How Do You Play A Game When You Don’t Know The Rules?

datingWhen it comes to the world of dating we often find ourselves wrapped up in sexual politics and playing key roles in games that we didn’t know we were even on the team for – it’s a downside of the dating game that you get pulled into things that you don’t understand and don’t usually want to be a part of. No one ever said it was easy, but I don’t remember anyone telling me it was this hard either…


The question that I find lingering on my lips this week: how do you play a game that you don‘t know the rules for?


There are so many schools of thought about what men and women really like, although it seems a safe assumption to make that neither of us really know what the other wants, particularly when it comes to relationships. This horrendous complication leaves us with so many unanswered questions that it’s almost surprising we ever get any dating done! A fine example of these complications occurs when you try and make and effort with someone that you like; when you make an effort, are you running the risk of seeming desperate. Alternatively, if you make no effort at all, surely the other person will think you’re losing interest or maybe that you were never interested in the first place. Hence my earlier point about game-playing! We can’t possibly show a healthy amount of interest in someone without being judged or putting them off, so what are we meant to do with our feelings? Bottle them up until an appropriate time? Six years into the relationship maybe?


Since being in the dating game I’ve heard so many rules and regulations that we need to abide by: don’t do the chasing, be relaxed, don’t be desperate, let him come to you, don’t be too interested. How can you be too interested in someone? Okay, late night phone calls and “I’m stood outside your house” text messages are obviously a little too much, but letting someone know you like them doesn’t seem too bad to me; although if you ask most people that are still stuck in the dating game they will probably enlighten you to the fact that telling someone how you really feel for them is a dating faux pas – in which case, shame on me. It seems that dating has a set of social norms to itself because the social norms of the real world just go out the window when you get drawn into relationships and the confusing “I‘m seeing someone” phase.


A brilliant example of how strict and explicably obscure our relationships rules are is the ever popular “three-day-rule”, used all over by men who point-blank refuse to use a girl’s phone number until they have had it for three days. Admittedly, this is no longer a rule that is used by just men as some women are now adopting the technique in order to be as cool and suave as their male suitors. Savvy as this theory may seem from the outside, I personally would write someone off as a good experience and a waste of paper if I’d dished out my number and not heard from them in three or more days. Alternatively, rather than writing them off as some sort of soul-developing experience, I might have forgotten about them altogether – is that something people will risk going through just to maintain a personal sense of coolness that doesn’t really matter to anyone but themselves? It seems like a big risk to take, that ultimately leads to the risk of conversations that start with “He didn’t call me for three days after I gave him my number!” – seems like a rock and a hard place to me.


While I appreciate knowing what I shouldn’t be doing when I’m trying to impress someone, would it not be useful for someone to construct a list of things that we’re actually allowed to do? Because in terms of dating dos and don’ts, I don’t have a clue what I’m actually meant to be doing, apart from acting like I’m not really interested, which seems a little counterproductive to me. Arguably, dating is a little bit like reverting to childhood in the sense that as long as you can remember you dos and don’ts, you’ll probably be okay, as long as you can work out what the dos and don‘ts are.


So in the interest of good sportsmanship, play hard, play fair and make sure you know at least some of the rules before you get drawn into the dating tournament; let the games begin.