Dating Games… to play or not to play?

January 19, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in Dating Stories, Dating Tips, Relationships | 2 Comments
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Tristan Coopersmith is the author of MENu Dating: Taste Test Your Way to the Main Course- a single girl’s guide to falling in like, falling in love and falling into bed. Check out her book in retailers nationwide, online and on her site: For musings on dating, follow her on twitter: @tristan_coop.

This past week I journeyed to New York and over a game of tic-tac-toe (on the chicest board I’ve ever seen compliments of The London hotel) and a few watermelon mojitos, one of my gal pals, Lucy, updated me on her mandidate menu. As she told me about her latest flavor, a guy named Josh, 28, a pastry chef from South Florida who she had a great first date with but hadn’t heard from in 2 days, probably because he was playing by the “wait 3 day rule,” I contemplated my next move on the board and what to say. I could give her the He’s Just Not that Into You diatribe. I could nod in agreement as to her assessment for his lack of communication. I could just ask more questions about him. I could tell her to just woman up and call him. But its me… and I couldn’t escape the blatant symbolism right before us… a game board whereby the pawns were ‘X’s and ‘O’s… the very symbols of love and affection.

So the age old question popped into my mind, to play the game or not to play the game?

I laid down an ‘O’ and thought, we are conditioned to play the game from the time we are young… Spin the Bottle, Mystery Date, every magazine we ever read… they all teach us to seduce boys with “the game” – which is really just plotted flirting and unsophisticated foreplay. This is what makes it ok and in some way, sort of necessary. But the thing about the game, is that it invigorates us when the ball is in our court and dis-empowers us as soon as the ball leaves our hands, often times leaving us questioning our last move. You’ve been there, re-reading your last text, overanalyzing choice words, the time it was sent, guessing where you may have gone wrong. That vacant period waiting for HIM. This is when the game sucks. When our willing partner becomes our challenging opponent and we realize we have no playbook for how this game will be won… oftentimes making us wish we hadn’t started playing in the first place.

We finish our game. No one wins. Lucy totally stuck on, “He’s going to call, isn’t he?” We play three more games. No one wins any of them. And it dawns on me that rarely does someone win at tic-tac-toe, similarly to the dating games we spend so much time strategizing. Another sip of delicious mojito and I ponder, why then, can it be so much fun to play them?!

So a few days later and mojito-brain free, I’m netting out on the whole game thing like this. A little game playing does the libido some good (we are actually energized by its excitement), they can seemingly “work” and also can help us not get prematurely attached (see pg 136 in book). But know this – that in all games, sometimes, someone loses, and that someone, sometimes might be you. Keep game-play in the fun, flirty zone, don’t play mind games with yourself (if you like him, you like him, if you don’t you don’t) and know that you are not always going to be in control of the ball.

Life is too short to create complex game-plays to bait a mandidate. If he is going to judge you for texting the next day, or being too available or not available enough, is he really the type of co-captain you want on your team anyway?

~xo, Tristan



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  1. Where can we get involved in the game?

  2. EVERYWHERE! The dating playground is far and wide. Think beyond the obvious places like bars, clubs and parties to everyday places like your local post office, coffee shop and laundromat. A spark of like and love can happen anywhere if you have an open for business sign up.

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