The unspoken “rules” of dating.

“I think I’ll wait an hour to text back. That way, I won’t seem too eager.”
“I initiated the conversation yesterday, so he/she can initiate today.”
“I’m not going to send multiple messages, I refuse to look desperate.”
“I won’t send paragraphs my response, that shows I’m too interested!”
“Be sure not to kiss on a first date!”
“At least wait until 4th date to have sex!”
“Fuck that, I’ll wait 3 days and then I’ll call them.”
“Time to give them the silent treatment.”
“Shall I follow up or shall I wait for them to do it?”

Sound familiar? Then you must have participated in a few “dating games”… it’s all too common these days and absolute BS. Honestly, someone who chooses plays games with you is not the kind of person you want to be with. It’s a sign that they’re not really being authentic in their dating life — and no grown-ass person has time for that.

But why?

It’s one of the most exhausting parts of dating, so why do many people choose to do it? Well… I’m here to share my thoughts. Disclaimer: I’ve been the game “player” before and have also been the victim! Both sides were not particularly enjoyable. Based on my observation and experience, I would say that game playing usually boils down to 3 things:

1. To manipulate
2. For the chase/challenge
3. To avoid being in a vulnerable position

Notice how all of the above involve some form of self gain? When you’re the “player”, you feel like you have all the power and are in total control, but in reality it’s a complete facade. I guarantee you won’t achieve anything apart from feeling confused, fed up and frustrated. Games don’t last… whether it’s you or them – someone will get bored eventually and throw in the towel. It’s just a question of when.

If your biggest concern is always having the upper hand, then you’re clearly not in the right headspace or at a maturity level for a relationship. Either way, you need to ask yourself why being in that position is so important to you. Is it for an ego boost? Self justification? To feel secure? Relationships thrive on vulnerability and being able to let your guard down. The whole “winning” aspect isn’t the right approach when it comes to feelings and emotions. Besides how do you “win”, when it comes to matters of the heart? You can’t expect to get close to someone when you’re busy strategising on how to manipulate them.

Games people play.

Having been the game player before as well as being on the receiving end, I’ll briefly take you through some of the most popular scenarios. Let’s start with “who can act like they care the least”. How ironic is it that the less you engage with someone you’re interested in, the more power you possess. So what happens if both people involved are too good at this game? I guess you run the risk of never seeing how the relationship could progress. In all areas of our lives, we should learn embrace vulnerability instead of avoiding it. Taking your guard down shows that you’re human, relatable, and allows other people to see the real you. In friendships, romantic relationships, and families, it’s easier to appreciate someone who is honest with themselves and with others. This means relationships can grow organically.

The second scenario is “playing hard to get” – which kind of ties in with “who can act like they care the least”. It’s a way to screen prospective suitors or to discover whether someone is being sincere. But I’ll warn you now… if it continues for too long, the technique fails. Playing hard to get is basically an illusion of confidence and control, but let’s face it – what we really want is to text whenever we feel like it, tell someone when we want to see them next and be straight up when we’re in our feelings.

Lastly we have “the chase”. The person being chased wants to see how far backwards they can make the other bend. Meanwhile, the person doing the chasing just wants to do whatever it takes to win their “trophy”. Personally, I think this sounds rather shit. For some, the pursuit of the chase is more enticing and rewarding than the actual relationship itself… hence why as soon as they’ve got you hook, line and sinker, they let go and move on to the next bait. Reasons for doing this might be for an ego stroke, to feel some sort of accomplishment, the feeling of dominance, maybe they’re after one thing… to put it bluntly, they are all reasons that don’t concern you!

B****, you thought.

It can take a bit of time to figure out who the “players” are. Some people are so good at putting up smoke and mirrors it’s like second nature. I guess games aren’t so bad if you’re not particularly interested in monogamous relationships… as long as you’re both willing to play. Although I still think it’s a pointless exercise.

Maybe it’s time we stop with the games and start looking at the defensive mechanisms we’ve installed. Are these games more helpful or more harmful? If we’re grown adults, then we need to act accordingly and take charge. We need to be brave and get better at being upfront about feelings and expectations. I get that not everyone is able to be direct and honest – it takes time, confidence and courage. If we work towards being more open then we can start developing more genuine, fruitful relationships.

Dating is supposed to be exciting, not a minefield. There will always be an element of risk but the quicker you nip things in the bud, the better chance you have to find someone who is actually on your wavelength. If you notice your interest is displaying inconsistent and unreliable behaviour then call them out on it. Don’t be scared! You don’t have to be player #2. And if the behaviour continues… well that’s okay too! Just don’t forget to shut the door on your way out.

I’m going leave you with these iconic words (with the video) from Prince:

I can’t be played. A person trying to play me plays themselves.

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