To preface, I am hoping that this will be the first of many. The first article, that is. But I’m thinking of it as a first date. So, I’m a bit nervous and really just hoping to impress you with my wit and charm. It’s not a first date, of course, but the first article in an article series. Nonetheless, it’s important to me that you have a good time.
So: Hi, I’m Jasmine. It’s nice to meet you. A little bit about me and this article, I’m nineteen and no dating expert. This article is today years old and also doing its best.
My inspiration for this series struck when I plucked “He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo off of the shelves of a used bookstore in my hometown of Seattle. I was feeling as gloomy as the weather outside about dating and relationships and, so, decided to seek help.
A few pages in, after I began to get a sense of just how dated the book was, I began to doubt my decision. But, I stuck it out and was grateful that I did. The book imparted lessons on me that I now live by. Likely, if you are female identifying, partake in heterosexual relationships, and often wonder why a “left on read” can feel so shattering, this article may be for you. In it, I hope to frame outdated dating advice in modern day terms, starting with this book and continuing on.
Please, continue on.
Today, life is an unfortunate mess of missed connections and dating profile disasters and it feels like the last time we had a true grasp on the male psyche was when Greg and Liz’ “He’s Just Not That Into You” smashed through book sales and the hearts of millions in 2004. You may have heard of the book or its film adaptation of the same name. While the movie depicts an entertaining and interconnected narrative of friends and lovers in the early aught’s dating scene, the book itself is a bare bones self-help read. Seeing as the movie’s themes are diluted by its woven fictional storylines, I’ll be focusing on the contents of the book in this article. No worries if you have not already read it, that’s why we’re here now, and if you have—I applaud you for also seeking help.
Almost 20 years after the book’s release, much has changed in our society. I’d like to think. However, I may simply be making excuses… A crummy start to my analysis on the aptly subtitled “No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.”
Nevertheless, in desperate hopes of making it easier to navigate our modern dating scene, let us look no further than outdated dating advice, review it in modern terms, and hope to salvage the advice unhindered by time. This article would not be done justice without the input of male perspective so I have interviewed two peers on the topics of communication within and around relationships and the road from hookup to hooked.
I bring you to our modern day man—for privacy purposes, just think of them as your very own personal Green Wave Greg.
So, to begin, does the book’s take on communication still hold? Well, we no longer live in a world where communication is a means to an end, instead it is an end in itself. A call used to show your hand, but now when we pick up the phone the games have just begun. In the original days of the book’s release, if you tired of tangoing around the same coffee shops and bars, you could get the number of your interest and ring them up. Now, the masses of communication methods have made communication a game.
A text is classic, fun and flirty, and acts as a true neutral in that text engagement nearly always directly correlates to interest. Snapchat is historically less committal due to its non-retention of conversation history and mass casual use, but oddly intimate in the faux face to face contact. A call has a retro feel in modern dating standards, thrilling in its mystery of what your interest could be up to on the other end of the line. Since Gen Z is so used to the livestream-esque feel of modern social media and communication, FaceTime has overtaken the classic call. As far as it goes, interest must almost always be present for a FaceTime to occur but the degree of interest can vary widely and correlates more to FaceTime comfort than true interest. I think we can all agree that DMs have a special place in the streets and generally should not be trusted.
In “He’s Just Not That Into You,” Greg and Liz preach that “men know how to use the phone.” So, one of the very first questions I had to ask my first “Greg” interviewee, a spokesman for the Tulane male population, was “do men know how to use the phone?” This was met with initial confusion. Understandable.
It did not take long to move past that first question. TLDR: men do know how to use the phone. Not only have they obtained basic technological skills, however, but it seems they have even advanced into sophisticated social awareness—bordering on manipulation.
As my first Greg described: “I know some guys who know how to use [male validation] in a contrary way. For example, someone will give someone a lot of attention and then ignore them for a while so the person will want to come back to them because they lack the attention they once had.” This, in his personal experience, can be a game, communication: the roll of dice. The game is not necessarily for the deficit of the desiring party (you) though, but for the overall dynamic. Sometimes, he says, he feels the need to play the game so that the person he is interested in does not become disinterested.
Communication wise, he was first to critique Snapchat saying: “Snapchat’s definitely more of a game, there [are] a lot more intricate social dynamics within Snapchat whereas text feels more of like a means to actually spend time with a person.” These, Greg One and I discussed, are things like the ability to send out mass messages on Snapchat. The disappearing act that the Snapchat message is and the consequent lack of accountability that comes with it. Location and engagement tracking, left on read versus delivered. All of these factors amalgamate into a pile of stress for the party more invested. And in his mind, there’s always a party more invested: “…I feel like one party* in most of those relationships always, in the back of their head, kinda wants to be a little more.”
*This, reader, is where the tricky part lies. Both Gregs were quick to start and finish thoughts with “most girls” and “most guys, at least.” I, too, find myself wanting to do this. However, I cannot write an article in generalizations. So, for these purposes I entrust you to determine whether these social dynamics and constructions pertain to your life. This is a modern guide to an outdated book peer reviewed by a sample of two. Do with that what you will.
Let’s rewind. Back to the earliest stages of the game, before the first card is even drawn; who are the players?
My second Greg’s take included the parties involved in the budding relationship as well as a wider scope. He referenced the 70s, where hookup culture blossomed in a free-spirited way and compared it to the modern day which he feels has been hindered by an influx of ease in hooking up and lack of privacy, saying: “Back to the 70s thing, because of the lack of social media and exposure, the girl next door could be the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen in your life and you won’t see another woman that beautiful because you just aren’t seeing that many people.”
Now, he said, in scrolling through Instagram or Netflix, men can get an “elevated sense of attractiveness” and may think to themselves: “there are so many attractive women out there I can just play the field and do whatever and experience all of that. I don’t need a relationship. I’m not going to benefit from a relationship because it’s college.” So the players are no longer just you and your partner. No longer you, your partner, and other bar regulars even. Instead, you, your partner, and the world. How scary.
Bringing it back to the microcosm of the college campus though—pursuing hookup culture, he admits, is more common for underclassmen than upperclassmen. “It’s much more of the upperclassmen who have had that hookup culture and that have realized that’s not what they want anymore and that they want something more substantial.”
As far as getting into relationships, “I don’t see a lot of guys going out of their way to get in relationships. At all. Pretty much never. I think it just happens.” He cautions that guys tend to take more time to decide whether a relationship is something they want to pursue.
In speaking with both Gregs, a few distinct themes appeared when discussing how to manage this disinterest in commitment. One, communication. Not just in analyzing which platforms they are using to reach out, but in that communication is a necessary staple of every relationship, romantic or not. The earlier you learn how to communicate, the better. Be clear with your intentions and open to receiving theirs as well.
Two, look for their cues. Communication can be straightforward but often it is not. In “He’s Just Not That Into You,” Greg and Liz are sticklers about the word “busy.” If someone is into you, they will never be too busy to reach out. Fact checking this in the modern day, nothing has really changed. According to Greg Number One, “It’s an excuse. I don’t think you can ever be too busy to send a really quick text or Snapchat.”
Continuing, he said: “I think that really goes back to the phrase ‘he’s really not that into you.’ If someone’s always saying they’re busy… you can always make time no matter what out of any day to actually do something.”
In short, from me to you: know your worth. Don’t settle for less. Having heard this from a plethora of Gregs by now, if they’re constantly busy or non-committal, read into that. It could be that the guy doesn’t have the gall to communicate his intentions and boundaries or it could be that he doesn’t care enough about the situation to do so. Either way, it’s likely he’s just not that into you.
Lastly, play it cool. “I think most of it is just confidence,” said my first Greg, “Everyone’s attracted to confidence” said my second.
I think ending with a statement on confidence is fitting for this article. I know it may not seem so, but the point of the book “He’s Just Not That Into You” is not to tear its reader down. It teaches, in the harshest of ways, that if he’s not into you, he’s not worth your time.
It is your duty to yourself to curate a life that you love. If part of that comes in a search for romantic love, find and choose someone who will fulfill your needs.
Play the dating game however you want, just play it cool. I only hope that this article has given you a peek into the male psyche, a scope of how dating, hooking up, and communication intertwine, and a sense of confidence in not accepting less than you deserve. These are the lessons I have learned on my self-help journey and these are the lessons I hope to have imparted on you.
Cover Photo: Jasmine Young