Make Bad Boys Finish Last

'He's just not that into you' - the harshest, yet most sensible advice ever to be uttered on Sex And The City - opened a can of dating worms. Greg Behrendt, the author of the line that has sparked a self-help book and now a film, explains why it's still making waves.

Not since the observation that 'men are from Mars, women are from Venus' has the world of relationships been so wildly shaken by a single sentence.

Wine glasses were dropped and eyebrows raised in 2003 when Sex And The City's Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) was told that the reason for her latest unsuccessful date was simply that "He's just not that into you".

Five years later, the line - originally a piece of throwaway advice from show consultant Greg Behrendt - has spawned two self-help guides, sparked huge debate on US talk shows and been made into a new movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore.

Greg, a 40-year-old married comedian from Los Angeles, says the line is "the gift that keeps on giving".

"It wasn't like I thought, 'Man, I've struck gold!' It was just a comment in the office to one of the female writers who was getting the run around," he says.

His words were later put into the mouth of Carrie Bradshaw's (Sarah Jessica Parker) boyfriend, Berger.

"The day after the episode aired, they were talking about it on this very female-centric show with a female host," Greg says.

"Before it was even a book, it really caught on with people. And I know the cast must have liked it because they were fairly powerful and could probably have argued for changes to anything they didn't want."

In the original episode, Carrie was less than pleased by her boyfriend's blunt advice. But Miranda - along with thousands of female viewers - had grown sick of hearing excuses for male prevarication, and Greg's antidote to over-complicated relationship advice was the wake-up call they needed.

"I said it at the right time, in the right place. I think that people were open to the idea, and Sex And The City gave it credibility. If I had made a comment like that out of the blue, it wouldn't have had the same impact."

Suddenly emotional immaturity was out - and reality was in. Greg and SATC writer Liz Tucillo wrote a self-help book, He's Just Not That Into You, and the first print run of 30,000 books sold out in two weeks.

It's both ironic and entirely fitting that such a pragmatic piece of advice came from someone who wasn't any kind of an expert.

Greg drew on his own dating history for the book, admitting he was the guy who was too busy to call.

"When I was young and single, I got around. I was a comic in show business, and that's a world with a lot of possibilities. So I did that kind of stuff. But that's the nature of human beings. Until we settle on something, we're prone to falling for people who are completely wrong, or dating people for five minutes and then dumping them."

Greg is now happily married to wife, Amiira, and has two children, six-year-old True and three-year-old Mighty, but he still remembers what it was like on the dating scene.

"I acted completely differently went I met my wife. I always tell people it was like being brought up to the major leagues. She lived her life at a level that was different to women I had dated before. I was enamoured of her status, and also that she liked herself and didn't need me. I found that very appealing."

If you're still single, Greg says his one-line mantra - which explains away lazy, thoughtless and cowardly male behaviour - can help sort the men from the boys.

"A man who is emotionally retarded with one woman can be an absolute genius with another," he says.

"It is the woman who makes a man who he is in a relationship."

Comparing relationships with work, Greg makes it all sound horribly obvious.

"If you hate a job, you'll trudge through and eventually quit. You need to get a job that inspires you. It's the same with relationships. Men and women need a partner who inspires them, and makes them go the extra mile."

While he's been criticised for placing the blame for relationship breakdown solely on men, Greg freely acknowledges that women can be just
as cruel.

"I've been the guy who had girls who didn't call him," he laughs.

"But there would be no point in writing this kind of book for men, as they're not interested. Like I explain in the book, men don't process heartbreak that way. We get drunk and stand on your lawn, we don't run out and buy a book."

In the latest version of He's Just Not That Into You: The No-excuses Truth To Understanding Guys, Greg admits that being tough on men can be hard on your love life.

"I'm a TV writer, a comedian and guitar player. I'm not a therapist. But I happen to have a really firm belief that life can be awesome; it's about the choices you make. Everything I say in the book is stuff that you already thought anyway. People need to look inside themselves for the truth. Put yourself in charge of how it's going to go next time."

Greg is now a well-known face on US TV and says women regularly accost him for advice.

"I've been asked relationship questions in the supermarket. When women ask me nasty questions about their sex lives - the sort of things we don't cover in the book - I always think, 'Oh wow, you want to tell me that in the canned goods aisle?'"

RESET YOUR STANDARDS


Greg suggests that once you've begun to see through all those excuses, it's time to set yourself some new standards. Here are a few tips to get you started:

:: I will not go out with a man who hasn't asked me out first.

:: I will not go out with a man who keeps me waiting by the phone.

:: I will not go out with a man who isn't sure he wants to date me.

:: I will not go out with a man who makes me feel sexually undesirable.

:: I will not go out with a man who drinks or does drugs to an extent that makes me feel uncomfortable.

:: I will not go out with a man who's afraid to talk about our future.

:: I will not, under any circumstances, spend my time with a man who has already rejected me.

:: I will not date a man who is married.

:: I will not be with a man who is not clearly a good, kind, loving person.
snapper

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