In modern dating culture, there’s an awful lot of pressure to be “the one who cares less.” It's as if the ultimate goal is to be the person who is apathetic, too cool to care and doesn't want or need anything at all.
It’s hard to say where this all started, but it definitely ties into the mind games we think we have to play when we first start dating someone. For example, we're not supposed to send the first text, answer the phone on the first ring and no matter what, NEVER double text.
These so-called “rules” aren’t new, of course. Back in 1995, Cher Horowitz said, “Christian said he’d call tomorrow, and in boy time, that meant Thursday.” Right out of the gates, we expect strategic mind games over honesty.
It's as if we believe the worst thing imaginable would be to show interest, so it would be evident that we may actually like this person. We can't imagine saying we want to see someone again, let alone we can’t wait for it to happen.
These are things we are not allowed to say at the beginning of a relationship. And, to show these inner desires would be the kiss of death.
We become afraid to show emotions, because they make us vulnerable and weaker in this power struggle that we stupidly buy in to. We grow fearful of being honest and of revealing our actual feelings and thoughts.
There’s one major problem here: “The one who cares less” is mythical. Fictional. This person does. Not. Exist.
Here’s the catch-22 aspect of the concept: If you’re trying to be someone who doesn’t care, you’re actually putting forth a lot of energy. The rouse of being “the one who cares less” requires so much strategy and thought. It is so contrived and quite simply, by trying so hard not to care, you're just proving that you actually do care in a roundabout way.
Instead of continuing the cycle of working toward a goal that is inevitably unattainable, we should instead ask ourselves: Why is this so important to us? What are we really so afraid of?
It’s true that the dating mind games create an adrenaline rush. When you’re strategizing for so long and you feel a small victory, like receiving a double or triple text from a crush, it can send you into the greatest high.
But, at the end of the day, we have to ask yourself what the point of this is. If you genuinely like someone and if you’ve already fallen for him or her, what are you gaining (other than wasted time) by withholding your feelings?
When all of the mind games are over and this person has moved from your present into your past, you’re left picking up the pieces and wondering what you did wrong. Was it that text? Was it that phone call? Did you like too many of his photos on Instagram?
When you take a step back from all of this, it will begin to just sound silly. If a person is genuinely interested, would he or she really bail because of an extra emoji? Of course not.
Time is cruel and it moves fast. Our early 20s become our late 20s in the blink of an eye. Instead of pouring all of this energy into crafting a fake persona that reeks of apathy, why not take a risk? Send that text or make that call.
If you have stumbled into a territory that’s full of butterflies and hope, no amount of mind games will change those already established feelings. You can’t talk yourself back to neutral point once you’ve fallen for someone.
It’s a saying as old as relationships themselves: The strongest relationships are built on trust. A relationship that begins with genuine and natural communication is apt to have a more solid foundation than one that begins with a game of self-restraint via text message.
Ultimately, there will only a battle if you believe there is one. If both parties raise their white flags in the name of honesty, the entire battle will vanish.
Dare to trade in the rouse because, in the end, we lose more by pretending to care less.