Friday, October 29, 2010

He (or She) Is Just Not That Into You: The Book, The Movie and Real Life

This is a book and movie review combined into one. But since it is one of the most honest and refreshing non-fiction books ever, it should be on this post.  Now, the original title is He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys, but since the advice in the book are better applied to both sexes, I needed to add “she” to the mix.

The Book

The book title is the somewhat amusing and harsh title “He is just not that into you”. It was written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Now, I had first thought it was one of those stupid self-help books that are full of bullshit- stuff that tells you the obvious. Well, but this one is about the obvious facts, it is about the obvious stuff we just have hard time accepting when we genuinely like someone. It sucks to come to terms with the fact that our feelings are not reciprocated, that the object of our affection/love/lust/crush/whatever doesn’t feel the same way.

I have to say I am not as naive as Gigi (played wonderfully by Ginnifer Goodwin) was in the beginning of the movie (I will be talking about the film soon), I never thought that a guy was being an asshole to me because he liked me. If someone is mean to you, it is because they don’t like you. It is one in a million that a person will act like that only because they are intimidated by how they feel about you. And even then, it is probably not going to work out because they will be inclined to act like a bitch/jerk every time they feel frustrated. So it is never a good sign. So if they are acting like they don’t like you – men or women- well, it is because they don’t.

Real Life

But it is much more complicated when they are not simply mean, isn’t it? Maybe they are nice and even friendly. Maybe they are sending out mixed signals. One action is telling you to run a mile from them and another is indicating that they are obviously interested in you. Then you are tempted to wait by the phone (or stay glued to your cell/facebook/messenger- whatever your poison) and your friends are also thrown in the game to analyze this person of your interest.

 Now guys mostly like to act like they are above the analyzing and waiting for the call/message rituals but trust me half my good friends are men (gay and straight, both) and when they truly like someone, they do feel the need to analyze the actions and the messages. You do have the tendency to lose your confidence. If you are not the least bit self-conscious, it is probably because you are just not that into the person. Did you watch Gerard Butler’s The Ugly Truth? Ignore the film’s romantic clichés and pay attention to how his character’s actions and expectations change when he really falls for the girl…

Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth

Now, notice how I am talking men and women at the same time? Although the book is targeted to women, the basics of the relationships/dating/flirting triangle are pretty much the same. There are some vital and very obvious signs that tell you whether that the other person likes you or not. Now, the book is full of little pages of facts about the situations we get into. Every page ends up with “He is just not that into you”. But make the “he”s she, and the “she”s he and you will see that the book works very well for both sexes.

The movie is inspired by these facts but they throw in the perspectives of both sides- and how the book has correctly made the assumptions. The authors have worked on Sex and The City episodes. Now, this movie might be as categorized as a romantic comedy but trust me it is not a typical one. And the book proved right with every guy I ever had, every guy I wanted but couldn’t have, as well as the ones who wanted me.

Before I go into the characters and the plot of the movie, let me talk about some basic advice of the book. Guys if you are reading, feel free to adapt the lines.

*If he is playing games and making you guess (playing the hot/cold routine with you or if he is just acting like a jerk), he is just not that into you.

*If he says he is not the marrying type, it just means he doesn’t want to marry you.

*If he is cheating, he is just not that into you.

*If a guy likes you, he will ask you out. The complications don’t matter. If he likes you, he will make it happen. If it’s not happening, he is…. Yeah, you can fill in the blanks and you do get the idea.

Of course the book uses a much more entertaining (or painful- depends on your condition) language than my paraphrased and summarized version.

The Movie starring Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long and Drew Barrymore

He’s Just Not That Into You was released in 2009, directed by Ken Kwapis. Written by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, based on the book of the same title.

Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) has grown up believing in the all the wrong myths about men. She has gotten used to the drama and making up excuses whenever a guy doesn’t show up or call as he promises. She has a what she thinks to be a promising date with real estate agent Conor (Kevin Connolly). But Connor is barely interested in Gigi. He has always had a major crush on his bed buddy Anna (Scarlett Johansson). But to Anna, Conor is merely a safe bet to hang out and have sex with whenever she feels like it. She is much more excited by Ben (Bradley Cooper), a guy she meets at the supermarket. OK, so he is married to Janine (Jennifer Connelly), his college sweetheart. But Anna feels like he could be the one for her and that his marriage is a mistake. Ben embarks a dangerously tempting platonic friendship with Anna. She is just the opposite of his wife. Anna is a feisty, sexy and curvy blonde who is full of life whereas Janine loves her rules and seems more interesting in restoring the house they bought more than anything.

Beth (Jennifer Aniston) has been with the loving, considerate and loyal Neil (Ben Affleck) for 7 years. Their relationship is just perfect, except for Neil’s one big flaw: he is never intending to marry Beth- and Beth seems to be or at least pretends to be okay with this.

Mary (Drew Barrymore) takes care of Conor’s advertising business though they have never met in person. She is also Anna’s best friend. She of course knows about Anna’s major crush for Ben and being the good friend, she encourages her to pursue him after all, just because he is married, it doesn’t mean that his wife is the love of his wife. Does it?

The  teachings of the book are implied through the very beginning of the movie where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and cultures feed each other the same stories and excuses that Gigi has grown up over. Excuses are made for guys’ actions whereas the explanation is plain and simple: it is in the movie’s title. It takes a chance encounter with Connor’s best friend Alex (Justin Long) for Gigi to face the reality. Alex notices that Gigi is a nice, pretty yet a disillusioned girl so he decides to enlighten her about how guys really think. Now that Gigi has wised up, she shares her wisdom with her work mates Beth and Janine. Everything gets more complicated as women reexamine their relationships. Gigi also befriends Alex- who becomes her guide to understanding men.

The movie is funny and it has characters from all stages of all sorts of relationships: Marriages, dating, flirting, long relationships- from the perspective of both men and women. The observations are pretty accurate since the writers consist of a man and a woman. Just relax and enjoy. It is not all sweet and happy endings for everyone. You just have to watch and see what happens for each one of the characters.

The cast is very good and the script is funny. It is not life-altering of course but it gives some really good pointers that we should keep in mind when it comes to sex and romance.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Matthew Macfadyen's Darcy Ruined Women Forever

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in 2005's Pride and Prejudice

Well, I love Jane Austen. I haven’t read all her novels, and I do have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t fall in love with her other stories as much as I did with Pride and Prejudice. I read the novel, watched the 2005 film with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen and later went on to watch the 1995 TV series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. And maybe because I watched the movie first, for me the perfect Darcy is Matthew Macfadyen. I love Firth to bits, but my heart is Matthew’s with this one. (I do like Darcy's awkward and adorable lawyer Mark Darcy, though.)

I am a romantic, and I do watch a lot of romantic movies. So far I wrote reviews for a lot of them and even started an article series called Too Romantic for Your Own Good. It has parts 1 and 2.The 3rd installment is on its way.

So even though the movies I listed in those articles involve some really great male characters, let’s face it- they don’t hold a candle to Darcy. Well, if you need a memory check on the movie, this is the place to go.

Now that you are all with me on the story:
Darcy is…..(again based both on the book and the movie):

Though he comes off as arrogant at first, he is actually reserved and a little shy when he fist faces an encounter. But he is so confident; you could never tell he was just a little bit shy.

Oh my God, do you remember how he declared his love? Sure there were moments when he pissed us off with some of the stuff that came out of his mouth (and he was spot on about her mother), but the way he tells Lizzy he loves her…and when he tells her. Oh, the rain…

And obviously how he tells again at the end. Okay, in case you want to relive the moment:

And then the second declaration:

Tall, dark, brooding, blue-eyed, gorgeous British man who also happens to be caring and romantic... And upon that, he actually is cute. Go figure.

Well, he corrected his mistake and made sure Bingley and Jane got the happy ending they deserved. Then he prevented a scandal for one of the sisters. Yes, he was doing it for Elizabeth.

OK, with this qualities, any sane woman would not care about his finances. But he also happens to be rich. Oh. My. God. Seriously.

Yes, this is a fictional character created by a woman. And Darcy just is played by the adorable Matthew Macfadyen. But this doesn’t change the fact that millions of women are still in love with a character created hundreds of years ago. The problem is, even though we have lowered our expectations for the guys we run across in real life, Darcy still is the “dream” guy. It is how a guy should be. He doesn’t really have to be rich or insanely handsome but he has to be able to feel as intensely as Darcy , and has to have the guts to tell them to you, screw the consequences…

This the fairy tale story and ending (and casting) that ruined us all. And yes, deep down, I will always be wanting Darcy. So the next time a guy complains about all women being hopeless romantics, you can just show him how it all started. Tell him to blame it on Austen.  Women and our  “extremely unrealistic” expectations…Poor(?!) men. How are they going to keep up? I mean we do want them to be sensitive and impulsive and romantic and loving…oh, and nice and consistent.

Have you met him?  If you did, and you are into him, do marry him! Or date him forever. Whatever suits you;)

All Posts Feat. Matthew Macfadyen

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Older Women dating Younger Men vs. Older Men Dating Younger Women

This is a subject that has always intrigued me.  When I was younger, I used to think people should date people their own age or people really close to their age. Now, I really couldn’t have cared less. In fact, I am in favor of dating older men (men who are 15 years older than me are OK) . Well, obviously I don’T find any older man attractive. I like a guy who is energetic but also know who he is, what he wants and is sick of playing games with the opposite sex. Plus, I think that men usually mature a little later than women. You might disagree, but all the men I know seem to prove this.

Image via Interestingly, she was the older one. I thought Tim always looked older, especially after the white hair thing.

Now, I am not dating younger men either. While it might seem contrary to what I say earlier, I am not against being proven wrong. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher seem to be working out just fine. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins dated more than 20 years. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn are still together. 

Society strangely still seems to favor men dating younger women. Well, the romantic and the feminist in me couldn’t disagree more. Obviously there is no way I’d approve a 20 year-old dating a 80 year-old, a 10 or 15 year age gap seems trivial if the couple seems to be getting along. Hell maybe even 15-20 won’t matter. But I recently watched a lovely stint on a comedy show:

A husband and wife are really having difficulty getting used to the fact that their son will bring home a girl to meet them. He is in college so they know it is time. However they are shocked when they realize the girlfriend seems a good 15 years older than him. Since this is comedy, they throw around hilarious jokes around, universally reflecting the opinions on age difference:
Dad: Really? Why did you bring your girlfriend’s mother to meet us?
Dad: Are you sure you want more salt? Maybe you want to watch the high pressure?
Dad: Our son is failing history? Why doesn’t he ask you?
While you laugh your head off, it makes you think. Then the guy’s uncle comes over. He seems to think that this is a prank. He even calls the woman “stale”. But guess what kind of girls the uncle is into? High school girls!  
Cougar Town's Courteney Cox with David Arquette. They are separated now, but they got along fabulously for over a decade. He is 7 years her junior.
Another fun example that you might have caught on TV is Courteney Cox’s show Cougar Town. The show is fun and you can read my review on  here. But, to directly talk about our topic: In the show Courtney plays a 40-something-hottie of a single mom. She is newly divorced and nothing is holding back from dating. Although there is one issue: The men her age are either married or they are dating much younger women, including her newly divorced hot neighbor Grayson (Josh Hopkins). And younger men seem to find older women hot and intriguing. So she starts dating younger men. 

Thankfully Hollywood movies seem to carry less double standards nowadays. Did you notice how Michelle Pfeiffer's on-screen romantic partners are get younger as she grows older? 

So I want to know what you think. Would you date someone much younger? Older? Have you ever dated someone younger/older? I once dated a 32-year-old when I was 21 and it was so much fun.

12 Things in a RelationshipThat Should Make You Bolt

Relationships start on a good note. Both sides seem willing to make gestures and necessary compromises. However the honeymoon period eventually ends and couples are faced with the true personality of each other. People tend to relax after they have settled in to a relationship. However, there is a very fine line between settling and taking the other person for granted. There is also a fine line between relaxing too much and driving each other nuts with extra attention.

Below are the warning signs that should make you run for the door.
1.       He is calling 10 times a day. Unless you are dying or dealing with a sickness, there is no logical explanation for calling someone 10 times a day. It suggests obsessively controlling tendencies over your life.

2.       If she is calling once in every 10 days. You keep calling her but she is barely calling you back. Unless you are in a fight, she shouldn’t be playing hard to get. You are in a relationship because you wanted to communicate with this person regularly. She should be wanting to hear from you.

3.       If he is overly possessive and/or jealousy. Jealousy and Possessiveness are no prettier than the ugly step sisters of Cinderella. It indicates lack of trust, both in one self and both in each other. And if you don’t have trust in a relationship, you shouldn’t be in that relationship at all.

4.       If she is overly controlling. Another ugly step sister or brother to jealousy and possession. Sharing your email and facebook passwords, using joint accounts, checking each other’s messages, getting paranoid every time someone from the opposite sex calls or texts.

5.       If he is placing extreme importance on your physical appearance while not taking care of himself at all. Hypocrisy and one-sided demands are not attractive qualities. Many men love the idea that their girlfriends should be fit, stylish, well-groomed and well beautiful. It is understandable that your partner needs and wants you to look your best- so as long as they are willing to put in equal effort into their looks.

6.       If she is constantly criticizing you, comparing to other people, especially to her friends’ or acquaintances boyfriends. You are your own person and the only benchmark relationship should be your own.

7.       You can’t remember what attracted you to him in the first place. When you first met, he was sweet, considerate, romantic and loving. However he has turned into a selfish, inconsiderate and an ever-practical human being. Either ask for the guy at the beginning to make a come back or pack your bags. This is not what you signed up for.

8.       She is not there for you when you need them her though you have always supported her. A relationship is a two-way street. Everything should be mutual. There is something very wrong if you are feeling lonely in a relationship.

9.       He doesn’t have faith in your relationship. If he doesn’t think it is not worth fighting for, listen to him. It means he doesn’t want to put an effort. Neither should you.

10.   She is suggesting threesomes and open relationships. Boys are often stereotyped as sex-crazed people who would love to have threesomes, which means they want to sleep with two women at once. However, there is another side to the coin, depicted very well and funnily in the British sitcom Coupling. Womanizer Patrick decides to dump his new girlfriend because she has rejected the notion of threesomes. However he is glad when she ”comes to her senses” and admits that she is seriously considering it and says it will be fun. So she tells Patrick that she will arrange  their partner. But Patrick is terrified at the sight of the third person. It’s none other than Jeff, his mate. The next time your partner suggest a threesome, make sure they can visualize how disturbing it can be. If all else fails, bolt.
11.   If he is constantly and openly lusting after other people when they are with you. This one need not be explained.

12.   If she is valuing her time, dreams and career vast over yours. Both of you are equally important as individuals.  Don’t underestimate your life or overestimate hers.