One of the romantic difficulties often cited by young women is the lack of certainty, mixed messages from men that blur the status of a relationship. Inspired by the movie inspired by the book inspired by a fake book on an episode of Sex and the City, many have turned to a simplifying mantra: He's just not that into you. That is, if a woman has to ask if a guy's into her, he's probably not. But according to new research from America's least-selective Ivy League school, that couldn't be further from the truth.
"Our hypothesis was that these women were living in a state of delusion, phishing for affirmation from their friends and ascribing meaning to otherwise meaningless social gestures," said Mark Hicks, a wheat farmer and part-time researcher at Cornell University. "Turns out, we were dead wrong."
Hicks and his colleagues created a study involving 432 undergraduates, both men and women. Both were given a set of sample relationship behaviors commonly observed in men, including things like "infrequent sexual encounters," "nonsexual pair-bonding activities (dates)" and "late night calls to action (booty texts)." Both men and women were asked to rate the behaviors on a scale of 1-6 in terms of the interest they expressed.
Unsurprisingly, the female undergraduates inferred a great deal of interest from nontraditional behaviors, like "he tells me I'm not like other girls" and "he only texts" late at night. But the real bombshell came when the researchers discovered that men's interest assignments nearly mirrored the women's—contrary to popular belief, behaviors meaning "he's not that into her" in fact mean that he's VERY into her.
"I've been saying this forever," said Brett, a 3rd-year sophomore at Cornell. "What a girl doesn't understand is that when I hook up with her for a couple of weeks and then make out with another girl in front of her at a party, I'm not trying to say I'm not into her—I'm trying to show her how miserable I am having to be with someone else."
"Absolutely," echoed Brett's friend Gavin. "I hardly ever text girls I actually like, unless it's to convey essential information, like how badly I want to see them. Texting is so impersonal, so with a girl I like I'd just assume not text and wait to see her in person. I wish more girls understood that," he mused.
The results, which have yet to be replicated, spread like cotton candy perfume in a women's restroom to other girls across Cornell's campus. One freshman took them as a sign that she's on the right track.
"My wedding Pinterst board is on fleek right now," said Madylynne, who's neither met her Tinder match in person nor heard from him for three weeks. "Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words, you know?
When asked for her take on why the findings run so contrary to so-called "conventional wisdom", gas station attendant and Cornell psychology head Mary Jenkins didn't mince words.
"This probably makes me a bad feminist, but bitches can be jealous."