What up, players?
If there’s anything doing my podcast has taught me, it’s that everyone is playing games when it comes to dating. Intentionally and unintentionally.
None of us are perfect at maneuvering through this new hyper-connected way of finding people to semi-regularly date with no labels until one or both of us ghost each other.
But, it seems like we could do better. We might even save ourselves a crazy amount of time by holding ourselves to some higher standards of interaction.
Let’s start off by gettin’ real clear about what “not playing games” actually means. Does it mean that you lay your emotional cards out on the table right from the get-go, demand immediate knowledge of the other person’s intentions on a first date, feel the need to be in a relationship asap, and are way too damn serious??
No. Dear God, no.
The basic dynamic of human interaction still begs us to take time revealing our layers.
Choosing not to play games means you do your best to show up with an honest version of who you are and what you’re looking for while simultaneously valuing the other person’s time and your own.
Some of these points are actions we can take and some of them are just mindsets we can adopt. We’ve got enough self-induced anxiety these days, so let’s see what we can do to steer clear of unnecessary dating dramatics, am I right?
1. Ask clear questions and give clear answers.
If there’s an issue that’s got your panties in a bunch, just ask the question. Ignorance is bliss until you realize you wasted your life playing hide and seek with Truth. Truth might be kinda blunt, but it’s mad efficient. If they ask you a question about where things are going or what you’re looking for etc, etc, fill in the blank…just answer for real. Don’t say what you think people want to hear. Whatever you’re trying to get out of them could easily be found with another person. Be more interested in finding what you actually want than with playing pretend with that person you know is a “WOT”. Stands for “Waste of Time”. Get with the lingo.
2. Just respond when you read it.
A key one for people like me with memory issues. You don’t have to be glued to your phone and if you’re busy, you’re busy. That’s fair. But, if you do happen to read the message and you’re free to answer…just answer. People appreciate being acknowledged. If you don’t know the answer, drop a quick text that says you’ll get back to them in a bit. I’ve seen how lightning fast those thumbs are. Bang that text out and keep the inbox movin’.
If someone’s super bad at responding to you on the reg? Signs of lackluster interest. You know I’m right because you’re slow to answer people you’re “meh” about, too. It’s nature.
3. Don’t lie to yourself about who you’re dealing with.
This one’s about not playing games with yourself. Believe people when they tell you what they’re looking for. If he/she is out here talkin’ about, “I’m not really looking for anything. Just out to have fun.” Treat that like the damn truth. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to change that or that they will soon.
You slap an imaginary sticker on that person’s forehead that says “DCF”. That stands for “Don’t Catch Feelings”. And don’t even think about catching feelings for that person unless they directly tell you that that’s changed.
Can you still hang with this person? Absolutely. Have fun if you’re down. But, don’t get it twisted about what category they’re in. If that person starts getting you more in your feelings than Drake, it’s time to spend your time elsewhere.
4. Always do your own thing, but don’t be purposefully unavailable.
Busy, motivated, social people with interests and talents are sexy. Universally. That’s facts on top of facts. Be that person simply because you’re walkin’ around in a temporary existence and you probably wanna get some things done. But, if someone tickles your fancy along the way, don’t be weird about making some time for them. Be like Nike and just do it. Don’t wait for 7 hours because she made you wait for 3 hours or wait 4 days after the date to hit them up. There are too many options out there for you to drop off the radar for too long without expressing some form of continued interest.
You better believe I (and any other human who thinks about all this nonsense) have a firm grip on which people are actually interested and which ones are getting in touch when they’re bored. I’ll put you in that “HJB” category real quick. Stands for “He’s Just Bored.” Obviously.
5. Vulnerability is strength.
When you’re trying not to play games, you might have to drop a moment of honesty on people from time to time and that ish can get crazy uncomfortable, but at least you’re out there sharing truths in a world where people are drowning in small talk. If you want more down to the nitty gritty convo in your life, be willing to be the one to initiate it. See if they meet you halfway.
Pro tip (like I’m a pro. HA!): Easiest way to deal with being vulnerable is to release any and all expectation about outcome. You’re sharing because it’s real and, sometimes, that has to be enough.
It also bears mentioning that not everyone deserves your vulnerability. Don’t drop your emotions on a person that’s not giving you the time of day in the first place. That’s a WOT. You know this.
6. Develop boundaries.
Some people will treat you any way you let them treat you. So, it’s important that you know what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t. If they want to be around you, they’ll respect that. If not, remove yourself from the situation.
If they ask why you dipped, tell them in a chill and honest way. If they want to change it up, allow them the chance to. If they continue it, talk to one of the other 7.7 billion people on this planet.
7. Don’t try to manipulate other people’s emotions. Deal with your own.
Don’t flirt with other people in front of them to see if you can annoy them. Don’t play the victim to see if you can get their attention.
People are out here tryin’ to win an Oscar for the movie they wrote, directed, and starred in called, “Manipulation”. Stop all that. If you’re feeling insecure or unsure, ask yourself why first and then bring it up to them if you’ve got enough of a relationship to do so. Otherwise, realize that you won’t feel the need to control the feelings of a person that’s actually into you and makes sure you know it. Keep it movin’.
8. Try not to ghost people you’ve actually met.
A toughie, right? We’re interacting with so many people online through dating apps and Instagram that to tie a neat bow on every DM in the box would leave us with mental carpal tunnel. But, if you’ve been on a date with this person…they’re like…real and stuff. And now, maybe they’re contacting you on the reg to hang and are asking you what’s up…so just drop a friendly exit text if you know it’s not it.
From the people I’ve talked to, being fully ignored is more disheartening over time than just someone being gently upfront with you.
9. Accept that the other person might still be playin’.
You can’t control another person’s choices. Players are gonna play. Just because they’re doing it doesn’t mean you give yourself the excuse to join in. Then, take it back to #6 when you’re starting to contemplate how much gaming you’re willing to accept before you look elsewhere.
10. Be kind. Be honest. Be “ADH”.
Stands for “A Decent Human”. Clearly.
And, maybe most important of all, guess what else I’ve learned from all these hours of conversation with a range of different kinds of humans…
I’m insecure. You’re insecure. Everyone is insecure.
Maybe not fully or all the time, but certainly in moments and when it comes to feeling slighted or rejected. Internalize that and feel at one with your fellow man for a second.
Feels good, huh?
We all want to be accepted and for people to like us but, at the end of the day, we’ve gotta like ourselves enough to maintain standards that make us feel confident about the way we’re choosing to interact with people. The natural bounce back will be attracting more of the right types of people for us and being less negatively affected by the ones that just aren’t it.
It always comes back to communication.
The people I trust most in the world are good at just saying what’s up. Not in ways that are meant to be hurtful or harsh. Just in ways that are real. Even if the truth sometimes is, “I’m not even sure what’s going on. I’ve got issues, triggers, and restless leg syndrome.” Pretty sure that’s all of us 86% of the time.
If you’re not in the headspace to connect and just wanna do your own thing, then play on player. Nothing wrong with being in that zone and finding the people that are down to do it with you.
But, if you’re looking to try and tackle this new age dating thing with a little more intention, give these guidelines a test drive next time you’re hittin’ that swipe life.
Challenge: Stop playing games for one month and let me know how it goes.
I’ll take the challenge with you.
*I’m gonna jack it all the way up, but let’s do this 😉 I’ll see you out in the dating battlefield.
Share this with a friend if you enjoyed these thoughts and make sure to check out my podcast, “We’re All Human with Courtney Diamond” to hear me and my guests work all this out in an auditory way.