It’s a story I don’t need to tell because it’s been told for decades before me, with different variations along the way: boy and girl meet and seem to hit it off, boy and girl exchange numbers, boy says he will call; girl waits around for approximately three days before “casually checking in” and officially starts freaking out.
As they say at the start of the Olympics, “Let the games begin.”
Sadly, as we figured out through “He’s Just Not That Into You” – our mind games and obsessing and reading into mixed signals (that maybe aren’t as complicated as we make them), start from the time we have that very first crush in kindergarten. By the time we reach middle school, we’ve decided who is in our league and who isn’t, and in high school, we fall so deeply in love with a sweetheart (could be reciprocated or unrequited) that we can barely stand to think of anything else. College rolls around and that first love syndrome leads to the first real heartbreak, and we battle the trenches of utterly confusing, mingled, and mangled “relationships” that may or may not have strings attached.
By the time we reach our 20s – if we haven’t mastered the game of love (and lust) in all of our battles and victories of the past, we decide either in frustration or in stride, that it’s time to start learning the tricks of the trade.
So we start dating Mr. Google, read blogs and articles that give us clues and how to give “the look” that’ll get us a drink and more, and we talk constantly (through BBM, Twitter, Facebook, Gchat, and so on) to our girlfriends, analyzing what we should do and what we shouldn’t, what he thinks and what he doesn’t think, if he’s interested or not interested.
And then, if you’re like me – you become such a pro at getting a man to look your way or ask you out on a date, that the whole first date scenario…sincerely becomes a play-by-play that you can predict. The game becomes irrelevant because it stops being interactive and you realize you’re just going through the motions as opposed to getting into the spirit and the energy of the practice.
I won’t say that I enjoy dating, but I also don’t dislike it completely either. One of the reasons I started this journey was due to the fact that I was getting too caught up in the “game” that I became discouraged. Dates were becoming absolutely and completely boring and I was sick of scripting what would happen before I even arrived at the restaurant.
I’m not sure if that means I mastered the game or I lost it.
Regardless, now I find myself at an odd crossroad. I’ve learned a lot from the dating scene, but because I’m not seeking (letting them come to me instead), a lot of the pressure has been taken off. I take some winning strategies with me on dates with guys, but I try to leave the fixation of expectations in the wind. I don’t project who I think they are, but I take them at their face value. And if he doesn’t call, well, he just doesn’t call and it’s time to turn on Jay-Z’s Onto The Next One.
The next man up to bat is Mr. Rescue. He’s been quite sweet this past week and pretty reliable with text messages and wit. Though I’m not quite sure where we’re going as I write this blog, we do have a reservation for dinner, and it’s snowing outside – so maybe I’ll get to kiss in the snow. As insignificant as it is, because I gave him a Mr title, he decided I needed one too, so he refers to me as Ms. Bradshaw. Quite cute, indeed.
And so far, I don’t feel like my head’s in the game or I’m really reading into anything. The obsession factor isn’t existent and I haven’t figured out if there is a chance for something of substance with him or not. If overcoming love addiction means learning to really take my time and choose what’s best with me, then I’m well on my way to health.
I don’t think a “game” is always necessary and I’d like to say that we should all stop being active members in the contests, but I don’t think it’ll ever go away. We all like some chasing, a spark of challenge, and a great story to tell the grandkids one day. As long as there is healthy sexual tension, the game will continue, and in the words of Shakespeare, we are all merely players.
Though I’m sure my rants and my analyzing (I am a Virgo, after all) will come back at some point, along with my first-date grilling methods – for all of you love addicts out there, like me, here are some pretty helpful tactics I’ve discovered that really help the game not seem so strenuous:
Don’t save his number.
I view my phone as the Holy Grail of my life. Maybe that’s a little extreme – but if you’re going to be saved in my phone, I either think you’re someone who is going to stick around or you have a voice I’d rather not hear. So when a guy gives me his number when I meet him, I take it – and then I delete it. And really, I don’t save it for a while – I think with Mr. Possibility, it took me about a month to allow him into my phone. This not only makes a guy seek you, but it prevents you from listening to the red, red wine when it whispers: “you should text that cute boy from Thursday” in your ear.
Ask open ended questions.
If you really want to get to know someone, ask them about themselves. Sounds simple enough, but as people we like to talk about ourselves and it is easy to go on and on about what you do, what you think, what you feel, on a first date. I’ve learned that if I slow down and let the guy open himself up a little bit, the date is far more enjoyable for me and I make better decisions for date two. Plus, if I’m totally not interested and can’t wait for the date to end, it gives me a break.
Stop making rules.
Ok – we all have boundaries and little things we usually stick-to-our guns about, but why are those so important at the start of dating? And really, why do we tell guys we’re on dates with, what our rules are? He goes in for a kiss and you say “I don’t do that on the first date!”, but why? That kiss could be the kiss that trumps all smooches to date –so why not try it out? And where did the three-day rule come from? Sure, it’s there, but it doesn’t have to be. When I loosened up on the rules, the game became so much easier and less complicated.
Make other plans.
In the past, when I first met a guy, I used to clear out my calendar for the weekend following “just in case” he texted me or wanted to wine-and-dine me. Yes, I’ve been that girl who cancelled plans with friends for a man, but really, chicks should always be before dicks – especially if it’s a man you don’t even know. Now, instead of “playing hard to get” or “being unavailable” – I really just have other things filling up my time. This isn’t playing the game; this is having a life outside of a man.
A lot of my friends in college and even now constantly ask me “how do you get so many guys to take you on an actual date and not just drinks or something casual?” Well, because I never agree to drinks. Maybe it’s my southern upbringing, but to me, if a guy wants to get to know me, I want to actually go on a date. This doesn’t mean a fancy restaurant with candles and flowers, but if a guy asks me if I’m free for drinks on Tuesday, I’ll say, “No, but I’m free for dinner on Friday.” Cocktails are for my girlfriends and I, not for my new male game player who I’m considering allowing getting to second base.