Thursday, December 23, 2004

He's Just Not That Into You

I just endured another singles column by Esther D. Kustanowitz of The Jewish Week. She reviewed the new book "He's Just Not That Into You."
My bias: While I have not read the book, I have dated and talked to women about dating, and I think the wisdom in the title is a gift to women (and men who obsess endlessly over why a woman rejected him, if only he had done something different, etc). With few exceptions (for painfully shy, troubled or insecure men like me), if a man is truly interested in a woman, he will find ways to see her. And if he doesn't call and if he doesn't find ways to run into her, the odds are 99-1 that he's just not that into her.
If someone does not return your call, it is not because they are too busy. Almost nobody is so busy that they can't spare 60-seconds to call you. Somebody who does not return your call is simply saying that you are not important to them. If somebody does that to you, you should simply face that cold hard truth and not ask more of a relationship than the other person is willing to give.
Esther writes: "I just can’t bring myself to embrace the approach."
The approach of the book is the cold hard truth of reality and to reject it is to reject reality.
Esther writes:

Because HJNTIY is written by two very funny people, Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt, it’s absolutely laugh worthy. Behrendt presents a harsh argument; Tuccillo’s touch balances the tone. She has her issues with the approach, but points out that every women could use a reminder “that she’s smart and valuable and worthy and gorgeous and deserving of everything she ever wanted.”
“Better than nothing is not good enough,” Behrendt says, and at the risk of sounding elitist, he’s right.

Not every woman (or man) is smart. Not every woman (or man) is valuable (in the dating market sense, yes, in God's eyes, every human being who conducts himself honorably is worth a whole universe, but God's eyes are not the same as the eyes of those who want to get married). Not every woman (or man) is worthy of the one she desires. Not every woman (or man) is gorgeous. Not every woman (or man) is "deserving of everything she ever wanted." To think otherwise is to willfully delude oneself.
Esther writes: "...Behrendt insists, women must keep their standards high."
No higher than men should. Keeping your standards too high for your own relative match-attracting worth is self-destructive.
Esther writes: "The truth is, there’s no painless way to tell someone, at any stage of a relationship, that you’re not really interested. I’ve been on both ends of that conversation, and I’d rather have dental surgery than experience either again."
I can't speak for Esther, but for me and for everyone I've had an honest discussion with on this (mainly men) -- when you are the dumper, the pain is minimal compared to the pain of being dumped. Yet I hear women all the time claiming that how painful it was for them to dump someone. I think that often this is a way women have of deluding themselves that they are so wonderful and sensitive.
Women are the choosers in the dating game. They initiate two-thirds of divorces. I bet they initiate most break-ups of long ongoing relationships as well.
Esther writes: "I’d like to believe that a woman should ask a man out if she wants."
Sure, but most of the time it won't work for her. When women become the aggressor in the dating chase, men tend to shut down. I do. Though much of this reaction in me might have to do with my age. I feel tired much of the time and prefer to be the passive partner. Perhaps I would chase women more if only my van would start (that was both a literal statement and a metaphor). Doggone it if a five degree slope doesn't mean I will be cranking the starter 25 times to get going.
I need a woman who will give me a car that runs right. I need a woman to give me an oil change every 3,000 miles. I need a woman to tune me up every 15,000 miles (changing all my fluids and lubing my chassis). Is this too much to ask, Esther?
Esther writes: "To hail a mantra as the solution to your romantic problems is to deny nuance and uniqueness in your fellow daters."
A cliche like much of her article.
Esther's column reminds me of the general ethos of Jewish papers -- Jews are swell and why don't we all lie down like lambs and love each other platonically as we overflow with the feeling that every Jew is unique and of infinite worth and deserving of a good marriage.
As for my view, I think many Jews are scum, that bad Jews (needlessly cruel) have little worth, that all good Jews are not going to get along, that most Jews, like most humans, delude themselves with respect to their unduly high view of their own character, and that many Jews have made choices (or have been burdened with DNA or crappy upbringings) that makes it exceedingly difficult for them to marry and find happiness.
All these criticisms being said, I continue to read Esther every so often (about once a month) because I get the sense from her writing that she is a fundamentally decent and kind person and a good Jew. These qualities far outweigh her tendencies to indulge in self-serving cliches and fantasies about the ways men and women relate.
I read "The Committed Marriage" by rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. The rebbetzin is single and available. Perhaps, as a commenter suggests, this Esther is the one for me. Why should 40 years age difference disturb me? I like 18-year olds, why not older?