Why Dating Shouldn’t Have To Be A Game
You only have to walk down a self-help aisle in a bookshop, to realise just how intrinsically linked the ideas of “Dating” and “Games” are. Both words appear on the covers of most of the popular dating guides.
On the one hand, I can understand.
Dating is an area of life where we are at our most vulnerable. It’s one of the most basic forms of social judgment going. We sit opposite a stranger, attempting to market ourselves, and showcase all our best assets, in full knowledge of the fact that we are being appraised. When we’re dating, it’s not like an interview – where you’re being assessed for your abilities, and experience. On a date, you’re being judged on looks, personality and the all important ‘chemistry’. And whilst we’re happy to leave an interview and shrug “I just wasn’t experienced enough”, it’s quite another thing to walk away from a date, acknowledging that you “aren’t attractive enough”, or that you “aren’t funny enough”.
Even if those aren’t the reasons why a date doesn’t go well, if you have low self-esteem, or the dating process isn’t something you feel confident with, you can often leave an unsuccessful date blaming yourself. And that can be really painful.
When it comes to dating, we all put our hearts on the line at times, and the unfortunate reality of life (whether you’re the most attractive, funny person in the world, or not …) is that every now and again, your heart will get bruised.
I talk often on this blog about being your own best friend and biggest cheerleader. Because that’s a necessary role to play, on those nights when you sit opposite someone you could easily have imagined a future with, and it’s evident the only future he’s looking to, is getting the bill, and ending the date.
Dating is a learning curve.
For me the ultimate self-lesson is understanding that you are a catch. And that the right person for you will see that. It’s simply a matter of finding him or her.
But very few single people understand that the act of dating should be the actual learning process. Instead, they look for answers before they even get to the dating stage. And so they turn to self-help guides, in hope of navigating the ever-changing realities of dating in the 21st century.
When should they call? How long should their text messages be? Who should pay?
Silly, minor considerations, which get blown out of proportion, and turned into rote-like rules by dating experts. As if Dating is some foreign language, and there is one dictionary to translate every step.
And that’s where the games come in.
Because instead of finding confidence within themselves (something TOWTS mentioned yesterday, in his questionnaire about what he’s learned about dating in the past year) a lot of singles bypass their own self-confidence, and instead religiously follow a set of prescribed rules.
That statement applies as much to men as it does to women. As women we seek out magazine articles telling us the right way to behave, and buy books like The Rules, which tell us how long to wait to text back, and not to be the first to make contact. Guys – they read books like The Game and invest in PUA workshops.
No matter how in control you are of the other areas of your life, Dating is the part where you can never be 100% in control; because it always involves one variable. Another person! And that’s what makes it both exhilarating, and scary. Because you’re never completely in control.
Which is where the books and the games come in – they make you feel like you’re in control of the uncontrollable.
And yes, you may well be … for a while.
But do you really want your love life to be one big power trip? Do you want to date by formula. Playing move, by move, according to a book which could have been written years ago, by someone you’ve never met?
I’ve never particularly enjoyed being told what to do …
One of the reasons I’ve never been religious is because I see religion as a very basic form of social control. Certain rules were made thousands of years ago, because they made sense in a particular part of the world, or to a particular civilisation. But rules become out-dated … one of the reasons I think certain religious decisions (like not allowing blood transfusions) struggle in today’s society.
And in my opinion, the same applies to dating rules.
The world is ALWAYS changing. And dating is ALWAYS changing. In the year I’ve been dating proactively, the landscape of the single London has changed SO much – a year ago barely anyone had heard of Tinder, now every man and his tiger is on the app!
Which unfortunately means the rules are always changing. Think about all the different ways we interact these days, and how much the way we use mobile phones has changed in just the past few years.
There’s another reason I don’t like dating games …
I’m a really honest person. I want someone to fall for me. Not for a game play someone else has taught me.
I like to think that I’m an attractive enough catch to the right man, that he’ll be attracted by the person I am everyday, not the person I am just to him in the first few weeks, because I’m acting a certain way.
Yes, I get that Dating Games are built on over-arching social realities. That people like what they can’t have. That confidence is attractive. That being too keen puts someone off …
But I’ve also seen couples break all the rules, and still get together – because they really fancy each other.
The thing about dating, is that sometimes you meet people who make you break every rule in the book. And it doesn’t even matter. People who can ring you all hours of the day, and turn up on a date in their sweatpants, and you still think the world of.
The reality of life is that two people can do or say the exact same thing, and you will react in totally different ways. If a man you don’t fancy texts you all the time, he’s considered too keen, and OTT. If a man you really like texts you all the time, you reply all the time, with the biggest grin in the world on your face!
And the way I see it, the real ‘dating game’, is finding someone who you don’t have to play games with.
Not someone who’s only attracted to you because they see you as a challenge. Or someone who finds you interesting because you takes 24 hours to reply to a text. Or someone who likes you, because you neg her at every opportunity, and always flirt with her less attractive friends.
But someone who actually genuinely fancies you. Someone who spent two hours in your company, and loved every silly anecdote that came into conversation. Or someone who found it attractive that your eyes light up whenever you talk about your hobbies.
I’ve spoken before about my romantic tendencies …. About the men in my life (all of whom are now married to close friends) who have shown me just how men in love behave. I know the ways all of those friends met their husbands, and none of them were following any set rules. I also know, that all of my friends’ husbands fancied their wives from the first time they spent proper one-on-one time with them. And they acted accordingly …
Yes, the games may work.
If you really need to learn tricks to approach women, by all means read The Game.
If you need to control the way you overly communicate with a guy you fancy, feel free to read The Rules.
But don’t forget yourself in amongst all the game playing. Because the woman of your dreams will be attracted to YOU, not the pick up techniques you mask yourself in. And the man of your dreams will be attracted to you, regardless of whether you take an hour, or three hours replying to his texts.
I used to think the right relationship wouldn’t come easily. That you had to work hard for the best things in life. But that isn’t always the case. In fact, when I said as much to a close male friend, he shook his head in confusion. His relationship with his partner had always been the least complicated thing in his life. And that was how he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
Here’s to being yourself, and loving yourself. And above all, to making life easy, rather than complicating it with a load of extra rules!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
No, no, do NOT read The Game, unless you’re looking for a book of what NOT to do. The Mystery Method isn’t just questionable advice, it is literally advocating emotional manipulation and verbal abuse, as well as misogyny and sexism – and there have even been cases of actual violence against women, from already unstable men, who have taken PUA courses. The methods these groups employ, are directly correlated, to the behavior of domestic abusers; including improving their own ‘worth’ by implying the other person is worth less, inciting jealousy between groups of friends to separate your (potential) partner from her their influence, faking vulnerability to force others to take care of them, and more.
Negging is a popular PUA technique – it’s basically a comment that appears to be a compliment, but is actually designed to lower the self-confidence of the person it’s addressed to. Telling a woman that you like her dress, but it’s just a shame the color makes her look pasty – that’s bullying. It’s the same crap kids in school do, when they lure some helpless kid in with the promise of a seat at the cool table, only to slap their tray into their chest and call them a loser. Most of the PUA techniques are the same – designed to whittle down a woman’s confidence, until she is willing to sleep with the guy picking on her… oh sorry, “picking her up.”
PUA tricks – and the books outlining them – are creepy, and their methods involve some really nasty ways to make yourself look good, at the expense of the women you’re pursuing. Take it from someone who spent 3 years in a relationship full of negs, blame-shifting and other similar techniques – you don’t want to put anyone through that kind of treatment.
I wouldn’t bother with The Rules either. Talk about encouraging women to follow arbitrary dating guidelines, designed to obfuscate everything about who she really is, until the man is hooked. If you need help learning to relate to people, I suggest starting with books designed to help you make friends, or just have conversations. Books about communication styles are also good – I’m an avid reader on the MBTI, but always take the classification of personalities with a grain of salt. But focus not on how to meet men or women, but just how to be an engaging person. Then you can be yourself, while being accessible, instead of trying to trick people into getting to know a fake you. And learning about the ways people communicate, helps you avoid being manipulated by people using more sinister tools.
Books that teach you how to date, are usually more about teaching you how to lie and cheat. That’s why the foreword to the book I’ve been writing (forever), about communication styles and 21st Century archetypes, starts out with, “This is NOT a book about dating. You will find no Rules nor any Game playing techniques in these pages – and this book will NOT get you laid.” 🙂