As I respond to an interesting potential suitor’s email today, I hear myself saying the command heard at the start of the Olympics. I’m don’t like to think of dating as a game — although there are gamelike parts. I work hard to not play games in dating, even though there are plenty of those who do.
What I mean by the line is that once you respond positively to someone’s initial inquiry (or he to yours), it sets off a series of emails, often fun and flirty. If you pass muster with each other, you progress to a phone call, then if that is acceptable, a meeting. In each interaction, you want to display your personality, while simultaneously working to be on your best behavior (if you’re at all conscious).
Responding positively sets the dating “game” in motion. I wish there were a better metaphor, as the word game used in reference to dating is so negative. But you know what I mean — a loosely prescribed set of actions.
But in this game, the rules are not agreed to by all the players. Which leads to assumptions, frustration and disappointments. Sometimes the players appear to be playing very different games, but they’re doing it on the same field. And one can’t understand why the other is doing X because it makes no sense in the rules they are playing by.
Since the rules are nebulous, it is unclear when one is winning. In dating, ideally you both win. But some have agendas like, “If I can get him to buy me a drink, I win,” “If I can get her number, I win, “If he takes me to a nice restaurant, I win,” “If I can get her to kiss me, I win,” “If he buys me jewelry, I win,” or “If I can get her in bed, I win.”
And any player can leave the game at any time, and they do, often without informing the other player. One declares, “Game over,” but only in his/her head.
So it is hard to allow the games to begin when you don’t want to play any manipulative mind games. The best you can do is try to adapt to the situation as you experience it with the other, so you are co-creating the rules of the game for the two of you.
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