The Dating Games: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

by Anne K. Halle

One thing I’ve learned over time is that the initial stage of dating between men and women (or boys and girls, depending upon how grownup you feel) is often a game. Correction: I should say it simply IS a game.

Like “The Hunger Games,” it is a struggle to be the last one standing, the one that can play the dating game the best. Though, like Katniss, you may not wish to play the game at all, you are simply forced to.

Most of the other players (aka men) in the game I have come across thus far have been ruthless in tossing my heart around - like the sack of flour Peeta threw over his shoulder so easily.

Dating has been a challenge for me because it seems like no matter how hard I try to play by the rules, I keep getting burnt. Luckily, however, the dating game isn’t deadly like “The Hunger Games,” and I have been lucky enough to dig my heart out before getting completely buried in a dead end relationship.

Sociologists define the unspoken assumptions and agreements that exist between individuals as symbolic interactionism. If a guy buys you dinner, you assume it is a date.

The social agreement in society says that he should buy you dinner if he cares about you. The meaning of the word “date” indicates that the dinner is more than just two friends eating at a restaurant.

Breaking the social meaning of these words down, a “date” is a potential romantic outing with someone you may consider a relationship with. But if he doesn’t text or call you for days on end after this date, you assume he doesn’t like you.

Society tells you that maybe the “chemistry” just wasn’t all there and you should move on to the next one. The lack of communication, in this case, serves as an indication that he may have just not been that into you and that “dating” him is just not in your cards.

So how do you successfully play the dating game? The proper “strategy” is ever changing, given the changing values of society and the agreements and expectations that define the time or place.

Women’s roles today have become less about her reliance on a man to buy her everything since she is more likely to have her own success in a career.

This is not to say that this expectation has changed, but rather, it is not the end-all if a guy does not buy your meal on a date. Girls appreciate a guy paying for dinner because it makes her feel like he cares (and let’s face it: who wouldn’t want to get their meal paid for?).

The fact that dating has become a game, though, may be fun in the beginning, but it is not sustainable in finding a lasting relationship. Casual dating makes you realize what you want and what you don’t want in someone. It helps you spot the flowers from the weeds. It helps you define what qualities you want in a partner versus qualities you don’t want.

But no one wants to be played -- at least not when it comes to prospective long-term relationships.

Instead of seeing dating as a game, maybe we should see it as something real. Maybe we should see it as an opportunity to be the best, truest versions of ourselves.

Rather than trying to make a good impression so that the other person will want to see you again, try being yourself.Don’t conceal your true personality, and don’t be afraid of the things about yourself, which the other person may not accept.

It would be a waste of time to manage your impression, anyway, because a prospective partner will have to come to terms with the real you eventually.

Just like Katniss and Peeta, more than one can win the game. It can be a win-win for both parties involved.

Top Photo Courtesy: We Heart It