Quit Playin’ Games With Your Heart! [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]

I think The Backstreet Boys sang it best when they crooned, “Quit playin’ games with my heart!” Every 8-year-old girl in 1997 belted that song out with no clue how relevant the lyrics would still be when they were 23 years old. That 8-year-old girl is me. That 8-year-old girl is you. No one likes to be toyed with—especially when it comes to relationships and dating. Typically, men and women think a bit differently when it comes to dating (this is not news), but one thing they do have in common is the playing of games. Though not all of us play the same (let’s say, some are Derek Jeter and some are Little League umpires), we just can’t help but roll the dice and gamble when it comes to love.

When it comes to relationships, girls can be a little “crazy.” I wish I could think of a better word that’s not so offensive, but every girl I’ve known goes a little off the deep-end when it comes to male sex. When we’re forced to do the mating ritual known as dating, we cannot help but become these anxiety-ridden basket cases. We call ten of our best girlfriends over to help analyze a text message. We create unrealistic rules and expectations for guys to abide by and live up to. We play games. The question is, “Why?” Do games add excitement? Do we like the “drama”?

I also want to clarify that I am not bashing females at all, nor am I saying that I know everything about relationships. Because let’s be real,  I actually do all of those crazy things. Ask any of my friends how I act when I’m in a relationship—see: crazy. In the beginning of a relationship, the over-analyzing and the game playing is at a maximum. Each person is still trying to feel the other one out, and sometimes we’re not truly ourselves. We try to mold into something that we think our new partner will like rather than just coming out and saying, “Yo, this is me. Love it or leave it, boo.” That just seems too easy. Be ourselves? Are you nuts?! Not to mention that we’re also afraid of rejection. Who wants to be rejected for being themselves? That’s brutal. So instead, we contort ourselves and morph into this cookie-cutter version of “the perfect girlfriend” for that first couple of honeymoon months, but we all know (probably from experience) that this fake version of ourselves can’t last forever. Our true selves come out eventually, and that’s usually the make it/break it point in the relationship. This is all a game.

After dating a bunch of dodo birds and watching a couple long-term relationships crash and burn, I think I can confidently say I have learned a thing or two (not to say that I don’t have much more to learn, I know I do). So right now, I am going to asks us twenty-something ladies to stop with the text analyzing and the personality changing.

We need to stop playing games.

We’re in our twenties now. This isn’t high school or even your first couple years of college. If you text a guy you’ve been seeing and he doesn’t respond for 30 minutes, this does not mean that you need to wait 40 minutes to text him back. Waiting ten minutes longer than he did does not give you the upper hand; this makes you a game-player. Just text him back! Maybe he was at work or napping or helping an old lady cross the street. Just text him back in a regular, normal length of time. Sending delayed text messages won’t make him think, “Oooh, she must be mysterious and awesome and wanted by so many men.” That is a myth, my friends. Guys aren’t that smart when it comes to the woman brain (sorry guys, but let’s be real), and they don’t catch onto stuff like that. We ladies think and care way more about any of this stuff than they ever will anyway, so just do your thing and be yourself!

You’re kind of an adult, so you should probably kind of start acting like one in a relationship. Dating doesn’t have to be a constant mind game, dating can be fun! We just need to learn how to date without playing stupid games. Instead of starting off the relationship on a less-than-real note, we need to just be who we are. Be vocal. Be truthful. If he suggests sushi for dinner and you hate sushi, don’t say, “Yeah! Sushi sounds awesome! Yummy!” Don’t say this just because you want to come off as flexible and culturally renowned. Just suggest something else! Don’t flirt with other guys in front of your new beau in hopes that he’ll see you as a desired woman and want you even more. You’ll look a little sketchy, and this may turn your new man off rather than on. And once again, just text him back instead of waiting a certain amount of time in order to seem less available. Spoiler alert: These instances have been taken from personal experience. See, I’m crazy too! We’re all in this together.

I think we can all agree that playing games in a relationship is just exhausting. Let’s all just give it a rest.

Katie is finishing up her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks about Ryan Gosling and hummus a lot here!

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