Saturday, April 24, 2010

To Call You Mine: Commitment vs. Exclusivity

The last time I officially used the "boyfriend" title, I was in high school. It was my senior year and we were as opposite as opposite gets. But, he asked me out in front of the entire school, performing "If I Ever Fall in Love" with the school's acapella group and like any high school girl, I swooned. After he was done, he'd came down off the stage to tell me how much he was ready to put everything else aside and have us only be with each other. "I want you to be my one and only," he said. 

Well, at 17, what's a girl to say to that? Of course, this kind of declaration of love isn't common. But, at that age, it's easier to "make a commitment", with hormones pulsing at lightening speeds. What is the next step once you like someone? You make it official, of course.

These days, when you're seeing someone, dating, of course, is always the first step. But what happens next? Well, it's easy if both parties feel the same way. But if they don't?

In the one and only long-term "relationship" I had, during the height of it all, we were spending most of our free time together and we were only being intimate with each other. Essentially we were going through all the motions of being a couple. But, when I finally told him how I felt (that I loved him) and that I wanted to be able to call him my boyfriend, that didn't work for him. He was comfortable with us being "exclusive" but adding the title meant too much responsibility...

And that's when I ended things. If he didn't want me to call him boyfriend, I couldn't act like nothing was wrong. We tried again when he said he missed me and wanted us to make another go. But, we broke up again over pretty much the same reason. And it was that second time when I learned that the reason we broke up is because he was still holding on to his old flame. So as long as we were "exclusive" but not "committed" then he could play it safe until he could be with someone with whom he wanted to commit.

Either way, since then, I've made a mental note to have the conversation as soon as it seems like things are getting serious. That way there's no confusion... Or time-wasting for that matter.

Photo Credit: PhotoXpress

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Reasons for the Game Playing

In my adventures in dating, I've hoped a guy would be honest with me when he's just not into me. All the game-playing, intermittent calls, passive text messages, attempted dates... All of it just to say you're not into someone. No real point in stringing someone along when you can keep it honest and be direct, thus eliminating any mystery or some form of post hook-up behavior that would be a little less than desirable.

Then after thinking back on this weekend, and blowing off a guy I wasn't interested in, I thought about the times I've  blown guys off and strung them along. Which reminded me that we all play games while navigating through the dating pool.

So I tried to think back to some of the main reasons I've played games in the past, and came up with the following reasons for my behavior. While I've learned a great deal about myself and I'm not identifying these issues as "definitive" for all women, I can say that I recognize my actions were rooted in some deeper themes: 

  • Boredom: When the Well of Dating runs dry, sometimes we hang on to the guys that don't quite make our toes tingle just to hang on to someone. You never know when you'll want someone to fall back on until someone more interesting strolls into your life.
  • Ego Boosting: One time too many, I've allowed myself to keep talking to a guy because I like the attention he gave me. Showering me with compliments and attention when I needed it managed to lift my spirits a bit.
  • Fear: The reality is that sometimes, it's a lot easier to ignore someone than to be honest and let them know that you're just not that into them. You hate the idea of rejecting someone or you at least don't want to blow them off in the event something better comes along.
  • Rebounding: When someone hurts us, it's natural to take out our frustration on the next one that comes along. So, we act detached to gain control of a situation. Unfortunately, that can backfire if we don't get out of the game before feelings enter the picture.

Ultimately, whatever the reason, if there's any variation of "game playing" that's going on, it's probably because we're not into who we've got. And, the challenge here is to give the other person what we would want for ourselves -- as much honesty as we can muster. That way, there's no confusion and we clear the way for someone that may ultimately be "the one." 

I'm still practicing myself, to be honest. And while it's not perfect, I'm committed to being as honest as possible, with any potential mates AND with myself.