What is the dating game, you ask? Well, you probably know it all too well. It’s the game of “let’s see who can try to act like they care less in order to get someone else to care more and then take turns.”
It’s the blurred line between how casual you are and what title you decide to designate to your romantic encounters. It’s so confusing that I often lose track and I’m sure you do, too.
What is the reason for not being able to be simple and honest? Like, “Hey, I think you’re really cute and I would like to get some coffee and giggle awkwardly at our small talk, so I can spend some extra time looking at your cute face.”
The reason it isn’t so easy is because we all play the game. Here are a few ways to put down your cards and really look at the faces that surround you without wearing your own poker face:
1. If you like someone, don’t pretend you don’t.
If the person then runs for the hills, ask yourself what the point was for investing any further emotion, anyway?
2. GO ON DATES.
They aren’t an extinct practice. Going to the movies with someone doesn’t mean you’re signing a marriage license. It’s for fun, you guys.
3. Don’t use your past relationships as a crutch that enables you to fear commitment.
We have all had relationships that failed. If you use those problems to justify your twisted actions in every future romantic encounter, you will waste many potentially successful relationships.
4. Don’t alter what you want.
If you want a relationship and someone else doesn’t, don’t settle for his or her sake. That would be like playing a board game without getting to roll your own dice.
5. Stop caring about what people will think.
The connotations that surround dating and relationships are so blurred and disfigured at this point that you will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how to please everyone.
6. Quit using people.
Don’t use others for the way they make you look to other people. Don’t use them for physical reasons. Don’t use them because you’re lonely. Just don’t use them.
You use a mop to clean the floor. You use a match to start a fire. You don’t use human beings to satisfy your own needs.
7. Find out who people actually are.
Go ahead; ask about their little sisters and whether they’re more afraid of spiders or snakes. There’s nothing wrong with learning more about people than the fact that they like Fireball whiskey and study engineering.
8. Have chivalry and respect in every way.
As the age-old saying goes, always treat others as you wish to be treated. No one deserves anything less than your utmost respect.
9. Stop playing with other people’s emotions.
If you know that you are dragging someone along for selfish reasons, put yourself in his or her shoes and do the decent thing. Just be honest.
10. Stop settling.
If you want that girl with the curly blonde hair and 4.0 who you hardly know, go for it. You aren’t beneath anyone or anything; you can have a dream and you are the largest obstacle standing in the way of it actually happening.
Stop feeling like you are limited to certain people; you’ll only grow to be unsatisfied with that limited group.
11. Don’t be afraid to be corny.
Just be you. If simple things like a “good morning” text or an impromptu smoothie date is how you want to show interest in someone, go for it. Be dorky and stop worrying about satisfying the status quo.
12. Take all of the physical aspects of your relationship slowly.
I know this one is difficult to grasp, but let’s be completely honest about the fact that intimacy complicates things. Why add one more complication before you can trust someone?
13. Don’t try to make someone jealous.
It will never lead the person to like you more. I’ll never understand why we seem to think that it’s a viable option in any situation.
14. Let go of any preconceived expectations you have for someone.
Trust me, you really have no idea what you want and dismissing people based upon your specific criteria could lead you to really miss out.
15. Realize that you are young and dating is about learning.
It’s not about the best “hookup” or even necessarily about handpicking your perfect life partner. We are young. Dating is for learning about others and about yourself in a way that is fun and will bring you happiness.
Treat others with respect and let them make you awkwardly giggle as your heart flutters. Meet new people and their friends. Visit new places and understand unique ideas and perspectives.
Stop trying to navigate through it like a game that you can manipulate to achieve the best outcome without much risk. Be simple. Be kind. Be happy.
We are responsible for making this more complicated than it needs to be. It isn’t a game; it’s just other people. Stop counting cards and start counting smiles.
Photo via Favim