It’s unclear at what point during the socialization of young adults that relationships and love became a game. Some things are clear; once upon a time the glory days existed in which marriage was solely a business and romance was scarce. But then, somewhere along the line, “feelings” and “love” came into play and everything got, for lack of a better and more descriptive word, completely fucked up.
But, unfortunately, it’s the truth. And now, for some twisted and unidentifiable reason, we care WAY too much about the opposite sex. And caring sucks. Caring means attachment, attachment means feelings, and feelings make things get messy. You’re never more vulnerable than when you actually give a shit about the opposite sex, because that’s when risk comes in and all sense of control leaves. We all think about movies, about books, about relationships the media causes us to idolize (admit it, ladies—we’d do beyond questionable things to have half the love life Jessie James Decker or Blake Lively have. Are they even real humans?).
As a result, we create this fantasy in our own minds, one that we trick ourselves into thinking is obtainable. We think happy endings are in store for us, that someone will change the game for us, or that this person is our new source of happiness. We meet a new guy who shows a glimmer of potential and think this could be it—we’ve found something. So we do the logical thing—we show it. We get excited, chat about it with our friends, think a little too much about the context of text message conversations, and put effort into ridiculous Snapchats (cue the I’m not even trying to look pretty—just soooo bored in the library pouting face). As time goes on, feelings accumulate. A vaguely defined relationship forms. And thus we develop a painful little thing called hope. And as a result, we think letting someone know much we actually care and putting ourselves out there will show the person our loyalty and our worthiness. It’ll make them like us back, and display how we’re the perfect candidate—right? Of course it would.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. We’d have to live in some kind of parallel universe where people actually made sense for that to be true. But we don’t. We live in a world where love sucks about half the time (hello—50% of all marriages ending in divorce?), and if there’s that little hope for actual marriage, then it’s about that time for us to throw all hope for relationships before that in the trash.
I’m not trying to be pessimistic. I’m simply being realistic. It’s no secret that a majority of boys in their early 20s have subpar intelligence and selfish intentions and that they lack the brain capacity to realize when something good—perfect, even—is right in front of them. The cold hard truth is that good girls don’t get the credit they deserve. We can try and try, give all we have, be faithful, be sweet, be forgiving, be respectful of ourselves—basically be the ultimate “wifey” material. But in the end, all we really end up being is a human doormat. Being nice and being the “good girl” simply doesn’t work anymore. There’s only one reason why putting ourselves out there and being genuine is continually resulting in men taking a dump on our emotions—and that reason is called The Game. The dreaded, awful, but very very real game. And the sooner we recognize it and learn its rules, the sooner we can prevent ourselves from falling victim to its wrath and realize that it’s the very last thing you want to play.
Still, if you’re not playing, you’re losing. And if you lose, you’re hurt. And the bottom line is, there comes a time when you’re sick to death of being hurt. So it’s time to play.
The facts of the matter are simple—really, so simple that I don’t understand how more girls don’t grasp the concept sooner. The less you care (or at least the less you show that you care), the more power you have. The power in every single relationship lies with the one who cares less. It’s like there’s two paths; one is happy, beautiful, fun, careless, and free. The other is a constant overcast, dark, confusing, pathetic and nothing short of unenjoyable. Relationships are like that. Two-way streets, one completely different from the other. Two different experiences entirely. This is true, of course, only if you believe the notion that indifference provides power. But just about every relationship, as I’ve experienced so far, truly is a power struggle whether you realize it or not.
It isn’t always this way. It starts off with a spark, a “honeymoon phase” if you will, where two people are blissfully ignorant and happy because they think they’ve found this super great new thing filled with awesomeness. That’s when the two are at an equilibrium, no one cares less because you both aren’t even technically caring at all, you’re just blind and excited about a new person.
But this can never last too long. You simply can’t remain at the first step forever. Sooner or later, one person starts to care too much. And there you have it; the game has started. It’s been decided who’s taking which path, and it’s pretty much all downhill from here. Once you care, you sacrifice your power. And the other person knows they “have” you, the excitement is lost, the chase is over. Throw casual sex into the mix and you’re simply setting yourself up to be taken advantage of. The individual who cares less will continue to seize the opportunity to have fun and get laid at their leisure and probably enjoy the attention and affection in the meantime. But eventually they’ll get bored. Or they’ll recognize the threat of commitment and spring in the opposite direction. They’ll back off, they’ll meet someone else with less risk of attachment.
And they have won, consciously or not, simply because they didn’t care as much as you did. Indifference cuts the deepest, but it is a shield. And the person who cares more is left broken, stuck trying to figure out what they did wrong in simply showing that they’re genuine. But the sad truth is that even if all you’re searching for is something real, showing you care won’t usually get you it. It simply gets you stomped on, usually used, and eventually left alone as the one with the upper hand gets bored or “freaked out” by the idea of someone who actually gives a shit (because it’s soooo scary to have someone actually care about you?). It’s twisted, it’s strange, and it’s cruel. But it’s the simple facts. Emotions are crippling, and caring about someone of the opposite sex at this age is nothing but bad news.
So we get caught in the game, acting like we don’t care, leading people on, using them, milking every ounce of affection we can get from them if they care more because it makes us feel good and feel confident about ourselves, knowing that someone cares so much. But then we’re over it, because the chase is over, and we’ve found the power. And there you have it—you “win.”
Our generation has entered a time where winning the game is as simple as not caring too much. And coming from someone who has one of the biggest, most open hearts, I’ll be the first to admit it’s an awful reality. The amount you care and the amount of pain you experience are at a positive correlation. It’s a game, but the only thing worse than getting involved and playing it is losing it.