Maybe He Has Malaria & Other Wisdom

little-red-flying-fox-hanging-out-serena-bowlesEveryone has a favorite party question. Who would you invite, living or dead, to a dinner party? David Sedaris, Cary Grant, and a recently bathed Queen Elizabeth I. What is your spirit animal? A Little Red Flying Fox bat, of course. What book would you smite from existence with a giant, fiery death ray? That’s my preferred party question, because there is only one answer. If you’re in possession of a literary fire ray, standard protocol calls for the destruction of He’s Just Not That Into You. Every misinformed, patronizing copy of it shall burn and we will dance joyfully in the ashes.

Fuck that book. Fuck all the articles claiming it might actually have value—I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed’s 65 Books You Need to Read In Your 20’s—instead of throwing it into the bonfire where it belongs. Now, I’m not a fan of censoring and I’m certainly not a fan of book burning. I just want this idiotic advice to die already. There is no romantic manual in existence, including the one that gendered the planets, doing more damage. Friends of mine, successful, lovely women with lots of sense, call it their bible.

2c85e416cee5e4f7ee3aed0df03e0ec1Here’s what I call it: bullshit. He’s Just Not That Into You has made a business out of tormenting innocent twenty-somethings. It gives us rules to date by, blithely handing out snippets of romantic fortune-telling to total strangers. If a guy doesn’t call you on Wednesday for a weekend date? He’s just not that into you. If a guy only texts you, instead of calling? He’s just not that into you. If you went home with a guy from the bar, he’s—wait for it!—just not that into you.

People aren’t that simple. I will go to my grave defending the complexity of mankind, friends. This book dishes out advice based on tired dating stereotypes: women are needy and guys must be tamed. This is dumb.

Wait, no!

This is so, so dumb that I have trouble finding words for it that don’t immediately make cerebral fluid leak out my ear. Lives are complicated. Every person we date has a history—little victories and heartbreaks that make them act they way they do. Maybe a guy is only texting you, because he thinks phones steal your life force, when talked into. Maybe he was slammed all week and, suddenly,  looked up to discover it’s Friday and he wants to see you desperately.

Sure, he may have cancelled your date because he’s an ass. Or, perhaps, he had a bout of intestinal malaria that had him clutching the Charmin for dear life. Rarely do we tell potential love interests of our bowel troubles. Instead we say “things came up” and ask them out at a later date. Thank goodness for that! You don’t want the knowledge of dear Marvin’s intestinal parasites cropping up mid-canoodle, do you? That’s how sexual phobias occur.

You don’t need this book. Romantic tribulations shouldn’t wreck your self-confidence, but there are no rules to love. If there were, no relationships would fail. We would all beatifically stroll through the world, happy and secure, until falling in love with precisely the right person at precisely the right time. That would never do for us! Humans are emotionally messy creatures, not robots. We must try the best we can. When it doesn’t work, throw a few bubbly drinks back, and keep living.

Let me be honest. If I’d followed the advice in this horrid tome, Professor McGregor and I wouldn’t be together. Hell, we never would have had a second date. Instead of being the darling man who surprises me with taxidermied mice, he would be that jerk who took two weeks to ask me out again. Horror of horrors. I’ll take a few weeks of emotional turmoil over that fate. The beginning of our relationship was filled with anxiety, yes, but it turned into something wonderful. That’s what matters.

h-armstrong-roberts-1920s-1930s-romantic-couple-evening-dress-embracing-about-to-kissYou don’t need a book to find love. You need courage, champagne on hand, and one piece of advice: Don’t date jerkfaces! If a romantic interest is mean to you, don’t date him or her. All of the advice in Barnes & Noble can be boiled down to that one, sparkling kernel. It doesn’t do to stress about timelines and made up dating etiquette. We’re all fucking clueless. Just treat people well and be wary, if they don’t reciprocate. If he brings your favorite ice cream, but didn’t call for two weeks? Ask him what’s up and eat the Mint Chocolate Chip. He might be just that into you and malaria.

Or he’s a jerkface.

Who knows? I certainly don’t and neither does any damned book.

– Grace

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23 thoughts on “Maybe He Has Malaria & Other Wisdom

  1. I’ve stopped listening to that advice eons ago. If I hadn’t, I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable now. That said, ladies, be yourself and look for someone that not only can accept you the way you are, but also you can accept the way he is.

    Or more colloquially said, don’t date jerkfaces. Unless you are a jerkface yourself…which in that case…its a match made in heaven!

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I haaaaaated the premise of that book, and I found its contents/advice to be utter nonsense. If I’d followed its strictures, I never would’ve wound up with Brandon — who, y’know, loves me for who I am. (It’s revolutionary, I know.)

  3. Can we burn Eat Pray Love as well? And The Secret?

    I agree wholeheartedly about not following this book (or most self help love books) for advice on what to do or not do in a relationship. I think you have to do whatever feels right for you and choose to accept what you are willing to when dating, not what someone tells you to.

  4. I highly disagree. I agree with you that yes, there are exceptions, to both the portrayals of men and women, but for the most part, women tend to be a little more on the crazy side, and we are AMAZING at thinking of terrible things that could have happened to the guy we’re interested in, such as malaria… I think it’s a much safer bet to not imagine excuses for him, not get our hopes up, and if he calls, he calls. In your case, it wouldn’t have hurt you to have assumed Professor McGregor wasn’t interested. You may have been disappointed, but you wouldn’t spend 2 weeks agonizing over him (not saying you did, but it sounded like you may have), and when he called, you would have been pleasantly surprised and still quite happy to go on another date. It doesn’t hurt to think someone isn’t into you. It just means that they have to show that they do before you go all crazy. When we read into things and men aren’t into us (because we DO read into things), that is what hurts. That’s when we start freaking out on them, calling them, etc, and scaring them away. If we keep the freaking out to ourselves (and our girlfriends/blog readers), it’s ok overall, but it stresses us out more. Now don’t get me wrong, I still hope he’s into me and wait for him to call, but I always remember that movie (haven’t read the book), and try to not make myself crazy with trying to figure out why he isn’t calling, what he’s doing, should I call him, and I [try] to remain calm, not get my hopes up too much, and wait to be pleasantly surprised, if that happens.

    • AGREED!!!! I have a feeling that we read completely different book, I love “He’s just not that into you”, both book and movie and I do find it helpful and must read, if you don’t like it and don’t need it-GOOD FOR YOU but I LOVE IT 🙂 and find it extremely helpful 🙂

    • Perhaps YOU are crazy, but do not project your disabilities onto other women, please. Not all women are crazy stalkers who blow up their dates’ phones.

      I don’t just assume men are into me unless they actually do something that shows interest, i.e. ask me out on a date, kiss me on the lips, sleep with me, etc. If the guy suddenly goes cold, I have the right to call him and ask what happened. The reason this book is so ridiculous is because the implied message is women should accept this type of treatment/disrespect. You should definitely break ties with a guy who is misleading you, but instead of just quietly moving on, it is okay to confront them and get a definite answer. Men should know it is not okay to be dishonest with or take advantage of their dates, and we have a right to demand an apology if they do.

  5. My freshman year roommate at college read that book and spent days going on and on about how “amazing” and “insightful” and “SO TRUE” it was – I just HAD to read it , she claimed. I caved and shuffled through it. Never again was I able to trust her opinion on anything.

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  7. I didn’t even know that movie was a book. Which I didn’t see. I’m just not that into it. Hah. See what I did there?

    I was only ever on the fringe of the dating circuit. I never read the rules. I never followed the rules. I never had any outstanding dates, except for the ones that led to long-term relationships.

    I think I’ll just stay away from that book, though. Thanks for the tip, Grace! Your post, again, hilarious and spot-on!

  8. I’m afraid the truth is as always in the middle.
    Some guys do not lie when they give excuses, some do not lie at all, but they are usually the same ones who do not disappear all of a sudden and do show you they are interested in the end – if they are.
    My point is: there should be no rule whatsoever in dating, because each and everyone of us is a different individual, but it is painstakingly true that when a guy is interested he will be there to show it to you and if he doesn’t… he’s just not that into you.
    It is also true that we – girls or women in general – should learn to get a clue and let go, when the guy just won’t come around. The problem is most of us – and I myself for one – just can’t avoid freaking out and falling for the guy way before his interest is certain…

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  10. I went home with a guy from a bar….it has been a 3 year one night stand……

    You can’t follow love advice because we are all writing our own romantic stories as we live these crazy lives.

  11. I feel the same way about that horrid book and movie. Gawd, I wish it was never published. I watched some of the movie and I almost barfed in my mouth.

  12. Unfortunately it’s not the only book/movie which does this crap. What about Hitch. Mind you, I adore Will Smith but *really*?! You’ve got to go only 90% for a kiss and then wait for the girl to do the rest? And who came up with that stupid rule that a girl must not call after a date so as not to appear too eager/desperate?! No wonder even accomplished and wonderful ladies like you are over-the-top nervous when dating – for no reason! Thanks for calling the sham!

  13. Agreed. That book is absurd…although I will also add that I have plenty of girlfriends that can come up with 3,617 excuses for why a guy hasn’t called/asked her out when often times there is only 1 — .but that’s what friends are for, to say “snap out of it, for whatever reason he’s not making an effort and you are worth an effort!” See? That was easy. No need for that generalizing hope-deflating book. Now, where are my royalties?

  14. OMG YES YES YES! I thought I was the only one who hated that book! I also bash it on my blog. It’s like we think alike! I also hate “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”. Please add that to the bonfire list. (And most dating advice articles/books in general.)

  15. Am I the only loony in the bin who has been known to, like, call my gentleman callers? Am I a lady caller, then? With… honestly pretty good results? Maybe it’s because I tend to be attracted to shy nerdy guys, but, like, I *like* steering. Obviously their has to be some reciprocation, but generally, when I call a guy after a nice date, he tends to be happy about it and want to hang out. How is this wrong?

  16. One of the most fundamental things wrong with the messages tied to “He’s just not that into you” is…why would a guy show overt interest (as in, asking her out, kissing her, flirting with her) when he is not into her? All this ‘he’s not into you’ advice make women seem like the only crazy and delusional ones. Sometimes, when you are infatuated, it takes awhile to catch onto the fact you are being used. And if you’re being used, the fault lies with the user.

  17. Completely agree that just about any self help book on how to find a man is going to be garbage. people are different. want different things. have different histories. etc etc.
    also. I consider myself a reasonably well read individual (or at least I like to read a lot) but I haven’t read a single book on that list. which to me also says a lot about lists. in that they are rather pointless.
    anyway. thanks for writing a delightfully witty and funny blog. one that I shouldn’t be reading while on reception as I keep giggling. which perhaps is unprofessional?

  18. Such good advice here. Sometimes it’s easy to forget when you’re in the thick of it but there really are no “rules” except being true to yourself and listening to what you actually want. Thanks for the reminder of that!

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