Robert Ebert is my favorite movie critic. In fact, I read his reviews only, unless it was a movie I liked so much that I want to see what everyone said about it. And that’s rare, because I think most movies are these days are unoriginal and not even worth seeing.

But as you’ll see in a previous blog entry, I saw HJNTIY. And I read Ebert’s review afterward. He didn’t love it, or really even like it. But what was interesting was his commentary on the book the movie is based on. It was strange to hear my favorite movie expert comment on self-help/relationship books (the genre I write in). He thought the book seemed ridiculous. Here’s the quote he read from the book: “My belief is that if you have to be the aggressor, if you have to pursue, if you have to do the asking out, nine times out of 10, he’s just not that into you.”

And here’s what he said about what he read: “I personally would not be interested in a woman who needed to buy a book to find that out. Guys also figure out that when she never returns your calls and is inexplicably always busy, she’s just not that into you. What is this, brain surgery? I have tried, but I cannot image what was covered in the previous 16 pages of that book.” He felt the title was the only insightful aspect of the book. I smiled – Ebert wondered why a book that’s so simplistic would be big enough to actually turn into a film.

But more importantly, Ebert thought it was obvious that if woman has to pursue or ask a guy out, he isn’t that into her. He thought it was obvious, like the author of the book (a guy) thought it was obvious. Yet it isn’t obvious to a lot of women. In contrast, it seems obvious to us women (and to Ebert) that if we don’t return your calls, if we make excuses for how busy we are, or don’t sleep with you, we aren’t into you. Yet a lot of men don’t get it.

It amazes me how “obvious” dating stuff is to everyone. Things are always “obvious” when we already know the answer, either through experience or through reading it in a book. But let me tell you, once these same people find themselves on the dating market, I guarantee everything will cease to seem obvious. They won’t find obvious as far as the eye can see, and their friends’ advice about the obvious will sound nuts.

Why is this? Because when we like someone, we’re flooded with neurotransmitters and hormones, which, in some ways, is literally like being on drugs. (In case you’re wondering, that’s what drugs do – alter our brain neurotransmitters). Once this happens, our emotions become involved, and our once-keen ability to detect the obvious goes haywire. It’s easy to think you can handle drugs when you’re sober. Ebert’s married and has forgotten what it feels like to date.

That’s okay, Roger Ebert. You’re still my favorite movie critic.

Caution: Many spoilers here

If you haven’t read He’s Just Not That Into You, I can sum it up in a sentence: If he isn’t calling you, asking you out, sleeping with you, or otherwise treating you like he really cares, he’s just not that into you. Which of course means you should move on. Sage advice, in many ways. Well, the movie stays with that principle, at least for a while.

So we have a series of duos, the members of which are linked through friendship, work, or other relationships. We have can’t-read-men Gigi and emotionally unavailable Alex who shows GiGi the “he’s just not that into you” (HJNTIY) light and advises her with men. We have Neil and Beth, who’ve been married seven years, but Neil doesn’t want to get married. We have Ben and Janine, who are also married, but only because Janine gave Ben the Big U (an Ultimatum). There’s also Conor and Anna, who aren’t having sex because Anna’s just not that into Conor and Conor’s too clueless to see it. Besides, Anna and Ben are into each other after meeting at a grocery store – he admits he’s married, but they become friends anyway, and not in a good way.

In the movie, they use a lot of good HJNTIY examples, like the guy who’s vague about whether or not he’ll call (and doesn’t), the girl who thinks up all these excuses for why he didn’t call (he’s busy, he’s out of town, he’s scared), the girl who doesn’t get that MySpace isn’t a way to communicate with a date, the girls who don’t realize they’re “the rule, not the exception.” Then the movie diverges from the book and focuses on more complex issues. Gigi realizes Alex is showing into-her signs, but then he acts like a jerk. Beth leaves Neil because of the no-marriage thing. Ben gets involved with Anna, eventually admits it to his suspecting wife, but doesn’t leave her. Anna gets mad at Ben and gives Conor another chance.

Ultimately, the movie goes in the exception-and-not-the-rule direction, going against the book’s edicts (oops, make that edict). Alex does fall for Gigi despite doing the very thing he told her not to trust. Beth realizes Neil is more of hubby to her than her sisters’ lazy-ass hubbies and lets go of her need for marriage – he then proposes. Anna tells Conor she doesn’t feel it, but Conor meets and falls for Mary, the MySpace girl. Ben sits on the fence too long and lies, and Janine dumps him. Ben and Anna never get together. If Anna had read my book “Dating the Divorced Man,” she’d know to avoid what I call “soon-to-be-separated” men – they’re always bad news. What’s the moral of the story? Don’t settle for someone who’s not that into you.

One annoying aspect of the movie was the idea that if you are “into someone” right away and they feel the same, it’s true love. It’s the love-at-first-site idea that movies push. But in reality, while some great couples started off that way, there are many couples who started off that way and ended up wrong for each other, and other couples who didn’t start that way, whose love grew more slowly, and wound up happy together. Being really “into someone” is only a good start.

The HJNTIY book’s simplicity is its genius. The author’s got a point – men who like you will act like they like you, and you should stop wasting your time with men who don’t act like they like you. But the book has several annoying aspects. It’s too simplistic. In an interview, the author stated that men will treat women right when they meet the right woman. Apparently, that’s the cure to all bad male behavior! Apparently, there are no immature men, jerks, or guys going through difficult times – there are only guys who just haven’t met the right girl yet! In this sense, the book makes women feel like shit. It says if a guy treats you bad, it’s because of YOU; if he were into you, he’d be a prince!

In reality, men’s behavior is about THEM, not YOU. Into you or not, good guys treat women decently, bad guys don’t. If a guy acts disinterested, then he’s not the guy for you. Move on. If a guy acts like a prick, then he’s a prick, and not the guy for you, whether he’s “into you” or not. Move on.

Oh, by the way, I did enjoy the movie. It’s decent for a romantic comedy, a genre that mostly sucks. It has funny moments and a great cast.

The third episode of The Bachelor last week got pretty nasty. And it wasn’t just me – seasoned Bachelor watchers agreed that last week hit an all-time low in terms of catty behavior and general ugliness.

After watching the Bachelorette with DeAnna Pappas last year, I theorized that having multiple women compete for one man isn’t as natural as having multiple men compete for one woman. Watching The Bachelor has only confirmed that. My reasoning is this: men are naturally competitive and enjoy competition. Competition brings out the best in most men. Remember DeAnna’s guys doing push-ups, hitting baseballs, and generally showing off? For the most part, they had fun. Occasionally one of the guys would get insecure – remember the guy who was saving his virginity for his bride? He got too competitive and bitchy, and lashed out at Jeremy because he was threatened by him (understandably so – he was no match for Jeremy). But for the most part, the competition suited the men.

Women can be competitive too. But in many cases, competition doesn’t sit well with women. It brings out their worst behavior. Left to their own devices, most women don’t compete with each other for fun – they work together, side by side, for a common cause. The Bachelor encourages them to compete, so they do, and nothing good comes from it. Nature didn’t design women to compete for men. In the animal world, males compete for females (think male peacocks showing their feathers). It’s true in the human world too.

Although these women are on the show to get a shot at being with Jason, all this drama is about more than that. It’s about wanting to feel special, wanting to be the chosen one, wanting to feel validated or valued. Who doesn’t want that? But competing for it won’t get you anywhere. My mantra is this: never compete with another woman for a guy. Show him what you got; he’ll either pick you or he won’t.

Part of my pitch for selling Dating the Divorced Man to a publisher was the startling statistic that nearly 40% of available men are separated or divorced. And, because so many men are divorced, every woman will date a divorced guy at some point during her dating life. Well, not only is this true in the USA, it’s also true in Romania!

Some months ago I got an email from a Romanian woman. She’d read my book, and wanted some advice – she was dating a man with children and he was going through a long divorce. Then, just today, I got a package in the mail: four copies of my book, translated into Romanian! Romania purchased the rights to translate my book. The book looks different than the English language version, and has its own really cute cover!

Although Romania is the first foreign country to translate my book into their language, I know women from Europe are reading it because they email me to share their stories, ask for advice, and thank me for the book. Pretty cool.

Welcome to my blog! My blog will be devoted to a variety of topics having to do with dating and relationships. As you know, I am the author of Dating the Divorced Man, a book that guides women through the challenges of dating men who have ex-wives, children, and emotional baggage. Therefore, my blog will emphasize this special topic as well.

I recently came across a blog entry by a Dr. Helen Smith, where she commented on two articles written by Chelsea Kaplan for MSN: one on dating divorced men, and another on dating divorced women. Chelsea Kaplan interviewed me for the article on divorced men, and interviewed another author for the article on divorced women. (Unfortunately, these articles are no longer available online). Helen Smith felt the article on dating divorced women advised men to be supportive, whereas the article on dating divorced men advised women to be cautious. “Note the difference: a divorced man has baggage and is a challenge. Dating a divorced woman is a special concern and leads to a fulfilling and wonderful relationship,” she said. Helen Smith’s conclusion? The articles were “sexist.” Read More

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