LS: Oh, the excuses we make to keep relationships alive
Kacey Callen has a checkered dating past.
Instead of picking up on signals that her boyfriends weren’t interested anymore and keeping her expectations of what she wanted in a relationship, Callen, 22, made excuses for her boyfriends’ behavior to keep relationships alive, she said.
Callen is not alone.
The New York Times bestseller “He’s Just Not That Into You” is filled with real-life examples of excuses women make for relationships not working perfectly rather than accepting that perhaps the men they like don’t like them back.
Book co-authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, collaborators for the hit TV series “Sex and the City,” offer honest perspectives on healthy relationships in a way that can make readers laugh or cringe, particularly if an example hits home.
A movie based on the book is set to be released Friday .
Callen watched a “Sex and the City” episode based on the “He’s Just Not That Into You” concept, in which women and their friends make excuses about men.
Now that she’s in a healthy relationship with a man who wants to do things with her and for her, Callen can look back on former relationships and see where she chose to ignore signals.
She used to date a man who was nice to her and called her to “hang out,” but the “hanging out” never involved his friends and was never passionate, she said. He declined invitations from Callen’s mother to have dinner with her family. He wasn’t that interested in her.
“I was like, ‘maybe he’s shy’ or ‘maybe he didn’t want to be too forward,’ ” Callen said. “I did the making excuses thing.”
Women aren’t the only ones who make excuses for why a relationship isn’t working, said relationship and family therapist Tim Landis, with Associates of Behavioral Counseling.
Landis, also a licensed clinical social worker, has counseled couples and individuals in the dynamics of dating and relationships for more than 20 years.
Men, too, harbor hopes for relationships even when it seems apparent a woman isn’t as interested, he said. However, the way some men often deal with emotional stress is different.
“Men are less likely to share their feelings than women,” Landis said. “Men are more likely to feel really bad internally and kind of joke about it like they don’t give a darn. Women will get together and process and talk about it and the whys.
“Sometimes we want things we cannot have, so we may resort to more desperate behavior or distort our thinking,” Landis said.
Callen said she distorted her thinking in previous relationships, hoping that if she kept giving her boyfriend chances to prove he liked her, eventually he would change.
She has friends who have done the same thing and they don’t know why.
“We so want to be in a relationship and are so hoping we don’t have to look anymore,” Callen said.
Ignorance can be bliss, Landis said, because rejection is tough no matter the gender or generation.
Consistently breaking promises is a red flag that one person is not into another person, Landis said. “Look for a pattern of behavior. It’s kind of what’s not said as well as what’s said.”
If a man says he’s going to call and doesn’t, it’s a sign that the relationship is not important enough for him to honor his word, Behrendt wrote in “He’s Just Not That Into You.”
But men travel, they get busy at work, they lose women’s phone numbers, countered Tuccillo.
No, a man who likes a woman will track down a lost number and he will keep his word about calling even if he only has enough time to tell her he’s busy, Behrendt wrote.
One reason a man may not directly tell a woman he’s not that interested in her is because it’s difficult to say and harsh to hear, even though it’s honest.
“I think we don’t want to hurt feelings,” Landis said. “Another reason may be we kind of like that someone really likes us. It feels good to be wanted.”
There is no quick or “right” way to break a pattern of ending up with people who just aren’t that into you. For some, the answer might be therapy; for others it’s choosing to be honest with themselves and others.
An honest and healthy relationship exists when two people have equal power even if the relationship began with one person being more in pursuit of the relationship than the other, Landis said.
“What you want is a person to go through the stages of a relationship,” Landis said. “Those games fade away as there is more intimacy in the relationship, and by intimacy, I mean real closeness.”