3 Rules Of Long-Gaming — AKA Keeping Your Crush On The Back-Burner

by Annie Foskett

Oh no. [Insert monkey-covering-eyes emoji here.] Not another cute pseudonym that gives bad dating behavior a pass in 2018! When I first heard the term "long-gaming," I immediately thought "BS!" As a millennial who is in the final lap of her twenties, my perspective on dating is... seasoned. Au courant terms like "ghosting" and "breadcrumbing" irk me because I feel like when we accept them into the lexicon, we're also accepting the crappy manners they describe. But, in efforts not to become a judgmental fossil, I will actually inquire: what is long-gaming?

I spoke to a colleague of mine at Elite Daily who is more up on the hip new lingo than me — because yes, I just said lingo and I am your mom! She enlightened me on what she defined as long-gaming: "From the conversations I've had with my girlfriends, it's very much something you do to a good friend you're attracted to, who you know would make a great partner some day, just maybe not right now," she explains.

Basically, this is what I gathered from her about long-gaming: there might be someone from college or work or otherwise who you have chemistry with, but aren't dating at the moment. "Maybe you're both just in very different phases of your lives, or maybe they're just waiting until they're a little more stable in their future plans before 'settling down' with someone," she explains.

If, however, you think that you might end up with this person in the future, at least for a bit, "you long-game them," she says. "You keep them close and continue to flirt and help them with their Insta captions and pretend to not be a little jealous every time they tell you about a date they went on or someone they're seeing." So maybe "long-gaming" is less about keeping someone around as back up, and more about timing. I feel that.

My worries? That "long-gaming" keeps women from saying what they want, or having the confidence to tell a partner they really like them. My own experiences have taught me that while timing is a factor in some relationships, more often than not, if someone really wants to be with you, they will make it happen. So if there's someone in your life who you'd like to keep in mind romantically for the future, and you're thinking about "long-gaming" them, here are some rules to follow so as not to be an a-hole.

Be Painstakingly Transparent With Yourself

If you and your college crush never made it official, but you imagine that if you wound up both moving to L.A. in a year you might want to go on a date, so you continue liking all of their Instagram photos, that sounds pretty healthy to me. It actually sounds a lot like a normal friendship between two single people.

But if you are thinking of said crush constantly, feel hurt if they don't text you back, or are genuinely holding yourself back from other experiences because of the "maybe one day" factor... my love, it is time to get real with yourself. (Trust me, I've been there.)

Maybe you actually like this cutie, and in that case, I think you should tell them. Or you should stop talking to them to self-preserve. Getting attention just for attention's sake is a slippery slope. If you're going to long-game someone, don't pretend you don't have feelings if you do, and vice versa.

Don't "Long-Game" Someone You See As Second Best

If the person you're thinking of "long-gaming" is someone you know has or had feelings for you, possibly still really likes you, and would probably do anything for you, don't string them along just so that you don't end up alone when you're 45. You know if something was just tricky timing, or if you're selfishly taking someone's flirtations and attention without giving anything back. Be a grown up.

If You're In A Relationship, You Can't Long-Game

This shouldn't need to be said, but I've definitely received flirty text messages from exes in new relationships and I've definitely been guilty of replying to them, so I'm going to remind us all. If you are in a relationship, it is not cool to flirt with someone you might see something happening with in the future if your current situation doesn't work out. It's not fair to anyone involved. Don't be Ann from Parks and Recreation and not set up your catch of a friend, Justin, with your other catch of a friend, Leslie, because you want to "save him for later." These are people we are talking about, not leftovers!