“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.”
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