The Advice, “He’s Just Not That Into You” Crushed My Self-Esteem
The Jewish dating scene can be brutal. And dating Jewish men comes with its own set of challenges. Perhaps the biggest challenge I’ve had to face in the Jewish dating world was not misinterpreting advice. Advice like “He’s Just Not That Into You.”
The episode of Sex and the City where Carrie’s new boyfriend tells a shocked Miranda and her girlfriends “he’s just not that into you” was revolutionary. A discovery. One that many women didn’t seem to know until the wise Jack Beger revealed it to them. For him, and it seemed for virtually all men who didn’t call a woman back, the maxim applied: if he doesn’t call you, he doesn’t like you.
And us women, we listened.
Then came the movie based off of Jack Berger’s sagacious advice. The premise, and the reason that leads Gigi to believe that most women are “the rule, not the exception” is that the rare love stories of men who fall in love with women during some extenuating circumstance are because those love stories are just that: the exception, not the rule. That most women, us, are “the rule.”
At the time, thinking I was way way ahead of the game. I thought I was so smart because I, unlike most women, listened and bought into this advice. After all, who am I to chase after a guy who doesn’t even like me (as if I knew that for a fact). And I did my utmost to distract myself.
Here’s the thing: the idea, “he’s just not that into you” was badly misconstrued in my head and translated into: “he doesn’t like you” “he finds your presence annoying” “he’s tired of you” “you’re not cool enough” “you’re not attractive enough” “you’re not smart enough.”
I was crushed, to say the least, but I couldn’t show it because “he’s just not that into you, so move on!” was a mantra that played over and over again in my head, hitting me like a hot rod every time.
This happened every time with every guy I liked.
I wish I could say something about me changed. But it didn’t. The one thing I realized after so much heartache, was that the advice, “he’s just not that into you” really fucked me up. I’m writing this to share with every girl or woman who watched that episode of Sex and the City and the movie not to take it the way I took it. Not to internalize that message into something that leads you to spend time, money and energy on looking hotter for the next one (like I did) because hey, maybe if you’re hotter, that’s what’ll make him more into you?
I ended up spending more time at the gym in order to look better. Being a victim of an eating disorder, the advice “he just not that into you” fed into that by making me think that I needed to look better in order to keep the men I wanted. It’s funny just how pernicious these eating disorders are. It made me take seemingly good advice and had me use it to fall back into destructive behaviors. I’m not saying going to the gym is bad, but for me, what it looked like was not eating all day, then running on the treadmill for 20 min. That made me feel good. Like I was in control. Like if the guy did want me back, I’d look good.
I internalized the misconstrued messages that came with the advice “he’s just not that into you” so deeply that my energy actually did push guys away. I was a nervous wreck on the inside trying to seem like the blasé, cool, and sexy woman I thought would make a guy want me. News flash: what I tried didn’t help me in my desire to keep the men I wanted. And my depression worsened.
I think that the best thing I ended up doing was shoving that advice, and all the negativity associated with it, out the window. That advice made me feel inadequate inside, while forcing me to show the world that I was happy, in spite of the pain I felt after being rejected. I realize now that “he’s just not that into you” is advice that could very well be true, but the wording sucks, to say the least. It deflects the attention from him and puts in on YOU. On WOMEN. On US. It makes us think we need to change our attitudes into happy ones, our bodies into thinner ones, our lives into better ones… with the prospect of finding harmony with the right man.
The truth is, it’s not at all about us to change. Why the heck should we do all that work when it’s not even about us? It’s about the men who don’t call back. That’s it.
This might’ve seemed obvious to a lot of women. It didn’t to me. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Like I wasn’t sexy enough. Like I wasn’t talented enough. It took me so long to realize the true implication of that message, not because I’m not smart, but because I took it the wrong way, because of my history of having an eating disorder.
I’m prone to taking thing to an extreme. When someone criticizes me, my mind plunges into the many things that are, in fact, wrong with me. “He’s just not that into you” fed into that vicious cycle in my head, making me feel like not only do specific men don’t like me, but that men as humans don’t like me. That really hurt me and made me feel disconnected to the world.
My hope is that other girls and women with insecurities reading this won’t take that advice the wrong way. Don’t take it to an extreme like I did. You are talented enough, you don’t need to run off to the gym, you don’t need to spend your money on fancy cosmetics. And if you want to, go ahead, just don’t take it the wrong way like I did and don’t let it crush your self-esteem.