Some people play games when they’re dating. To me, it’s more important to have game than to play them.
Having game is about being self-aware and exhibiting self-control. It’s about having low to moderate expectations, being less concerned about the immediate outcome and maybe even acting a bit aloof.
There are times I’ve had game in my single life, and times I have acted a fool.
“Game” for me is having the discipline to take my time, be patient, and just let it come naturally instead of being too aggressive when meeting a new guy.
When I’ve had this type of dating discipline, I’ve established better relationships and connections. And more importantly, I’m better at representing who I am. That’s in contrast to the times I’ve had no game at all: Eagerly waiting contact from my crush, sending multiple invites with no reciprocation. Or the worst move of all — drunk texting or calling.
Years ago, if I was going on and on about my crush or hanging by the phone too long for a call, my little brother would call me “desperato.” (Nothing like the support of family to let you know you’re crossing over to the crazy side!) But years later I still give myself a gut check once in a while by asking myself: Am I being desperato right now?
Sometimes when I overanalyze the next move in a dating chess match I consult my buddy Ed for his male perspective. “What do you think is going to happen next?” To which he usually answers, “You just can’t care so much, I’m sure everything will work out fine.” He is almost always right — it does work out fine.
It comes down to these two simple tips that can help any girl’s game:
1. Do not act desperato
2. Try not to care so much
It’s amazing how your phone will actually ring when you aren’t looking at it. Or how little impact obsessing over a situation actually has.
Of course you are willing to give everything to your new crush! Of course you want to be with him every day. Of course you want to meet his kids as soon as possible. Of course you want to be called his girlfriend. You are so sure of all this after three weeks of knowing him — right?
Resist the urge to plan the wedding!
Now imagine having a little “game” and spacing out your dates. How amped up will the anticipation be when you meet up again? Now how about putting your phone away while you are busy with friends and responding to a call or message later, when you’re free? Creating a little anticipation is good for your game.
Next think about how excited you’d be when he suggests you come over for a swim while his kids are home — especially if he comes to that conclusion himself, rather than by your request. And believe me, it’s much sweeter to hear him introduce you as his girlfriend instead of you prematurely confronting him with, “Where do we stand?”
Of course, be careful not to fall into the wanting-what-you-can’t-have trap, a narcissist’s favorite form of manipulation. Get off that hamster wheel if your relationship dynamic keeps you falsely hooked on a man who doesn’t give you the validation you are desperately seeking, but allows you to keep trying anyway. That guy is what we call a player.
Successful relationships that are mutually beneficial and compatible will get where you want them to be without imposing expectations or pressures on him, or yourself.
If reasonable progress is not being made, though, you should eventually speak up and share your relationship goals. If he doesn’t see or have the same goals for a future together, prepare to say goodbye and mean it. No more trying. Be brave, and buy stock in your value for someone who is worthy.
From there, it’s his job to come back to you if he has a change of heart. In the end, if he does not attempt to win you back, he was never yours anyway.
Then it’s time to put your game face on and find the one who will be.
Questions for our dating columnist? Reach her at email@example.com.
Story topics: Wellness