Is Your Relationship Just A Game? How To Make Sure He Isn't In It To Break Your Heart

by Lauren F.

It’s amazing how easy some relationships seem when games aren’t involved — when you find one of those, you’re golden. It’s not like you’ve always been experienced in the world of relationships, and you probably used to (honestly, you probably still do) ask others for relationship advice when things seem murky, and not in accordance with the unspoken “dating rulebook.”

Have you passed the phase in which you follow these rules religiously? Maybe you ignore one or more of the rules — like the one in which you must wait three days before you call to ensure that you don’t come across as desperate — but you probably haven’t abandoned the rules completely.

In retrospect, these socially constructed rules hopefully seem as silly as they are: maybe they were intended to make the discourse of dating a more thrilling experience, but truly, they’re just for young fools haphazardly seeking love. Furthermore it was exhausting to constantly overanalyze what a guy may be thinking while projecting a disinterested, cool aura.

But, what’s the point in making a relationship work if both parties aren’t expressly invested? Why jump through all the hoops in the emotional circus just so you can potentially lose each other?

Here’s the deal: the more games you play, the better off you are staying single. Truthfully, you’re seeking to make something work while failing to see how destructive the relationship actually is -- that you may be hurting someone, robbing this person of the ability to trust someone ever again.

Are you unsure if you’re involved in a union that might just be a big game? Check out these five considerations before categorizing whether or not your relationship is the real deal:

The first date went well — when’s the second one?

First dates are almost always anxiety-inducing. Is it going to be completely smooth or a disaster in which you check your watch every 10 minutes? Bring your A-game, because he’s probably going to decide within the first few minutes whether or not he’s legitimately interested. And subconsciously, you’re probably going to do the same thing. If you leave the date feeling as though it went amazingly, there’s a solid chance he felt same way — you’re likely on your way to a second date.

One [probably antiquated] entry from the “dating rulebook” is that the man should call the girl first so that she knows he’s interested. If a guy says he will call, let’s hope he’s a gentleman who follows through. Also, if he sends a text right as you two part ways after the date — even if it's just a short, “Thanks again for tonight, I hope to see you again.” — then you know for sure that you can absolutely expect a second date.

But this can mean something else as well: maybe he’s not interested, but wants to be nice so he doesn’t hurt your feelings. This is likely to lead to confusion and make the blow of rejection even tougher to stomach. So the rule: If you truly want to see this person again, be sincere and say what you mean. Be direct, ignore the rulebook and claim what is yours, rather than waiting around for him to decide.

Jealously is a gross thing — don’t put up with it.

Maybe you’re territorial when it comes to your significant other — you’re not alone. Jealousy is natural phenomenon, but in excess, it’s gross and may allude to serious unresolved trust issues. Maybe at first, it feels romantic when your man gets jealous. Like, if he gets a little peeved if someone hits on you, it might just show you that he truly cares.

But when it gets to the point that he makes you feel at fault for a situation in which you had no control (as in, if he gets upset with you for being the target of someone else’s unsolicited advances), his jealousy quickly grows into emotionally-controlling manipulation. Relationships are largely about taking a risky leap of faith with someone you trust. Once you find that special someone, don’t ruin it with jealousy, because the more your partner feels your distrust, the more distance he or she will put between you two.

If you must fight, fight respectfully.

Don’t resurface past issues that should have been long ago buried. If this problem once made you upset, continuously harping on it will probably have the same effect. And if you’re unable to move past a particular problem, maybe it’s time to part ways.

Forgiveness is a powerful skill to develop, and a completely necessary one for maintaining a strong relationship, but sometimes, an issue emerges that no amount of fighting can fix. (Fighting, when done respectfully, can be positive in relationships and promote growth.) However, too much fighting will lead to an unstable, messy relationship. The past should remain past tense, so try and chalk up old fights to a productive lesson in your relationship.

Say what you mean or date a psychic.

If you’re upset but only communicate it with silence, “I’m fine” or a shoulder shrug, you’re passive-aggressively (and thus, ineffectively) showing that everything is in fact, not “fine.” Remember, your partner is not a mind reader. You are both adults, so act accordingly. Say what you mean and don’t be afraid to express yourself. If you are in a healthy relationship, your partner will listen to your gripe and work with you to create a situation that promotes happiness for you both.

Accept his shortcomings — you’re far from perfect.

Most people have secrets, some of which we are ashamed to acknowledge. When you find someone who accepts you completely, baggage and all, you’ve truly found a winner. Your flaws and imperfections won’t cloud this person’s vision — he’ll still see you.

In fact, your unique quirks are probably his favorite things about you. Being fully invested in a relationship requires finding mutual compatibility and overcoming the obstacles that you two will probably often face. If relationships must be a game, remember, you two play for the same team.

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