Has Greg Behrendt done women a disservice?

He’s Just Not that Into YouYou may know that Greg Behrendt is the more visible co-author, with Liz Tuccillo, of the wildly popular advice book for women, He’s Just Not That Into You. In it they tell us, among other things, that if a man you’re dating doesn’t call you at least once a day, he’s just — you guessed it — not that into you.

Additionally, if a man’s not asking to see you at least once a week, he’s not that drawn to you, as other things are taking his focus.

If you believe the book — as I have in the past — you have used how frequently a man contacts you to determine how into you he is. If he doesn’t call, text, IM or email at least every couple of days, nor ask me out at least once a week — ideally by Wed. (a la The Rules), I’ve decided he’s not into me and continue dating other guys.

There are several problems with this premise:

  • In the beginning, a man may like you but not be head-over-heels smitten. He’s not sure how into you he is. Yes, there are some who are infatuated at a first encounter — or sometimes even before. But there are many who need a bit more time together to decide they want to woo you.
  • Some (many?) men are single focused. If they are traveling, away on business, or just engrossed in a project, they may think of you, but not when it’s convenient to call. If his business travel is as chaotic as mine often is, I’m on the go from 6:30 a.m. until I fall into bed. When I think of my guy it may be while I have a pause during a seminar, but it isn’t appropriate to call. When there is a break, it is taken up by bio needs, interacting with participants, and returning business calls. When I get back to my room, I’m pooped so I respond to important emails, have room service, and fall into bed. I’m sure many guys are the same.
  • Some guys just don’t like to talk on the phone, so they avoid it. They’ll call to set something up with you, but not to chat. So you may only talk on the phone once or possibly twice a week. Maybe he’s more of a texter, IMer or emailer than a talker. Or if he texts you more than calls then it may be because he can get away with a surreptitious text during a day-long boring meeting, but he can’t get away long enough for a call.
  • Guys haven’t read Greg and Liz’s book so they don’t know what is expected of them. They haven’t been trained on how they are supposed to behave to show a woman he’s into her. Even if he has read it, he may decide that calling once a day in the first few weeks seems like stalking and he doesn’t want to frighten you away. So he makes his own decision about what seems reasonable.

When a man says he’s smitten by me yet he doesn’t call every day or ask to see me every week, I’ve learned to bring it up with him so we can clarify my expectations (thanks to the book) versus his behavior. If after a month or so, we don’t talk every day or two — even when I initiate some of the calls — I want to know if he’s not feeling it and we should just move on. I begin, “The book He’s Just Not That Into You may have led me astray. It says if a man is into you he’ll call every day. I know you’ve said you are smitten by me, but we only talk every few days. Is that more your comfort level than every day? I would like to touch base every day, but I’m also willing to adapt my expectations.” I’ve been pleased with the conversation that this has spawned.

So while I think the book did a huge service to women who make up excuses for guys who have gone poof never to return, not all of the advice is relevant regarding all men. We must be willing to interpret each man’s behavior based upon that man’s motivations, life style and preferences, and not lump them all together. We’d hate it if someone said, “All women….” I don’t have many behaviors that are stereotypically associated with women. I don’t like to shop, for example. So I get irritated if someone tries to pigeonhole me. We shouldn’t do that to guys either.

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3 responses to “Has Greg Behrendt done women a disservice?”

  1. Becky Avatar

    I’ve read Greg’s book as well. If you take everything seriously that he says, then it seems that basically no man is ever really “into you.” I think everyone approaches dating differently, and maturity seems to change things. I mean, his book is very cut and dried – almost any interaction that doesn’t have a man slobbering all over you is by his definition that you should move on. While I found the book to be very entertaining; I also found it to not apply to every situation. I also agree with you that for your own comfort levels, maybe a talk about shared expectations should occur fairly early in a relationship. This helps the communication process and can eliminate hurt feelings (for the more sensitive types). I have absolutely no problem with my guy calling frequently, but understand that he is busy and may not have time to just call for small talk. I also try to respect his space and free time. The bottom line is that none of us can read each other’s minds; we don’t instinctively know where we may stand and that’s when doubt and confusion set in. Open communication has to be the key. Jumping to conclusions that are negative (just because he hasn’t called in a certain allowed period of time) is a lot of times what gets us all into trouble.

  2. bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    I’ve also read this book and while I do agree with some of the more obvious signs of disinterest Greg discusses, (such as refusing to make even minimal contact, not asking you out again after a first or second date, etc.), I find myself much more in agreement with your reasoning, as it makes allowances (not excuses and, yes, there is a HUGE difference) for the busy and demanding lives many of us lead nowadays. Also, I’ve heard it said, (and some of my male friends have confirmed this), that men tend to focus on one thing/task at a time to its conclusion and then the next, unlike we gals who are generally better at multitasking.

    So, the guy who’s too busy to call may be wrapped up in work or sports or another woman or even himself, but we’ll never know unless we ask. Communication, as you said, is the key to figuring out whether he’s really “just not that into us” or whether he has many other demands on his limited space and time.

    As always, thanks for writing and sharing your experiences; I learn something new every time I’m here! 🙂

    Hugs from bookyone 🙂

  3. Diane Avatar

    I don’t think Greg Behrendt has done women a disservice. On the contrary, I think he has been enormously empowering to women. We’ve all experienced the guy who only wants to date “off and on.” We make excuses for him, even though we’ve been hurt by his apparent lack of interest, and still go out with him when he calls. What Greg has done is point out that he’s “just not that into” us and that if we want the type of relationship that actually fulfills our needs, we shouldn’t waste our time with Mr. Off and On. I wouldn’t take his “call every day” mandate literally, but I would measure the amount of contact against what I am comfortable with. I personally do not need a guy to call me every single day but if nearly a week has gone by without some form of contact that’s too long.

    I first found Greg Behrendt’s book after a particularly difficult breakup last year. My girlfriends kept telling me to read it, and I’m glad I did. Some of it was painful to read because it pointed out to me all the things I had been doing wrong in allowing a guy to jerk me around. However, the book also gave me a valuable lesson in self-esteem: no one can treat you badly without your consent. Acknowledging my part in what had happened allowed me to step outside the victim role, and reclaim my value as a beautiful, smart, independent woman.

    I am enormously grateful to Greg Behrendt for writing this book. He has given us the guy’s perspective and de-mystified some of the baffling behaviors that women spend hours and hours trying to decode. What a waste of time. As Greg says, men do what makes THEM happy, without worrying about anyone else. Sometimes it really IS that simple! Knowing this has freed me from countless hours of doubt and enabled me to decide whether a man is worthy of ME. Now I ask myself, “does he make ME happy?” If yes, then all is fine. If no, then it’s time to say “NEXT!”