“What more do I have to do? Juggle fire? Become a professional trapeze artist? Learn Swahili? Travel to Israel and become a teen pop sensation overnight?”
This is an actual text I once sent to my best friend. Why? Because some guy didn’t text me for 24 hours. Here I am, literally questioning my entire existence and self-worth because some guy didn’t bless my phone with that oh-so-glorious modern day Shakespeare sonnet, aka an iMessage.
Don’t even call me crazy because I know for a fact every girl does this. You’re there, pretending not to care when your messages come up empty, acting like that text message ding from your mom wasn’t total false hope. You’re fine, right? You don’t even care, right? But you totally do. So why do you act like you don’t? Let’s put this in perspective. I’m basically the resident guy-advice expert of my circle of friends (that’s no joke, if you’ve ever had a thing with one of my friends, you were probably unknowingly texting me at some point, oops). So what does my advice always come down to? Whoever cares less wins. Realistically though, whoever (pretends to) care less wins.
Don’t believe me? What do you call a girl that texts back too fast? Desperate. What about a girl who asks to hang out too much? Clingy. What about that girl that double-texted when you didn’t reply? Suffocating. So what do I always say? Wait ___ many minutes to respond. Don’t be too pushy. Don’t text him first. Let him come to you. Let him work for it. I do stand by that, by the way, I whole-heartedly believe if a guy wants you, he’ll pursue you. The problem is these tried and true methods of “playing the game” have become more and more difficult to read because we seem to be breeding a generation of guys who know how to “play the game” but don’t ever want to reach the finish line.
Back in the “good-old days” (if there was ever such a thing) “playing the game” was used to spark someone’s interest, to reel them in, if you will. You would wait a certain amount of days to call before asking your crush on a date (remember when guys asked girls on real dates? LOL me neither) and then you would bat your eyelashes over a milkshake with 2 straws and go to a drive-in movie or something. Yes that is obviously an exaggeration, but my point is there was an end goal in mind: a relationship, or at least a potential one. Now it seems like people are playing the game just for the power, not even because there’s a genuine interest in starting something real.
Guy meets girl. Girl likes guy. Girl gets excited about guy. Mentions him to some friends, throws some flirty emojis into the blue abyss that is an iMessage and anxiously awaits the typing bubbles, wondering if he’ll return her interest. That’s when the game begins; every text has the potential to redefine the entire dynamic of this relationship she’s constructed in her head. “A short response? OMG it’s over he hates me.” “A flirty emoji? Booking the wedding venue next week.” “Took a long time to respond? Better take even longer, don’t want to seem like I care more.” Then the problem starts; we’re so trained in the art of playing the game that we’ve unknowingly established a cardinal rule: caring is bad. Don’t let him know you care. Feelings do nothing but ruin you. Don’t expect anything. We’ve literally become Elsa from Frozen, using “conceal, don’t feel” as a life-motto to avoid getting hurt.
I can’t even get mad about it because I do the exact same thing. Every single guy I meet is guilty until proven innocent. Sure, I’m fun and flirty on the outside, but on the inside I’m just waiting for you to disappoint me. My expectations have dropped significantly since my last serious relationship to the point where I can’t talk to a guy without waiting for him to hurt me, to do something to ruin it all. Maybe he has another girl he’s talking to. Is she better than me? Prettier? Smarter? Taller? Maybe he’ll never ask me on a real date and let things fizzle out when he gets bored. When do I let it go? Am I coming on too strong? Is he playing hard to get or is he just impossible to get? Or maybe he’ll just stop texting me altogether. Is he really just “busy” or is this him nicely ending whatever this was?
This gray area of uncertainty quickly turns into a dizzying cavern of self-doubt and insecurity. We start to blame ourselves when things go wrong. I for one am definitely guilty of pitting myself as the problem. “I shouldn’t have sent that first text.” “I shouldn’t have suggested we see each other again.” “Maybe I’m just not good enough.” Honestly though can you blame me? Multiple times of “playing the game” and losing is bound to take a toll. It’s only natural that the blame falls on someone, and it’s easy to be my own critic. It’s to be expected when we date in a society where caring about someone too much or too soon is seen as such a fatal flaw. Well I’m here to say screw that. I’m sick of pretending I don’t have feelings for someone just because I’m scared of getting hurt. I’m tired of constantly “playing the game” just to be sent back to disappointment. Above all, I’m fed up with blaming myself. I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m caring and I’m freaking hilarious. It’s time we all start to see ourselves in a more positive light and enter the dating world with a sense of self-worth (and an emotional shield still because honestly there’s too many jerks out there not to). So moral of the story is: it’s not me, it’s you. If you can’t see how awesome I am, that’s your loss. I’m done blaming myself and I encourage you to be done blaming yourself too.