Let him know you’re interested, but not too interested.
Play hard to get, but don’t be too much of a tease.
Never double text, but don’t ghost him, and don’t answer too quickly, but also don’t wait too long to respond.
Be straightforward about what you want, but don’t come off too strong.
Put yourself out there, but not so out there that it comes off as desperate.
Let him know you have other options, but not too much so that you push him away.
And the list goes on…
I could write pages on pages on pages of dating advice I’ve received, read, heard, followed, trusted, sworn by and then totally abandoned.
And most of the advice centers on a weird sense of balance, find the sweet spot–that in between land of perfect bliss–where you’re not too crazy, but crazy enough that you come off as fun–not too intense, but intense enough that you’re clearly passionate about something. That you care, but you don’t care that much. The attitude of: I like you, but I’ll be fine if this goes south. My hopes are up, but my expectations are low. Walk the fine line between I’m a robot and I’m a real person.
But what the hell are we doing?
I’ve employed numerous tactics, played half the games, and many of them have worked. That is until they stopped working. Because at a certain point, you can play around all you want, but you get to a point in your dating life, when it gets kind of old. Because I’m starting to question if real connections are actually built on these arbitrary rules. Aren’t they built on honesty? On actually saying what you’re thinking, sharing what you’re feeling?
I’m 27 and I’ve dated more guys than I ever thought I would. Gone on more dates than I can ever count. And with each guy it’s been different. On both sides. With some guys, I’ve played it uber cool, too scared to divulge anything. Unable to even utter the words “I like you” after months of dating. ( talk about playing hard to get… :). But when it didn’t work out, it still got me to the exact same place as the guys I was upfront with. The guys I’ve told straight up that I like or that I’ve asked where we stand. They still got me back to ground zero. Back at date number one when things didn’t work out. And the guys who put themselves out there and pursued me?- well- if I was interested, it felt amazing, and if not, it was smothering, but the games- it was all jumbled into how I actually felt about the person.
I dated for a long time with my guard up. And after years of being scared to share my feelings, there is something so gratifying about finally being comfortable in my own skin to be confident enough to say “this is where I stand”. Even if it means saying “I’m confused, what about you?” Even if it means the conversation is inconclusive. Even if it means getting rejected.
And sure, there’s a time and place for everything. I wouldn’t advise divulging your deepest secrets on date number one, or asking a guy if he wants to meet your family on the third date, but I also think that sometimes you need to trust the voice inside your head, the one that’s telling you to take a leap beyond your comfort zone. Because no one knows you better than you. And no one else is on the date aside from the two of you. No one else can read the situation like you can. No one else can read your feelings.
It’s ok to tell a guy you’re interested, at the cost of coming off strong. And it’s ok to get rejected. And it’s ok to ask the question that’s eating you up inside even if it will turn the conversation in an awkward direction. I’m not an expert, but then again, no one is. And for me, I’ve found that relationships stay stagnant when you play games. Or at the very least, they consume you. They drive you crazy. Usually no one wins, you just chase each other in circles until months go by and you’re still in the same place you started.
It’s not ok to to be hurtful, or mean. But addressing things that frustrate you, well that’s how life moves forward. And telling someone you like something about them, that’s flattering. You don’t need to profess your love to them, but presumably if you’re hanging out with someone, you like something about them, and it’s cool to share what it is about them that you like. That’s not crazy. That’s not desperate. That’s kind.
I’m sure the rules work for some people. Great. That’s awesome. Maybe one day they’ll work for me. Who knows. But that’s the point. Who knows? Who knows anything? We’re all just making this up as we go along.
Right now all I know is what my gut is telling me. How I feel. Do I like you? Do I not like you? Am I confused? Do I need clarity? Do I want to have this conversation or do I want to continue to avoid it?
And that I’m just over playing games. I want to be myself. I spent so long living in a shell of who I was, scared to even tell a guy how I felt, and I’m over it. I hate games. All games. board games, video games, computer games. And most of all, dating games. I just don’t have the energy to keep up with them. Because dating is tiring enough. Figuring out how you feel, and sifting through apps, and having to start back at square one is exhausting. And so finding the energy to be myself, even when it’s scary, that’s the only dating game I’m interested in playing right now.