You know the game you played as a little girl (well, at least you women out there) where you had a daisy and you'd pluck the petals one by one, saying: "He loves me; he loves me not; he loves me..." and so on, hoping you'd get to the last petal on "He LOVES me!" And usually if the verdict was "loves me not", you'd just pick another daisy and start over until you got the answer you REALLY wanted (cheating is not only allowed but encouraged in the Daisy Game). Daisies are an excellent exercise in romance denial.
Another exercise in romance denial is when a man's actions speak more loudly than his words, in terms of letting you know whether or not the guy is really "into you" or not -- but when you patently ignore those actions. When I first saw the authors of the now-infamous He's Just Not That Into You on Oprah a couple of years ago, I knew they were seriously onto something big. We women are notorious for making excuses for men who are not into us enough to treat us the way we want and deserve to be treated. That's not to say the men we're with don't like us at all or aren't attracted to us at all, but that there are things in the relationship we're really not satisfied with, yet we continue to put up with it and make excuses about it. If you are in a relationship and feeling badly about yourself in that relationship, then you are in denial and making excuses. But don't beat yourself up about THAT because you're human and lord knows we've all been there and done that. A few thousand times.
Have you ever been interested in or dating a man and found yourself saying (to yourself or your girlfriends) any of the following when the guy isn't calling, isn't asking you out, isn't having sex with you when you want him to, isn't being faithful, isn't making an effort, or isn't doing or being any number of other things you're looking for from the relationship?
- Maybe he doesn't want to ruin the friendship.
- Maybe I intimidate him.
- Maybe he wants to take it slow.
- But he gave me his number.
- Maybe I don't want to play games.
- But he's been traveling a lot.
- But he's got a lot on his mind.
- But he's really busy and important.
- But he just says things he doesn't mean sometimes.
- But he just got out of a relationship.
- It's better than nothing.
- Maybe he's afraid to get hurt again.
- Maybe if I'm patient, he'll change his mind, realize he's madly in love with me after all, and come back.
- I don't want to rock the boat. So much of what we have is GOOD; maybe I shouldn't be making a big deal out of this.
- But I've gotten fat; why wouldn't he cheat on me?
- But he has a stronger sex drive than I do; he says I don't have sex with him enough and that's why he cheated.
- He can't marry me yet because money's so tight for him.
- He can't marry me yet because his parents weren't good role models and maybe he's scared.
- He says he's just not "ready yet". Maybe if I give him more time.
I could go on with this list, and so could you. The laundry list of lame excuses are infinite, and they're excuses WE make for THEM. And they're all code for the same thing:
He's just not that into you. Period. End of story.
A man who is really into you is going to let you know it, in no uncertain terms. He's going to call, even if he's super busy, out of town on business a lot, his mother is in the hospital on her deathbed, or has crazy stuff going on in his world, because he's going to at least want to connect with you even if he can't see you. He's going to email you whenever he can to let you know he misses you and can't wait to see you again, both in and out of your clothes. He's not going to be able to keep his hands off you when he IS with you because, in the words of HJNTIY author Greg Behrendt, "You are a total hottie, a stone fox!" He's not going to wait until the last minute to book the next date because he won't want to take the chance of someone else getting to you first. He'll never ignore you or disappear on you or break up with you because he's "confused" or "afraid of commitment". You won't be left wondering if he's interested because he'll let you KNOW he is -- he's a smart guy and he'll figure out what he needs to do to get and keep your attention. You won't have to wait by the phone, or chase him down, or ask him "Honey, is something wrong?" because he seems too distant lately. He'll be attracted to you even if you gain some weight and your boobs start heading south and you get wrinkles, and he'll never use THAT as an excuse for infidelity or not wanting to have sex with you anymore. And if marriage and commitment is what you want, he's going to get over whatever his own fears or issues are with that, and snap you up pretty damn quick because YOU'RE SO VERY WORTH IT.
It's only the guys who aren't really into us who do all the things we need to make excuses about, the things on that list and more. Think about it: we all know women who are in relationships with men who were TOTALLY into them, and who consistently let them know it, even years into the relationship. It's not that those relationships are always perfect and that there aren't things those women have had to compromise about or tolerate, like when he still leaves the seat up after 10 years of marriage or the fact that his snoring grows worse with time. But I'm talking about the way these men value the women they care about. We've envied those women for years, and have wondered "Hey, where do I sign up for one of THOSE great guys?" My sister and my best friend are two great examples of this.
My sister met her husband at a barbecue that I took her to. We knew no one, only the host, and only very slightly; the only reason we went to the party was that my sister was just out of college and bored with being back home again, and she wanted to go to a party. So, we went. We weren't there very long when my sister offered to carry a tray of something into the kitchen for the host, and she got to the door and was struggling to open it. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a really cute boy RACED from somewhere behind me in the back yard and literally LEAPED over some lawn furniture, JUST to open the door for her. They went on to spend the entire rest of the evening talking, drinking beers, getting a bit drunk, and making out by the pool. The next day he called her up to ask her out on a REAL date. Six months later he gave her an engagement ring; within a year they were married and starting a family. They just had their 20th wedding anniversary last year. Only ONCE during the time they were dating did he almost blow it, by not calling when he said he would; she let him know that was absolutely NOT OK with her, he drove MILES out of his way to see her and apologize (and never did it again) and the rest is history. She never asked him out. She never chased him down. She never badgered him or played games or tried to manipulate her way into his good graces by being someone she wasn't. She let him know how she wanted to be treated, and he was "into her" enough to treat her that way because he loved her. If he hadn't been willing to do that, sure she'd have been hurt but she'd have moved on because she had standards for herself and she respected herself enough to not settle for some guy who wouldn't meet those standards. And I have it on good authority from his late mother and his sisters that before MY sister came along, he had never ONCE brought a girl home to meet his family. He saw her, he liked her, he knew what he wanted, and he's stood by her ever since. Their life together isn't perfect, but you know what? He still looks at her like he thinks he's the luckiest guy in the world, and he finds ways even now to demonstrate how much he values having her in his life. THAT is what it looks like when a guy is into you.
My best friend's husband was so into her that he did some of the funniest, craziest things I've ever seen in order to get her to see him as a boyfriend. They were co-workers and friends at the office; she thought he was funny and a nice guy but wasn't attracted to him at all. He sent her a dozen roses... in a weed-whacker box. He sent her a bee-keeper's hat to wear when she went running because she'd told him she was mortally terrified of bees and they chased her when she was running. A big floral box was delivered to her house, and when she opened it expecting to see flowers, there nestled gently in the tissue paper was... a giant SALAMI. (THAT one, I was afraid to ask about.) But with these creative and funny efforts, he won her over and won her heart. They've been married nearly 18 years and have four kids, have been through every imaginable challenge together with their kids, and he still goes out of his way to make her happy, including encouraging her to come here to Paris for 10 days even though it was putting a huge burden on him to handle the house and kids alone for that time. When a guy is into you, he never lets you forget it, even after years of marriage and kids.
It took me over 30 years of dating and making excuses for me to get this message. I could have saved myself thousands of dollars in self-help books and therapy if I'd only I'd realized it: I DO NOT HAVE TO SETTLE FOR ANY GUY WHO IS NOT TOTALLY INTO ME! The self-confidence this has brought me is fantastic! I am well worth a guy asking me out, without me having to turn myself inside out to get his attention. I am well worth a guy going out of his way to be with me, to talk to me, even if he's busy and his life is insanely crazy for any number of perfectly legit reasons. I am worthy of having someone who loves me so much, he'll never want to let me go, no matter what it might take for us to be together. I am worthy of someone loving me enough that whether I weigh 125 lbs or 225 lbs, he will still think I'm sexy and will be all over me, even though my body is getting older and the luggage has clearly shifted during flight. And if someone I'm dating starts to show the signs of "He's-Just-Not-That-Into-Me-itis", then I don't need to make excuses for his actions (or lack of action) and I don't need to blame myself or feel badly about ME; I can just my losses and move on, without taking it quite so personally. Saying "he's just not that into me" and then letting go of any attachment I had to what I WISHED it would be (but it isn't) feels a LOT more freeing than crying into my ramen noodle soup and a pint of Ben and Jerry's.
You've probably guessed by now where this is going.
I say this because I strongly suspect that The Wizard (remember him?), for all his early romantic efforts, words and gestures, and the obvious physical attraction between us, is simply not into me ENOUGH. Not enough to make a real go of it, and not enough to even TELL me he's not willing to try. I had hoped this was not the case, and for weeks now I've been making excuses to myself about it under the heading of "giving him the benefit of the doubt". Such as: "Well, he's here in Paris to work and to get this big project off the ground and he's had to travel a lot in the process" was one excuse I made for why he rarely called and barely emailed, and why we'd go weeks between dates, even though the dates themselves were quite good and getting better each time. "Maybe he's just not a phone person" and "maybe he can't email a lot when he's at work" were two more excuses. "But he brought me a little koala, and he signs his emails with 'kisses/bisous', so that MUST mean he likes me" was another way I would keep myself in denial about the truth that was growing more obvious the past few weeks. And "well, I should cut him some slack because he's upset he has to go back to Brisbane with his project rather than staying in Paris and he's got a lot to do now because of that" has been the most recent version I've been using, to keep from wanting to scream "No! No! No! This can NOT be happening AGAIN!" Especially because in the beginning I wasn't even all that sure I really liked him or was attracted to him, but he won me over. And now, it appears The Wizard may be pulling a disappearing act, or maybe he's hopped that balloon out of town already. Either way, he hasn't offered any new information about his plans, what's happening, and where I fit into the picture (if at all). Actions speak. I'm taking the hint.
I would never call The Wizard a jerk or a loser. No, I do think he's an otherwise good guy, a decent person. I'm not going to call him names or tear him down. I'm not even 100% sure I won't be hearing from him again, in some way, shape or form. And yes, I do think he liked me quite a bit -- at least in the beginning. In the beginning, I felt like I was being pursued, and pretty aggressively, and it felt great. What changed since our last hot, steamy, cozy date? I really don't know. He hasn't seen fit to enlighten me, though he's had ample opportunity to do so. After learning of his impending move back to Australia, I told him that I would have liked to try and see if we could continue on a long distance basis rather than pack it all in so suddenly. And I asked him what it was HE wanted, without making any demands or assumptions. He was supposed to "get back to me" about that -- two weeks ago. And he hasn't. THAT action speaks volumes; he didn't just "forget". But even before he found out he was leaving Paris I sensed a certain pulling back on his part. It's not easy to stop telling yourself "maybe I'm imagining things", but that's what I'm doing. I'm out of denial and going both with my instincts and the hard evidence of his actions. And I could sit around and stress out about it, overanalyze it, complain to my girlfriends about it, and worse yet blame myself (and for what? I did nothing wrong, and I know that without a doubt.) But will it change anything? Will it make him feel something for me that he doesn'tn appear to feel after all? Nope. C'est la vie... tant pis pour lui (That's life... and too bad for him.) He's not a "loser" but he's lost out, big time, on a great woman.
I think when it gets down to it, The Wizard is just a GUY. And guys do not want to deal with hurting a woman's feelings or with being in any sort of relationship confrontation, and they will go to great lengths (including outright lies and lies by omission) to avoid putting themselves in that position even when they know they are being cowards about it. Very few men will ever have the cojones to tell you: "Hey, you're great, but I'm just not that into you". If you don't believe me, ask a few of the guys you know: "if you were dating a girl and you were really into her, how would you act, vs. how would you act if you kind of liked her but really weren't that into her and didn't want to tell her?" They'll all say pretty much the same thing. They will do ANYTHING rather than be the guy who tells you to your face: I'm not attracted to you enough, I'm not into you enough to take this further. That doesn't mean you're NOT attractive enough for some OTHER terrific guy to turn his world upside down to get you and keep you forever; it means THIS guy's not attracted TO you, and there's a difference. It's not your fault, and it's not even HIS fault if he's not that into you; it just IS.
"Just not that into me" doesn't mean The Wizard wasn't into me AT ALL; it only means he's not into me ENOUGH. Enough to make the effort, even though I'm well worth the effort. Enough to take a chance, even though the pay-off could be fantastic. Enough to tell me to my face, or even over the phone or in a simple email: "I'm sorry. I was really into you in the beginning, into you enough to take you out for a few nice evenings here in Paris, into you enough to kiss you like I really mean it. But I've changed my mind. I like you, but not enough to continue."
Instead, he sent me ONE short email while I was away to say he was (at that moment) in London with some new work crisis, and he was "looking forward to seeing me when I got back to Paris" and he signed it "bisous" like he's been doing all along. What I now realize was becoming the standard-issue email ending from him... unlike the one after our second date where he said the kiss goodnight was so great he didn't want to let me go. I sent a response back to his "I'm in London" message, trying to "keep it light" (because you know, I was still making excuses and didn't want to ROCK THE DAMNED FREAKING BOAT) but never got another reply in over a week. WTF? He knew I'd be back here on the 12th; I've been back over 24 hours now and have had no messages, phone calls or even email attempts to connect. And I have decided not to bother trying to find him, get an answer out of him, follow up, or anything. He's a big boy now, and if he really wants me, he knows where I live and how to reach me; he can figure it out for himself. Although it's possible I may hear from him again before he leaves for Brisbane, I am not holding out that hope at this point. My inner voice is saying: it's done. Move on. If he does ask me out again, I'm not even sure I want to say yes. It's really good to feel like I'm back in charge of my own life.
In the time before I got the "He's Just Not That Into You" message, I would have wasted an EXTREME amount of time obsessing over this. I'm not saying I haven't wasted ANY time thinking about it, wondering if I could have done or said something differently, wondering if I misread him in some way. That's totally normal. But I spent a lot LESS time wasting that energy than I would have in the past, and that's what I call evolving. I would have gone out with him again (if he even asked me) hoping against hope that there WAS still hope (when in fact it might have been an attempt at a booty call, a last fling). And even more to the point, I spent ZERO time blaming myself or feeling badly about myself just because this particular guy, who is a really great guy in many ways and who does have a lot of what I'm looking for, was simply not into me enough to be THE guy. I thought for a while there was a good chance he could be -- he did look good "on paper"; now I know he's not.
Why? Because THE guy would have called or emailed me a LOT if we were separated by business trips or vacations home. THE guy would have booked a date to see me the day I came back to Paris no matter how jet-lagged I might be, and would have booked it before I even left Paris because he couldn't wait to see me again. THE guy would not have left me wondering why he seemed to prefer to email me instead of calling me to ask me out for pretty much the entire time we've been dating the past two months, or why he'd wait until Friday to ask me out for Saturday, or call me Saturday to "touch base" but tell me he couldn't see me that weekend after all because his boss was in town. THE guy would have called more often, emailed with more gusto (and lust-o), booked more time with me even though he's busy, and WOULD HAVE MADE IT ABUNDANTLY CLEAR THROUGH HIS ACTIONS THAT HE THOUGHT I WAS PRETTY HOT STUFF because a guy who IS interested in us will pursue us relentlessly. A man who really is interested in a woman lets NOTHING get in the way; when he wants to pursue, he pursues, despite the fact his job is crazy (he'll still call), he's got a bad cold (he'll at least email to say "I'm feeling lousy but DAMN I wish I was feeling better so I could kiss you until you can't see straight"), his old girlfriend or ex-wife has tried to get back together with him (he'll dump them flat because he is SO much happier being with YOU), and he's been commitment-phobic in the past (for the right woman, he'll get past it). We never have to settle for a guy who isn't totally 100% into us.
Ask any of your friends who are in relationships that have really worked. Their boyfriends or husbands made that effort, did those little things, made their women feel special, and made the commitment not because the women demanded it or had to manipulate them into doing it, but because these men knew it would feel great to make those women feel like the sexy, valuable, incredible, amazing women they ARE. Just like my brother-in-law goes out of his way to choose the perfect Christmas or birthday gift for my sister, and like my friend's husband told her "you can stay longer than 10 days in Paris if you want to; when will you get such a great opportunity again" even though he missed her like crazy and didn't sleep well the entire time she was gone (and she only stayed the 10 days).
We're all worth that kind of effort and decisive action. And if we don't believe that about ourselves, who will? There are NO "mixed messages" from men; if they aren't making it clear they're into you -- then they're NOT. Move along and find someone who will treat you like the total babe you already are.
So I will chalk up The Wizard to a nice Paris romantic fling. It was fun to be pursued a little bit, to have someone bring me flowers, to have someone hold my hand while we're walking down a Paris street. And it has been a great opportunity for me to re-enter the dating pool after a very long time on dry land, and to put some of what I learned from HJNTIY into practice. Sure, it's disappointing that it doesn't seem to be working out differently. Sure, maybe things might turn around at some point with this man; stranger things have happened -- could he get all the way back to Australia and realize he made a big faux pas? I suppose. But the difference is, I'm not hanging my hat on that. At this point he'd have to go more than an extra mile to convince me he's totally into me because right now, that's not the vibe I'm getting anymore, and it doesn't even matter WHY. (Knowing WHY is not going to make me feel any better, either.) I'm not sitting here lying to myself about "maybe he'll change his mind and decide he can't live without me because I'm the exception to the rule". I'm not waiting my energy trying to make it something it isn't. And even better, I'm not wasting my energy feeling badly about MYSELF.
Moreover, the fact that this particular guy wasn't into me as much as I'd hoped does not diminish my faith that the Universe is, right this moment, sending me someone fantastic to love and be loved by. Why do I know this to be true? Because I've asked for it, I believe it's on its way, and I just have to step aside and receive it without worrying how it will show up or when. In the meantime, I've got a great life to lead, things to do and peole to see, and I'm moving on, with myself and with my self respect intact.
And THAT is quite a good place in which to be: still single, in Paris in the springtime, and happy to be ME.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Note from the author, March 15, 2010:
This blog post that you've just read, is (for whatever reason) consistently one of Google's top 10 search results for women who want to know "if he's into me" or not. Nearly three years after writing this, I can tell you unequivocally that what I wrote in 2007 still holds true today. And that six months after I wrote it (with one more unsatisfying but blessedly short dating interlude with another guy who was not only NOT into me, but handed my phone number to his unemployed artist brother without my permission), I met THE GUY. The one I'd waited my whole life (46 years, at that point) to meet. And he was and is everything I ever wanted in a lover and life partner. The two links at the end of the above post will tell you how it was when we got started. But let me tell you how it looks now, more than two years later, and how I know "he's REALLY into me":
- He not only asked me to move in with him, and his three kids (and psychotic cat), but he proposed to me two months later, and married me three months after that.
- Every single day since we've been together, he looks at me like he just won the lottery. Like he can't believe his good fortune.
- He can't keep his hands off me... and it's not all about sex, either. We have intimacy between us that goes way beyond the bedroom.
- There are many uncertainties in our life at the moment, but the one complete certainty I have is knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that he's the man I will be with forever. We were meant to meet the way we did, and "soul mates" doesn't even go far enough to describe the connection we have. And this was evident to both of us within the first two weeks of knowing each other.
- In the very beginning, because it was so new and so unexpected to both of us, he used to say "I love you... for right now". And instead of feeling freaked out by that little "disclaimer" he felt compelled to at the end of that declaration, I just smiled to him and to myself, because I knew that was just his way of coping with the overwhelming emotions we were both feeling. He dropped the "for right now" part in less than a week, by the way. And we just agreed to accept how insane it all was, and enjoy it.
- This is a man who will do all manner of things cheerfully, lovingly and with good grace when he knows it's something that will make me happy or will make me feel good. Like scratching my back at night, which I find very relaxing. Or kissing the back of my neck (especially when he hasn't shaved yet). Or cleaning the cat box (something that will no longer be necessary as the cat has been adopted by others).
- He kept the cleaning woman after I moved in, to make BOTH our lives easier. He didn't expect me to come in and suddenly take over the care of the entire house and family without help.
- He asks my opinion, and is interested in what I have to say.
- He told me to stop working on other things so I could work on my own book, and his utter faith in my ability to be a successful author is what keeps me going even in moments when I doubt myself. I've never in my life been financially supported by a man, and it wasn't easy for me to adjust to this in the beginning, but his generosity in this matter is just evidence of his generosity in all things.
I could go on and on. The point is, this man has made it abundantly clear from the moment I stepped off the bus to meet him on that first day, that he was and is completely "into me" and that this will never change. It is in everything he says and does. It's in how he looks at me, how we speak together, how we can't seem to be near each other without wanting to make physical contact of any kind. And I see no reason why this will ever stop.
So ladies, just know this: if you stop wasting your time and your energy and your beautiful self on all those wrong guys, both the losers and the ones who are decent guys but who just aren't into YOU (which is not your fault!), then you free yourself up to be available for the RIGHT guy. Who will adore you and everything you are.
I'm living proof. If this could happen for me at 46, it can happen for anyone.
More posts along these lines that you might want to read, if you need more convincing about what "into you" really looks like:
- Clues (October 11, 2007)
- One Week (October 16 2007)
- Overwhelmed (October 26, 2007)
- Don't Hold Your Breath, Girls (November 6, 2007)
- Within the Sound of His Voice (December 6, 2007)
- Forward (February 18, 2008)
- A Way with Words (March 20, 2008)
- Inévitable (April 20, 2008)
- Better and Better (May 30, 2008)
- Nine (July 4, 2008)
- Nearly-weds (July 10, 2008)
- For the Last Time, He's Not Into You If... (June 26, 2008)