I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.
I've always been fascinated by Jane Eyre; such independence; such strength in the face of adversity; such realistic ideas of the world. One of the many things I admire most about Jane Eyre is that she did not succumb to the Game. She did not keep Mr. Rochester at a distance during their engagement, and I applaud her for that. Because even though their wedding was a hoax due to Rochester's wife in the attic, she didn't waste any of the time she had with him.
I presume you're all familiar with the Game. It's the thing that blatantly undermines our self-confidence and makes us second-guess every text message we've ever sent. It's the idea that we're supposed to feign disinterest in a person we, in fact, are very interested in, a concept that seems rather counterintuitive, don't you think? Each time my phone buzzes with a winky-face filled emoji, I have to force myself to wait at the very least 10 minutes before responding (and that's a conservative estimation). The amount of time I spend on the phone with my mom analyzing the subtext of a text is ludicrous. Fortunately for me her advice is (literally) always "Just play the game, Honey."
I always thought playing the Game was hard. It tests my willpower in very uncomfortable ways, and it forces me to overthink and overanalyze in ways I didn't when I was younger. I've found a goodnight kiss usually indicates continued interest, but then you need to reevaluate whether or not he responded when you said "see you soon" after the kiss. What if he doesn't actually want to see you soon? Then why the hell did he kiss you. It's a vicious thought process. Even Jane Eyre had to wonder why a man like Rochester would want to marry her, what his real intentions were. Men of his standing aren't exactly accustomed to marrying their governesses, after all.
But in all honestly, it is just as hard to not play the game as it is to play it. It's easy to live in constant fear of responding too quickly or of saying something wrong, something that scares off someone because we *gasp* dared to display our interest up front rather than hiding it behind breezy text messages that are not as effortless as they appear (because you spent a solid 20 minutes texting your best friend, sending her drafts of the text before you finally hit "send").
My friend and I were having a bit of bitch session last week, and we came to a very healthy conclusion that I hope I can find the strength to stick by. Cut the crap. If I like a guy, I should be able to text him even if I texted him first yesterday, or if I ended the conversation the night before. But you'll come off as desperate and needy, or too easy. If there's no challenge, he'll move on to the next girl. All I can say to that is good riddance. The idea that we have to play a game in which we appear disinterested towards a guy we're actually very interested in has never really made sense to me. (So obviously I struggle to implement it into my dating life. Maybe that's why I'm still single. Idk.)
Here's the thing I've found though. The guys that I don't play the game with are usually the ones worth keeping around. They're usually the type of guys who are a little shyer and might interpret my fake disinterest as actual disinterest. Then they lose their confidence and never ask me out again because they're afraid of rejection.
I wish we lived in a world where I could just walk up to the guy I like (that's right, I said walk--not text) and say, "Hey! I like you." Why is that so hard? Why do I instead have to put up with weeks of intermediate texting, occasional dates, and the constant fear of him just being bored and not actually interested? Why can't we just be up front with one another? Gone are the days of being able to declare any true semblance of feelings--though I'm not sure our romantic proclamations would be anywhere near this poetic.
I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.
And maybe you're sitting there thinking, you're clearly dating the wrong guys, Halle. Maybe I am. But it's not just me that struggles to play (and/or not play) the Game. My friend Nina has had some of the most ridiculous encounters with Bumble dates, and a few of them were multi-week-long flirtationships that ended abruptly and without much explanation. That isn't what I want--though I will admit to hopping on the Bumble train myself. (Choo choo!) My one and only Bumble date is really where this blog post idea began, because he is killing me. I'm serious. The kid is so hot and cold (emphasis on hot though, if I can just take a moment), my friends nor I have any idea where I stand with him. (And I genuinely hope he reads this at some point--soon--and gets his shit together because, hey. I like you. And if that's not how you get the guy, I don't know what is.)
It boils down to the simple fact that I don't want to play the Game. I actually feel like I'm ready for a real relationship, and I'm not really looking to waste my time. Is that so terrible? Does that make me such a monumentally, needy psychopath? The fact that I finally know what I want is kind of an amazing thing for me. And I'm actively making an effort to go after the thing that I want. So why should I be penalized for being honest with him and myself? And it's not that I don't get the thrill of the chase--believe me, I get it. But there should be something more exciting to look forward to than seeing how many days can pass before the girl you're talking to finally caves and texts you first. Congratulations. You have the power because she likes you.
And I can totally understand playing the Game in the beginnings of a relationship. Though I hate doing it, even I can admit it's effective. Sometimes silence is the the most effective way to help g guy realize his feelings. Take Jane Eyre. She paid Rochester little special attention, though I believe she was quite in love with him the entire time, as was he, claiming "I knew you would do me good in some way; at some time--I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you."
But once you reach a certain point, whether that's a few or many dates in, shouldn't you be able to stop playing games? Stop keeping score of who started yesterday's conversation? If you continue to spend time together, you're obviously doing so for a reason. So cut the crap. If the other person can't handle a bit of honesty and a brief feelings talk, then they probably weren't the right one for you anyways.