Playing the Game, Or Getting Played?

I’m sitting at the table with my hand on the shoulder of a close friend, trying desperately to understand her inaudible words. Exploding with tears, her voice wavers in and out. Cracking every time she says his name, “I..Ju-uhst don’t…know what..I di-id wrong, you know?” With one large gasp for air she manages, “Everything was going fine, and now he won’t answer my calls!” I rub her back, quietly shushing her hysteria. “I can’t believe I slept with him, and now this?” As if one big hallelujah, everyone in the room chimes in collectively with, “God, boys suck!”

So here we are again. The break up that happens before you actually start dating someone. This is a tricky topic because there’s a serious difference between deciding you’re not interested in dating and toying with someone’s emotions. It’s fragile space between getting to know someone and being Facebook official. The beginning of a new budding romance, a chance to test the waters with someone new, and above all else, the part of a relationship where miscommunication is king. This is usually where my hopeful crushes and romantic fantasies go to die.

As you begin talking to a potential partner you will battle with what I like to call ‘the waiting game’. This refers to the back and forth question of, “when is the right time to sleep with him?” Because, of course you don’t want him to think you’re a whore and you surely don’t want him to think of you as a prude either. So when is the perfect time to get intimate with someone in order to keep them from getting bored from chasing or  waiting? As we all know men have to have something to chase, they’re like cats. Once they catch the string they’ll bat it around for a while having a good time, but eventually they’ll figure out that it’s not moving and walk away.

In agreeance, your sturdiest male friend will stand before you in all of his chivalrous glory and tell you in his most fatherly voice, “Any guy that’s trying too hard to bang you isn’t interested, he’s just trying to get pussy.” However, that same friend will then turn around to a girl he’s trying to “bang” and whisper sweet nothings into her ear until she’s trusting (or drunk) enough to spread her legs.

So why lead us on? Why lie about what’s really going on just so that they can sleep with us? In that slow space you occupy while getting to know someone better, you really don’t have any rights. not technically anyway. I’ve found that when going out with someone I’m interested in, I’m completely going off of what he might be feeling. So let’s talk about it, let’s open it up to discussion. Men are too discouraged by the idea that they aren’t “allowed” to talk about their feelings. If it ends up that they’re not really interested in you, oh well you’ve seen better days. However, lying and acting interested in order to get what they want is really childish and cruel. It’s closer to stealing than dating. The most common answer i’ve heard to this problem, aside from picking daisies, is to understand that boys lie and to protect yourself from it. But can’t they just stop lying? It really can’t be that hard to be honest about how you feel in order to spare another person their feelings. Instead of becoming less trusting, I think that they should just become more honest.

Earlier in the year I met a handsome baby faced boy who I had developed quite a crush on. I took his corny lines for sweet romances. I really believed that he was interested in me. Until I walked up the steps to his house to find him with his arm around the waist of another girl. Okay Liz, stay calm. Obviously he invited you over as just a friend. No problem with that. What’s wrong with being friends?  Then something strange happened. When I sat down next to him he removed his arm from where it had rested around her and placed his opposite arm around me. Hmm, curiouser and curiouser. Towards the end of the evening I announced that I was ready to return home. After which he asked me to follow him inside so that we could talk. “You should stay and sleep over, you’re too drunk to drive home.” In all fairness I know now that agreeing to sleep over wasn’t one of my better decisions but in truth and honesty, we all have needs. We disappeared into his bedroom and kissed madly. Well, drunkenly…sloppily. That’s when I heard someone bounding up the staircase followed by wild banging on the door. Shortly after an angry drunken voice called out, “Bye, you’re fucking disgusting!!” He brushed it off with laughter, like he had no idea what was going on and it was all some big joke. This is the point in the evening when you pretend not to know what’s happening. I’m completely oblivious to this. Oh, I wonder what album cover that is on the wall. God, he’s got a boring room…and he’s getting spit all over my face. Oh well, la la la la la la… Minutes later his phone began flashing and beeping and buzzing uncontrollably. “Jesus, who’s blowing me up right now?!” Really? You have got to be fucking kidding me. “Maybe it’s that other girl.” He completely ignored it as if I hadn’t said anything at all.  The next morning I crept gently over his sleeping body, trying desperately to avoid his massive pile of drool. I placed my feet carefully on the ground as not to wake him up. When I looked at the floor I noticed that something was off. There were two empty condom wrappers on the ground, one of which being unaccounted for. Prince fucking charming, you sure can pick ’em! 

Now, is it just me or does this feel like a whole lot of bullshit? No, because it is indeed a whole lot of bullshit. Why do we seek relationships while men seek sex? It’s because both men and women are receiving mixed messages. Women are conditioned from childhood to be monogamous creatures. We are expected to desire relationships rather than frivolous sex, and told that sex will is shameful unless you have one person to share it with. While at the same time men are told to go out into the world and spread their seed. They’re told that lying to a girl isn’t such a bad thing. We don’t even know that we’re doing it to each other because we’ve been designed this way. However, by doing this we are placing both genders in an unbreakable box. Women must be this way, men must be the other. This places immense pressure on both parties. This is also the reason why women find virginity so unattractive in men. Men stereotypically seek women who are closer to “purity” while women desire that their partner be sexually experienced.  I’m not saying that it can’t be turned around, it obviously can be. I’ve dealt with this issue more often in my own life as well as the lives of my girl friends. So let’s start changing things, shall we? Let’s place ourselves under a microscope and ask ourselves what we really want. It’s not men who are at fault, it’s the system. So let’s communicate with them instead of assuming that we know what each other wants.

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