April 21, 2014

TV FOR THOUGHT | Playing Games (and I Don’t Mean Parcheesi)

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By NATALIA FALLAS

As the great boy band — but definitely nowhere near the magical group that was *NSYNC — Backstreet Boys once sang, “Quit playing games with my heart.” After enduring an MTV binge of Are You the One? and The Real World: Ex-plosion, all I am left asking is: Why do people continue to act like children when it comes to relationships? I’m not saying I haven’t indulged in the mind-games, but I also acknowledge that it has never gotten me anywhere. But why do we engage in these elaborate traps in the first place?

One main reason is to create a screen between you and the truth. For some reason, asking someone to tell the truth, no holds barred, is too scary and potentially hurtful. So we set up roundabout ways to get the information we need from the other person. Yet, you do know that regardless of the way you get it, if it’s not what you want to hear, you’re going to get hurt, right? What makes this game better for your heart in the long run? Absolutely nothing. In fact, you are making it worse for yourself because you will invariably look like a fool for not being able to confront matters head on. You seem immature and not ready for a relationship in the first place. Communication is key in any relationship. If you need to engage in these games, the problem is much bigger than the information you are trying to extract.

Another reason we play games is to gauge other peoples’ interest and feelings about ourselves. No one wants to get in too deep without knowing that the other person is on the same page. Some may just dawdle in this weird gray area, unwilling to compromise on what is or is not there. Others may set up the person to catch them going someone else, or to finally label what it is that is going on between them. This is an area that I am all too familiar with.

What we do need to learn from these games that we play is not just why we do them, but how it compromises our values and self-worth.

 I know that the chase is half the fun for some. Others just play along because they feel it’s necessary, even if they would rather have a more stable situation. But why not just be upfront with what it is you want? It’s okay to play the field, have a few flings here and there — get it in, if you will. It’s also okay to say you want to really date a person and engage in monogamy. You owe it to yourself to be honest about what you are looking for. If you and the other person don’t see eye-to-eye, it’s probably time you quit each other for the sake of both of your sanities. The games just send you on a downward spiral of unnecessary distress and unhealthiness. And really, who has the time? The exhaustion is real, folks.

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