The Games We Play
Stocked full of make belief, friendship, and ice cold Popsicles, the most joyful moments of a child’s life happened when the sun was blaring and every day smelled like BBQ. When we were children, summer gave us our first true taste of what it meant to be liberated.
Children used to wake with the sun, jump out of bed, and rush to put on play clothes to meet the other kids at the designated meeting spot. In my neighborhood that spot was the side of my house. Here is where we would all decide what the day’s agenda would consist of. We made rounds to other children’s homes to ask permission for them to come out and play. Everyone had the same return time—when the street lights came on.
As we moved from clumsy pre-teens into our teenage years, summers were marked by young romance. Less entertained with games like “Hide and Seek” and “Freeze Tag,” summer days were about getting cute and walking to the store with your friends in hopes of seeing your crushes playing at the park.
To put it plainly, summer was about games and love.
While some of us are nostalgic about our younger days, there are some who are still trapped in their youth. Unwilling to let go of the, “Good ole days,” many of us have had the not-so-rewarding experience of dating a grown child.
The days of game playing have expired. If you are still playing games as an adult, you are in violation. Here are a list of childhood games that adults should avoid playing while in relationships.
1. Cat and Mouse
Oh how some people delight in the playfulness of the cat and mouse game! Revisiting our childhood, during the game of tag, this is the individual who would let the chaser get within inches and then take off running to safety.
The excitement of almost been caught was more arousing than the game itself. The same need for attention is manifesting in this person’s dating behaviors. Individuals who partake in the “Cat and Mouse” game are not actually interested in being caught; it’s the pursuit that excites them. This game eventually leaves the chaser too exhausted to catch them or too frustrated to try.
Violation: The awe of others may be exhilarating, but it can be unfair to individuals who are genuinely trying to connect with you. If this is your dating game, learn to give people the option to play. Lay out the rules and let them know that it’s all in good fun, but there is no winner in this game.
2. Mrs. Cleo
I remember going to my mom when I was younger, arms crossed, attitude high, and declaring how I was never going to play with my friend again. After making sure the altercation posed no threat to my safety, my mother asked me if I had told my friend why I was upset. My response was always, “No, she knows what she did.”
Fast forward to adulthood, there are still some of us who invest frivolously in the notion that people should just be able to read our minds. These games cause an immense amount of anxiety in dating. Leaving people with the responsibility of just knowing how you feel, what you’re thinking, and how to resolve issues is a set up for failure.
Violation: Learn to say what you feel. If you are dating someone and your antics often leave your partner in a state of exhaustion, you are creating a hostile environment that will eventually lead to a deterioration in communication.
3. Guess Who?
“Guess Who?” is a mystery game that requires you to determine who the secret person is through a series of clues you get by interrogating your opponent. The dating world has morphed into an enormous game of “Guess Who?” and it isn’t fun.
Getting to know someone is already challenging. Sadly, not everyone is showing up on the dating scene as a true representation of who they are. We are now forced to spend more time interrogating potential mates than enjoying the process of getting to know a person.
Violation: Take off your masks. Before you date, do the necessary work that will allow you to present yourself in an authentic way to others. At no point in time should the person you are dating have to question if you are truly who you say you are.
4. Staring Contest
Staring contests were dominated by people who could fixate on their opponent, take command of their nerves, and stand their ground. In adulthood, these same men and women use the skills demonstrated in staring contests to break the concentration of their dating partners. A dating game that has long been played out is the game of manipulation. Individuals who are skilled at manipulation often avoid responsibility and accountability by causing such a discomfort in their partner to the point where they won’t even look them in the eyes.
Ever wonder how you have the intentions of having a serious conversation with your partner and before you know it, your attention has been diverted from that topic? You are probably dating a manipulator.
Violation: Anytime someone uses their skills in a way that compromises the well-being of another person and the integrity of the game, they are cheating. You have a choice to date or not, but bending the rules to fit your agenda and intimidating your partner when they challenge you is the behavior of a loser.
5. Time Killer
All spectator sports are prone to high levels of adrenaline, because the entire game is a race against the clock. Dating someone who is a time killer may stir up those same emotions. You are constantly conscious of the days, months, and years that are passing. While you are anxious to get to the finish line, your partner hasn’t even stretched or warmed up for the game.
Violation: Individuals who feel alone in the field will eventually lose the heart for the game, or find a new team member. But it’s unfair to stifle their progress by pretending to be all in. If you are not prepared to get out on the field, do not let your partner suit up to play on your team.
In my day, saying someone was welching was the worst insult. It meant that the individual could not be trusted because he or she gave something to someone and took it back. In adulthood, this same behavior can be seen in relationships. The individuals who play like this often withhold to get their way. They give love, affection, and sex, but as a punishment they will also take it back.
Violation: What happens when a person gifts you something, takes it back, and then attempts to gift it to you again? It loses its value. No one wants possession of something they have to constantly fear may be taken away from them. If this is done repeatedly, your partner may eventually get to a point where they would rather go without. Stop taking the pieces off the board and play fair.
Keep in mind that there is a fine line between playing for keeps and just being childish. It’s never OK to take advantage of your partner. If you are in fact dating, lay out the rules before the game starts, so that person has a fair chance at transitioning from your opponent to your teammate.
Jazz Keyes is a community activist, poetess and a nationally certified Life Purpose and Career Coach. Keyes supplies clients with the necessary tools and techniques to awaken their divine energy, heal their open wounds and create an aura of love, compassionate and tranquility. In 2013, Keyes was named “13 People to Watch For” by Rockford Register Star and in honor of Black History Month 2014, Keyes was recently named a“Neighborhood Hero” by ComEd’s Power of One Campaign. Keyes in currently pursuing her Masters in Clinical Psychology and hopes to one day be a best-selling author and motivational speaker. She has devoted a great deal of her time and energy on mastering the art of communication in order to create healthy, dynamic, long-lasting relationships.