Dating in a 2.0 World, with Greg Behrendt & Amiira Ruotola (Part 1)
I have long been a fangirl of Greg Behrendt’s. He’s Just Not That Into You has been my Relationship Bible for the past decade. And then when he co-wrote THE definitive break-up book, It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken with his wife, Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt, I became a fangirl of hers.
Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I recently got to connect with Greg and Amiira via Skype, and I became a fangirl of THEM. The couple they are is the couple everyone wants to be. They crack each other up, finish each other’s sentences…but not in an annoying “couple on Facebook who shares an account and floods your timeline with cheesy ‘date night’ pics and public declarations of love” sort of way. More in a “Wow, this is a rockstar couple who has been through the dating fire and all of its many losers, crazies, and creepers before they came together, so now they really cherish and respect the magic of finding their perfect match” way.
It’s been a decade since He’s Just Not That Into You blazed onto the scene, created a cultural phenomenon, and changed the game of dating forever, and a lot has changed since then (texting and tweeting and online dating – oh my!)…so I wanted to know what Greg and Amiira had to say about “Dating in a 2.0 World.”
Turns out they have a lot to say about it. A lot that you’re going to want to hear. A lot that might even rock your world a little, in the same way He’s Just Not That Into You did ten years ago…
The Single Woman: Okay, so tell me about the new book, It’s Just a (Bleeping) Date!
Amiira Ruotola: After we wrote the breakup book we had a lot of people asking, “Okay, now what? So, I know how to break up and how to get through a breakup, but I’m not dating, no one’s asking me out, I don’t know how to meet people, dating doesn’t exist…” And there was a lot of that sort of feedback.
Greg Behrendt: It felt like the right third piece, a little triangle, like “Alright, this relationship you’re in is horrible, and here’s how you get out of it, and then here’s how you start over, and here’s how you start again, but knowing what you know from both pieces.” Knowing that you can recognize a crappy relationship, knowing that you will live through a breakup, and that’s just part of the game. There is no protecting yourself if you’re going to actually put yourself out there. And here’s the way we think is the smart way to do it.
AR: And also, we both made all the same mistakes that everybody makes, before kind of wising up to the idea that, okay: There is an order to how things go and when you pretend that that order doesn’t exist when it comes to relationships, you generally are not successful. You know, you don’t just go on a job interview and say “Which one’s my desk? Because I’m starting today.” There’s a process. You have to be vetted and you have to vet them and you have to agree that it’s going to work out for both parties before it happens. And it’s like that with everything. You know, you don’t eat horribly for two weeks straight and then wonder why your pants don’t fit.
GB: I do. I’m always baffled by it. I don’t understand.
AR: There are cause and effects to all of it. For whatever reason, when it comes to relationships or dating, women are so quick to overlook giant red flags or to not require somebody to actually step up and be clear with their intention to ask them out. You know, it’s a lot of “hooking up,” or “hanging out,” a lot of ambiguous non-dating and not a lot of dating. I think that women think that if they ask for anything that they’ll have to settle for nothing, as opposed to going “Well, I’d rather have nothing.” If he won’t call me ahead of time, make a plan, and then show up at my house to take me there…why is that the caliber of human being I want to be in a relationship with anyway?
GB: It feels like to me, that as a whole, in general, women put so much of the outcome on the man, as opposed to deciding their own outcome, you know? And we talk about this a lot in the book, where people have this thing where they say “I don’t like to play games. I’m not a game player.” Well, there is actually a game to be played here and it’s called “Don’t freak people out with your need.” Don’t lead with that, because it’s frightening. No one likes need. You don’t like it from your friends, even…you know what I mean? It’s an unattractive quality because no one knows what to do with it. You’re actually handing someone an unsolvable puzzle that you know they can’t fix. You know that thing you’re looking for from me? I don’t have for you. Your self-esteem, your self-worth, where you are in life…I can’t solve that for you. I just want to be around you while you solve those problems yourself. Even if you’re just trying to solve them. And with women, it seems like there is this panic of like, “Well, what if this guy doesn’t work out? What if I’m totally alone?” It’s like life rafts…you just grab onto anyone thinking, “No real boat’s going to come for me so I might as well hang onto this log.”
AR: (Laughs hysterically)
GB: That’s the name of the next book: “I’m Hanging On To This Log.”
TheSW: It does seem like women are trained to believe that we do just have to settle for whatever’s standing in front of us. But I don’t just blame it on the man. I think a lot of times, men aren’t rising up because women aren’t demanding or asking or expecting them to.
AR: Men will be as lazy as you let them be, and if you’re the person that lets them come over at 5:00 a.m. for sex, then that’s what they’ll do. They’re not going to ask you out to dinner. But it has to be a collective effort from women to decide that they’re going to change the way this goes. Women set the tone, men follow their lead; however, women are afraid to believe that that’s true, because they’re so afraid they’ll get nothing. And there definitely is an element of biology to it, and if the things you want are marriage and children and so on, there’s that thing that starts messing with your head and your heart and you start making negotiations. You start justifying why it’s okay if you let go of all the things that you really want and the way you want to be treated.
GB: It’s like one of those shows where you go: “Alright. Can you make a whole dinner out of what you have in the refrigerator?” On a bigger level, on a more sort of global level, if women don’t take control of it, it’s never going to change. And it has to sort of happen as a group effort. You guys set the tone. With the exception of really creepy dudes, we’ll do whatever it takes to be with you. Unless we just don’t like you enough. And then you have to decide what it is that you want. Amiira and I are definitely not prudes, but if that’s something you’re going to do – if you’re going to have a casual sexual thing – you better make sure you can handle it. And don’t lie to yourself about it because the only person you’re telling the lie to is you. It’s just weird to say to yourself “I’m fine with this,” If you know you’re not fine with it.
TheSW: I think it’s very rare that a woman actually is fine with that sort of relationship. A woman calls it “friends with benefits” because she just wants to keep the man around, but a lot of times, for the man, it IS just friends with benefits. For a woman, it’s like “My heart’s involved, but I’m going to pretend like this is casual so I don’t freak you out and you’re out of my life all together.”
GB: Also, society has made it okay for men to be okay with it. I don’t even know that anytime someone has that intimate of a thing that there isn’t some residual for both parties. It’s just human intimacy. Unless you’re just dead inside. But most guys get afraid of what comes next. Their fear is like “Oh, that WAS real.” Men wouldn’t react to it so much if it didn’t feel so real and if it didn’t mean something. And they don’t want it to mean something. So they know, otherwise their reaction wouldn’t be so strong, and they’re fighting it, too, saying “Oh, I’m not ready for this.” I think most guys know “I shouldn’t have done that.” It’s not like most guys are like “That’s just what I do!” Unless they’re the worst person alive. And that’s possible too.
TheSW: I think I might have possibly dated the worst person in the world a few times! (laughing)
GB: What we always say is, the guy that we’re talking about that for you is a total jerk, for someone else is going to be a real gem someday. It’s just what you guys made when you came together. There are girls like that, too. You know, you went out with her and you were like “That girl was insane!” And now she’s married to a doctor and she’s fine…but when you went out with her, it was just your chemistry and whatever you guys made just didn’t work. You know, everyone has their collective stuff.
AR: Women forget that to somebody, they’re a big deal. You might not have met that person yet…but you’re someone’s Angelina Jolie. You’re someone’s giant great big deal and they won’t be able to believe that they get to wake up next to you every morning. But you have to believe that about yourself. You know – someone is going to be your Ryan Reynolds someday. Someone is going to be your thing, like “How did I get so lucky?” But if you don’t treat yourself with value, the person that will also value you is not going to come. Women don’t remember that they’re going to be a big deal to someone, because they have that panic of wanting to lock something down and wanting to feel that they’re something to someone instead of everything to the right one.
To Be Continued…
You can grab Greg and Amiira’s new book here …and DO NOT MISS THEM TONIGHT ON Oprah’s Lifeclass on OWN at 10/9c, when they’ll break down these topics and many more, like “Are men REALLY ever intimidated by women, or is that a cop-out?”
Sound off in the comments below! Have you read He’s Just Not That Into You? Did it change the game for you like it did me? Do you think women are letting men off the hook too easily in modern dating? I want to hear from you!