2014 might be the year you have decided to find a partner. Physically find one, grab them and not let go. So to save you some time I have recently been immersing myself in the world of self-help and dating manuals, (let's say it was for "research") to decipher their key points, their plan of action. If you were considering buying one to help you in your search for Mr or Mrs Right let me help you out by examining some of the most popular.
He's Just Not That Into You is brought to us by two of the writers behind HBO's Sex and the City, so it's bound to be good then!? Riiight. Very, very wrong. It's introductory claim is that we're all dating the same guy followed by eleven reasons why he's a bit of a shit. He's Just Not That Into You puts any idea of forward thinking feminism or gender equality into a bin and kicks it down a hill. This tome imagines itself to be the dating manual for the thinking woman, while insinuating it's readers are stupid.
Patronising in the EXTREME it refers to woe-begotten women as 'hot stuff' why wouldn't it 'you're gorgeous!' Obviously it's readership must be lacking in the noggin if they take comfort from an inanimate item that can't see them. How does it know I'm "hot stuff"? I'm reading you on the toilet, book, take that.
Initially, the book advises in a eureka moment not unlike an apple hitting Newton on the head, he's just not that into you if he's not asking you out. That's it, book done. If only. The next 238 pages are an exploration of two TV writers uncomfortable neurosis as they obsess about mixed messages, body language and indecipherable communications. What does one X at the end of a text mean? He just scratched his head, he must be thinking about cutting me up and turning me into a casserole!
Taking a random dip into the pages we learn that sex is important to any healthy relationship:
'When men like you, they want to touch you, always.'
Wait, what? The predatory perverts, run ladies RUN! On no hang on, the next chapter says he's not into you if he's having sex with someone else. So now he doesn't want to touch you always, he doesn't like you, he likes someone else, he wants to touch her. But you want him to touch you? If he's touching you, make sure he's not touching 'Skanky the home-wrecker' as they helpfully label the co-cheater. There doesn't seem to be any strict narrative really to the advice on offer, equally, hatefully vitriolic as it is to both sexes.
'He's just not that into you if he doesn't want to marry you'.
Perhaps referring to us as 'hot stuff' the writers were imagining our bunny boiling skills. Obviously we are involved in relationships in which we're playing the Mussolini role: wherein marriage MUST always be the end goal. Otherwise you can't bring up good little CofE kids and retire to a cottage in Cambridge. If you can't secure 'the one ring that matters' (AARRRGGHHH) your boyfriend doesn't like you, never has and probably never will. Start thinking about a council flat instead.
It couldn't of course be that your partner isn't ready right now, after three curries and a fumble in a taxi, to tie you down so no insurgent man can touch you ever again. Or that they are perhaps concerned with how they'll provide for you, your three kids, your Boden habit and a Cocker Spaniel while still interning at the cinema. OR that actually, they wanted to ask you themselves, when the time was right and not when the whole ring-thing had been orchestrated out of their control. They later go on to say that 'marriages die' so don't give up your dreams of rural Parish tea-parties just yet.
'He's just not that into you if he's disappeared'
Uh, what? Should you be calling his parents or the police?
One of the many 'letters from readers' which I suspect aren't from real readers but fictional people made up to prove their point (!!!) seeks advice on a boyfriend who 'won't walk the dog'. The scoundrel! Replies Greg chuck him over and get thee to a nunnery at once! Not really, he actually replies:
'Call the cops because someone's had their brain stolen!'
(You can imagine him high-fiving himself after coming up with that) He reckons poor Paula the letter writer should kick her long-term partner out because he's clearly the worst kind of terrible bastard. What he doesn't consider though is what kind of dog it is, maybe it's agoraphobic, or hates men like He's Just Not That Into You does.
He's Just Not That Into You is the dating manual equivalent to a game of Snakes & Ladders in which the opposite sexes are at once chasing and evading their other. You'd actually have more chance of finding the one on Blind Date. Also it's just really horrible, painting both men and women as equal lunatics and arseholes.
Being written by SATC writers does nothing to bolster its authority, we all know how realistic Carrie et al's relationships are, let alone her ability to live the life (with similar taste) of Donatella Versace, in New York on a freelancers bank balance. At least its psuedo-comic style completely negates the advice it offers. It's great for kindling though, really warms up the room.