"He's just not into you if he isn't calling you."
"He's just not into you if he's not asking you out."
"He's just not into you if he's not marrying you."
And so on...
It's a catch-all solution for all of the ambiguous dating situations in which a relationship is stalling, or not moving forward, or not seeming to work out as we'd like. Though it is a catchy phrase from a popular book, delivered under the guise of being helpful, it can actually be harmful by putting too much emphasis on "YOU." Read on to learn why using it is as a bad idea. It could be damaging to your friends AND you. Also read on for real reason it didn't work! Hint, it may have nothing to do with "being into you" or not.
So your friend is dating a person you think "isn't that into him/her." You try to be kind, by telling them this. After all, you don't want your friend to waste time or have a broken heart at the hands of a disinterested person! So to spare their feelings, you try to be honest and spell out the truth: this person isn't that into you!
Now it's true that if it's still very early on -- from a bar approach, first date, or within a few dates -- it really may be the case that the person may "not be that into your friend" -- which means they aren't attracted, not their type, or personalities doesn't mesh well.
However, the problem is that we never know for sure why a situation doesn't move forward. Whether it's a bar approach, a few dates, or a whole relationship, we can only guess at someone else's true thoughts and feelings! And it's best not to concern ourselves with wondering, since you'll never know the full story.
So to stamp the situation with "they're not into you," is silly, because you don't really know the accurate facts of what's going on. It's also insulting to your friend, because it implies "they don't like you that much," which is simply a rejecting thing to say. Your friend will grasp onto this, and then wonder, "Well I wonder WHY she/he wasn't that into me?"
This leads to seemingly helpful, but actually destructive, thoughts like, "Ya, she probably goes for taller guys," or, "He probably noticed my outfit wasn't that great," or "he/she thought I was too old/young, mature/immature" or a million other silly things, that may or may not apply. Often, these thoughts have nothing to do with anything. But now your friend has a deeply ingrained belief that he's "too short for love," or she's "not social enough to keep him interested." Or perhaps your eyelashes are too short, or you're not well read enough, or your body fat percentage is 7% when it should be 5%. Some people carry these faulty thoughts for years! Trust me, I hear them in my coaching practice all the time.
I've heard all kinds of ridiculous things. One attractive guy had decided he was too tall to date, and a girl felt she looked too young to date. Another decided she was too smart. We arrive at these illogical conclusions due to this destructive thought process that begins with "they don't like you very much." and "Hmm. I wonder why? It must be because _____." If you think this way, stop it. And if you are leading your friends down this path, stop it. Both are very destructive. And illogical.
The solution is to stop saying out loud, "He/she is just not that into you." And to stop yourself from thinking to yourself, "I wonder why people are not that into me? It must be because I lack something in these areas:____."
So knock it off!! Thank you. :) Now moving on.
A much BETTER thing to say? :) Drum roll please...
"Doesn't sound like it's a match for whatever reason. I don't think it's you. You should move onto someone else."
This is much more realistic, supportive, and helpful because it removes the focus on YOU not being good enough. It simply says it's a no-go and let's focus on something that will make you happier.
Try telling your friends this, and also tell it to yourself when your own relationships don't progress as planned. It's much more positive and helpful. And you won't be tempted to blame yourself or make up silly illogical conclusions based on absolutely nothing. But really? It wasn't my eyelash length? No, it really wasn't.
What's even worse...
Now, there's something even WORSE than using this "he/she isn't into you," phrase early on in dating. Gasp. You know what it is? When supposedly helpful friends or family members say it to loved ones MUCH later in a relationship. Weeks, months, or even years into a relationship. This makes it even MORE destructive than the previous example, because the problems with "YOU are not good enough, because they aren't into you" are at a deeper level.
What a horrible idea to put in someone's head, under the guise of being helpful. This catch-all solution is "they were just using you, but didn't like you, and were waiting for something better." Um, hello! Not good for anyone's self esteem. And it can be a way for people to sort of insult their friends, while looking "nice."
It just doesn't hold up. It's insulting to the person you're telling it to, and it's not accurate.
I just hate to hear people "summing up" relationship failures with this phrase. "He didn't call you after three months, because he was never into you to begin with." Or, "Ya your marriage didn't work because he/she wasn't that into you. That's why he/she cheated." Or, "He/she isn't having the relationship talk because they aren't that into you." Or "They were probably just using you, because they weren't that into you." And yes, it's even worse to say this about longer-term relationships.
Why it's bad for self-esteem:
As discussed above, it's insulting to use the "he/she isn't into you" phrase because the focus is on "YOU are not good enough". The natural question that follows is "why are they not into ME?" And this leads us to question ourselves and dive into a laundry list of "why they would want someone better." This is just not helpful or constructive, it's damaging to self-esteem, and it's really not relevant to what's going on. If you want to improve yourself, do so! But if you're only motivated by someone's rejection of you, you're going to be trying to please them by changing yourself. Example, "I heard he loves good abs, and he didn't seem 'into me,' so I'm going to work out like a maniac!" Versus, "I've always wanted to get in shape because it would make me feel healthy and happy." Big difference. So focus on developing the aspects of yourself that are important to YOU. And forget about trying to guess what "they weren't that into" about you, so you can fix it. You can't fix it. You can only fix yourself. So work on that, and forget the rest.
What's the real reason behind the "they are not into you" situations? (Please see below for some explanations*).
There are a million reasons for relationships and dating not working out! YOU alone are not the reason for something not working. As I said, that doesn't mean you shouldn't work on developing and improving yourself as much as possible! Of course you should. But to take all the blame for a relationship not working out -- to sum up the failings of an entire relationship with "I was just a person they weren't interested in," is just not accurate.
So let's BAN "he/she is not that into you, and instead say, "it's not working out for some reason." Followed by, "It's not you. And you should want something that DOES work out great with someone else!"
This is way more accurate and realistic. And you can use this "it's not working out" mentality anywhere from before the first date, to a few weeks of dating, to a relationship, on through marriage.
Otherwise, if they were "not that into you," why would they continue to date you? Or be exclusive with you? Or marry you?
It's normal in the beginning to not be sure about someone. But over the course of 3-6 dates, you should be sure whether you want to be exclusive. Being exclusive then allows you to get to know this person one-on-one, in depth, to see if you have potential for a much more serious relationship. You can test it out by spending more time together, letting each other into your lives by meeting friends, taking trips, etc. Then you can both decide if you want to continue to have a more serious relationship, or perhaps you discover serious incompatibilities, and you might decide not to get married. Totally fine.
It's normal if someone is perhaps taken with you at the start and then pulls back, or ends it. Totally normal! But if things continue over time, but you're still not sure where you stand -- or you are "technically" exclusive, but you feel they haven't fully let you into their life -- that's where we get into weird territory. The typical "they just aren't into you," land.
Change your mentality from, "he/she just isn't that into me...and I wonder why!! OMG what can I change to make it better?" to, "It's not working out for some unknown reason. I don't know what the reason is, but I'd rather have something that works out, with someone else."
Give this a spin! Both in your own dating/relationship mindset, and also in how you speak to your friends and loved ones! It's a much more supportive thing to say.
The REAL reason it isn't working, isn't about "being into you."
The truth is, I rarely see examples of people who "just aren't into someone" and continue to date them. My clients typically won't date someone more than 2-3 times if they really aren't finding them to be very attractive and interesting. Once it's going into the weeks and months, their reasons for ending it tend to be much more complex, and related to the below. Just a note: if any of the below applies, don't assume you can "fix it" easily, or if at all. Work with a therapist yourself to improve yourself, and your solution will naturally occur to you as you grow! To help maintain your dating mindset, confidence, and take all of the necessary actions you need to find the RIGHT person for you each week, work with me as your coach. www.yourdreamslifecoach.com. Or for executive/business coaching, visit: www.nycexecutivecoach.com.
Just a few REAL explanations of why relationships/dating doesn't work out:
- Disorders -- The person is a sociopath, narcissist, borderline, codependent, etc. These are disorders which lack empathy. Without empathy, you can't have a healthy relationship, no matter what you do. Most of these will likely never change, and they are in the dating pool, so watch out! (See Wikipedia! It will change your life).
- Conflicting personalities -- Your personality temperaments are conflicting -- how you think and what you naturally value in life, they dislike and vice versa -- and one or both of you doesn't want to work to compromise. The Myers-Briggs (in my opinion) matches you with some of your least compatible types, so be careful here. I have an assessment I can give you.
- Attachment styles -- Your attachment styles aren't compatible. (See Wikipedia again). There are four styles, and only one is healthy. If either of you has an unhealthy attachment style, it will spell drama and either a roller coaster on-again-off-again situation, or an ending.
- Addictions -- One of both of you are addicted to something -- drugs, alcohol, anything. People often keep this hidden, even from close loved ones, so you may not know.
- Hanging onto the past -- One of both of you are still hung up on an ex. Perhaps even sleeping with them.
- Fear of moving forward -- One or both of you are afraid of getting close to someone because of past bad experiences, and you need to heal your wounds before you can ever move forward -- this may cause inconsistent actions, or even dating other people to avoid getting attached.
- World view mismatch -- A lack of match in your world views, background, political or religious views, ideas on having kids or not, etc.
- Bad relationship skills -- One or both of you isn't considerate, is selfish or manipulative, have a lifestyle that would be stressful for the other person to live with, or lacks relationship sills (such as empathy, compromise, and good listening skills). Or there may be a lack of expressing feelings or appreciation, and your partner feels taken for granted.
- Being clingy -- One or both of you can't be alone for the occasional afternoon or evening apart, and your partner feels suffocated.
- Being controlling -- One or both of you has to control the other, and insist they not have their own life.
- Not wanting to grow up -- One or both of you doesn't want to be an adult and do the work of having and working on a relationship, when being single seems like less work. It's scary to be a "real adult" and you may resent it, or feel relief by pretending to still be a kid.
- Life changes -- One or both of you is moving, changing jobs, or going through some transition and doesn't think the relationship has enough of a shot to keep it going.
- Lack of chemical attraction -- You can both be conventionally attractive, but if your DNA isn't naturally a match, you may actually feel repelled by each other.
- Depression -- One of both of you is not working on developing your career, health, etc., and your partner feels weighed down by your depression and lack of ambition. Emotions are contagious, and while depression is never someone's fault, it can destroy relationships if not treated.
- Legal drugs -- Anti-anxiety or depression medication can affect a person's ability to feel emotions, feel physical desire for someone, and even to love. If the medication's side effects are too strong, it can destroy a relationship. Some medication can also cause someone to gain weight and simply feel unatractive.
- Mama's Boys/Girls -- One or both of you has over-involved family members, which keeps a relationship from progressing out of feeling disloyal to family, so you keep relationships at a distance to reassure your family that "nothing has changed" and "they are number one."
- Workaholics -- One or both of you works extreme hours, which means you don't have anything left energy-wise for a relationship. Lack of time together also will destroy your relationship.
These are just a few of the real reasons relationships don't progress. Almost everyone has some of the above traits. A lot of what relationships are, is compatibility between disfunction. If you're too emotionally healthy for a guy with serious issues, he won't be drawn to you, for example. The goal is to make yourself as emotionally healthy (and happy!) as possible, as you will then naturally attract another healthy person. :D
This is by no means a complete list. Which just goes to show all of the MANY reasons a relationship can end, which have nothing to do with YOU. Many of the above overlap. For example, a workaholic may be depressed, with a personality disorder, and working a lot allows them to avoid dealing with problems.