With new technology has come new ways to agonize over dating nuances, but there’s still only one question that matters.
Jack Berger told Miranda Hobbs that the reason that her date hasn’t called her is that “he’s just not that into you.”
Now they are not my actual friends but I did spend 30 minutes with them on July 13, 2003 when this phrase was uttered. This phrase that would spawn a subsequent book and movie. This phrase that, while entertaining within the weekly episode of “Sex And The City,” did not make an imprint on my brain. It would in fact, be a decade before that tiny grain of huge wisdom would re-enter my life.
Divorced and dating in my late thirties brought many surprises — including sexting, texting, emailing, messaging, friending and following. So much technology, so many new ways to be rejected, and so many ways to obsess about said rejection.
“He hasn’t answered my text in two days, what does that mean? Should I text him again or wait? Why does he text “XOXOXO” but never make a date? How come he ‘friended’ me but never calls? If I call him and he emails back is that a sign? He keeps messaging me and he ‘likes’ every picture I post, but when I suggest making a real plan he is evasive. I’m not even sure he has read the emails I’ve sent.”
My friends and I — grown, smart, been-around-the-block-before women — spent hours interpreting these and other dating scenarios. Along the way I found myself coupled again, my brain freed from the mental jail of dating dissection.
Minding my own business one day I stumbled upon something that knocked me over. This message is the best piece of dating advice, the only singular piece of advice you really need to heed.
If he doesn’t say “Hell yes” move on.
I instantly flashed back 10 years and recalled with startling clarity how relieved Miranda was the day Berger imparted this wisdom. At the time, young and coupled, I didn’t understand her relief. This time I absolutely understood it and soon after felt a similar wave of relief. And the sting of foolishness as I remembered the hours spent with friends evaluating what was now painfully obvious.
If the person you’re considering dating, loving, spending your life with, doesn’t email, call, or text back, that person is not saying “Hell yes.” If that person doesn’t make an actual date, offers false promises and empty compliments, they aren’t saying “Hell yes.” Flirting, dating, texting and sexting can be fun but if you’re spending time evaluating and trying to figure out what it all means, it likely means something to only one of you. And that one is you.
Attraction is both complicated and perfectly simple. When you meet someone who attracts your mind you make a first date. When your body doesn’t respond as your mind did, you probably don’t make a second. If you meet at a club and physically all is good, but in the days that follow their personality irks your everything, lust has gone bust so you ignore their bings, their texts are left unanswered.
But, when you meet someone who attracts your mind, heart and body, you make actual dates, return texts and even pick up the phone and place calls. Games once entertained seem wasteful, silly and utterly useless. Your intention is unmistakable. You say “Hell yes.”
Wouldn’t it be great if there were no games? Yes. And no. It would save a lot of time. But, it’s easier and usually more compassionate, to avoid and evade rather than tell someone that they aren’t what you are looking for, that they don’t do it for you, that be it mind, heart or body, you are not attracted to them. We all bring so much to the table and the reasons we like or don’t like someone can be many or few. It’s hard, awkward and at times cruel to tell someone exactly the why of why they don’t work for you. So you ignore texts, make plans that you know you will break and you say through your actions but not your voice that you’re “just not that into them.”
It’s so obvious looking back that a few flings, for their own varied reasons, told me in every way except actually telling me, that they weren’t that into me.
One such fling and I became friends after our dating never took off. In the midst of offering him some requested dating advice, I mentioned how despite all of his initial talk, he obviously wasn’t that into me. He told me he was, but realized my ex and kids were not something he wanted to get involved with.
If he had told me that at the time, I know (while I would have pretended otherwise) that deep down, being newly divorced and insecure, this bit of honesty might have been more pointed than I could bear. At that point, my time spent deciphering his signals suited me better than his stark truth. The truth was there, albeit cloaked in mixed signals, patiently waiting for me to see it on my own. And I did.
In the midst of my very busy dating season, I met someone whose truth was laid bare. His truth not hidden, rather put brightly under my eyes so that I could not help but see it. This someone said “Hell yes” in every way from the start. His bright light allowed me to see all that had previously been dimmed. A light shone and in its reflection was a lesson that this time, I would not forget.
Recently my former fling got in touch asking for some more dating advice. He took a girl out, they had a great time; she seemed interested but is backing off, not making plans, saying she isn’t ready. What does this mean? Is she this, does she mean that? I laughed and told him “I’m sorry but she’s just not into you.” Resigned, he said, “Yeah, I know.”
In big ways and small, in new relationships or marriages twenty years deep, we all say “Hell yes” or “Hell no” hundreds of times a day in hundreds of ways. We all deserve to be with someone who says “Hell yes.”