Does dating seem like a game you'll never master?

If you have been single for any length of time and tried dating, it can feel like you’re facing one big puzzle.

When do I call him? How long should I wait before I sleep with her? Do I mention my income on this dating website? What can I tell her on the first date that won’t send her running for the hills? Why have I gone on so many dates without finding anyone I like? You end up feeling less like you are trying to find a soulmate and more like you are playing some elaborate chess match with no end in sight.

Yes, dating is like a game in some ways. If you look at it clinically, you’re competing for something and you set goals and try to reach them. There is a “prize” for winning. Like a game, dating is unpredictable but your chances improve with the right coaching or training. And people use strategies (games within the game) while dating. But for someone seeking more than just the most dates, the most sex, or the most “likes” on a site, dating is decidedly not a game. The people you encounter are real – they have emotions and feelings like you and they too bleed when cut. If your goal is a real and deep relationship, you have to be both serious and kind.

Many think they can win at dating by creating rules. A major problem with making up rules for dating is that they are grounded in fear, not confidence. If you feel good about yourself and have a healthy outlook on dating, you won’t need to make a list that you check every two hours to make sure you’re doing the “right” things. If you think you have something to offer potential mates, you should be able to act naturally. In contrast, people who are out merely to seduce or win always need to have the upper hand. They are afraid to expose their real feelings or desires. If you act like this, you’re only going to meet similarly scared people. You will eliminate the potential for a real bond.

Watch out for the people who fully buy into the game premise. They are out to win and they don’t care about the people they hurt in the process. Try to avoid these people if you aren’t into dating as psychological warfare. Some indicators of this type are as follows: she breaks two out of every three dates; he can only meet you for a cocktail at 6 p.m. for one hour every two weeks; she has two hundred selfies on her Facebook. A disturbing number of people use dating, particularly online dating, as a way to boost their ego. They may have no interest in you at all but they like to have people to text at night, they like being told they’re pretty, or they like being taken out. Don’t waste your time on this type of person. If they cancel on you more than once, if they never offer to pay, if it’s always all about their schedule? They’re not going to change and you are going to get disillusioned.

Understand that dating for quantity over quality is a bad approach. Some people say that dating is a numbers game – if you go out on enough dates, you will eventually find the right person. This is a painful and long process. While it might work out, through sheer luck, it’s going to be rough going and it doesn’t follow that you are more likely to meet the right guy because you have gone on 201 dates. You’re not “due” for a good date just because you have been on a ton. It’s a lot more effective to choose to go on dates with people who truly interest and attract you. And to accept dates only from the same. Just having a person to meet for a drink five days a week doesn’t really bring you any closer to finding the one person you WANT to have that drink with every night.

If you’re using a dating site for hook-ups, be honest about your intentions with yourself and your conquests. And if you’re the target of this type of user, learn to spot them before they hurt you. If sex is all you want, you’re not dating. You’re not going to find the right person by sleeping with five girls a week. And if you’re a girl who really does want a relationship, you need to realize that the guy who sends you steamy texts within five minutes of getting your number is not interested in much more than the color of your underwear.

Now, all this said, you do have to play along with the dating game at times – or, more accurately, you need to follow traditional social rules. Online dating and social networking have given many of us the false impression that they know someone just because they have read about them and looked at their photos. Please eradicate this notion. Even if you know the last book he read and are wondering why there he took that picture on a donkey in Mexico, he’s still a stranger. You go on a date, you get to know each other. Don’t pour out every intimate detail of your life. Don’t text him five times in the first hour after dinner to say what an amazing time you had. Don’t try to hard. This person can’t be worth all that much to you if you have only met them once.

You should have good manners. Again, a new person doesn’t “owe” you anything. Just because you think she’s beautiful and she agrees to go for a coffee with you, this does not mean she is in love with you. The first date is not the time to wear your heart on your sleeve because it’s not possible to have a relationship based on one date. You need to respect her space and be polite and reasonable. If she doesn’t answer a text, don’t hound her. Let her go if she doesn’t seem interested. No snarky follow-up messages.

You have doubtless heard a lot of advice. Don’t agree to a date the night he asks. Wait a day to call her back. You need to let him make all the moves. But as you get to know and care about someone, there should be fewer rules to follow. You will want to open up to them and you should do so. Stop playing it cool and be yourself. If you never do this, you will never get beyond playing games. If you have developed a rapport with someone, you should be able to be honest with them. If you never feel comfortable, they aren’t the right one for you.

In the end, we’re suggesting you be brave. Offer your true self to people who interest you. Be confident enough to let people go. You might experience more heartbreak, but you will never find love unless you do this.



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Posted 07-18-2013 7:56 pm by