Simon & Schuster, December 2006
He's Just Not That Into You is not a guide to dating. Aimed at women of a certain class and lifestyle and filling a slim 165 pages, the book serves merely as a calling card for its authors, five-years-out-of-the-dating-pool Sex and the City consultant Greg Behrendt and 41-years-old-and-single Sex and the City executive story editor Liz Tuccillo. Presumably their participation in the creation of that callow and over-praised HBO television series is what qualifies Greg and Liz (the book always refers to its authors by their first names) to offer relationship guidelines: He's Just Not That Into You is titled after an episode of the show, and the design of the book is engineered to reinforce that connection.
The first 11 out of 16 chapters have titles that begin with the phrase "He's Just Not That Into You If" and end with putative sins such as "He's Not Calling You," "He's Not Having Sex With You," "He's Having Sex With Someone Else," and "He Doesn't Want to Marry You." These chapter titles, and the relationship failures they indicate, tend to represent either the blindingly obvious or an intensification of traditional dating and relationship rules, often both at the same time. The book is addressed to urbane, heterosexual women looking for marriage. It's not exactly an under-served market, but it is only slightly narrower than the Sex and the City demographic.
Each of these chapter contains a brief description of the problem from Greg; two or three advice-column style questions from women, which Greg answers; a paragraph or two under the heading "It's so simple," which reinforces the chapter title; "Here's Why This One Is Hard," wherein Liz empathizes with reluctant readers and whines ad nauseum about how difficult her romantic life is; "This is What It Should Look Like," which discusses how an ideal situation would appear by contrast; and "Greg, I Get It," credited to one woman or another who finds the advice liberating. Three items end each chapter: "If You Don't Believe Greg," which always has '20 out of 20' or '100% of polled men' giving advice that stands by the chapter's rule; a redundant "What You Should Have Learned in This Chapter" summary; and a trivial but occasionally giggle-worthy "Workbook" section.
If this formula seems as though it would stale over eleven such chapters, it does. The entire content of the book can be summarized by those chapter titles; Greg barking "No excuses!" at the reader; Liz whining that it's tough; and a reaffirmation that Greg knows best. This could fit on a single sheet of paper; surely the authors know it, but they also know that even die-hard Sex and the City fans would be unwilling to part with $20 for just one page.
Throughout the book, there's an undertone of emotional immaturity and consequent insecurity, of assuming that the reader is not only the center of her paramour's universe but the entirety of it, and that nothing less is acceptable. If he has multiple or conflicting responsibilities, dump him; If he is too shy to telephone to ask for a date -- email is explicitly deemed unacceptable -- then don't go out with him; If he's not pressuring you for sex constantly, dump him; If he doesn't have a job and you're footing his bills, dump him. It's a very small step indeed to believe that if he buys you the wrong shoes, or questions the number of pairs of Manolo Blahniks in your closet, you should dump him for those infractions as well.