One common thread I’ve noticed in perusing online dating profiles is that many people say they’re “tired of games.” It always intrigues me that it’s become necessary to state this. It seems obvious, doesn’t it, that once you hit a certain age, your motivation for dating would be to find something real, not to “play games”? Then again, maybe I’m just naively optimistic about people and their intentions.
When I go on a first date with a guy who’s stated that he’s “tired of games,” one of my questions is always, “What do you mean by ‘games’?” I’ve heard a variety of answers. Some of them are extremely specific and make me want to run away because it just screams “unresolved trauma.” Other times, there doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer, which makes me wonder why they would take the time to type out a statement when they’re not even sure what they mean by it.
What it usually boils down to, though, is that the guy wants a girl to be honest and open about her feelings. If she’s into him, he wants her to be obvious about it. If she’s not feeling it, he wants her to let him know it isn’t going to work out instead of leading him on or just disappearing.
Side note, almost every time I’ve tried having a mature conversation with a man about how I don’t think we’d be compatible for anything long term, it usually devolves into me being called various profanities for not jumping at the opportunity to hitch myself permanently to such a gem of a man. So I can’t say I blame women for ghosting or slow fading. People don’t handle honesty very well when it reads as rejection.
I’ve also had conversations with other single women who say they would like it if men would just be honest with them as well, whether the truth is what they want to hear or not. Maybe I’m just talking to the wrong people, but it seems like we all, for the most part, want the same thing.
So why does everyone think everyone else is playing games?
My theory is that very few single adults actually do play games. What we all interpret as “games” is actually our own fear of rejection and the other person’s fear of vulnerability.
No one wants to be the first to make their intentions known. It’s scary! So we all play it safe, hold a little back, until we have some level of certainty from the other person. Or maybe the hesitation comes from both people trying to take the time to figure each other and themselves out.
But if both parties are scared and hesitant, how is progress ever made?
Instead of assuming the other person has malicious intentions or that we must have done something wrong to make them not like us, what if we extend a little grace? What if we communicate with the other person and try to understand where the hesitation is coming from?
Maybe we’re all contributing to this idea that dating is a “game” and that the only way to win is to be the one who gives less and, because of that, has less to lose.