THE BLOG
08/13/2015 11:47 am ET Updated Aug 13, 2016

The Only Piece of Dating Advice You Need

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Berger told Miranda the reason her recent date hasn't called is that "he's just not that into you." Jack Berger and Miranda Hobbs are not my actual friends, but I did spend 30 minutes with them on July 13, 2003, when this phrase was uttered. This phrase that would spawn a subsequent book and movie -- while entertaining within the weekly episode of Sex and the City, it did not make an imprint on my brain at the time. It would in fact be a decade before that tiny grain of huge wisdom would re-enter my life.

Dating after divorce in my late 30s brought many surprises, including sexting, texting, emailing, messaging, friending and following. So many new ways to be rejected; so many ways to obsess about said rejection.

He hasn't answered my text in two days -- what does that mean? Should I text him again or wait? Why does he text "xoxo" but never make a date? How come he friended me but never calls? If I call him and he emails back, is that a sign? He messages me and "likes" every picture I post, but when I suggest making a real plan, he is evasive. I'm not even sure he's read the emails I've sent.

My friends and I -- grown, smart, been-around-the-block-before women -- spent hours interpreting these and other dating scenarios.

I found myself coupled again, and my brain was freed from the mental jail that is dating dissection. It was then (better late than never?) that I stumbled upon something that knocked me over. This is the best dating advice, the only advice you really need to heed.

If he doesn't say "hell yes," move on.

I instantly flashed back, and with startling clarity recalled how relieved Miranda was the day Berger imparted this wisdom. At the time, young and coupled, I didn't understand her relief. This time, though, I absolutely understood, and experienced a similar feeling. And a healthy dose of foolishness, remembering hours spent evaluating what was now painfully obvious.

If he doesn't email, call or text back, he isn't saying hell yes. If he doesn't make an actual date, or offers false promises and empty compliments, he isn't saying hell yes. Flirting, dating, texting and sexting can be fun, but if you're spending time evaluating and trying to figure out what it all means, it likely means something to only one of you. And that one is you.

Attraction is complicated and perfectly simple. When you meet someone who attracts your mind, you make a first date. When your body doesn't follow your mind, that first date is the last. Your version of tall, dark and handsome saunters in -- all is good. In the days that follow, his personality irks your everything, your lust has gone bust... so you ignore the bings and pings; his texts are left unanswered.

When you do meet someone who attracts your mind, heart and body, you make actual dates, return texts and even pick up the phone and place calls. Games you once entertained seem wasteful, silly and utterly useless. Your intention is unmistakable. You say hell yes.

Wouldn't it be great if we could all simply say, "I'm just not that into you?" It would save a lot of time. But it's hard and awkward to tell someone exactly the why of why they don't work for you. So you ignore texts, make plans that you know you will break and say it through your actions rather than your voice.

It's so obvious, looking back, that a few flings, for their own varied reasons, told me in every way except actually telling me that they weren't that into me (admittedly, I am guilty of this crime, too).

One such fling and I became friends after our dating never took off. In the midst of offering him some requested dating advice, I mentioned that despite his initial talk, he obviously wasn't that into me. He told me that he was, but realized my ex and kids were not something he wanted to get involved with. If he had told me that at the time, I know that (while I would have pretended otherwise) deep down, being newly divorced and insecure, this bit of honesty might have been more pointed than I could bear. The truth was there, albeit cloaked in mixed signals, patiently and compassionately waiting for me to see it on my own. And I did.

In the midst of my very busy dating season, I met someone whose truth was laid bare, put brightly under my eyes so that I could not help but see it. This someone said hell yes in every way from the start. The bright light of his actions allowed me to see all that had previously been dimmed -- and in the light's reflection was a lesson that, this time, I would not forget.

Recently my former fling and seeker of dating advice got in touch. He took a girl out and they had a great time; she seemed interested, but was backing off, not making plans, saying she wasn't ready. What did this mean? Was she this, did she mean that? I laughed and told him, "I'm sorry, but she's just not into you." Resigned, he said, "Yeah, I know."

In big ways and small, in new relationships or marriages 20 years deep, we all say hell yes or hell no hundreds of times a day, in hundreds of ways. We all deserve to be with someone who says hell yes.

Don't settle for less.

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