On mind games and relationships worth having

The other day, I was discussing with some friends about how to not get “rejected”. One of our guy friends recently met this “amazing” girl that he felt he had a great connection with. And he had come to this conclusion from that one night he was introduced to her.

That night, they had exchanged numbers and he offered to bring her home (back to her place) – setting aside his evening plans. When he joined later that evening after bringing her home, we expressed our disappointment and said that it’s that grand gesture done too soon that always gets him rejected. We had advised him against texting her the next day saying that if he did, he’d look too eager. Yet, he did text her again (and again, and again). She didn’t text back.

“This is how I am! Why can’t I just be myself? Why can’t I show genuine interest in a girl the way that I want to?” he rants with such a heavy heart. “Because it’s all a game.” we quip. We’re all suckers for attention and love the chase. We all believe that anything “too easy” isn’t worth having.

Today, the chase is a game of numbers:

2-3 days before you text her again.

About 30 minutes to 2 hours before you reply.

One emoji? Two emojis?

How long should the “haha” be for it to look like I appreciated the joke, but it wasn’t THAT funny?

Honestly, writing it down and reading it out loud makes it sound like a joke. It’s all so high school. But it is what it is. It’s a long list of unwritten rules that, for someone that hates games so much, I have found myself guilty of playing. Why can’t we say what we mean and mean what we say? Dating today has become a sad, never-ending game of Poker except no one ever goes all-in anymore because we all have this false notion that we may be dealt better cards if we don’t take risks today.

I think we all want relationships that are honest and drama-free. We all want relationships that inspire us to be better people. But some of us seem to have downgraded courtship to a game that leads to crippling anxiety and unnecessary stress. Why? Because we put ego first.

We don’t text first or too soon because we’re worried about seeming too eager. Eager for what? A relationship that can last us a lifetime?

We don’t cut to the chase because we fear rejection. Why does the thought of straight-up honesty scare us?

When we put our egos aside, we fear we lose “power”.

That power we want to keep has no place in a healthy relationship. When we attempt to hide or filter our true selves in the beginning, we only set ourselves up for failure.

I like you, but…

In a perfect world, everyone just says what they mean and mean what they say. We give (in small acts or grand gestures) without conditions or fear of rejection because that’s who we are. But the world we live in (with social media, apps like Tinder, Bumble and the ease of travel overall) creates the illusion of choice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have choices and great to know there’s someone out there worthy of all our love and honesty. But some of us think that “keeping options” open means putting people on the sidelines and not saying “no” directly. It’s so much harder to settle down because we think we’re going to be dealt better cards elsewhere. We now put conditions to feelings – like “I could be with her but she’s ________” or “He and I are perfect, and I feel like I love him but he’s __________” because no one really works on building good relationships anymore.

We’re so entitled because we think there’s this perfect person that will tick all the boxes and solve all our problems. At the same time, we hold on to conditional people as some sort of safety net.

“It is the capacity to tolerate difference that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.”


We highlight our differences (or the boxes they didn’t tick) as a mandatory to a relationship. Philosopher Alain de Botton – known for his amazing books and talks on love and relationships – shares: “It is the capacity to tolerate difference that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.”  Love only becomes right because two people WORK to make it right, and it’s not because they WAIT for it to become right.

We can never expect anyone to fill the cracks for us nor can we expect to be enough to fill theirs. People who play ridiculous mind games and put conditions to love desire for control and live in fear of their own feelings. They think that they’ll know the right person when they meet them, and the right person would tick all the boxes without kinks or conditions.

Love is a choice but it’s not to accept each other’s flaws but to recognize that we do have these flaws and we (as a couple) will work together to be better versions of ourselves as we go. We don’t get to this kind of honesty and trust with mind games because mind games are meant to MANIPULATE.

Some people may enjoy the thrill of the game, but it will get old (and so will we). We can choose to keep playing and put conditions to feelings or we can stop wasting people’s time, be adults, and work towards a relationship worth having.


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