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16 October 2005 @ 03:35 pm
He's just not that into you  
As stolen from PMM. Unfortunately others run into this sort of lying too *sigh* It's so disappointing when people are just players as long as it's easy. Why is it that people what so much more than they are willing to give? Maybe I just need to learn to talk a better game...

mtnwoman:

A couple of months ago I read a popular book called "He's Just Not That Into You," which is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek advice guide that spun off from a "Sex in the City" episode. Normally I'd ignore such pop-culture trivia, but I read a couple of good reviews so gave it a chance.

In a nutshell, the book advises women who are struggling with boyfriends who consistently exhibit lukewarm or otherwise troubling or confusing behavior to realize that rather than expend a lot of energy to figure these guys out, they should consider the possibility that the guy is simply "not really that into" them.

The authors contend that if you consider that possibility and then decide that's the explanation (apparently many guys agree that this in fact is the case), it's easier for women to let go of unrewarding relationships with men quickly and with little or no acrimony.

If you can set aside the book's monogamy/marriage tunnel vision, it's pretty interesting.

Anyway, one part of the book which seemed important, but which wasn't explained, is this.

(Paraphrase, since I can't find the exact page right now:) "The last thing in the world he will tell you is that he's just not that into you."

OK, I've experienced this firsthand -- struggling on for months or years with guys who just won't admit that they don't really want to continue a relationship with me. I've been emotionally abandoned and abused, criticized, guilt-tripped, etc. in this process. It just yielded a lot of hurt feelings and wasted time. And for me, a lot of wasted effort trying to figure out what I/we could do to make things better.

This was frustrating enough when I was shooting for monogamous relationships (before I knew poly was a viable option). But to me it seems absolutely unconscionable, even disrespectful, in a poly relationship.

So my question is this: As far as I can tell, the authors of that book generally seem right on that point -- that most guys will go to amazing lengths to avoid admitting they're just not that into a woman they're dating.

Why is that? I really, really don't get that behavior. What is so hard/scary about admitting that you're just not that into continuing a relationship? Personally, I would probably react better to hearing that truth early on than dragging on and on while the guy denies it.

Thoughts?

- mtnwoman
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-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:39 pm (UTC)
Pewter:

I've not read the book, and I've never watched Sex in the City either, but this is my response to what you wrote.

It sounds like the relationships they're talking about are ones that are not yet fully formed but there's some level of good feeling and caring about each other there, and so, a level of not wanting to hurt the other person. Telling another person that you're not that into them, that you don't see a future for the relationship is difficult. You have to be sure of that decision yourself and you have to be willing to risk hurting someone.

Neither of those is particularly easy. Having been on both ends of this situation it's nasty either way. Looking back I am glad that the person in question had the honesty and integrity to tell me what he was thinking, but it still hurt a lot at the time. An 'easier', or at least more manipulative, approach is to be unpleasant to the other person until they break up with you. On balance I prefer the faster pain of being told to the slow disintegration in confusion.
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC)
Mtnwoman:

Pewter wrote: "It sounds like the relationships they're talking about are ones that are not yet fully formed..."

Usually, but not necessarily. Sometimes this can be about relationships that last for years, dragging on in mutually unsatisfying limbo, because one person wants to work on it and the other doesn't, but isn't willing to say so.

"...but there's some level of good feeling and caring about each other there, and so, a level of not wanting to hurt the other person."

That sounds superficially correct, but here's why I don't buy that rationale: The partner who wants to work things out, talk them through, get issues and feelings out in the open often goes through a significant amount of obvious pain when those efforts aren't mutual. I can't see how a guy who "isn't that into you" can see the pain caused by his denial-rooted behavior and still claim "he doesn't want to hurt you."

Frankly, it seems to me more like he's trying to protect something about his own self-image, to not be the bad guy. Or he may view the relationship as something that's just happening to him and so it doesn't occur to him to take an active role. Or he may be happy enough to continue without effort as long as he's still getting good sex. But I really, really doubt that "I don't want to hurt you" is very genuine.

My opinion, of course.

"Telling another person that you're not that into them, that you don't see a future for the relationship is difficult. You have to be sure of that decision yourself and you have to be willing to risk hurting someone."

Agreed. It is hard. It shouldn't be lightly, at the first bump in the relationship or when NRE fades. Still, not saying so when that's the truth is cowardly and hurtful. Especially if you care somewhat for the partner, even if not enough to sustain your interest in a relationship.

Like I said, I can understand in an all-or-nothing monogamous framework that forces you to make exclusive and permanent choices between partners why some guys would tend to put off this kind of difficult communication. That doesn't excuse it, but it is more understandable. But in a polyamorous context with a clear emphasis on communication -- really, to me that behavior seems just pointless, cruel, and disrespectful.

Still, I realize this is only my opinion -- and admittedly a strong one, since I've been hurt this way. I'm curious about others' views.

- mtnwoman
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:41 pm (UTC)
chrys:

Hmm, I’m guessing the reason that would keep someone from owning up to “not being that into” the one that they are dating stems from their unwillingness to deal with the probable consequence of losing the current relationship prematurely (because they dread being alone – conversely the need to be in a relationship). They resist doing anything that might cause dissolution of a current relationship before they have secured something new with someone else, or at least have some good possibilities lined up. The condition of needing to be in a relationship may be rooted in many reasons – one that jumps out is probably low self-esteem or at least some kind of blockage in recognizing their own self-worth.
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC)
Pewter:

Sometimes this can be about relationships that last for years, dragging on in mutually unsatisfying limbo

I think I'd still classify that as a 'not fully formed' relationship. Quality not quantity is what makes a relationship, in my mind and in this context at least.

As to:
I can't see how a guy who "isn't that into you" can see the pain caused by his denial-rooted behavior and still claim "he doesn't want to hurt you."

I would guess it's a combination of not wanting to hurt you (more) by making that final step - because obviously the end of a relationship is the worse thing possible - that's what the media tells us, much of the time anyway. And also, he's still getting something out of the relationship which is not completely counterbalanced by the pain being caused.

I'm not sure that a poly context makes this kind of behaviour any worse though - it's still messing with other people's emotions in a not good way. Self realisation, honesty and a willingness to face changes are vital to this kind of communication, and all of those things are difficult, and probably rare.
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC)
Tabatha:

(Reaching all the way back to High School here.) I dated a guy once who just wasn't that into me. His ex-girlfriend suddenly became interested in him again when she found out he and I were dating and he dropped me like a hot rock to run back into her arms. Turns out she didn't want him, but didn't want him dating anyone else either. (I never understood that mindset.)

Anyway she promptly dumped him and he came to me for comforting. The second time he dumped me for her I figured it out. When he came back a second time I said, "no thank you" and got on with me life. My husband talks about his ex-wife doing something similar through out their marriage. I think that some people are simply unwilling to be alone and would rather "settle" for second best until something better comes along. This mentality, while it may not be conscious, is extremely dishonest and deffinitely doesn't lend itself to openly admitting, "Hey, I like you but I'm just not that into you."

I'm certainly not claiming that's what everyone who engages in the, "I'm just not that into you" behaviour is doing, but that's the brand of this behaviour that I've witnessed personally. Certainly there are some people who are just out to get laid and want to hang onto the sex as long as possible. Telling the sex partner that oyu aren't really all that into them isn't a very good way to keep the free sex available.

Any way you slice it this isn't an honorable way to run a relationship. I don't understand why anyone would want to hang onto a relationship with someone they aren't all that into, but many people aren't all that healthy in their attitudes about relationships. Lots of people are terriffied of being alone and will put up with all kinds of crap to hang onto unhappy relationships and wallow in their misery in the process. The only thing we can do is be as aware as possible of our own happiness, satisfaction, and fullfillment within each or our own relationships. If anything isn't working for us we must take responsibility personally for figuring out what's wrong and what to do about it. If a particular partner is acting like he/she isn't that into the relationship I want to know what's up and if that person won't engage in solving the problem I'm not likely to stick around for long.

Tabby Cat
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC)
mtnwoman:

Chrys wrote: "unwillingness to deal with the probable consequence of losing the current relationship prematurely (because they dread being alone – conversely the need to be in a relationship)."

This points to one reason why I find such behavior inexplicable and disrespectful in a poly relationship. A poly guy is not necessarily going to be alone if he ends the relationship with the woman he's not really that into.

For instance, in my own case a few months back, I had to initiate a breakup with a guy who, judging by his behavior, wasn't really that into me after our NRE faded. He is married. His marriage is good and strong, and has survived -- it's not like he was ever going to end up alone. And I'm in a good marriage, too -- it's not like I was going to be alone. There was no sense of monogamous-style desperation or scarcity bonding us.

Monogamous assumptions do not, in my mind, excuse anyone for not admitting they no longer wish to be in a relationship. But they do explain that behavior a bit. In a poly context, to me, that generally makes no sense, IMHO.

- mtnwoman
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:44 pm (UTC)
dollintheattic:

I have to line up with the posters on this thread who claim that tepid, indifferent behaviour (in a relationship) is due to preferring SOMETHING over being alone.

As far as it being a more heinous behaviour in the case of poly relationships......well, my response to that is that there are many people who don't care about quality in their relationships or friendships. They just want very basic needs met, and aren't interested in emotional/sexual passion, or being intellectually challenged. Well, make that challenged in any way, period. They choose relationships on the same level as some people stress-eat 'comfort' food. They aren't interested in thinking about why they aren't particularly happy with their closest associates. It's just easier all around to settle. I've seen it happen.

I'm editing to add that the reason you've seen this behaviour more in men than in women, is probably because women are more likely to be taught from childhood that it's ok to process and express their emotional states, while in general, men are taught the opposite. Women are more likely to know their emotional internal landscape, as far as it relates to others in their lives. At the same time, women are more likely to be seen as bitches when they express independence or anger, than men exhibiting the same behaviour--guys aren't looked upon so much in a negative light when they express their needs for personal power.

So, I guess we have useful and detrimental socializing for both genders. Anyway, now that I've experienced the "not that into you" phenomenon, and know what it means, I just put my energy elsewhere. No pain, no worries, nobody hurt.
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:45 pm (UTC)
mtnwoman:

Dollintheattic wrote: "there are many people who don't care about quality in their relationships or friendships. They just want very basic needs met, and aren't interested in emotional/sexual passion, or being intellectually challenged. Well, make that challenged in any way, period. They choose relationships on the same level as some people stress-eat 'comfort' food. They aren't interested in thinking about why they aren't particularly happy with their closest associates. It's just easier all around to settle. I've seen it happen."

Yeah, I think you're on to something there. That's a very good point.

- mtnwoman
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:46 pm (UTC)
Woodnymph:

What is so hard/scary about admitting that you're just not that into continuing a relationship? Personally, I would probably react better to hearing that truth early on than dragging on and on while the guy denies it.

In my experience, some men seemed not to want to take the responsibility of breaking it off, and hence being blamed for the breakup. ANd I think I've probably done that myself a time or two, in the past.

there are many people who don't care about quality in their relationships or friendships. They just want very basic needs met, and aren't interested in emotional/sexual passion, or being intellectually challenged.

Doll is SO polite. What I was thinking, is that "basic needs" equal sex, and many if not most men, specially the not to self aware variety, have a hard time cutting off a potential source of sex. It may not be their ideal relationship, it may not even be all that much fun, but sex is involved, and that means one must continue...
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC)
Bikil:

What I'm wondering too is, does the book address what the receiver of this behavior should do? I assume it does. But, I'm concerned about a person who would be willing to desperately hold onto a tepid relationship and continue trying to get communication and not receive it and go through all this pain.

I can, of course, see this happening a bit before the person realizes what is going on, but once they realize what's going on, I just can't see plodding along in a relationship like this.

Of course, I'm one of those blunt people who would just ask, why aren't you working towards our communication? or something like that. And if I felt the other person wasn't working toward it I would tell them in a nice nonconfrontational way, It seems like you are not working towards a goal in this relationship. That is how it feels to me.

Then depending on their response, that's it for them. I don't have time or energy to deal with someone like that right now. I know that sounds blunt, but it seems like not being blunt is one of the roots of this whole "not that into you" problem anyway.

So, if I was on the receiving end of this behavior, since I can do nothing about someone elses behavior except express what I'm feeling about it, I would analyze myself and see what I can do to make sure this kind of pain doesn't happen to me again. How do I feel like I handled the situation? Yes, some pain occured, as does often happen in life, but did I cause that pain to be extended by my own behavior? What can I work on in myself to help me not fall into this situation again? I know each relationship is different, but what kind of warning signs can I find that would trigger analysis of the relationship to ensure this kind of pain doesn't happen to me again? etc. etc.

As you can plainly tell, I'm one of those analytical people, constantly in a state of analyzing my feelings and actions to make my life experience what I want it to be. I understand that some people aren't like that, but this is what I would do. As always, YMMV!!

Bikil
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:48 pm (UTC)
mtnwoman:

Bikil raised a good point: "I can, of course, see this happening a bit before the person realizes what is going on, but once they realize what's going on, I just can't see plodding along in a relationship like this."

Yep, it's a hard lesson to learn. In my case. I loved my ex-boyfriend very much and treasured our relationship. I was willing to work and negotiate to help it become mutually satisfying.

What I learned, and what I'll carry into future relationships, is that working alone on a relationship only drains you. If a guy isn't willing to work with me on making sure our connection stays vital, then even if he's telling me he loves me and wants to be with me, actions speak louder than words. I'm listening to actions from here on out.

This does not mean I'll ditch at the first bump. It doesn't mean I won't understand when someone is going through a difficult time. It does mean I won't kid myself again when actions are so obviously at odds with words for more than a couple of months. It just sucks too much. Even if he isn't very aware of his emotions and meant no deliberate disrespect to me.

So what I learned from this book was when to translate a lack of mutuality or effort as "he's just not that into me," and to make my own decisions accordingly. Because I can't expect that he'll ever admit it. If I wait for that clarity from him, I'll just end up feeling drained, undervalued, and even used. And like is said, in a poly context, I find that especially abhorrent.

- mtnwoman
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:48 pm (UTC)
me:

I say this and really mean it - thank you very much for starting this thread. Unfortunately (regarding the bad kinds of situations) you and I share some similar experiences. I've gotten it twice this year, once recently with a nascent relationship and once with a 2 year one. Kinda makes one wonder.

I have discovered in these situations that even giving people what they want in terms of less expectation doesn't help *sigh*

Y'all have made some very perspicuous and cogent points. Thanks for giving me things to consider.

-the redhead-
-the redhead-theredhead on October 16th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC)
mtnwoman:

The Redhead wrote: "I have discovered in these situations that even giving people what they want in terms of less expectation doesn't help."

Agreed, sadly. If the problem is that someone just isn't into being in a relationship with you, ratcheting down your expectations for him only leads to more downward ratcheting. Because the issue isn't really that he wants a different kind of relationship with you -- he simply isn't interested enough to make a sincere effort to sustain any relationship. Even if he generally likes you and you generally get along with each other.

It's no insult or crime if someone loses interest in a relationship. I understand that, even though hearing that news can suck. But ducking the issue is simply disrepectful and hurtful, even if it's not intended that way.

- mtnwoman
Peter 'Happy' Thomashappypete on October 17th, 2005 03:15 am (UTC)
You want a blunt answer?
I'm sure it's in the book, somewhere: dating someone you're not that into is better than being single while you wait for someone you are into to come along. There's probably a study out there to back me up on this, but the anecdotal evidence is strong--it's easier to attract a new girlfriend while you already have one or more.

[Same thing is true for employers...but that's not the topic du jour].

For the record: I'm observing not condoning...
-the redhead-theredhead on October 17th, 2005 03:23 am (UTC)
Re: You want a blunt answer?
Pete-

nice thought, but the people that both mtnwoman and I are referring to are married. Reading the rest of the posts by different people in the thread I copied may perhaps give a bit more clarity.

-the redhead-
Re: You want a blunt answer? - happypete on October 17th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: You want a blunt answer? - theredhead on October 17th, 2005 03:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: You want a blunt answer? - theredhead on October 17th, 2005 03:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: You want a blunt answer? - happypete on October 17th, 2005 12:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: You want a blunt answer? - theredhead on October 17th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
you're welcome... - happypete on October 18th, 2005 01:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
-the redhead-theredhead on October 17th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC)
Wildcard:

Yes excellent points.

It does seem tho that polyamory offers more options in terms of relationship than together or not. I like the idea of finding the "right relationship" with someone. Eg if the sex is really great when you get together once a month but if you spend more time together you get on each other's nerves, well then, why not just do what makes you both happy? Being relatively new to conscious polyamory I have made the mistake (in my naive enthusiasm) of trying to put someone into a box they didn't fit and then getting dissatisfied with the relationship. Or maybe the sex isn't that great but the emotional support and connection is.

It does seem that one of the advantages of polyamory is that you don't have to get as many needs met with each person so that does take some pressure off. But I know for myself that I am still learning to find the "right relationship".