The Dating Games We Play

Does it ever seem like the Dating world is a world completely unto its own, with its own rules, players, and most namely – games? When venturing into this hard-to-navigate, constantly changing terrain, we seem to enter into an agreement to play these games with each other, at least during the courting phase, and often further into a relationship.

While games were fun to play as a child however, the games adults play are far more manipulative, and involve our most valuable asset as the prize – our hearts. So why do we continue playing these games? It revolves around the quest for power, which instinctually we search for to alleviate feelings of perceived vulnerability. “Playing” with our emotions can also often illicit extreme and addictive emotional reactions, from the highs of “winning” acceptance, to the lows of confusion, anxiety, and rejection. So are they really worth it?

The Dating Games We Play:

1. Cat & Mouse. This game starts when we first see someone we’re attracted to. Glances are exchanged, body language is highly engaged, and the thrill of possibility occupies our minds. This is the phase where we try to guess, are they interested or not? Once interest has been established, who will approach first? While it does seem more instinctual for the male to approach the female, men are often wary of rejection, and can be hesitant to approach. This hesitation can turn some women off however, as most women “instinctually” want a “strong” and decisive man…

2. The Telephone Game – once contact has been established. Not the fun game we played as kids, phone/text/email games are enough to make you lose your mind. Your phone becomes your best friend or worst enemy, depending on what message, if any, it’s delivering. How long should I wait before calling? Will they call me? What did they mean by that text? OMG I shouldn’t have sent that text! It’s been 1.5 days since I’ve heard from them – what does this mean? Maybe something’s wrong with my phone…

3. The Jealousy Game. This game is where it can really start to get ugly, and it also has great potential to backfire. This is where we try to show the other person that there are other people interested in us (these could be real or imaginary), and therefor we’re a very valuable and important person. This game taken too far, can trigger a foundation of mistrust and insecurity in those who struggle with jealousy to begin with, and the results are often more than you bargained for…

4. Playing Hard to Get. This is the game where you might show up late for a date, cancel a date or wait a few days to return a call. This game involves pure power plays, with the intent of keeping the other person on their toes, in a state of waiting for you. Taken too far, it tells your date you’re unreliable and can’t be counted on.

It seems virtually impossible these days not to fall into some kind of game-playing in the initial stages of dating, but we must be extremely mindful of taking them too far, because sooner or later, the games must come to an end, and we must be honest to ourselves and each other. Perhaps it’s better not to play games in the first place…

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