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“Let’s see, he took 10 minutes to text me back. I’ll wait 15 minutes to reply, so I don’t seem too into him.”
“Oh! There she is! I’m going to go talk to her – wait – I initiated our last three conversations. I’ll wait for her to come talk to me.”
Thoughts like those are the meat of what has come to be known in society as “the game,” and playing the game has become the dating norm. Nearly everyone participates even though nearly everyone seems to hate it.
A lot of people believe that playing the game is manipulative, dishonest, stressful or even just stupid. It isn’t often that people talk about how beneficial or fun it is — even if they do thrive on it — because people usually don’t like to self-identify with negative connotations.
So why does it seem like everyone plays the game, despite their moral (or at least admitted moral) exception to it?
It’s because everyone is doing it, and sometimes fire can only be fought with fire.
Sure, it’s better to fight fire with water. Water extinguishes fires. But the flames of the dating game have risen pretty high, and there isn’t enough water in the mains of BYU to put it out. It would take an eleventh commandment to squash it here, so embracing the flames seems to be the only way to go.
There are really only a few ways to deal with playing the game. Let’s break this down:
Fighting Fire with Fire
You can justify playing the game by only participating once in a while or maybe just when you’re getting to know someone, so you don’t come on too strong. Those that are unsure of what they want often take this approach. This is playing the game without being a player. And after the DTR, it should be GAME OVER.
“Playing the game is necessary to approach someone and show interest while not becoming too vulnerable. However after you enter a relationship, both parties need to be vulnerable and open to form a significant relationship,” said Evan Long, a junior studying biophysics.
When people light fireworks in the woods that end up burning down the forest, they would be in pretty deep trouble if they came forward and admitted to it.
Likewise, some of the game’s heaviest hitters are those that say they’re assertive and “all about clear and honest communication.” They deny playing the game, but secretly they’re playing it, hitting home runs, scoring touchdowns and loving it. They may even tell themselves it’s everyone else that plays the game, but not them.
The Fire Extinguisher
Let’s face it; there are some people with enough good looks, charm or backbone to simply refuse to play the game, and still get away with it. They extinguish the fires of the game by not playing it at all.
For everyone else, being up front with someone else and telling them how you feel is risky. It puts you in a position of vulnerability, and may not turn out they way you want it to. But it also has the potential to add kindling to the sparks of a relationship so that it can really take off. People usually don’t play this card initially though. They’ll usually — and understandably—wait for some “signs” first.
“I feel that after a serious encounter, like a date, there needs to be an affirmation or a denial,” said Kaiser Larsen, a junior studying public relations. “It becomes counterproductive when the girl or guy won’t be straight up and indicate if they should just be friends.”
The game isn’t going away any time soon. If you morally object to it, like most people do, you’ll have to cope with it somehow.
“I regard the game unfortunately an inevitable part of life,” said Zachary Baldauf, a sophomore studying social science teaching. “If you don’t like it, you have to at least tolerate it.”
You just kissed the guy of your dreams and can’t wait to get home so you can tell your roommates all about it. You shell out the details as fast as you can, but they keep grilling you to tell them more.
Most people like to talk about how their relationships are progressing. Sometimes talking through things with someone else helps you figure out what you want and know how to advance, but other times your words will just become the week’s gossip. It’s important to analyze the specific reason why you tell what you tell.
For example, if you’re only telling your friends to brag, you probably need to keep your experience to yourself. Sharing because you’re excited is a little more reasonable, especially if you keep the more intimate details to yourself.
It’s also important to consider what kind of person you’re confiding in. There are friends who keep your words totally private, others who share some uncompromising details and yet others that blab every word you tell them.
The most important lesson you can learn about sharing the intimate details of your life is to be aware. Know how far you want things to travel, consider who you’re telling and know your reason for sharing what you do before you open your mouth.
A guy often extends a non-threatening invitation to a girl because he doesn’t want her to assume he is interested, even though he is. This makes it hard for a girl to reject the invitation by saying, “I’m not interested,” or “I’m dating someone,” because he was not straightforward enough.
“Hey do you want to come on a hike with me and my friends?”
“We are going to ride bikes on Saturday, do you want to come?”
“Do you want to come to the movies with my friends and me?”
If you are into him, go, but expect him to ask you out on a date in the future. If you are not into him, go the first time, but the second time, politely say no.
Girls at BYU give their opinions as to how you can reject a non-threatening invitation.
“I would just say no thanks. I don’t know if I would keep saying I’m busy because then he would just keep asking.”
—Kristie Marx, Murrieta, California
“Just say no. Lay it on the line and say what you’re thinking.”
—Celeste Ingersoll, San Clemente, California
“Make it obvious that he’s just a friend and that you don’t want to take it further, but in a nice way.”
—Jenessa Cherry, Provo
“Ask if it’s a date, and if he says yes, tell him you’re not interested and that you would rather be friends with him.”
—Tori Whitworth, Glendora, California
Women have a habit of wanting to fix the men in their lives. Women do not have the right to fix men. Women need to stop.
“I tried changing a guy because there were things about him that I wished were different,” said Jessica Albert, a sophomore from Oregon. “If I wanted to keep being interested in him. I needed him to change.”
A person will only change when they want to, though some encouragement can help.
“It is OK to want to help a guy be their best, but you cannot force the guy to change,” said Tatinana Hernandez, a junior from Provo. “It is better to be a good influence in his life. If he becomes resistant, you need to back off.”
That’s the thing: the call for change comes from the love interest, not the person in question. For a change to be effective, the guy has to choose to change himself.
Even if a woman has good intentions and she really cares about the guy, she shouldn’t try to change him. No one is perfect. Every man is going to have quirks about him that bother the woman interested in him. A woman needs to learn to love every part of him.
When a woman tries to make a guy into the person she wants him to be, most likely he is not going to change. This will lead to disappointment and frustration.
“When a girl has tried to change me, obviously I failed. Because she is not with me now,” said Kevin Kofford, an engineering major from Colorado.
If a woman finds herself wanting to fix a major problem about a guy, he may not be the right man for her. If things end because there is something he really needs to work on, it is OK. A woman shouldn’t be trying to make the man she wants, she needs to go out and find him.
Women shouldn’t become too picky because there is no perfect guy, just like women are not perfect. With some encouragement from each other, two people can learn to help bring out the best in one another.
Why you want to go back
[toggle title=”You miss them” state=”closed”] Why you shouldn’t
It’s easy when you’re reminiscing to only remember the good times, but there was a reason you broke up. Keeping that in mind will help you look at the person objectively and prevent impulsive, emotional mistake [/toggle]
[toggle title=”It’s not the same with other people ” state=”closed”] Why you shouldn’t
No matter how many people you meet or dates you go on, no one can live up to your ex. Try to stop comparing potential love interests to that one guy or girl; believe you deserve someone who is better for you and open yourself up to find them. [/toggle]
[toggle title=”They’re comfortable ” state=”closed”] Why you shouldn’t
People can change, but if you’ve been burned once (or twice…or three times….), you need to wake up. Words are easy, and while it’s tempting to believe them, but if his or her actions don’t match their talk, you need to walk. [/toggle]
[toggle title=”They say they’ve changed ” state=”closed”] Why you shouldn’t
Nobody likes the awkward get-to-know-you conversations and tiptoeing of a new relationship. Your ex is comfortable; they know you and you have a routine. Just remember that it wasn’t always like that. If you put in effort and have patience, you can establish that kind of comfort with someone you like even more. [/toggle]
How To Break It Off
If you’re “friends”: Most people tend to use the fade out method, but that’s not the best way to end things. Even if it’s just a text, let the other person know you’re done and want to keep things strictly platonic.
If you’ve been on three or less dates: This situation doesn’t need an official ending, but if he or she is asking why you haven’t gone out again, give them a call and explain you had fun but don’t see it going anywhere.
If you’re official: The conversation must be private and in person (unless you’re long distance; then try to Skype or video chat if you can). Keep it brief and do it as soon as you know things aren’t working out, though do try to avoid breakups right before major events and holidays.
If you’re serious: Again, must be private and in person. Explain why you’re ending the relationship in a sensitive but firm way. It might be wise to give them a heads up by saying you need to talk later so they have time to prepare before you launch into the breakup.
Ultimately, there’s a reason it didn’t work in the first place. It can be hard to let go of an ex, but if they’re still in your arms, there won’t be a place for someone new. Some bridges need to be burned.
You found the girl of your dreams. You start dating and soon find yourself spending all of your time together. Things are going really well until you receive unwelcome news: she doesn’t want to date you anymore.
After the break-up, you go back to your old life, and find out while you were caught up in the relationship, you neglected everyone and no longer have any friends. This happens to many of us. We think we’ve found the one and can survive with just his or her interactions for the rest of our life. “Don’t get so caught up in your exciting love life that you ignore the needs of people who are there for you,” said Aimee Elder, a sophomore studying statistics. “Schedule time to be with your friends, and really be with them.” The familiar adage, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” refers to more than just monetary investments.
“Oh man, while we love to spend time with each other, (my boyfriend and I) both know that we need our own time with our own friends,” said Ashea Hanna, a junior studying nursing. “We know that it is just as imperative to spend time apart as it is together.” Finding that appropriate balance is easier said than done. The best way is to not make radical changes when you start dating someone. If you and your friends have post-work “Friday Night Fun,” keep that tradition. They are still six other nights in a week that you can spend together. Don’t put your life on hold for someone you may or may not marry. Keep investing in your current friends, just like you’re investing in your new love interest.
— Donovan Baltich