the following strategems?
--the Flimsy Excuse (“I have to house sit my friend’s dog”)
--the Perpetually Recurring Cold
--the Screen (“Don’t pick up the phone – it’s probably that creep from the bar last week!”)
--the Maybe If I Ignore His Voice Mails and Emails He’ll Go Away
--and, of course, “No, you give me your number.”
Indeed, women are so programmed for sincerity in their dating-related communication with men that they are simply sitting ducks for men’s artful date-avoidance techniques.

The book apparently originated with an interchange between the authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, the latter a story editor on Sex in the City who had to be told by Greg that some jerk was “just not that into” her. After the uproar died down, the concept found its way into a Sex episode, and then into the co-authored self help book.

Greg, by the way, was employed as a “consultant” to Sex in the City. Now there’s a job I’d love to have: get paid six thousand dollars a week to come up with clever answers to questions like, “would you date Miranda? What would you say to ask her out? If you had to dump her, what would you say then?”

The dating-behavioral impact of He’s Just Not That Into You will be like Andy Warhol meets Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions * – the “fifteen minutes of fame paradigm shift.” Remember how Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus, was going to change male-female relations forever? You don’t? My point exactly.**

Moreover, there’s a fundamental flaw in the Not That Into You theory. I think that the heartache and wheel spinning women and men do when subjected to overly coy, protracted or ambiguous rejections come from a different place than a lack of the relevant information that “he’s just not that into you.” It’s like a self-help book saying “Cigarettes are just not that good for you.” In your heart, you knew all along he wasn't.

* The book that put the term "paradigm shift" into popular academic, and eventually popular, usage.

**From a banner ad on the Mars-Venus web site: “Had a great date lately ... Why hasn’t he called? Click here to ask Mars Venus.”


Bozzo has evolved to Adorable Little Rodent, with a bullet, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Jeremy Freese:

one hundred links of bozzitude

Assuredly, a frivolous use of time. But, it was fun looking at the Early Bozzo archives. Now, alas, it's back to drudgery. Specifically, the joys of the rank-ordered logistic regression model await, to be followed by some early morning lecture preparation.

I figured out an easy way to extract all the permalinks from the archive pages (with a Unix trick), and I hope to get back on the ball with my end of the project tomorrow.

It actually didn't look like the ecosystem updated last night. We'll see about tonight. We couldn't have broken it, could we?
F*** THAT, I'm just not that into HIM.
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