The Dating Game: Don’t Buy It, Don’t Play It

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When it comes to competitions, few are as fierce as the dating game. Jokes are made, advice is given, songs are written and movies made about how to win, lose or simply continue to play. But, for the record, there is a vast difference between the dating scene and the dating game.

The biggest difference is simple: though both may exist, only one is unhealthy and counterproductive. In fact, where being a part of the dating scene is a healthy and expected thing for a single individual, getting in on the dating game is an act of self-sabotage.

Nobody Wins At Mind Games

When people refer to the dating game, they’re typically referencing the games people play to win someone over, manipulate others, spare themselves potential humiliation or rejection and avoid vulnerability. Though these efforts may indeed protect the ego, they do nothing but damage any potential for a lasting relationship. More importantly, they hurt everyone involved, including you.

Being honest, direct, consistent and vulnerable are the ingredients for a healthy relationship with others and the self. To deny yourself the opportunity to practice these skills with others in the dating scene is to remove any opportunity to grow and prevent the potential of finding something real.

After all, if you base the beginning of any relationship on games, nobody wins when reality sets in.

Don’t Believe The Hype

Of course, popular culture glamourizes the dating game. There’s seemingly a lot of hype involved, especially the idea that everyone in the dating scene is playing games. With that false information in mind, many individuals feel foolish for being vulnerable with their feelings and honest about who they are and what they want.

Regardless of what messages magazines, movies and music might send, there’s no reason to believe the ones that encourage mind games.

Mind games – actions that define the dating game – are based in fear, not love. As such, they won’t foster love. They’ll merely create more fear and fear-based reactions. It’s a dysfunctional cycle of epic proportions, and it’s a self-sabotaging way to approach any relationship.

Consistency Is Key

In order to foster healthy relationships – those based in love – and avoid self-sabotage, you must avoid the con of the dating game and be consistent and honest. Being genuine with regard to who you are, how you feel and what you want in life is the only way to be successful in any relationship, regardless of the category. And, in reference to romantic connections and the dating scene, authenticity is key to having fruitful experiences and finding lasting love.

Game Over

Unless self-sabotage and destruction is the end goal, it’s time to shut down the dating game. Participation is only going to keep you from reaching your goals in the dating scene, especially if you want find a life partner.

Muster up the courage to be real. Be willing to show people who you are. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your true self. Then, you can find the person who values your genuine qualities and the real you, rather than your game face.

Though it’s true the dating scene can be an intimidating place to be and suiting up with ego pads might seem necessary, it’s never the way to go. As tempting as it may be to jump into uniform and play games for the purposes of self-preservation, the end result leaves everyone injured and eventually benched, hurt and marking another loss on the scoreboard.

Say goodbye to the dating game and stop keeping score in a lose-lose situation. After all, it’s the only way love can win.

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Toshia Humphries is a freelance writer, talk show radio host, life coach and artist in Lubbock, Texas. She possesses three degrees in counseling and psychology with a focus on addictions and has written feature articles on addiction, recovery and mental health for several publications, including Stages of Recovery, Solo Parent Magazine and Recovery Brands. She is the author of the book - Today Is the Day to Sparkle: Daily Affirmations for Those Who Need to Find Their Shine - and co-author of a curriculum for life skills programs for teens. She has been a guest speaker on Transformation Talk Radio, discussing personal growth, addiction, mental health and wellness and currently hosts Girl Power Hour – a talk radio show geared toward personal empowerment, spirituality, healing and growth.