Yes, I just quoted a Backstreet Boys song…deal with it.
Game playing in the romantic world has come up more than once in my life lately, and it kind of took me by surprise. In the universe’s (The Universe has a twitter, btw) typical fashion, it even showed up in my webcomics – see today’s Questionable Content post.
I guess on some level, you could say that all the so-called rules we follow in the dating world are playing games, because they aren’t us acting entirely on intuition. By this I mean things like waiting a few days to call someone after getting their number, not texting back immediately, not always being available during the initial time you’re asked out for, texting the morning after if you had a good time, etc. In my (potentially naïve) view, though, playing games has always been a negative thing, and has always been something that people do intentionally. It’s playing hard to get or acting uninterested in order to attract someone.
I have hidden my interest in men before, but usually because I was afraid of rejection and I wanted to judge their interest first. I realize now that is the same thing as playing a game because it isn’t being direct and forthright with your feelings. I’ve also come to realize that sometimes games aren’t all negative, but are natural. I didn’t intentionally think to play hard to get. I don’t lead people on or tease them on purpose. If I’ve ever done so, it’s been a measure of my own uncertainty or insecurity in that particular situation.
I’ve basically been a bit of a hypocrite. I make a big deal about owning how you feel and being honest, but when it comes down to it, I’m not that blunt. When asked for an opinion or asked how I feel, I will be unfailingly honest. I may even overshare and give way too much information. That said, I tend to not volunteer information. In the past, in all situations – with friends, family, romantic partners – volunteering emotional information has more often than not ended very poorly. It’s a trust thing. If someone has asked something, I trust they care about the answer and I am ok making myself vulnerable because they did so by asking. It’s rare for me to trust others enough to become vulnerable with them on my own initiative, and that is where I’ve been “playing games.”
I don’t know if how I act is really game playing, I just know that I need to be more direct. I’ve known this for a while, but I’m still working on acting on it. I’ve gotten better recently in a series of interactions in the kinky and vanilla world, in terms of play and dating, but I still have a ways to go. I was taken aback a bit this weekend, though, when someone suggested that I was playing games, when in my mind, I was just uncertain of his interest and of how far I was willing to go with him. I didn’t intend to give mixed messages, and I cleared it up right away. On a similar note, when playing a game that asked “what would make an unattractive person appealing,” one thing brought up was directness about sexual interest. I don’t think I’d fit in the unattractive persons group, but it’s interesting to hear from others how directness is admired rather than seen as off-putting.
Now to go on building myself up and forcing myself to be more direct. Putting my money where my mouth is can be hard.