February 19, 2009

Reality Check: The Dangers of Denial

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Last weekend, I counted myself among millions of other vag-having Americans and went to see the movie that many of them hoped would be the Holy Grail, the second coming of Carrie Bradshaw, the answer to all of their questions. Like: why didn’t he text you back? Well, clearly He’s Just Not That Into You. Or: why isn’t he calling? Because he’s probably Just Not That Into You. Why did he change his name and number and move out of the state? Maybe he’s in the witness protection program. No, silly! He’s obviously Just Not That Into You!
We all saw that episode — Ron Livingston showed us the light and taught us to accept the obvious as the answer — and now, years later, women everywhere are flocking to theaters to have it beaten into their heads one more time. (Well I actually went to see Justin Long in a leading role. I already know everything there is to know about relationships and everything else. That’s why I get to write a column.) But I digress.
It seems like a simple enough concept: when someone doesn’t call you or text you or facebook / myspace (ew!) / e-mail you, it’s less likely that they’ve come down with a case of amnesia or lost a limb in a freak bow-tie wearing seal-bite accident than that they just didn’t want to talk to you. It’s almost insulting to suggest that womankind would need a two-and-a-half hour movie to explain that to them; even worse that the movie managed to miss this point all together! When all was said and done, almost every character was either engaged, dating or making out in a hallway and being told that they’re “the exception, not the rule” (except for poor Jennifer Connolly) and audiences everywhere breathed a sigh of relief because it seemed that even when all the signs tell you otherwise, he just IS that into you. What the fuck! That’s not what Ron said!
Actually, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of what Ron said. In pandering to what female audiences supposedly wanted to hear, this movie fails to tell them what they need to hear, what they seemingly went to this movie to hear. No one should be operating under the premise that acting like Ginnifer Goodwin’s needy, obsessive, desperate character will end well for them, or that a man who disagrees with the principal of marriage will suddenly change his beliefs and propose.
This movie tells us to think of ourselves as the “rule” while making an exception of each of its characters. Did anyone ever consider that maybe we aren’t the rule either? Maybe there is no “rule” – maybe relationships just can’t be simplified that easily. Not realistically anyway, but He May or May Not Be Into You Depending on His Personality, Timing, and What He’s Looking For in a Relationship and Life Right Now isn’t as catchy, and it isn’t what Ron said either.
So when he doesn’t call, maybe he’s not that into you, maybe he’s playing hard to get or maybe he lost your number or his phone or his whole arm for that matter. If the fact is that he didn’t call you, why is it so important to know why? Why do we need to convince ourselves that some crazy extenuating circumstances must have occurred rather than admit that someone just doesn’t like us? I don’t like most of the people I meet. You probably don’t either. I mean, you would probably like me, but if you’re a weirdo and you don’t, what the fuck should I care? You’re the weirdo.
So hypothesize, rationalize, and wait around all you want — it won’t make the phone ring — but it will waste time you could’ve spent out trying to meet a new guy. Or god forbid, doing something else.