- The cat and mouse game 😭
- The Real Reasons Men Are Remote
- The Unwritten Rules Of The Dating Game
- Is Your Partner Playing Head Games With You?
- Pooja Parikh Traveled Across The World For The HS Diagnosis That Changed Her Life Forever
- 1. The “Ghost Texting” Game
- 2. The “Roller Coaster” Game
- 3. The “We’ll Never Be Official” Game
- 4. The “Secret Girlfriend” Game
- 5. The “Spontaneous Jerk” Game
- 6. The “Never Texts First” Game
- 7. The “Super Flirt” Game
- 1. The blame game
- 2. The Gaslighting Game
- 3. The guilt game
- 4. The ‘Bait and Switch Game’
- 5. The roller coaster game
- 5 Signs of Mind Games in Relationships
- 5 Signs of Mind Games and Power Struggles in Relationships
- 1. Your boyfriend or husband had a difficult or abusive childhood
- 2. You feel confused and anxious with him
- 3. Your boyfriend or husband tries to make you do certain things
- 4. Your husband or boyfriend makes subtle comments or threats
- 5. Your husband or boyfriend has power struggles with other people
- How to let go of an unhealthy relationship
- Types of Relationship Games
- How to Stop Playing Relationship Games
- Reasons Why People Play Mind Games
- Call Their Bluff
- What’s another reason for mind games?
- Confront and Move On
- I have one more reason for mind games…
- Suggest Defining the Relationship
- How to Recognize Games in a Relationship
- Do You Still Need To “Play the Game” When You’re In A Relationship?
The cat and mouse game 😭
I (24 F) met this one guy (25 M) a year ago on the app. Initially I joined the app looking for dating/relationship. Anyway, he told me that he’s not looking to date or start any relationships. The thing is though, that he didn’t make it clear from the very start. I pursued him as best as I could, I mean he’s the epitome of what I consider to be the perfect guy. We begin texting like 24/7 and flirting with each other (subtly). Finally, we wanted to meet each other (a couple of weeks later)…however here’s where it gets rocky. He states “I’m only going to meet you so long as you know that it is not a date” I let it slide though. I responded “Let’s just hangout as friends then” (since that’s what he clearly wanted)
We finally meet. Like I said, perfect in every way. I could not see a single flaw in him. We had an amazing time, and later continued texting. But then, he finally admits that he’s Special Ed, he’s Jewish (strict family background) and they probably don’t want him dating someone that’s not Jew, and he’s never been in a relationship before. I consider myself a very open minded individual and I honestly didn’t mind any of it, I didn’t understand why that was such a big deal to him. I know there’s a connection between us. I feel it, and he probably feels it too (even though he’ll never admit it, I guess). I felt myself falling for him deeper and deeper over the months, and eventually a year later here I am writing this post. I don’t know what to do next. I’ve put all of my time and energy on him, hoping maybe it’d go somewhere. Nothing. Now, everything feels like tension between us. I only got to see him once every couple of months. There’s so many blockages. It’s draining my energy.
I put dating aside after meeting him, simply because if I started dating again, that would mean I’d have less time and energy for him. But, clearly it’s not going anywhere at all. It’s a cat and mouse game. Now it feels like he’s just playing with my feelings and emotions, leading me on continuously. I can’t do this anymore. I fell in love with him deeply, but I don’t think it’ll ever be. Perhaps, this whole time I was deluding myself. Maybe I’m the only one that ever felt it. I don’t know anymore. It’s a new year, and I think I need to move on and let this go.
What do you think? Should I confess now or just let it be and quietly drift away. 😢 Even if I want to get away now, he always brings me back closer. He wants to know all of the sexy details about me and flirts with me but at the end of the day “we’re just friends”. Have I been lead on this whole entire time?
Wtf do I do? So many emotions, constantly confused at this point and I need some real serious opinions.
TL;DR: Met a guy on tinder, started out as friends, eventually I fell in love with him, but he has many serious issues. I’ve shared many intimate details with him already. Never sure if he feels the same way about me. Possibly leading me on. “We’re just friends”. I need to move on, he brings me back. Plays with my feelings. I don’t know what the f to do.
EDIT : He’s 100% leading me on because the last time I saw him he teased me around and said if I wanted him to be my boyfriend. I’m pretty sure he knows I like him more than that, and he’s playing with me.
The Real Reasons Men Are Remote
Here are four things to keep in mind when your man seems distant…
When talking about the inner workings of human beings, it is dangerous to generalize. Exceptions will always confound simplistic answers to complex questions. Still, nearly all women share a frustration at some time or another in romantic relationships. They express it something like this: “He seems so shut down…His heart is like a safe I can’t seem to crack…I can’t get him to open up and talk about what he’s feeling…Even when he’s physically with me, he seems to be emotionally somewhere else.”
Sound familiar? Many new relationships have sputtered because of this complaint. But while there are no simple solutions, there are some useful big-picture insights into to why this may happen. Understanding the root causes can go a long way toward creating ample middle ground on which to build a healthy relationship.
You first have to account for the way men are fundamentally wired. Whether you believe God created males to be protectors and providers, or it was a matter of evolution, it’s true that for many millennia men mostly kept the company of other men, hunting, engaging in war, and so on. The skills needed for that lifestyle did not include the ability to verbalize one’s deep feelings—and with good reason. By the time that man got stuff off his chest, the herd, or the battle, had either killed him or left him behind.
Fast forward to today’s male. Those instincts are still in a man’s DNA, however much the times have moved on. And he still undergoes a social “natural selection” of sorts, beginning at an early age, which rewards reticence over chattiness every time.
It is this combination of influences that makes it difficult for him to open up to the woman in his life. Here’s why:
1. Men and women think differently. While women judge an event by how it makes them feel, men are more likely to wonder what it means for their sense of competence and strength. Will this make me stronger or weaker? He is also thinking: Will this help me get the girl? It isn’t that a man doesn’t have feelings; rather, he prioritizes them differently than women. Compared to action and tangible effects, feelings strike him as insubstantial and irrelevant.
2. Men and women communicate differently. Research has revealed that the average female uses nearly twice as many words in the course of a given day as a typical male. It is tempting for women to assume this is a conscious choice he makes. It isn’t. He’s not being evasive. He’s not playing cat-and-mouse mind games or purposely making life difficult for you. He’s simply being what he is—a man. Pressuring him to be something else entirely is an exercise in futility and frustration. Sure, express your feelings, and encourage him to do the same. But let go of the expectation that there is a Shakespeare in there somewhere, if only he’d open up.
3. Unlike girls, boys grow up playing games that don’t account for feelings. As children, girls’ play typically centers on social interaction (dolls, house, tea parties). Boys play warfare games, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians—good-guy-versus-bad-guy scenarios. Modern parents who refuse to buy toy weapons for their boys—because they are concerned by the prevalence of violence in the world—are often dismayed when the kitchen mop becomes a rifle and every stick outside is a sword. Perhaps in our forgotten past, tribal communities considered this a good sign, since survival would one day depend on the little guy’s skill as a warrior or hunter. The point is, even now boys at play enact roles that minimize emotional awareness. Later in life, that translates into an inability to comprehend the layers of emotional nuance their partners expect from them, much less to talk about it.
4. Boys are conditioned to avoid the appearance of weakness like the plague. As much as we try to deny it in modern civilized culture, there is a pecking order in human social structures that begins to develop the minute we step onto the school playground. Boys jockey for position and prestige, especially in the eyes of the on-looking girls. The other boys will punish mercilessly for any sign of softness—but, what’s worse, the girls might also. It doesn’t take long for a boy to realize the best way to stay on top is to never, ever let anyone see his doubts, fears, and wounds.
Years later, when the woman in his life asks him to open up and share his feelings, he may even sense he’s being led into a trap and circle his emotional wagons. He’d rather endure her frustration at his guardedness than risk losing everything in a moment of transparent vulnerability.
Here’s some good news: None of this is as toxic to romantic relationships as some would have you believe. Awareness and understanding are powerful magnets that can draw you closer together. Being realistic about how your man’s mind works is a good first step in learning how to meet him in the middle.
The Unwritten Rules Of The Dating Game
I always tell my friends to stop going for the “bad boys,” or the now commonly used term, “f*ckboys, ”the “dogs” of the dating world. But for some reason they just can’t stay away, and unfortunately, neither can I. And then I thought to myself, guys always go after the girls who are emotionally unavailable, too. The bottom line here is that we are fascinated by things that aren’t at our fingertips, the things we can’t have, the things that seem out of reach.
We like the chase, we play the game and we give in to the game. Rules of the dating world these days are immature and, often times, annoying, too. Unfortunately, the “game” of dating isn’t going away anytime soon, so to be a successful “player” in this never-ending game, you must learn how to play the right way. See, a lot of people have mastered this skill set, Unfortunately, I have not. But, I do know how it works; I just like to play by my own rules.
If there’s someone I find myself interested in, I’ll usually start off by playing along to the rules of the game: taking a long time to answer texts, making myself seem busy or ignoring them at parties or at the bar, acting like I don’t care.
But then, once I’ve invested my time and efforts into someone, I stop playing by the rules and I think to myself, “You know what? Screw the game. It’s not worth it. I’m going to tell this person how I feel, and I’m going to double text, even though I know I shouldn’t.”
Well, let me tell you, it never works out in my favor. And I’m sure some of you are right there with me. I feel your pain. Nine times out of 10, when I reach out and put myself on the chopping block, I always get rejected or the other person loses interest.
And the reason people tend to lose interest when you start showing more of it is because the “chase” is gone, the game of who can act like they don’t care the most has ended and the “talk” you’ve been avoiding now has to be done.
Here’s an example.
Think about that gorgeous stranger you saw last week at the bar. They were mysterious and giving you the right amount of attention to intrigue you but not enough that you knew you had it in the bag. You two made eye contact throughout the night, and you even thought about going up to them and buying them a drink, but you held back because you remembered the dating rules. You two “magically” end up right next to each other and conversation strikes. What made this person more attractive to you than the nice guy or girl who was buying you drinks all night, asking about your college major and saying how they’d love to go on a date with you?
It was the thrill, the unknown; it was the chase. You knew you could have the person who cared, you knew they were interested, so you put them on the back burner, saving them for later, perhaps.
I agree, the whole dating games are immature and childish, but they work. They draw the other person in. It’s how you know you can dig your hooks into someone and make them think about you and what you might be up to, despite how painful and annoying they are.
Why do girls fall for the guys who are known “players” and show them little interest? Or, why do guys go for the girl who constantly tries to get them jealous with other guys at the bar or posts too many pictures with other guys on Snapchat? It’s because these people seem out of our reach; they keep us on our toes.
You wouldn’t value money if it was just handed to you every day, but since you have to work for it, it has more of a value to you. Well, it’s the same with people. You don’t know if they’re interested or not, and you have to work toward the goal of getting them where you want them, wherever that might be, and hopefully it’s not just your bedroom!
For women, we want to be the safe haven for this “player.” We want him to be good for only us. We want to change him and have the guy every other girl wishes she had, the one who all our friends told us we were only wasting our time with.
For guys, it’s simple. They’re just naturally competitive (not to say women aren’t), but if you tell a guy he can’t have something or can’t do something, then they automatically will want it and have to prove you wrong. Same goes for dating, so if a girl seems uninterested or unavailable, the guy becomes intrigued, seeing her as a prize, and he has to have her.
So, when does the chase turn into a “relationship” or go to the next step? The success stories here are few and far between, but I’m sure somehow it works out. I mean, it must. Not everyone is single — the relationships had to start somewhere. And no, I’m not saying all relationships stemmed from the infamous game of cat and mouse chases in dating, but they stemmed from something.
But to answer this question, for me, the “game” never turns out successful, especially when I have to do the chasing. And what I realized, and what many other people need to realize, is that if you get ghosted or rejected from someone you’re interested in, it’s not because you’re not an awesome person, it’s because you’re amazing and deserve someone who knows your worth.
The famous line really is true — it’s not you, it’s them. They’re “not ready” to settle down, or they’re just not worth your time, anyway. If someone ghosts you, it’s their loss, anyway. You obviously cared a lot more about them than the person constantly playing “hard to get.”
To be completely honest, I don’t really like “the unknown” or when things are left up in the air. I like knowing what’s up, even if it is the painful truth that hey, maybe this person actually doesn’t like me at all. And I like some reassurance that things are still going OK.
Because of this, when I have to do the chasing, it usually ends in heartache, a couple bars of chocolate, a lot of tequila and a handful of new vengeful outfits for the weekend out.
Usually, once the game is over and the chase is gone, we get bored, and it’s on to the next one. Once we’ve finally got what we wanted, it’s a 50 percent chance that we will either get bored and start searching for the next thing “out of our reach,” or we will realize that the chase was worth it, and this is the person we’ve been searching for.
The harsh reality of the dating game and playing “hard to get” is that it actually works most of the time. I don’t usually follow my own advice, but my friends do.
When they ask for advice on a guy they’re not sure of, I usually encourage them to wait a while before responding, to not be so available when the guy asks to hangout and to never double text. And when they follow this advice, it’s funny how much harder the guy starts to chase them, and I’m sure it goes vice versa, as well.
Bottom line message here is that dating really sucks. It’s harder than ever, and it shouldn’t be. Not everyone plays these stupid “reindeer games” as one of my cousins calls it, and you’re lucky if you find someone who doesn’t.
The truth of the matter is that we, unfortunately, love a good chase. We like to feel like we worked for something or someone and that we earned it. That’s why we play “hard to get,” and we tend to fall for those who seem unavailable to us or not interested at all. So, hold in there, know the rules of the stupid dating world we’re in and play it smart. Stop wearing your heart on your sleeve, or least start pretending it’s not there. Good luck!
Is Your Partner Playing Head Games With You?
Pete and Laurie (names changed to protect confidentiality) were counseling clients of mine who were “Head Game Gamblers,” a type I describe in my book, Why Can’t You Read My Mind? In their early dating days, for example, Joe would deliberately make Sue wait awhile before returning her phone calls. He was crazy about her, but did not want to show it–too much.
They had since lived together for eight years. That was then. Struggling now, Joe had come to think that Sue had a hidden agenda whenever she was affectionate and kind to him. “Here she goes again,” he would think. “I know how she operates. She wants to visit her sister for the weekend so she is just turning on the charm now.” Joe, in this example, erroneously interpreted Sue’s kindness as evidence that she was manipulating him. He lost sight of the behavior at hand because he assumed that she had ulterior motives.
With the toxic thought pattern of the head game gamble entrenched, partners think that they can read each others’ minds. Ironically, years of togetherness and shared experience can make the head game gamble even more likely, because partners often believe (mistakenly) that spending years together automatically means they know how the other feels. The head game gamble can manifest when one partner believes the other’s behaviors or actions are always directed at him or her. Your partner thinks, “She woke up early and cleaned the kitchen to tell me that I don’t do enough.” Or when your partner comes home slightly late after a meeting, you interpret it as: “He’s obviously paying me back because I didn’t take out the garbage like I said I would.”
A head game gambler may think, “She’s paying me back for watching football all afternoon by not making dinner,” but, in reality, his partner just feels a cold coming on and needs to rest. Similarly, another might imagine, “He only said that my new haircut isn’t attractive because I said he’s going bald,” when, in fact, the new hairstyle is simply not as flattering as the previous one.
When you make assumptions about your partner’s actions or comments, you will often be incorrect. Remember the old saying about the word assume: When you assume you make an ass out of u and me.
So stop assuming, as a first step to stop head gaming. Focus on what you love and admire about your partner. Giving trust is always the best way to receive it back. We all experience anxiety from time to time in our relationships, but you can let your anxiety be a signal to look at the strengths you have as couple as opposed to letting head games tear you apart.
There’s a difference, however, between developing alternative explanations to feed your own head game gambles and your partner actually behaving in a passive-aggressive manner, such as deliberately leaving dishes in the sink, making noise while you’re trying to sleep, or intentionally interrupting you with “important questions” as you try to study for a grad school exam.
If your partner is exhibiting unacceptable behavior such as repeatedly being passive aggressive, assert yourself by telling your partner that you will not accept such treatment. Simply say, “This is not acceptable anymore.” If toxic behaviors continue, you should consider seeing a mental health professional, or encourage your partner to do so.
For parenting concerns with challenging children and teens, check out Dr. Jeff’s second edition of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child.
Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over 25 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS Eyewitness News Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC, and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2015), 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Why Can’t You Read My Mind? (Perseus Books, 2003), and Liking the Child You Love, (Perseus Books 2009).
Pooja Parikh Traveled Across The World For The HS Diagnosis That Changed Her Life Forever
I love playing mind games with men. I love teasing them, being playful and flirtatious. I love trying to figure men out and understand them better. But I also know the dating world is an emotional minefield where one wrong step can blow your relationship to bits. Dating mind games are suppose to be fun. They are suppose to add creativity, life, and mystery to your love life. But some mind games are not meant to be won. Ladies, time to toughen up and stop playing mind games against men you will never win.
The “Are We A Couple?” Game
The easiest way to know you will never be in a relationship with the hot guy you are banging is when you introduce him as “my friend”. You know you don’t think of him as a friend and he knows it too. If he was in your friendzone, he would not know what you look like naked or how you like to be touched. Time to kill your pride, accept you were another notch, and find a man who does want to be called “my boyfriend”.
The Silent Treatment Game
Women hate to be ignored by men because it makes them feel helpless. One day he is giving you all the attention you crave then suddenly you can’t get so much as an “I’m busy right now” text. Cutting off a woman’s attention supply typically makes a woman desperate to get that attention back. Most women come emotionally unhinged by being ignored. Men know this and will use it against you to get what they want. If you find a man is ignoring you, it is time you realized you have overstayed your welcome. Time to walk because any future attention you get will be inferior to the previous attention. The moment a man’s silent treatment game works is the day he knows he has you wrapped around his finger.
The Put On Layaway Game
The layaway game is a very complex game to play. It takes a certain amount of commitment but not so much commitment to indicate permanence. This is the game men play when they take you off the singles market…but don’t commit to you. You are on reserve. You know you are in this game when you are living together, may or may not be engaged, but you are not legally committed. At anytime he can pull the plug on the relationship and slip out of the lease. You know you are in this game when there are no set plans. You are engaged but a wedding date is still up in the air. You have a kid together but you “don’t need a piece of paper to make it official.” You are living together but can’t bring up the idea of marriage or you will get into a huge fight, again. The reason most women get stuck playing this game is fear. Fear of having to walk away from years invested in a relationship that is good but not good enough.
The Jealousy Game
“Jealousy: the Auschwitz of emotions. The relationship death camp.”
The Jealousy Game is the riskiest game any couple can play. If you win you will be miserable. If you lose you will be miserable. The Hail Mary pass of this game man play is involving other women. It can be the wandering eye in public. The female friend you have never met that he talks to about your relationship. It can even be vocal comparisons between you and other women. This is all meant to make you feel inferior and to know he can do better. The jealousy game will always be a pitiful tit-for-tat game that will kill your relationship. If you are intentionally being made to feel jealous the relationship is already over.
The best way for any woman to not get stuck playing unhealthy mind games with men is to have a purpose for your love life. That purpose should be your guide in knowing when to walk away and to know when you have a good man. Having a purpose to your love life is simple – know what you want. When you know you want a relationship you won’t get caught up in sloppy booty calls. When you know you want to get married you won’t get stuck in a dead end relationship. When you know what you want the blinders fall off and you stop chasing a fantasy.
featured image – Mark
We all know the guy (or guys) who plays uncool, perplexing and completely ridiculous mind games that leave you wondering, “WTF?!” While it’s generally best to stay away from these mystifying men, sometimes it can be worth sticking it out with a confused cutie who may just need a little direction. But when should you stick around, and when should you run for the hills? Here are seven mind games guys play and how to deal.
1. The “Ghost Texting” Game
What he does
You had a fantastic time on your date—and he did, too. At least, that’s what you thought until he suddenly dropped off the face of the planet. You haven’t heard back from him in a week. What’s going on?
What you should do
“You may never know for sure what’s up with him,” says Marla Martenson, a matchmaker, author, and motivational speaker. “It could be that he is seeing multiple girls, or he is just not that into you. But whatever it is, that’s not your problem. Get out there and date like a guy.”
If he still hasn’t responded to your texts after a week, stop dwelling on that dude and move on. A guy who leaves you on read just isn’t worth it. After all, you want a man who won’t disappear sporadically (and that’s really not too much to ask).
2. The “Roller Coaster” Game
On your dinner date, you were both laughing at each other’s jokes. And that sweet nighttime stroll you went on afterward? It was so romantic; he held your hand and gave you a kiss. But the next day, he seemed kind of weird and distant. What’s with the mood swings?
“It sounds like he’s probably unsure of his feelings, or the feelings he experienced the night before may be something so new to him that it may be making him feel a little scared,” says Suzanne Oshima, a matchmaker and dating coach at Single in Stilettos.
Whether he’s feeling shaky about his emotions or your awesomeness intimidates him, one thing is certain—you won’t know for sure until you talk to him (and not over text!). In person, gently ask him what’s up with his behavior: “Hey, Mark, you’ve been acting a little distant lately. Is there something going on?” He may open up and have an amazing heart-to-heart with you. But if he still gives you the cold shoulder, it’s best to see what else is out there.
3. The “We’ll Never Be Official” Game
You’ve been seeing this dude for three months, and every time you bring up the completely un-crazy notion of a relationship, he totally shuts down.
“If every time you bring up the ‘girlfriend’ concept he shuts down, the worst thing you can do is to put more pressure on him,” Oshima says. “It’s important to find out the reason why he’s averse to the idea of a girlfriend.”
It’s likely that this guy is flat-out terrified of commitment or has been hurt in the past. Threatening him with an ultimatum isn’t a good idea; give him time to see how wonderful you are! However, Oshima also recommends keeping your options open—give him competition. That guy may never open up to the idea of a relationship, and you don’t want to end up heartbroken.
4. The “Secret Girlfriend” Game
He’s the sweetest guy ever when it’s just the two of you. But that’s the problem—it’s always just you two! You’re getting the sense that he’s hiding you from his friends. Why would he do that?
“If you’ve been dating for a while, then that’s a big, red flag when a guy never wants you to meet his friends or family,” Oshima says. “If you’re an important part of man’s life, he will want you to meet his friends, so he can show you off to them.”
Next time he mentions his posse, ask to meet them! Alternatively, tell him you want to tag along to a party he’s going to. If he says okay, great! But if he finds a way to get around your requests, let him go. You’re fabulous, and your guy should want to show you off, not keep you a secret.
5. The “Spontaneous Jerk” Game
You think the world of him. He’s gentle and kind, and he treats you like the princess you are. But when you’re hanging out with him in a group setting, he suddenly enters douche mode and you’re left feeling confused and disgusted. Does his evil twin take over every time you guys hang out with friends? Which is the real him?
“This guy is very insecure and feels the need to show off in front of his friends,” Oshima says. “He may be the type of person who feels like the bigger man by putting other people down in front of others.”
If your man feels the need to make awful jokes and mean comments in order to fit in with his friends, this is never okay! Talk to him about his behavior: “Tyler, I think you’re awesome. But when we hang out with other people, you don’t seem to be yourself. I wish everyone could see the sweet guy that I see.”
Give him time to fix his behavior after you’ve talked. If he does it again, Oshima says to “get up and walk out.” If he never comes around, cut ties with this guy. You want somebody who’s secure enough to be nice all the time.
6. The “Never Texts First” Game
He seems like a perfect fit for you: You both have a ton of fun hanging out together, and he seems totally interested. Except for one minor little detail that you can’t stop stressing about—he never texts you first.
“Don’t chase,” says Tyler Young, dating coach and owner of Attractology. “It’s hard sometimes, especially when you like someone and feel a connection. However, it is vital to allow the man to pursue you. Men are wired to hunt.”
Young recommends not being available 24/7, so stop texting him first! If he starts initiating the convos, awesome—you’ll know he is interested. But if that dude doesn’t make any moves, then hey, there are plenty of other fish in the sea—fish who are entirely willing to say hi first.
7. The “Super Flirt” Game
He’s a great guy, and you two just click. You always have a ball together! Unless (and this is a big “unless”) there are other ladies around. Suddenly, he enters mega-flirt mode.
Chatting it up with other women while you’re around him is totally rude, but there’s the possibility that he doesn’t even see it as flirting. Confront him about his behavior. Let him know that it’s not cool to flirt in front of you— and be sure to use the word “flirt” so that he knows how you view it. Get straight to the point: “I don’t like when you flirt with other girls in front of me. It hurts my feelings.” If he’s the good guy you thought he was, he’ll stop his offensive actions ASAP.
The most important thing to remember is to never play his game, no matter what it consists of. “There’s really only one way to deal with mind games from a guy: don’t play into them,” says online dating expert Gina Stewart. “You need to be brave. Call him out on BS behavior. Don’t just ignore it, even if you are strong enough to walk away.”
You might not even be aware of this. You might think that it is all your fault. When, actually, he is playing dangerous games with your mind. He is the one who has his fingers entangled in your insecurity.
He is responsible for you feeling the way you do.
Think about it: you weren’t this person before. You used to smile. You used to enjoy things in life. But, now all that is gone, and he is the one who took it away.
He played games with your mind to gain control over you and to turn you into his obedient puppet.
He wanted to be in charge of your relationship by cutting you off of all decisions and taking away your right to say something or have any kind of input in general.
You have to put a stop to it! Stop this madness happening around you. Life is too short to spend it with a manipulative asshole who doesn’t give a damn about your feelings.
He is probably emotionally damaged and insecure, so he is looking for control in your relationship. That’s why he is being a manipulative jerk because deep down, he is insecure.
But, that is not an excuse for such behavior. The fact he is insecure cannot possibly justify his behavior and the fact that he has turned you into an insecure and frustrated woman, who is being brainwashed on a daily basis.
That doesn’t justify how he destroyed your self-worth and your self-respect. He did all that just so he could feel better.
I’m sorry, but that is not love—that is psychopathic behavior.
If you suspect that your mind has been tampered with, read these mind games to see if your guy is doing this to you and if he is, just run for the hills and don’t look back.
1. The blame game
He blames you for everything that goes wrong. Blame is a toxic behavior which gives him an ego boost because he gets the attention off of himself, so he feels better and you feel like crap.
He doesn’t want to own up to his mistakes, so he is forcing you to take the blame instead of him. And the saddest part is that this gets to you. After some time, you stop fighting it because there is nothing you can do. Somehow, you are always the one to blame.
So, you stop fighting and after some time you start believing in it. He planted that seed in your head and he has nourished it until it has grown and forced you to believe it’s true.
2. The Gaslighting Game
Gaslighting is a psychological term defined as: “A form of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting his or her own memory and perceptions…
from the British play-turned-movie, ‘Gas Light’ in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using a variety of tricks causing her to question her own perceptions and sanity.”
You see, it’s not your fault. It never was.
He was making you believe in things which are not real in order to fuck up your self-confidence and respect. His plan was to shake your trust in yourself, so you could put it into him completely.
Then, he could do whatever he wanted with you.
3. The guilt game
He will somehow make it all about him. When he needs something from you, something that is not so reasonable, he will guilt trip you into giving it to him.
He will blackmail you with his emotions, just so you fold and give him what he wants. Sadly, you still have feelings for him and at some point you feel sorry for him, so you give in.
He doesn’t have a problem with lowering himself to the lowest possible position only to get what he wants. He’s got no morals whatsoever. That’s why he can do this.
That’s why he has the power to destroy you.
See also: An Open Letter To The Man Who Destroyed Me
4. The ‘Bait and Switch Game’
When you fight and scream at each other, he knows how to turn things around all of a sudden. So, let’s say you’ve been talking about something particular, you’ve been arguing about it, and after ten minutes of yelling, you find yourself defending while he puts all the blame on you.
And not just that, you are no longer fighting about the same thing. Now, you’re fighting about something that you screwed up a year ago and he never let it go.
Moreover, he was keeping your screw up in back up specifically for a time like this: a time when he screws up something, so he can turn things around by throwing your ancient mistake in your face.
5. The roller coaster game
This is a classic move of every toxic man in a relationship.
They all change their behavior in a matter of minutes without any warning, without any reason. That’s what he does to you. One day he is the best boyfriend you ever had and the next day he is a serious jackass.
So this makes you wonder: Is the source of the problem you? Have you done something that upset him?
The answer is very simple. You did nothing wrong. He is just trying to manipulate you for the next thing he wants from you.
Ignore it and leave him as soon as you can.
5 Signs of Mind Games in Relationships
What are mind games in a relationship? Power struggles can be difficult to recognize because they’re subtle and almost imperceptible – and sometimes the person playing the mind games doesn’t even realize he or she is doing it. Passive aggressiveness, for example, is a common form of mind games. So is playing the martyr.
How do you know if someone is playing mind games with you? These signs and examples of mind games in a relationship will help you recognize unhealthy patterns. In this article I focus on love relationships; I’m writing in response to a female reader’s question about her boyfriend’s behavior. Both men and women play mind games in relationships, but I’m answering a girlfriend’s question about her boyfriend’s mind games. My thoughts will help you see your own boyfriend’s or husband’s words and behavior more clearly.
My reader thinks her boyfriend is playing mind games in their relationship. She also thinks he’s being emotionally and verbally abusive – and I think she’s right. This is her story, plus a few signs and examples of mind games in love relationships.
The tricky part of recognizing power struggles and mind games in your relationship is that you’re emotionally involved! You love him, you want to be happy together, and you aren’t sure how to handle emotional control and manipulation. This is why some couples see a relationship therapist or marriage counselor. The objective perspective is valuable – especially when you can’t see clearly because you’re in love.
Here’s her comment:
“My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 months and he lost his job in the second month of us dating,” says Shanna in response to What to Do When Your Boyfriend Asks to Borrow Money. “He is always asking me for money, and now I realize it’s becoming a pattern. He asked his mom to take a loan for him, and she said no. He didn’t talk to her for a week. Then he asked me. When I say I don’t have money and I can’t get into debt that I can’t afford to pay, he sulks. He asks what kind of girlfriend I am and he gives me the silent treatment for a day or sometimes two. Then he says stuff like what kind of partner or wife will I be in the future. He also says the money is for both of us because it’ll help me too. I feel uncomfortable with this because he isn’t financially disciplined. Is he playing mind games or is this emotionally abusive?”
It’s both! Mind games are emotionally unhealthy or even abusive ways to communicate. A more serious form of mind games are “power struggles”, which are underhanded, subtle attempts to control and manipulate women in relationships. Of course, women play mind games in relationships, too…but this article is to help women recognize the signs of mind games in a relationship with a man they love.
5 Signs of Mind Games and Power Struggles in Relationships
How do you know if your boyfriend or husband is playing mind games with you? The first sign is your own intuition. Why do you suspect your boyfriend isn’t being honest, forthright, or authentic? If you have a feeling something is “off”, trust your feelings. Trust yourself.
Remember that people sometimes don’t even realize they’re “playing mind games.” They learned ways of communicating and relating that aren’t healthy – and they may even have grown up seeing power games in their parents’ relationship. Your boyfriend or husband may not deliberately be trying to control or manipulate you…he may simple have developed unhealthy or even abusive ways to respond to loved ones.
1. Your boyfriend or husband had a difficult or abusive childhood
If he grew up in an unhealthy home, he may not have learned healthy ways to communicate in love relationships. A difficult childhood doesn’t automatically mean your boyfriend plays mind games, but it does mean he isn’t naturally equipped with healthy tools for communication. That said, however, some people who experienced difficult childhoods wouldn’t consider playing mind games in relationships. And, some people who had healthy, happy childhoods often engage in surprisingly devious mind games!
How to Recognize Mind Games in a Relationship
A difficult childhood is a possible red flag, that’s all. Our past experiences – things we don’t even consciously remember – have a huge effect on who we are today. The behaviors we call “mind games” or even power struggles in relationships are ways for people to protect themselves from getting hurt in a scary world.
2. You feel confused and anxious with him
People play mind games because they need to feel like they have power and control in their relationships. That’s why mind games are often called power struggles. Shanna’s boyfriend, for example, is trying to manipulate and guilt her into lending him money. He’s threatening her (“what kind of future life partner will you be?”). He’s being passive aggressive by giving her the silent treatment.
How does this make her feel? Confused and anxious, of course. That’s exactly what her boyfriend wants. That’s why he’s playing mind games! He wants her to feel scared, insecure and anxious so she does what he wants.
If your husband or boyfriend’s uses withdrawal, silence and walls to gain power, read How Do You Deal With the Silent Treatment in Your Relationship?
3. Your boyfriend or husband tries to make you do certain things
I played mind games when I first got married. I’d feel hurt, insecure, or scared about something my husband did or said, and instead of talking to him about it I’d communicate indirectly.
For example, I felt insecure because he was with his ex girlfriend for six years and we’d only been together for two. So I made a big deal about him keeping their old dresser and nightstand. I accused him of holding on to their relationship – I thought he didn’t get rid of her stuff because he still loved her. This was a power struggle in our marriage. The truth was that I felt insecure because I hadn’t been in many long-term relationships and I was scared he’d leave me. I was playing mind games with my husband, and it felt horrible to both of us.
Shanna’s boyfriend is trying to engineer a specific response: he wants her to loan him money. He is underhandedly trying to get her to agree by questioning how good of a partner she is. That’s a classic example of a mind game.
4. Your husband or boyfriend makes subtle comments or threats
I never like admitting that I subtly threatened divorce once or twice in the first year we were married. Divorce was the last thing I wanted, but I didn’t know how to create a healthy marriage. It was so long ago, I can barely remember how or why I said it. I knew I was being emotionally manipulative, but I wasn’t deliberately trying to play mind games. I just didn’t know how to communicate with my husband in healthy ways. So, I resorted to a power struggle.
If your boyfriend or husband is playing mind games with you, he may not know how to communicate directly. He may not understand what he’s doing, why, or even how. Or, he may be deliberately trying to manipulate and control you. Sometimes power struggles are more direct and well-planned than we realize.
Is your boyfriend or husband threatening you? That’s not just an example of a mind game, it’s emotional and mental abuse. Does he question your values, beliefs, personality, opinions, actions, decisions? Does he threaten to leave or divorce you? These behaviors go beyond mind games! They’re painful and destructive power struggles that will destroy your relationship – and your self-confidence.
5. Your husband or boyfriend has power struggles with other people
Back to my reader’s comment. Shanna mentioned five of the most common types of power struggles in relationships – and they all point to mind games.
5 Signs of Mind Games in a Relationship:
- He sulks if he doesn’t get his way.
- You notice he engages in power struggles with other people (a family member, friend, or even a boss at work).
- He uses the silent treatment to communicate.
- He tries to guilt, shame, or argue you into doing what he wants.
- You feel uncomfortable with the way your boyfriend or husband talks or acts toward you.
In any relationship, the most important sign of power struggles or mind games is your own intuition. Your gut instincts are a better indicator than a textbook definition or even examples of mind games. If you feel like something isn’t right about your boyfriend or husband’s way of relating to you, then something is wrong.
If you’re hiding the truth about your marriage or dating relationship, start thinking about ways to talk to people you trust. Start journaling or writing on blogs like this about the way your husband treats you. This will help you warm up to tell someone in person, to get healthy, and to deal with your husband.
How to let go of an unhealthy relationship
If you think the mind games and power struggles in your relationship aren’t resolvable, consider breaking free. If your boyfriend or husband is unhealthy or abusive, don’t spend any more time with him than absolutely necessary!
In How to Let Go of Someone You Love I share stories about letting go from me and a few “She Blossoms” readers. Our experiences with love and loss will comfort and encourage you – especially if you feel manipulated and controlled by a man you love.
Feel free to write about your relationship below. Is your boyfriend playing mind games in your relationship? Is your husband engaging in power struggles that are destroying your marriage – and even your relationships with other people? Start writing the truth. It really will set you free.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It’s free and helpful, no strings attached.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly “Echoes of Joy” email – it’s free, short, and energizing. Like me!
Do you play mind games with your partner? Does he play mind games with you? Are you caught up in a cycle of one-upmanship? Most of us have done this kind of thing at some time or other. Playing psychological relationship games stems from insecurity, power struggle, or reluctance to commit. These emotional manipulations and maneuvers are not good for anyone. Relationships are difficult enough to negotiate without having to pick your way through a mind game battlefield. It’s time to stop.
It’s important to say here, that we’re not referring to the fun kind of games that couples play, there’s nothing wrong with a little flirtatious to-and-fro. The games we’re talking about are destructive, and usually pointless. They mess with your head, undermine your confidence, and leave you second-guessing yourself.
Note that we talk about men and women interchangeably. That doesn’t mean we are excluding same-sex relationships; game playing is a human thing and not dependent on gender.
Photo by Frank Cordoba on Unsplash
Types of Relationship Games
This is when everything you say is stored up by your partner ready to be used as a bullet at a later date. So, for instance, you might mention that you ate two desserts and feel guilty because of it. A week later, during a discussion about where to eat, he’ll throw it right back at you by saying, “I hope you don’t get fat eating two desserts every time we go out.”
Or maybe your boyfriend says something to you and then a few days later forgets, or contradicts himself. You are right on it, ready to show him what a flake he is.
You Must Read My Mind
A common requirement of many women. They expect their partners to know what they want without ever actually telling him. He loves you, right? Then he should know what will make you happy. You need to understand that most men aren’t able to instinctively know what’s going on in your head. If there’s something you want, if there’s anything he needs to do, then ask him. Don’t expect the impossible.
Don’t Do What I Say
Following on from the mind reading requirement, and mainly, but not always played by women, is the ‘do the opposite to what I say’ game. This happens when he takes you at your word. And that’s not what you wanted, is it? He asks you if you want to go out this Valentine’s. You say no, but secretly expect him to surprise you with a romantic date. When he doesn’t, you are disappointed and he’s failed miserably.
He’s Looking at Her
You notice him looking at another woman. Your jealousy flares and the rest of the evening is spent punishing him for his transgression. He has no idea what he’s done wrong, only that the date is ruined and somehow it’s his fault. He’s trying a bit of mind reading, but it’s not working. He’s frantically replaying your conversation leading up to the punishment watershed, but he can’t seem to determine what it might have been. You are still fuming as you replay your own inner video of the look he gave that girl at the bar. And heaven help him if his eyes stray in her direction again.
Looking at women doesn’t mean for one second he’s going to allow his eyes to lead him into cheating. The same can be said for a woman whose attention is momentary snagged by a nearby hunk. It doesn’t mean anything, yet it is a natural biological impulse. We look at attractive humans because we are programmed that way.
Fishing For Compliments
Fishing for compliments is part of flirting. Yet it can also be a sign that your partner is feeling insecure. They need constant reassurance you find them irresistible, attractive and that you love them and only them. This is a sign of neediness. Sometimes you can deal with this pretty easily, but in certain relationships you can never make this person feel good about themselves.
Don’t Objectify Me
This is becoming more and more common in relationships. Of course, no woman, or man, wants to feel like they are nothing more than a sex object. However, if you make the effort to dress up sexily, don’t punish your partner for looking. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? If he doesn’t look at you at all, that’ll be wrong too. Don’t blame your love for doing what comes naturally. You look gorgeous, and he has to look at you.
We are all caught up in this current turmoil of what constitutes acceptable behavior. No-one seems to know what is okay and what is not. However, in the, hopefully safe-space of a relationship, the boundaries and ground rules must be set, if not at the beginning, then very soon at the start.
The Silent Treatment
The silent treatment is the ultimate passive-aggressive weapon. It’s used in the ‘Guess why I’m mad at you’ game. It’s also used in the ‘I’m not talking to you until I get a grovelling apology’ game. It’s one of the most destructive and insidious relationship games. Indeed, it could be said to fall into the realm of emotional abuse.
You might feel aggrieved and annoyed after a fight, so tell your partner you feel that way and need some time alone. Instead of using the silent treatment as a weapon, use it as a time to get yourselves back into a better frame of mind. Make it a mutual decision.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
How to Stop Playing Relationship Games
- Recognize when you or your partner are playing a relationship game.
- If it’s them, try calling them out on it. Sometimes they don’t even know they are doing it because it has become a pattern of behavior for them. Do this when you are both calm, not while you are in the middle of a fight.
- If it’s you, just stop. What are you trying to achieve that could be achieved better and faster by having an honest conversation?
- Don’t engage in the game-playing. Don’t attempt to defend yourself or counter-attack. Shrug and walk away. Losing their opponent whenever they try to start a game is often enough to stop them doing it in the first place.
- Try to ascertain why they are playing games. Are they insecure? Are they trying to boost their own self-esteem? Are they simply emotional manipulators (in which case, you should consider whether you want to be with someone like that). If their behavior stems from anxiety and insecurity, what can you do to reassure them and help them to understand that playing emotional games just makes things difficult?
- When your partner can’t seem to stop playing games, and you know you can’t keep feeding their psychological need for drama, consider whether the relationship has a future. No-one can live with emotional manipulation and bullying for very long. You don’t have to put up with it.
Featured photo by Shirly Niv Marton on Unsplash
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Reasons Why People Play Mind Games
I hear from many of you about how confusing and frustrating dating relationships can be. It is simply hard to understand the opposite sex, especially when the person you are interested in plays mind games. It can get in the way of a deep meaningful relationship.
Dawn asked: Why do guys bother with the mind games? You know, when they say one thing and mean another just to get what they want?
To be fair, girls play mind games too. So let’s include both sides here.
There could be a number of reasons why guys or girls play mind games, and sometimes they don’t even know they are playing games because they are so unaware of their own needs, much less yours.
Here are a few reasons I’ve observed over the years and how to respond.
Reason #1 To Manipulate
Some people use mind games to selfishly manipulate others so they can get what they want to meet their own unmet needs. This may include:
- always having someone by their side
- having someone adore them
- a need to control someone
- hoping another person will heal their deepest hurts
- boosting their self-image because they have someone to show off to others
- having someone to listen to them
Not all these needs are wrong, or unhealthy. It is the way they go about getting those needs met that can be selfish and hurtful.
So what should you do in this case?
Call Their Bluff
It’s very important for the person who’s playing mind games with you to know that you know the game is being played. You may want to confront them directly, and ask what exactly their motives are in your relationship. This will do one of two things: it will either challenge them to stop the games with you and move on to someone else, or they’ll quit not only messing with your head, but also with your heart. You don’t need to waste time with mind players. Who needs the drama? Not you! Read about how to have a meaningful relationship here.
Perhaps they are unaware of his manipulative and game-playing ways. Someone once said, “A liar will first lie to himself before lying to others.” Your willingness to lovingly, but firmly, confront someone on what they have clearly been doing may help them to stop a game they may not even know their playing. But just remember this: don’t simply listen to what they say, watch what they do. That will tell you more about motives than anything. I want very much for you to have a really great loving relationship, but I sure don’t want you hurt by a game player. You can do much better than him.
Relationship Reality Check: Is Your Relationship Unhealthy?
What’s another reason for mind games?
Reason #2 They Like the Rush
Kourtney asked: Why would a guy flirt and act like he likes me and then all of a sudden stop? I have this guy friend who would email daily and tell me everything that’s going on and then he just stopped. In another question, Brittany asked: Why in the world do guys act like they like you one minute and then the next they treat you like they barely know you?
Some people just want to see if they can get a guy or girl to like them. To them, it is more like a game or a challenge. They say to themselves, If I can get a girl or guy to fall for me, then I must be pretty cool. All of this comes from low self-esteem and an unawareness of how they hurt others. Still, others are in a frantic state of mind, wanting that thrill of knowing at least one person cares about them. It’s like a high. But they soon get bored once they think the person they have been pursuing actually likes them. Then they are on to the next conquest. The hunt is on for the next rush. Sadly, many people have very little insight into what they are doing and why.
Well, that stinks…so now what?
Confront and Move On
You have a choice in this. You can choose to confront this guy and ask him what he’s really feeling (be prepared for him to become angry and defensive because no one likes being found out — remember, he may not fully understand why he’s doing what he’s doing either!). Or you can take his indifference as a clue that he’s not truly interested in you, and move on. You don’t have to be a victim of another person’s lack of consideration for others.
I have one more reason for mind games…
Reason #3 Testing The Water
Other times people play with your mind in an attempt to find out how you feel about them. It takes so much courage to be vulnerable enough to share our deepest needs of wanting to love and be loved. What if you tell someone you really care for them and you are rejected in some way. You may feel like you are being led on, but perhaps the other person is just nervous to make the first move.
Riah asked: “When you know a guy likes you and that guy knows you like him, then why does it take so long for him to make the first move?”
For years, there’s always been pressure on guys to make the first move. Now it seems girls are getting more aggressive all the time. Still, in many relationships, both genders (either consciously or unconsciously) expect the guy to be the initiator and the girl to be the responder. Remember a lot of guys act tough and macho, but inside they also are very much afraid of rejection.
Wondering how to move things forward…
Suggest Defining the Relationship
You may want to help each other out by making a simple suggestion. You might say something like this: You know, you and I have been talking to each other for a while and I’m a little confused. So let’s define our relationship. This allows you to talk about it in a non-threatening way. Being emotionally open and vulnerable isn’t easy, but it might have GREAT rewards or at the very least allow you to move on.
Photo Credit: Relevante design
How to Recognize Games in a Relationship
Define the “Games”.
- So many of us take these games for granted that we don’t even recognize them for what they are. We even teach them to our kids who start early to expect any relationship to contain them.
- The Pretender.
- This is the poor start of many relationships. Whether from nervousness or from insecurity, this is the person who tries to be someone else to gain the attention of the other person.
- Trick or Treat .
- This is also often the beginning of relationships.
- A girl trying to make a boy jealous so that he will see what a shining star she really is. Huh?
- A man tells his wife his paycheck is less that it really is. Classy.
- A friend tells three different friends “You’re my best friend”. Ouch!
- These almost always come around to bite your behind. Usually doesn’t take long either, but because they are less work than actually forming a bond with someone these tricks are often attractive.
- Playing the Field
- This is the syndrome wherein one or both people in a relationships think that they want two or more different things at the same time. For instance:
- A guy really likes a girl for her personality, but thinks he ought to be chasing after the prom queen.
- Lisa really likes Jill, but thinks that Denise will get her __________ (fill-in-the-blank – a better job, into the in-clique, etc.). Oh yes, and Denise doesn’t like Jill, so…
- This is also often the beginning of relationships.
- Playing “Mommy Against Daddy”
- Children know how to do this instinctively. The problem arises when we teach the kids (or each other) that it really works. And some of us never grow out of it! Does the term “two-faced” ring a bell?
- The Little White Lie.
- You know…
- “Oh, it’s not important; it really doesn’t matter.” <sigh>
- “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
- “She really wouldn’t mind if she knew, but why take the chance.”
- The reality is, deceit is color-blind and there is nothing little about a lie; lies take on a life of their own and never get smaller, only larger.
- You know…
- The Guilt Trip.
- Everybody makes mistakes, but some people want to collect the price over and over again, or take hostages for later. Sort of like a Limbo dance with feelings. How low can you go?
- Paybacks or the “You hurt me, so I’ll hurt you phenomenon”.
- People can play this one for years until it becomes a habit. And to survive, often the other will resort to doing the same thing. This is one of the most vicious circles there is.
- The Name Game or “Let’s call it anything other than what it is”.
- For instance:
- “It’s not a lie, it’s a fib. Well, we already covered that one, didn’t we?
- “It’s not really cheating because I never really said I was going steady.” Oh, really.
- It’s not love, it’s affection.
- Okay, love is a four letter word, but it’s not slimy or dirty. It’s grand! Don’t cheat yourself, or anyone else, out of it. (War is huge, is only a three letter word, and you don’t hear people going around calling it a tussle!)
- Oh, goody, a relationship with a price-tag. Trickery at it’s worst! This is where:
- The teen-age girl is convinced she has to give sex for love.
- The co-worker/student/friend who is granted privileges for snitching on others.
- The husband is trained that he only gets nooky (there’s that Name Game again) in return for his fidelity.
- If you need that kind of control to assure fidelity, you’re already in trouble.
- For instance:
- The Rumor Mill.
- “Did you know that Jenny told me that Gina told her that Mike told Craig that…” Nothing is more damaging to any relationship than this. Stop rumors cold. Whether it’s about you or someone else, hold up a hand and say “I’m sorry, I don’t need to hear this.” This is one time when good manners require that you interrupt someone who is speaking. If it’s about you, go to the source (generally your friend/lover/spouse, etc.) and get the real information and deal with it.
Playing mind games might have (and we stress might) been acceptable behavior in our teenage years, but we’re grownups now. Time to act as such.
“I text a girl, she texts me back. I text a girl, she texts me back. I text a girl, asking her if she wants to go get pizza, she doesn’t text me back!”
Does Aziz Ansari’s experience sound familiar? Has this happened to you before? Frustrating, right? Have you ever been the person not texting back? These mind games have turned dating—something that should be enjoyable—into a minefield full of frustrations.
Why do we play these types of mind games? Part may stem from personal insecurities accompanied with a fear of committing, or it might be a natural habit. When we started dating as teens, these games were normal practice because we were all unsure how to date. Yet, as we mature, we outgrow these games and learn to date without them. Remember, you’re dating to find somebody special, and that shouldn’t require manipulation or following some sort of playbook.
Some examples of mind games people play are:
- Not texting or calling back in a reasonable amount of time
- Playing hard to get
- Making someone jealous
- Being vague about where the relationship is going
- Silent treatment
Do you use mind games when dating? If so, you are making dating much harder for yourself and others, and it might be ruining your chances for finding somebody special.
1. It Drives People Away
Playing games with somebody who likes you, loves you, or just met you five minutes ago, only leads to one emotion. Frustration. For them.
Most people don’t want a complicated relationship. They want a partner who is interesting, challenging, exciting, and fun, but that doesn’t mean the relationship has to be difficult. Some people may confuse these two ideas and think an interesting person automatically equals a more challenging relationship. Others think that being an independent person means relationships can’t be easy because they are used to not depending on another.
Playing mind games and making a relationship difficult doesn’t make you more interesting, it just drives people away. You miss out on meaningful and beautiful relationships because people don’t want complications. People starting thinking that maybe you aren’t emotionally ready for a relationship. Relationship already have hurdles; mind games just add extra frustrations that push people away.
2. It’s Self Sabotage
Playing relationship games may be a sign of personal insecurities and that you feel like you don’t deserve a normal relationship. Just know that you deserve love and a healthy, supportive, relationship.
If you are having a hard time not sabotaging your relationships, you need to work on yourself and figure out why you’re doing it. Are you still getting over a previous relationship? Did you get out of an abusive relationship and still carrying the wounds? Find what’s hurting you mentally so you can get into a healthy relationship. Going into a relationship still carrying those wounds puts extra weight on you and your partner—weight that neither of you need.
Getting mentally healthy will not only show you the error of playing mind games, but you’ll also feel more confident and physically healthy, as evidence indicates that there is a direct relationship between mental and physical well-being. That in turn means you’ll have more fun on dates and be more likely to finding the right person. The first step to finding love is loving who you are first, so take whatever steps necessary to like who you are.
3. Leads to Unhealthy Relationships
If you start a relationship with something toxic, the relationship will be toxic. It sets a poor precedent for being together and can only lead to worse situations.
If playing a game works and you enter into a relationship, both you and your partner will think acting this way works. The farther into a toxic relationship like this, the more miserable both of you will be. You’ll play games to get your way, push your partner to “prove their love,” and other unhealthy practices. Not only will you have to break away from this relationship, but it will make getting into a new, healthy, relationship more difficult.
The first week of impressions sets up how the rest of the relationship will go. If you act friendly, honest, open, and supportive, that’s how the relationship will be. If you act aloof, prideful, manipulative, and insensitive, guess how your relationship will be?
4. You Get Played Back
Do you remember your parents telling you “Treat people how you want to be treated?” At first it just sounds like good advice, but it’s also a warning. You act nice to people, they’ll be nice back. If you play inconsiderate mind games, they’ll start playing back. Then, either the two of you will continue to drive each other up the wall, or you’ll drift away and pursue other people.
Is that really what you want in your dating experience? Dating should be fun and exciting, not stressful and hurtful. Playing mind games leads to a dislike of dating because of all the drama, which isn’t doesn’t have to be the case at all. Dating can be drama free and enjoyable if both people are kind and mature. Even if two people are completely incompatible, a date can be fun if each person treats each other with kindness and respect.
5. Limits Your Options
The people around you are taking note of how you act while dating. Your friends, coworkers, and family might want to set you up with somebody, but if they see you playing mind games, they won’t. You might think no one is paying attention to your relationship, but they are. This includes how you interact with dates and what you say about them when they are away.
This also includes how you look and act online. Social media has added another layer of confusion with mind games and dating. If you’re making vague rants about your dating experience and how dating sucks, people may not want to introduce you to someone who just may be perfect.
About the Author
Ben Allen believes that everybody deserves love and a healthy relationship. He currently lives with his wife of four years and their one-year old daughter. When not spoiling his family, he spends his free time writing, playing video games, and snowmobiling. To read more of his writing, follow him on Twitter.
About the Author:
MeetMindful is the first online dating site to serve the mindful lifestyle. As part of that service, we’re bringing you a library of content from some of the most knowledgeable contributors in the areas of love and mindful living. If you have a story to tell or a lesson to share and you’d like to contribute to our site as a guest, please email us at If we’re a great match, we’d love to tell you more about joining our family of writers.
Head to any self-help section of your local bookshop and it will (sadly) be clogged with dating advice books. Notable mentions include the relentlessly popular The Rules, and the controversial The Game, which, amongst other things, encourages men to put down women they’re attracted to, to ultimately ruin their confidence and gain the upper hand – a practice called ‘negging’. Total ick. I am anti-these books, and if ‘negging’ isn’t enough of a reason, it’s because most of them advocate manipulation; editing oneself, and time-wasting. Take the most common dating advice book inclusions; waiting three days after the first date to make contact; waiting a few hours before responding to a text; tips to keep your partner on their toes, and not saying yes to every invitation. You get the point. And I’d like to suggest that the point is crap.
Firstly, please let me clarify that if you date me I’m not going to clog up your phone with “I wuv U baby” text messages; casually hang outside your home (i.e. stalking), or buy a wedding dress after our second date. I’m not about that (i.e being desperate). What I don’t understand though is if you’ve got a person in front of you, who you like, why go out of your way to not show them? Why play stupid games?
Because I’m all about helping a brotha/sista out, I have identified the top 5 dating time waster types (can be both male and female) following conversations with my girlfriends/reflections on my own sad pathetic life extensive scientific research. You’re welcome.
For your own sanity, it is my recommendation that you avoid the following types (and Two and a Half Men) like the plague:
The Relationship Denier: Just as silly as their climate change denying cousins, these people do not have the testicles or female equivalent to admit the truth. For example, take this introduction: “Hi Rebecca, this is Jackie…,” sans the “my girlfriend” part, when no doubt, Jackie has heard him poo; seen his privates, and is called ‘cutie-pie’ behind closed doors (or some other sickening love name that we all give our partners).
The Stupid Meanie: Advocates of the ‘treat em mean, keep em keen’ dating philosophy. I was once seeing a guy (hindsight; total knob) who declared an hour and a half after the time he was supposed to turn up for a date, that he actually wasn’t going to, then, spent the whole of that evening texting me with how much he missed me/likes me/wants to be with me. Lame.
The Facebook Flirt: Those who flirt relentlessly with others over Facebook (posting suggestive messages on walls; hinting at plans to ‘catch up’; signing off with winks and kisses) and the like, to keep their love interest ‘on their toes’. Firstly – very obvious, and secondly – yawn.
Do You Still Need To “Play the Game” When You’re In A Relationship?
In the beginning phase of dating someone that you’re really into, it’s hard to keep your cool. You don’t want to seem too clingy or needy, and you definitely don’t want to scare him away. So, what do you do? It’s simple: you have to play the game. If you do it right, your man will remain blissfully ignorant in his simple guy world, and he’ll never know you’re at home pacing back and forth and staring at your phone, losing your damn mind.
Of course, once your relationship progresses, things will settle down a bit, but do we really ever stop playing? According to some of my friends who’ve been with their significant others for years, they still have a few tricks up their sleeves even now. Still, the most important parts of an established relationship aren’t really the games, but rather habits we adopt to keep things moving in the right direction. You don’t want to sacrifice yourself or only think about his needs, but if you want to avoid conflict where possible, there are a few rules that you should think about following.
Don’t do things that you know will annoy him.
If you’re at the point where you know him well enough to be able to predict an argument, just leave it alone. The whole point of getting to know someone is getting know how they operate. If you know that something makes him angry or upset, don’t do that thing. It’s as simple as that.
Let him have his boy’s night.
Guys need time to unwind with their own gender just like we do. Let him off the leash (but not too far off) so that he can just hang out with his friends and be a guy.
When he asks for space, give him space.
It doesn’t mean, “I don’t like you, I never want to see you again.” It means, “Give me time to cool off and I’ll come back when I’m ready.” Time and time again, I’ve felt the need to talk it out with guys I’ve been with. Sometimes, all they really need is space.
Don’t crowd him with phone calls or texts.
No one wants to be babysat. You are not his mother and he doesn’t need to check in with you every five minutes. The biggest turn off for guys is constantly being bombarded by “Where are you?” text messages or calls. Let him reach out to you and he’ll tell you what’s up.
Don’t bring up a past mistake or argument.
We all secretly keep tally of past arguments and make note of what exactly caused that argument in the first place. The fight already ended. It’s in both of your best interests to leave past arguments in the past, especially during new fights.
Say sorry and mean it.
When the fight is over, put your differences aside and remember why you two are together in the first place. Apologize and move forward.
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