Ever since one of the male characters on Sex and the City nonchalantly told Miranda, "maybe he's just not that into you," women (and men) the world over have been using the phrase as a mantra for their dating life. The phrase inspired a best-selling book, and now a feature film of the same name—set in Baltimore, no less—comes out this month. Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co. provided props for the film so we thought there would be no better place to host our roundtable discussion. Our singles sat down for a no-holds-barred talk about when you should call, the best ways to communicate (hint: breaking up by text message, never cool), and, ultimately, how you know for sure when your date is just not that into you.
What are some warning signs your date is not into you?
Casey: When they run to the bathroom and never come back. Or the flowers you sent end up back at your door.
Rachel: What about the set up? You know, where you have a friend call you half-an-hour into a blind date so if it's going bad, you can say, "oh I have an emergency" and if it's going well you can just ignore the call.
Casey: Now I'm trying to think, has a woman I've been with ever gotten a call in the middle of the date?
Marc: I think if a guy says, "I have to go home early because I have something to do in the morning," you kind of think maybe he's not that into you. Only because we will stay up late, even if we have to wake up early, if we really like you. We'll stay up late for football, so we should stay up late for you.
Jonathan: Yeah, we'll put stuff off if it's worth it.
Casey: I usually just flat out tell them [if I'm not into them]. I mean I'm 40, I don't have a whole lot of time to waste. And I'd expect the same thing from them. Most people are just pretty direct.
And how do you know when they are really into you?
Ron: When people are sincere and they genuinely like spending time with you and you can tell, it's very natural. It's not so much about deciding whether to call or not, or whether Tuesday or Wednesday is the night you go out, it's almost effortless.
Jonathan: Also, little tactile cues, a girl touches your arm a little bit, there is some type of physicality.
Kellie: Body language.
Jonathan: Yeah, exactly. And if a girl starts talking about her family and her friends more, she's kind of inviting you more into her world.
What is the appropriate time to wait before calling?
Kimberly: I really don't think much time should pass, you want to keep it fresh.
Marc: You never leave a voicemail—you give them the chance to call back.
Rachel: What? No voicemail?
Marc: Yeah, you're like, "uh, this is me, I met you yesterday."
Rachel: But then I'm wondering, "why didn't he leave me a voicemail? Is he expecting a call back?"
Jonathan: I don't mind leaving the voicemail initially because it kind of puts the ball in her court. If she doesn't call back, then you know.
Holly: No contact within a week, that's my cut off.
Casey: What about if he calls on the eighth day?
Holly: I wouldn't totally rule it out, but you do really want that call within the first couple of days, you don't want to wait around.
Ron: What's too soon for you girls?
Rachel: When you leave the bar that night.
Casey: What about calling to make sure you made it home?
Kellie: That just happened to me last week actually. I ended the date early because I didn't feel anything so I didn't want to waste my time. And then he proceeded to call me three times that night.
The group: No!
Rachel: The worst is when you go out with someone on several dates and then you never hear from them again. I would rather have them say, "I've got stuff going on, I'm not ready for a relationship" than just dropping off.
Marc: I think the guy was thinking he was going to get some.
Rachel: Maybe, yeah.
Marc: I have some friends who are just jerks and they act like they're into you to try and score with you and then they just drop off. I'm not saying I agree with it, it's very unfair to the women, but it happens.
How many dates before you think it's appropriate to have sex?
Rachel: Depends on how much I've had to drink…kidding!
Jonathan: I think it's a legitimate question.
Marc: It could go both ways. It can happen quickly and it's not a good thing, it's a complicated thing. But then one of my best friends, he and his wife had sex within the first couple days they met, and now they're married. If you're really interested in being friends with them first, then you might want to wait.
Jonathan: It's like not breaking out everything exciting too quickly.
Holly: Well it's a proven fact that oxytocin, or whatever it's called, is released more in women than men. The chemical released in your brain during sex is the same as when you fall in love.
Rachel: Depends on the relationship. If things aren't that great to begin with, then you have sex, probably not a good idea.
Casey: Or it could do a 180!
Ron: If you don't think it's really going anywhere, but the sex is great and there's enough physical attraction, that's an option.
Holly: It's a very rare occasion when that works.
Ron: I think what sex can do is it can take things and elevate the emotional level. If you're interested in having sex with somebody and you have reservations, you just need to talk it out and understand that it gets more emotional.
Casey: You mean you talk to them before you have sex?
Holly: You at least need to know their name!
Casey: And I wonder why I'm single.
Kellie: I don't think dating has specific rules.
Holly: That's what the game is, trying to figure out what the rules are. And seeing if a person has the same rules as you.
How do you feel about communicating via text messages?
Marc: I can't stand text messages. My girl cousins always text and then you'll call them, they won't answer, and they'll text you back, "what do you want?"
Holly: A simple text could mean a thousand different things. But if you know a person, and you're really comfortable with them, texting is okay because you understand what's behind it.
Rachel: You should never do any important conversation via text messages or e-mail. "Thinking of you?" Great. "Running five minutes late?" Fine. "It's over?" I don't think so.
Rachel: I don't know if men do this, but women read over an e-mail or text and think, "Well, what did he mean by that?" So you can overanalyze it.
Kimberly: Because there's no inflection! Someone could be joking and you wouldn't know it.
Holly: Yeah and if you're on the phone and a joke falls flat, you can kind of back it up with a little explanation.
Ron: Even though texting may not be the most effective medium, it's very telling if someone takes something the wrong way that you texted. If they can't take something and roll with it, maybe they're not for you.
Casey: I think with all this texting and everything, we've lost the ability to communicate. Old man talking here, but we don't know how to communicate anymore. I'll never forget this one lady who would text me all the time and I told her I don't like it. Then she tells me we don't communicate enough.
Kimberly: I really miss the art of letter writing.
Marc: Oh wow, you took it way back.
Kimberly: I just love letters, but then again I'm an English major. Being able to say whatever you want at any time, it's too much.
Jonathan: I agree with that. Talking on the phone and writing a letter is a superior form of communication. But I think in certain instances, there are certain days, the best you can muster is sending a text. It's better than nothing.
Casey: I've been putting out a meal for 20, saute pans going, and this is true, I'll have my Bluetooth in my ear. And I'll just check in with someone, "Hey, how's it going? good. I'll talk to you later. Bye. Pick up!" You can always call.
Can women make the first move?
Ron: When a girl called me first, it took me by surprise.
Holly: Good surprise or bad?
Ron: A really good surprise because I thought it was very non-traditional, but this girl and I had a mutual friend so she asked about me and then she called. I thought it was wonderful that someone was straightforward.
Holly: Sometimes guys don't know you're interested in them, so it can be helpful. But I definitely don't think it should be a rule.
Marc: As a guy, when a woman calls me first, it's definitely really exciting. It's happened to me maybe twice. If you want a guy to notice you, that would be a good way to do it.
As you've gotten older, do you think your priorities have changed?
Holly: They've changed since last week!
Casey: It used to be looks, now I still want somebody I'm attracted to, but I want somebody I can settle down with and someone I have a good time with. It used to be "oh, she's gorgeous." Nowadays, it's not all about that.
Marc: One thing I don't need is negativity. There's so much negativity in the world, period, especially because I work for city government, I get it all the time. I need to be with a happy person, who's genuinely positive.
Kellie: I think as you get older, you can figure out what you like and what you don't like, it kind of narrows down your type for you. Like Casey said, you've figured stuff out now because of your past experiences.
Do you think it's true that nice guys finish last?
Marc: Oh yeah.
Jonathan: In college I apparently didn't get that memo. I was that nice guy, but I guess girls were into the bad guys. But now I think girls appreciate a nicer personality and the essential things.
Casey: Woman now are looking for security at this point. We can have nice kids together, a big house, a nice car.
The ladies: No!
Holly: I feel pretty well established that I could do anything on my own, but I would like to do it with somebody else. It's more fun with somebody else.