My last blog on top dating mistakes women make caused an uproar among male readers who complained my advice encouraged women to “play games.” Not a huge surprise, since the most common dating blunders are a boon to lazy men looking for casual flings. But a bit ironic, given that MEN themselves are masters of game playing in relationships.
In fact, the tough love coaching I give my clients is aimed at protecting women from falling victim to such games. What kind of games am I talking about? I’m sure female readers could cite hundreds of examples. But from my practice, here are four of the most frequent games I see men playing:
1) The “play to lay” game. This is where he pretends to care about you more than he actually does at the beginning in order to get you into bed. As women we crave emotional intimacy, so it’s not difficult for a man to combine earnest questions and over-the-top compliments to create the illusion of trust and connection that usually precedes sexual intimacy. The game is a blast for both parties involved – until a woman finds herself wondering why the man who was “crazy for her” and “couldn’t get enough of her” has poofed after a few rolls in the hay.
Girl’s Game Changer: In order the separate the man who actually DOES fall in love with you at first sight and CAN go the distance from the players, a woman must pace the relationship. Rules authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider recommend: "Don’t see him more than once or twice a week for the first month or two." They also suggest not inviting him back to your place for the first few dates, and holding off on sex until you’re confident he’ll stick around. Sure, a guy who’s just looking to get laid won’t put up with such “games from women.” In other words, you’ll weed out those who want only one thing.
2) The “spontaneity” game. At worst, this is when men try to pass off “booty calls” as spontaneous gestures of missing you and needing you. At best, it’s just laziness, lack of organization, or taking a woman’s time and schedule for granted. Either way, it doesn’t really make a gal feel special or respected when a man calls right before he wants to see her.
Girl’s Game Changer: Ladies, if you would prefer that the men in your lives gave you more advance notice when asking you out, then STOP accepting last minute invitations! Why not just tell him you prefer to be asked out in advance? You know, ‘cuz it’s all about communicating and being honest? BECAUSE IT WON’T WORK and it will only come across as nagging. As I said in my previous blog, I think the “three days in advance” (e.g., Wednesday for Saturday) as proposed in The Rules is reasonable.
Yes, it’s true, as one of my (predictably, male) critics pointed out: a woman may miss out on some occasional spontaneous fun -- like fabulous last minute tickets that a guy has just scored -- if she has “a rule” against accepting last minute invitations. But far more often, the fun, fantastic nights out women ARE missing are those they COULD have planned with their girlfriends but DIDN’T because they were trying to keep their schedules open to accommodate last minute invitations from men!
3) The “good enough for now” game. This is the fun little merry-go-round in which a man creates the impression that the two of you are in a serious relationship when he’s actually stringing you along, enjoying your sexual favors and home-cooked meals, while actively looking for something better.
Girl’s Game Changer: Again, The Rules provide the key. If you’re seeing him once or twice a week, then make sure one of those dates is international date night: Saturday. Unless one/both of you are working or have family commitments on Saturdays, that’s when he gets to see you. How to get him to ask you out for Saturday? Say no to Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday…you get the idea. Once again, a man who is just marking time with you won’t “put up with such games” from women – which is precisely what we want! Men with lukewarm interest won’t pursue a woman who is even the slightest challenge – but not even teams of wild horses (much less a few pesky Rules) can deter the man who really, really loves you.
4) The “break up to make up” game. Two can certainly play at this game, but when the on-again-off-again routine starts stretching into years, vs. months, it’s women who have the most to lose, as time is our most precious, non-renewable resource. (See avoiding time wasters).
Girl’s Game Changer: This one is so hard. As Greg Behrendt put it in He’s Just Not That Into You:
“What could be better than hearing from the man who just told you he didn’t want you in his life anymore, his sad, wistful, ‘I miss you so much’ voice on the other end of the phone? It’s validating. It’s exciting. It’s irresistible. But resist you must.”
Usually, when he breaks it off, it’s broken forever. But not always. Sometimes you’ve crowded and scared a guy, and the break up is his was of reasserting his space. So GIVE HIM SPACE. Don’t call him, don’t e-mail him. If he does call and ask to get back together, proceed with caution. He’s proven he can walk away from you once. The defensive dating techniques I recommend can protect your already bruised heart from getting brutalized once more.
There is another common game men play – it’s actually a word game, where they pretend they have never heard of and certainly cannot pronounce such words as “marriage,” “commitment” and “children.” Deftly winning this game requires delicate skill, and deserves an entire blog on the subject. So tune in next time for “Engaged by Christmas.”
Meanwhile, women interested in learning the hard-to-get-but-easy-to-be-with approach to dating can try a free ten minute consultation for a limited time by visiting www.maliburulesgirl.com.