Feb 5, 2010

Football Games & Calendar Days

This Sunday is the BIG DAY. The one all you guys and girls (who arefootball fans) have been waiting for…Super Bowl Sunday. It s an ironic juxtaposition that Super Bowl falls one week before Valentine’s Day. A Man’s Holiday - exactly seven days before the Women’s Holiday. The Game before the Love…

So is that how it works? Do we have to get through the Game to get to the Love? Well, that’s what the calendar is telling us! That’s how it works chronologically; the 7th must come before the 14th. There is just no way around it. So are these the same truths about dating and relationships? Do we have to get through all the games to get to the love?

As we all know, Football is the epitome of a contact sport. Each game football players put on as much padding as possible to protect themselves from the impact they will inevitably face on the field.

When we “play the field” in relationships, the game can be much more untamed and we are more exposed than any football player. Yet, we plunge ourselves into “the thick of it” without rules, precedent, boundary lines or referees. So, maybe the games we play while we’re “playing the field” are our “padding” and the waywe maintain our boundaries.

When it comes to relationships, I think that all 20somethings play games. Not necessarily on purpose, but in a desperate attempt to protect ourselves or stay in control. More often than not, I think the former is the reason - we want to protect ourselves.

Mostly because, by the time we reach 20something, all of us have had some kind of heartbreak that replicates the feeling of being hit by a Mack Truck. We remember this feeling of sad, lonely, rejected, wretched, despair… Yeah that feeling (sorry to conjure up suppressed memories).

So, whether we intend on playing games or not, we use games as a defensive mechanism. It starts off innocently, with trying to be elusive. “Remain an enigma- keep ‘em guessing.” This ensures that they will be thinking about us more than we think about them. Then they will make an effort to understand us and figure us out, while we sit back and reap the benefits of that effort. We will be pursued, maintain control and protect ourselves.

Of course we think this is a foolproof idea until it irrefutably blows up in our face. We realize that keeping someone guessing only makes for a shaky foundation of a relationship. It makes us appear untrustworthy and translucent. So, one of two things inevitably always happens…

  1. We end up keeping people at a distance and never letting anyone in, OR,
  2. That person grows tired of guessing and gets fed up or distracted and the relationship ends.

The whole protection aspect of the plan worked at first, but ultimately backfired. We don’t initially see the correlation between the actions we take to “protect” ourselves and the end of the relationship. Instead, we see another failed attempt at love.

Another game lost, another scar left on our heart. We promise ourselves to never go down that road again and out of sheer Darwinian survival of the fittest, we adapt and avoid that situation like the plague. Only pushing the chance of love and happiness further away.

So what about the other group of people who play games? The controllers! If your're not the innocent party trying to protect yourself, what's the point of the game? What if YOU are the Mack Truck driving over people hearts?

This time the games are played for different reasons. I like to believe that I do not play games to control people, so to get some more info I brainstormed with a friend of mine, (we’ll call him my muse this week ) to help me put some clarity on why these “truck drivers” get behind the wheel. This is what we came up with; people play games intentionally because…

  1. 1. They are bored with the relationship and are trying to mix things up.
  2. 2. They crave drama and attention!(See previous blog for more on Attention Whores)
  3. 3. They are testing the person they’re with OR
  4. 4. They are sociopaths who are truly sadistic and find joy in being unhappy.

These are the people to watch out for, especially number four! (Trust me, I dated a #4 before and it wasn’t pretty). Anyhow, these intentional game players are people who have the mentality of a pre-teen but are trapped in a 20something body.

They are too immature for adult relationships, but they walk among us; in class, work, and the bars we frequent. They are out there and we have no way of identifying them until its too late. They are usually charismatic, witty, good-looking, and charming. They appear fun and exciting in the beginning; however, end up being a giant headache that causes major heartache.

If you think “games” are ridiculous and you have assured yourself while reading this that you are not the Mack-Truck-driving type; then you may be a 20something who is acting age appropriate - Yeah! The truth is, being straight-forward and honest keeps life clutter-free, but we just don’t appreciate that until we become a seasoned veteran of “the game.” Like I said before, there is no manual for dating/relationships, and in order to “know the program” you have to “play the game.”

We just have to keep in mind that relationships, although they are work, should be making our lives a little bit easier- not a little bit harder. With that being said…we have to be cautious if we feel too much excitement. When someone makes life a little more exciting, we have to step back and evaluate what kind of excitement is it?

  1. If it’s the butterflies in your stomach, then don’t worry about it… BUT
  2. If it’s a knot in your stomach, then you should probably run. Knots are never good!

Just like in football, you don’t make it to the Super Bowl without playing a lot of tough games. For us 20somethings, it is the same. We have to trudge through a lot of bullshit to get to the love. Like many of you, I am still single, knee-deep in bullshit from those Mack Truck Drivers of my past. I will try not to arm myself and use games for protection in my future relationships. But, it’s much easier to say this when my heart isn’t on the line. Old habits die hard…I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, so I’m just going to be optimistic.


For those of us who use games to protect ourselves, maybe when we meet “The ONE” (See previous blog on more about this) we don’t have to play games? Or maybe that’s all more quixotic bullshit we’ll have to wade through? I’ll keep you posted… ( Literally. )

For now, let’s hope that if we dealt with games, played games and survived the games, then Love will eventually follow. We paid our dues and besides… that’s what the calendar says. The 14th follows the 7th… the Love follows the Game Day… Right? Hey, it’s something to hold onto!

*Special Thanks to my Muse*


"Once you have established the goal that you want and the price you're willing to pay, you can ignore the minor hurts, the opponent's pressure and the temporary failures." - Vince Lombardi