Laura Yates is a coach and writer specialising in helping people see the better side of breakups and heartbreak. You can find her at laurayates.org and pick up her free breakup audio.
All in all, dating should be a fun experience! It should be something that gets us out meeting new people, socialising, trying new experiences and ultimately, leading to something meaningful with someone.
Unfortunately, some of that fun can be somewhat diminished by the game playing that can occur in dating. This happens both online and offline and so I’ve put together a few warning signs to help you decipher when you might be subject to game playing and what to do.
The never-ending messaging but reluctance to meet up – or avoidance of it
I think we’ve all been there! We start messaging someone back and forth, seem to be building up all of this digital chemistry and connection, yet they never seem to commit to meeting up or avoid asking the question at all. Unfortunately, there can be so many people who turn to online dating and use it as a game whether this be out of boredom, seeking validation or they love the messaging back and forth but not anything beyond that. If you find yourself in this situation, either ask outright to meet up (if you have been waiting for them take the proactive lead in this) or move on completely. The purpose of dating online is to use it as a tool to meet people – in person. Not to accumulate digital pen pals!
There are many people out there who are serious so don’t waste your time on those that clearly aren’t!
They make plans that are vague and non-committal
Similar to the above but this often happens when you start dating someone. If you find yourself on the receiving end of wishy-washy plans that usually fail to materialise, the chances are the person you’re dating is either seeing other people (which is completely fine but if they’re stringing you along when it comes to making plans with you, that’s not fine), are too busy in their own life or confused about what they want. They might not even be doing it intentionally to play games but you’re far better spending your time on those who know what they want and commit to plans. Time is precious for everyone and so there needs to be mutual respect for that.
They go hot and cold
Ever dated someone who when you’re with them, everything is amazing, they make you feel like the only person in the world and the chemistry is off the charts only for them to go then distant as soon as you’re apart? Maybe even make you feel like you did something wrong? This one can be incredibly toxic because it leads to insecurity, over analysing and a tendency to become quite obsessed with the person in pursuit of breaking through their wall and getting them to fully commit. Run a mile from people like this. It’s game playing at its worse. They typically enjoy those intense moments when to you, they seem fully ‘in’ it but it’s because they already know they have no intention of following through on it all. Either that or they just don’t know what they want but it’s not fair on you to create a false perception of reality. So move on.
They test you or you test them
This one happens in the early stages of dating when one person is ten steps ahead of the other. If you like someone immediately it can be easy to step into the role of ‘social media stalker’ to see what he/she was up to over the weekend and then quiz or test them accordingly to see if it matches up to what you’re piecing together online. We unknowingly become territorial before we’ve even had date 3, let alone a conversation about being exclusive. If this is you, you need to take a step back and relax. It’s better to assume that the people you are dating are dating other people unless a conversation has been had. And you should do so too! Or if you are on the receiving end of this, be upfront about the fact that you just want to take some time getting to know them. Unless of course, the oppressive behaviour is too much and very possibly an indication that the other person could be dealing with insecurity issues.
Avoiding the ‘what are we?’ conversation
There comes a point after we’ve spent decent time with someone when a bit of clarity has to be reached. The ‘what are we?’ question creates so much confusion and anxiety and really, it’s so unnecessary. It’s simple – if you’re asking the question and they avoid it, change the subject or say they don’t like to put labels on things, they very likely want you in their lives but with little commitment. Obviously, if you are the one asking the question or thinking it, then this isn’t aligned to what you want no matter how much you might pretend you can deal with their lack of an answer. So you have to be honest with yourself about that regardless of how much you like them, how well you get on with them and how perfect everything seems.
I hope you find these helpful. Remember, dating should be fun! Be aware of game playing and spend your time on the people who are serious and have wants that are aligned to yours.