He’s just not that into you

COLUMN

How the hell do I feel about this?!

Words by Jodie Papworth & illustration by Minerva Freire


We all love it don’t we? An Epic Retelling of The Date or The Encounter, with such detail that your bestie feels like she was right there. You set the scene, you add the backstory of each character, you describe the facial expressions, what was said, or more importantly what was NOT said.
Everything is described in chronological order because god forbid you mix up the timeline and therefore lose the whole meaning of THAT COMMENT. You then go back and forth between what you thought it meant then, but what you think it means now and then you round it all up, settle back in your chair and wait for the verdict.

Because that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? We need that feedback, that second opinion, that reassurance that we’re not crazy for thinking that it means something that he still has that travel book you gave him 11 years ago.

I have five very best friends that I trust with my very best Epic Retelling. And they trust me with theirs. I mean, there are work friends and other friends that get the snippets, the watered down version, but these five get the full light show. And I trust their opinions. They know me inside out, they want the best for me, they know about my history with guys, they know about all the ‘interesting’ choices I’ve made in the past and how they affect my present choices. They are my Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie equivalents.

Usually when there is an Epic Retelling there is at least three of us together to debate the importance of his wardrobe choice, our wardrobe choice, the atmosphere of the venue…etc, etc.

But it just so happened that after one particularly amazing weekend that had three days and three nights worth of glorious detail to dissect, I could only manage to meet up with them individually, which meant five separate Epic Retellings. And I noticed something interesting.
Each time I came away from an evening catching up with one of them, I felt completely different about the weekend. One night it would feel like an epic love story on par with The Notebook, then I’d come away thinking that I’d read way too much into it and would probably hear less and less from him until he just disappeared altogether. And it wasn’t just the analysis and conclusion of the weekend that changed each evening. My description of it varied ever so slightly each time too.

Without even noticing it, I was tailoring the Retelling to fit the friend that I was talking to at the time. Hmmm this friend isn’t so keen on the mushy bits but loves the gory details, so leave out that and include more of that. Right, I know this comment won’t go over too well with this friend, she’ll think he meant that but I’m not sure that he did…maybe I’ll just leave that out. At the end of it all I had no idea how I felt about it, no idea what had really happened and no idea how much of it I had put a Hollywood spin on.

The book and film ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ makes an excellent point, that often our wonderful, well meaning friends will bring us stories of friends of friends who were in crappy situations and managed to turn it around into happily ever after, and this gives us hope. But in reality these urban legends were the exception, and more often than not, we are the rule. But how do you even work out whether you are in a crappy situation when every friend sees things slightly different and you can’t even tell the story straight because you feel differently about it every time? Each friend brought their own particular viewpoint to the table. Being single, being married, having crappy relationships, having wonderful relationships, knowing someone just like this guy, not knowing anyone like this guy, you get the idea. And when I’m not looking to my friends to reassure me that “this is a good thing” I’m searching through TV shows and films for direction. Hmmm, he’s kind of like Allie from The Notebook and I’m Noah in this situation so that means I need to act like this and it will work out. Or, hey he’s kind of like a Luke character from Gilmore Girls so he needs to be treated in this way. And of course that doesn’t work out for anybody because a scripted piece of entertainment is never going to have the crazy level of messiness and unexpected amazingness that real life has. And just when I’ve tied myself in knots trying to analyse this thing and pinpoint exactly what it is, whether I’m the exception or the rule, and what my next strategy should be and who I should be acting like, I stop.

And I think back over each evening, and I remember the one piece of advice they all gave me – Just be you, don’t over analyse it and see how it goes.

And that’s why they are my five. They know me too well.

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