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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Games People Play

(The following is a reprint of a post from the blog My Life As A Serial Dater.)

"I am a nice guy, looking for a nice woman to spend time with. I want it to be simple and fun, NO GAMES."

I hear it all the time. People say that they are just looking for a simple connection. They are just looking for a good time. They are looking for a casual encounter. They are looking for a relationship and love. One thing everyone agrees they can do without are "games." But, when I really think about it, I don't know that people really understand when they are playing games. And, I am not totally sure that I understand what games are. I know them when I see them, but defining them for someone is not an easy task. And with varying definitions for everyone, one person's excitement is another person's game. For me, a game is any dishonest or backdoor act or message that is meant to accomplish a goal without having the balls to come out and say "This is what I want. You down?" Cowardice and self-gratification drive people to play.

A few nights ago, I was on a date and the guy told me a story about how he had dated a woman that moved too fast for him. He said that she had even gone so far as to show up to his door and propose marriage after only a month of dating. The funny part of it is, he's the guy that I have been dating that I feel moves a little quickly for me. He wants to see me frequently when I am in town. There is no question that he likes me. He even went as far as to give me a hickey. The question is "What does he want from me?" It's not a question that eats away at my curiosity. I don't spend hours or even moments trying to figure out what it is he is thinking or working toward. But, he talks about his commitment push back just a little something extra. This is the point when a simple story could become a game. We haven't dated much, so I don't expect him to know what he wants from me. I have no idea if he is looking for a relationship or if he just wants to get all the fun he can out of the time we are spending together. I think it is time to have that talk. But, I am not sure that he can face or share what he wants. It's not my goal or my hope to put him on the spot or make him feel uncomfortable, but I don't want him to get the wrong idea. So, I think I will simply share my goals (again) and give him the space to share his if he wants.

*While some use games to try to trick someone into a relationship, other people use games to keep someone hanging on just enough, without committing. This is a different game. But, they fit together nicely.

There are also times when people have been conditioned to play games by dating player of the game for their whole lives. I have friends (and have at times been one) that have habitually dated emotional dwarfs and, due to this fact, they are unable to function outside of the world of games. They try and they want to, but as soon as they are unhappy in their situation, they snap into game mode. Saying exactly what you feel puts you in a vulnerable place. As a woman, this task becomes especially daunting. We are told that we are overly emotional. We have been conditioned and socialized to think that we talk about our emotions too much and we are overly dramatic. True, there are women (and men) that fit this bill. Therefore, talking about your feelings and being honest about your motives could leave you open to ridicule, shut down or alone. So, instead of sharing their emotions and feelings, people redirect it and attempt to evoke and inspire emotion in their mate.

I remember the "come to Jesus" moment when I realized I used this tactic and when I realized it was taking away any chance I had for happiness. When my ex decided to come clean (after months, maybe years, of suspicion) and tell me that he had been cheating on me, I did all the wrong things. Fuck him. I wasn't worried and am not worried about how I might have hurt him. But, later I would try to make it work. Due to my actions that night and for the next few months, that would not be possible. I sabotaged any chance at getting what I wanted. As I look back (with my 20/20 hindsight) I can think of a million other things that would have been better than what I did. What I did was pick up my phone, in front of my boyfriend, and call a guy that had been trying to get with me. I asked him to meet me at my apartment, I asked my boyfriend to get out of my car and I went back to my place and had sex with another man all night. The next day, I felt horrible. I had used myself and I hadn't been able to enjoy the sex, because I was shattered. What I should have done was tell him that he had broken my heart. I should have said I was sad. Then, I should have gone to my mama's house, climbed in bed with her and cried out the hurt. But, I tried to make him jealous. I tried to get even, to no avail. Again, another case of games leaving two losers. The same games I was using in attempt win were leaving me the loser, every round.

In a real adult situation, no one wins and no one loses. Some get what they want, some get what they need and some get hurt. But, in the end, truth will leave you able to hold your head up high. After that horrible night, not only could I never look at my ex without thinking of him with her, but he could never look at me without thinking of me with him. If there had ever been a chance for me to forgive him and move on, it would now be compounded with the task of him forgiving me or at least forgetting the mental image I had worked so hard to burn into his brain. So engulfed in The Game, my only goal was to make him feel. That is what games do. They make people react. But, they rarely offer room for reflection, realization or reconciliation.

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