News Flash: No one is winning!
I have been divorced for almost four years now, and pretty much have yet to date anyone longer than a month or two. It’s one thing if there is just no chemistry, or if after getting to know someone, you come across some incompatibilities or strange behaviors – totally fine, you might have wasted a little time but can cut ties and move on. It’s a completely different frustration when you actually like someone but they decide to start playing games. Dating games are the worst. If I wanted to play games, my son has a closet full of them- Chutes & Ladders, Battleship, Monopoly… GAME ON!
The thing about all of those games is that they have directions, rules to follow. There is a clear winner and a clear loser. Everyone plays the same way, and when the game is over, it’s over. Clean up the pieces and put it back on the shelf.
With dating games, there are no rules. Everyone plays however they want, when they want. Cheating, lying, and quitting entirely with no explanation are perfectly acceptable game moves. There is no respect for the other players and you may not even be aware of exactly how many other players are in the game. While one person may think they’re “winning,” the other players usually have no idea what is even going on. I am personally so sick and tired of it. Can we all just agree to stop these dating games and just be real human beings? How about we build a relationship based on trust and honesty instead of all the bullsh*t?
Five Dating Games I Refuse To Play:
The Silent Treatment/Who Cares Less Game
Scenario: You start talking to someone and you think things are going pretty well until… they don’t text or call you back… for hours, days, maybe a week will go by, and NOTHING. Complete radio silence. Are they okay? Should I call the local hospitals? Oh wait, they just posted a photo of their lunch on Instagram, they’re fine.
Maybe the game player doesn’t want to come off too interested so they’re playing it cool by taking their sweet time to reply or start a new conversation. Or maybe, they’re too busy, not looking for anything right now, or they’re just not that into you. But of course, the person on the other side is confused and doesn’t want to double or triple text them, because God forbid you seem “desperate” or “clingy,” so both parties just sit there in silence, pretending they don’t care or notice that there’s no communication happening.
This game is a popular one, but not to be confused with “ghosting” (we’ll get to that one soon enough!); this person will eventually text you back, but they’re super casual and will act like nothing happened. Maybe they’ll have some lame excuse like they were “sick” or “work has been crazy.” Ok… apparently so sick or so busy you can’t send a quick, “Hi, how are you?” text? Nope, not ok.
At this point, they are either clueless that this lack of communication is a problem (end things now!), they think that ignoring you will make you more interested (no!), or they are not at a point in their life where they are willing or able to put any effort into a relationship (don’t waste your time!).
The Jealousy Game
Scenario: You’re on a date, enjoying a nice dinner, having a good conversation and then BOOM, they start going on and on about their bestie, coworker, neighbor, etc. – who happens to be a single and very attractive member of the opposite sex. Ummm… what just happened? Are you interested in that person? Have I moved into the friend zone and you need my advice about asking them out? Or are you trying to make me jealous? #FAIL on all accounts.
I am not a jealous person, ok maybe I am a little, but more than jealous, this just makes me mad! And your jealousy game (whether intentional or not) has officially backfired.
Sure, everyone has friends of the opposite sex. And it is totally fine to mention them in a conversation if it is relevant in a discussion. But mention them again… and again… and why the heck are we still talking about them?! If this person truly is just a good “friend,” that’s great, I’d love to meet them some time and hopefully we can all be friends! But if you’re going out of your way to avoid us meeting or hanging out with this particular “friend” all the time without me, that’s shady. Clearly, I am not your #1, and I’m not interested in competing for your affection.
Scenario: You’ve been on a few dates, you like this person, you think the feeling is mutual, everything is going great, until… they ghost you! This person has made a conscious decision to never contact you again, but has failed to inform you of that decision. You are left wondering what, where, why, and how it all went wrong.
I have recently been “ghosted” and it sucks. To this day, I don’t know what happened. One night we went out to dinner and had a great time watching Planet Earth 2 (I love sloths!), we texted the next day, nothing unusual. But then, he just stopped texting back. A few more days went by. I was going to wait it out and see if he would eventually text me, but screw it, I’m not above the double or triple text. I asked him how his weekend was… and got nothing. That was the end, he ghosted me, and I haven’t heard from him since April 23, haha.
Ghosting is probably the most common dating game, and unfortunately we’ve just accepted it as a normal dating procedure. NO! It is a coward’s way out of a relationship, and it’s not okay.
Have people lost all common courtesy and manners when it comes to dating? Apparently taking shortcuts, avoiding conflict, and leaving others hurt and confused have become acceptable ways of breaking up with someone. I worry for what things will be like in 10 years when my son is dating. I would hope that I have raised him to be respectful enough to at the very least, send a text saying, “Sorry, I’m not looking for something serious right now/not interested/have a stronger connection with someone else, etc. I wish you the best.” That might sting a little bit, obviously no one likes to be rejected, but at least the recipient knows things have ended, instead of sitting there trying to decipher every move in hopes of figuring out what went wrong.
Scenario: You’re dating someone and you’re interested in seeing where it could go, but there’s something off. Maybe they only invite you out at the last minute or they never fully commit when you invite them to things. They’ll say things like, “Maybe!” or, “I might have plans, but that sounds fun!” What they’re probably doing is waiting for someone else (who’s not on their bench) to come through.
Benching is a cruel and dangerous game. The person being benched is getting just enough from the bencher to think there’s a chance; they’ll text back and keep you in the loop, appearing to be interested, yet always busy. Meanwhile, the bencher is basically putting forth the minimum effort required to keep their options open with each of the benchees. They don’t commit to anything more because they’re too busy going through their rotation, and probably adding more players to the bench by endlessly swiping their life away on Bumble.
If someone is constantly sending you mixed signals or you’re always the one to text first, or make plans first, there is a chance you’ve been benched. Tread carefully in this situation and don’t get your hopes up because even though being benched keeps you in the race, you’ll never make it to the finish line.
The “Are We a Couple?” Game
Scenario: You’ve been dating for a few months (congratulations!) and you’re not seeing anyone else, but there hasn’t yet been a conversation as to “what you are.” You talk or text every day, you see each other on a regular basis, you’re comfortable around each other, maybe you’ve even met their family and friends, but is this person actually your boyfriend/girlfriend? Where is this “relationship” going?
I couldn’t think of a better title for this one, because if you’ve ever had to ask yourself, “Are we a couple?” then you know exactly what I’m talking about. A person playing this game gives just enough time and affection towards the pseudo-“relationship” so that you think it’s going somewhere, but they never actually take it to the next level. They don’t call you their boyfriend/girlfriend in public, you might be introduced simply as “Kelly” or worst of all, my “friend” Kelly. Ummm… do friends do what we do behind closed doors?
I don’t know the reasoning behind this game (fear of commitment, perhaps they’ve secretly benched you, or maybe they’re just not that into you), but poor communication on both sides will definitely put you in this holding pattern. If you are too nervous to ask or talk about the future and where you’re headed as a couple, then maybe it’s a sign that things are not going in the direction you’re hoping. On one hand, you don’t want to rock the boat (things are going goodish!), but on the other, you don’t want to be wasting your time with someone who is not on the same page.
This is possibly the most dangerous dating game, because spend enough time in this limbo territory and before you know it, months (or years!) could pass, where you’re thinking it’s going somewhere, but sadly it’s not. And when it finally ends, you’re old(er) and alone, and depressed AF. Let the games begin… all. over. again.
Seriously, I am so over these ridiculous games that go along with dating. Technology is partially to blame. Tinder. Bumble. Plenty of Fish. Pick your poison. It has become all too easy to open up a dating app in hopes of meeting your soulmate, only to find yourself swiping your life away. Even if you go on a great date with someone, technology beckons you to go back online afterwards. Why not check out your new matches? Start up a new conversation? Decide if you should “settle” for the person you just went out with, or keep looking? Everyone is looking for next best thing, and no one is ever happy.
Dating used to be important to me, but lately it’s been a waste of my time. I do want to meet someone amazing, fall in love, and live happily ever after. But the more I date, the more that seems like a distant fantasy. Bottom line: If someone is truly interested in me, they should want to text me, call me, and see me. It shouldn’t feel like an obligation or be something you “forget” to do.
Everyone is busy, I get that, which is why respecting someone’s time is so important. My life is busy and my time is valuable. I work full time, I’m a single mom, I workout when I can, volunteer with local charities, and religiously attend Bachelor Mondays with my friends. So if I can make time for dating, you really have no excuse- you’re just playing games.
When someone really likes someone else, they go out of their way to see them, not because they have to, but because they want to. But it’s a two-way street; one person shouldn’t feel like they’re the only one who’s actually interested in keeping the relationship going. One person can’t put in everything and get nothing in return.
If everyone could stop playing games and start being real, get off of Bumble after a good date, and pursue what’s right in front of them, we might realize that love is not a game to be won.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my similar post: Six Misconceptions About Dating a Single Mom.