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‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ Doesn’t Apply to Narcissists — Here’s Why

The popular catchphrase “He’s just not that into you” has become a useful shorthand for people to communicate to women that a man simply may just not be interested in them. It can serve as an important wake-up call to women who may be wasting time overanalyzing a man’s intentions rather than identifying the red flags in his behavior and are in need of detaching from emotionally unavailable people. However, the usefulness of this phrase is limited when it comes to toxic and manipulative partners and is quite male-centered in its focus.

The intention of this phrase is well-meaning — explicitly, it jolts women awake from pursuing a relationship that may be going nowhere or is riddled with red flags. Yet implicitly, what this phrase covertly communicates to partners who may have been manipulated by narcissists or psychopaths is an inaccurate depiction of their true experiences and borders on condescending. That’s because narcissists and psychopaths can appear to be extremely “into you” in the love bombing phase of the romantic relationship, pursuing their victims with ardent longing, excessive attention, lavish dates, and persistent contact. According to research, they also have a habit of staying connected to their exes for access to sex and resources. They may reengage with past partners just when these partners have begun moving on, only to impede their progress, as part of a greater manipulation cycle.

Telling a victim of a narcissist or psychopath — whether male or female — that “they’re just not that into you,” oversimplifies the cycle of manipulation, idealization, and devaluation. “He’s just not that into you” presumes a fair and just world where all people act out of a desire for compatibility and positive qualities in a partner rather than a desire for power and control like narcissists and psychopaths have. We must avoid implicitly equating any narcissist’s actions, whether male or female, to a victim’s worthiness or a narcissist’s supposed desire. Being “chosen” by a low-quality, unempathic, exploitative, manipulative person is not an…

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