What is the dating game you ask? 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 lines between how casual you are and what title you decide to give 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? “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 that way, is because we all play the game. Here are a few ways to put down your cards and really look at the faces around you, without wearing your poker face.
1. If you like someone, don’t pretend not to. If they then run for the hills, ask yourself what the point was in investing any further emotion in them 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 people.
3. Don’t use your past relationships as a crutch for fearing commitment. We all have had relationships that failed. If you use those problems to justify your twisted actions towards every romantic encounter in the future, you have wasted that relationship for the growing experience that it was supposed to be.
4. Don’t alter what you want. If you want a relationship and someone else doesn’t, don’t settle for their sake. That’s like being a player in the game and not even getting to roll your own dice.
5. Stop caring about what people will think. The connotations around 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 them for the way they make you look to others. Don’t use them for physical reasons. Don’t use them because you’re lonely. Just don’t. You use a mop to clean the floor. You use a match to start a fire. You don’t use a human being to satisfy your own needs.
7. Find out who someone actually is. Go ahead, ask them about their little sister and if 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 all ways.
9. Stop playing with people’s emotions. If you know you are dragging them along for selfish reasons, put yourself in their shoes, and do the decent thing. Just be honest.
10. Stop settling. If you want that girl you hardly know with curly blonde hair and a 4.0, go for it. You aren’t beneath anyone or anything, you can have the dream and you are the largest obstacle standing in the way of that. Stop feeling like you are limited to certain people, because you’re only going to be unsatisfied with that limited group of people in the long run, which only continues the game.
11. Don’t be afraid to be corny. Just be you. If simple things like good morning text messages or impromptu smoothie dates are how you want to show interest in someone, go for it. Be dorky, and stop worrying about fitting the status quo, no one really ever does.
12. Take all of the physical aspects of your relationship slow. I know this one is hard to grasp, but let’s all 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 in hopes of getting them to like you more. It never works. Come on now. I’ll never understand why we seem to think that’s a viable option in any situation.
14. Let go of any preconceived lists you’ve made in your head of expectations for spending time with someone. Trust me when I say you really have no idea what you want and dismissing people based upon your specific criteria could make you miss out.
15. Realize that you are young and dating people is about learning. It’s not about the best “hook up” or even necessarily about hand picking your perfect little life partner. We are young. Dating is for learning about others and about yourself in a way that is fun and brings you happiness. Treat others with respect and let them make your heart flutter and make you giggle awkwardly. Meet new people and their friends. Visit new places and understand the unique ideas and perspectives of others. Stop trying to navigate through it like a game that you can manipulate the best outcome that allows you to take the least amount of risk. You can’t do it. Be simple. Be kind. Be happy. We are responsible for making this all more complicated than it is has to be. It isn’t a game, it’s just other people. Stop counting cards and start counting smiles instead.