Tag — you’re it. It’s a school yard game we played as children, but are our lives any different now? Relationships are a constant game of tag. It’s his turn to text, it’s your turn to text. It’s his turn to make a grand gesture, it’s your turn to apologize. It’s his turn to meet your parents, it’s your turn to meet his cocker spaniel. It’s the never ending game of romance — the ebb and flow of the current on which the love boat sails. Why do we hold on for the ride? Why can’t we stop playing games?
To answer the latter inquiry, games are freaking fun. They’re exciting. It’s the game part of relationships that gives you the stomach flip. A game is a thing of chance. You go all in and put in time with the likelihood that you may lose it all. The game “Life” is certainly a larger metaphor that life in itself is a game of a dice roll, because even small day-to-day decisions have benefits and repercussions. In a poker game, you chance losing the shirt off your back and in the game of love, the heart on your sleeve. It’s the anticipation of the risk that produces addicts.
Just as there are gambling addictions, there are additions in love games as well. Gaga herself had it right when she said, “The story of us it always starts the same with a boy and a girl and a huh and a game.” The question remains however, that begs if love games are part of a healthy relationship cycle, or a way of avoiding the reality of each other. It appears that there are ways to utilize these games and also abuse them. Two people who are committed to each other and occasionally play the game to keep things interesting — for example, if someone plays coy in order to up the sexual ante — is a healthy way to play games. Another healthy game may be a new couple trying to play the uninterested card. It can be slightly abusive, however, to ignoring a significant other’s phone call to prompt a guessing game like, “Is she mad at me?” This can be called the game of leading someone on — what I like to call the poker face.
When it comes to more serious matters, games can be a weapon against each other, because, although it’s sick, who doesn’t love mind games — especially if you’re on the superior end of the stick? I believe that in the case of tension or anger, it is better to address things head on. Giving the silent treatment or subtle hints to show anger only prolongs bitter feelings and frustration.
From the most extreme forms of tension to the three-day rule for calling a chick back, our love lives are filled with games. Once we decide to let someone in our lives, we become a pawn in their game and they become one in ours. Strategies, rules, and formulas all go into successful relationships. Labels like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” come with the rule of monogamy and sometimes if you break that rule, you’re out of the game entirely. We knowingly enter risky situations, because we are addicted to the risk that we have everything to lose and also everything to gain.