So Matrix Guy and I went to see this movie a couple of nights ago. And wow, if people are really following the advice in that movie, it's no wonder relationships are such a mess! The better part of the movie is an exercise in violent communication!! (Hey, if you haven't seen the movie yet and want the ending to be a surprise, stop reading now ...)
Some examples? Well, first of all, the title. When that book came out (He's Just Not That Into You), I cringed, and I still cringe now. Not because there isn't a kernel of wisdom in there somewhere, but because it is entirely unhelpful to say to a woman (or a man, for that matter), "He (or she) is just not that into you." As if it's some sort of truth written in stone that is due to the nature of the two people involved, rather than the dynamic of their interactions. As if the other person has all the power in a situation, and if he or she is not responding to you instantly in exactly the way that you would like, well, then, too bad, you are powerless. Puh-leeeeze.
Take the main character of the movie, Gigi. How is it helpful for people to tell her "He's just not that into you"? (And yeah, the advice she's getting from girlfriends (a bunch of superficial excuses for a man's actions) isn't any better.) All that saying "he's just not that into you" tends to do is shut people down. "Oh, he's just not that into me. And that guy isn't either. I guess there's no point in me talking to them anymore." In the movie, you've got this adorable girl Gigi, who deep in her heart just wants to CONNECT, as we all do, and if she listens to that advice, she might just stop reaching out to people and shut down.
Indeed, the most realistic part of the movie (and funniest) to me was when she's sitting home on a Saturday night, and Alex asks her why, and she says something like: "You said I couldn't go out with guys who aren't 'into me,' so that doesn't leave me many options." Lol :-)
Which is true! Because people can't expect to go around in the world, not reaching out to anyone, not having the tools to create an inviting vibe and smile and say hi to people and connect with people in an organic way -- and expect that somehow magically members of the opposite sex are going to be 'into' them.
Puh-leeeze. This is the worst romantic advice EVER. If it were true that it is somehow set in stone that certain people will be into us and others won't, then there would be no point to a seduction community. You wouldn't have guys (and girls) who used to be romantic disasters suddenly have romantic abundance in their lives. Indeed, the men who succeed in the seduction community are those who take responsibility for their own romantic success rather than putting the responsibility on others, which is what a phrase like "oh, he/she is just not into me" does.
We need advice that is actually HELPFUL.
Such as teaching people to reach out to others in a way that brings other people closer rather than pushing them away. Such as helping people understand that sometimes we need to invest sincerely in another person before they are going to see our spark and feel a deep connection with us.
I've had lots of relationships with men that have ebbed and flowed over time, where the guy at one point didn't seem that "into me," but later he became deeply "into me." Why? Because I just stayed with the connection and was detached from the outcome. Because I didn't say to myself, "oh poor me, he's just not that into me, I guess it's better for me to write him off and move on." Because I come from a perspective that it's IMPOSSIBLE ever to have too many friends of the opposite sex, and it's ok to let relationships morph from one form to another without expectations.
We need to teach people how to stay with connection and stop putting so much pressure on each other. I don't even call my evenings out "dates" for this very reason. As soon as a girlfriend of mine says she is going on a date, I can feel the pressure set in. Immediately the guy and the experience are set up to be "judged" on the basis of a bunch of arbitrary criteria. Screw that. I go out with people, many of whom happen to be guys. Sometimes I feel chemistry, sometimes I don't. It's ok for us to let the experience take on a life of its own instead of putting it into a box ahead of time!!
Wow, I'm just getting started on this movie. Let's take Jeanine. Ok, first of all, she gets her man to marry her by using an ultimatum. I'm not saying an ultimatum can never be useful, but it sure is important to know what we are doing. Wow, we had better make sure that the other person is really one hundred percent on board with his or her choice and really WANTS to marry us. Otherwise, this is a recipe for resentment and second thoughts by the other person.
Jeanine's communication is singularly violent. Example: When she catches her husband smoking, she says: "What part of 'my father died of lung cancer' do you not understand?" Ouch! Bring in the heavy artillery why don't you? Motivating people through guilt and shame in this way is so incredibly counterproductive. And indeed, because this is Jeanine's default mode of communication, her husband feels trapped (in other words, he is in the marriage due to feelings of obligation rather than WANTING to be there). And because he is also not empowered in his communication, he runs for the exit.
What if instead Jeanine had been in touch with her feelings and expressed those to her husband: her sadness about not having more years with her father, her anxiety because she cares so much for her husband's well-being. What if she had been able to empathize with the very good reasons her husband was smoking? (What motivated him to smoke? we can guess, but we have no idea -- because neither Jeanine or he was in touch with their own inner motivations.)
Jeanine's communication created a situation where, because her husband was not wearing giraffe ears (the nickname for being able to hear everything others say through the prism of compassionate communication), his only choice was to submit or rebel. He submitted for a while, but ultimately he rebelled and had an affair.
We need to open the cage doors. We need to give other people the freedom to CHOOSE to be with us. And at the same time, we need to stay vulnerable and connect with them rather than writing them off with a lame "oh, I guess he's just not into me." What a cop out!