The Milton Bradley Approach to Relationships

Wheel of fortune. Shot wide open using 50mm/f1...
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There are some games I’m just not any good at. I would like to be better, but I am missing some switch to be good at them. There are strategies and ways to become better, but for the most part, it’s just a want to be better for me, not something I’ve actively pursued.

When I was a little girl, about eight, my dad taught me how to play chess. When I say he taught me how to play, I mean he taught me how each piece moves on the board. After beating me several times, he gave me some strategy books to read that would help me to improve my game. It wasn’t something I really pursued. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around all the possibilities. You had to be so many moves ahead of the other person in order to be successful. Everyone starts at the same position. There really is no element of chance at all: either you can think ahead and outwit your opponent or you can’t.

Then there are games of chance. The only true games of chance are in Vegas, where you put down money and watch a little ball on a roulette wheel. Although card games and board games appear to be all about chance, as the saying goes “it’s not about the hand you’re dealt but how you play your cards.” With a little luck and a lot of strategy, you can win. You have to pay close attention and read people.

My biggest problem with Monopoly is that the game can last too long. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a game, unless I was broke before the end. I don’t have it in me to negotiate deals and strategize and plot and scheme for hours or even days. It’s not that interesting to me. I will quit after a while. It’s not that important to me to win.

How much of your dating life is like a game? I hear people say all the time that they have “game.” They strategize and plan, and with a little luck, they never get beaten. They aren’t found out when they are cheating. They never get backed into a corner. They’re always thinking three moves ahead of you. You check their phone, but they’ve erased the messages from the other man/woman; they always have an answer. They never vary their routine from what you can tell. They are able to fool everyone and stack the deck.

But eventually, all games must come to an end. Someone wins and someone loses. Or maybe someone just folds and gives up. There comes a point when all cards must be put on the table and everyone gets to see what you really have and what you’re really made of. As the old hip hop saying goes, “ain’t no future in frontin’.”

I’m a fan of putting it all out there from the beginning. If this is a game, invite the other person to play. If this isn’t a game for you, make it clear from the beginning that you aren’t interested in playing games. Games are supposed to be fun, so if either of you isn’t happy, then it’s time to stop playing.

I’m not a game player in relationships, nor do I like to date “players.” I have never been someone who can “play the game.” I am honest. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am always looking at the future potential. I like to have fun, but I don’t need to date to amuse myself. I can think of much better ways to be entertained than to play with someone’s feelings. I’m not competitive when it comes to how many men I can get. If I’m competitive in any arena, it’s not the game playing arena. I’m competitive when it comes to writing or work or other things that matter and add value to my life.

That’s my two cents. What’s yours? Have you ever been with a player? Were you the player?  At what point did you get tired of playing games (or are you still playing)? Should you hate the player, the game, both, or yourself for playing along?

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