Love is a Losing Game

Demel Mehmet

‘The game is the game’, so I’ve been told, and as with any game, the game of love has rules. I don’t know who decided on these rules and I don’t know why so many of us blindly adhere to them, but there are no winners in this game. The rules are unwritten; we make them up as we go along, manipulating them to suit our selfish needs and desires, subsequently passing them on, without words, to the people we are supposedly romantically interested in. Those people then pass the rules on to all the future people they play the game with, and the cycle continues, spreading these ideas and behaviours like a virus.

As a generation, we collectively contribute to the complexities of romantic relations. If mind games were an Olympic sport, our generation would take gold every single time. Figuring out your way through your feelings and navigating the world of love and relationships is difficult enough without all the gameplaying, but apparently, anything romance related has to be carefully calculated. The annoying thing about this is that most of us have no interest in and don’t ask to be included in these games, yet it would seem that the minute you start talking to someone, you’re automatically enrolled as a player and half the time, you don’t even know what game it is that you’re playing.

I don’t know if the gameplaying is because we are just too afraid to be honest, or because our mentality follows the idea that there are plenty more fish in the sea, or if it’s because we always seem to fall into the trap of mimicking the other’s actions, but the game that we have made love into is not fun. No one is honest, upfront or states their intentions and nine times out of ten, these ‘situationships’ (a romantic relationship that’s undefined or uncommitted) end up being a massive waste of time. Personally, I don’t understand why people would feel the need to conceal their intentions; if you want a full-blown relationship, say it. If you just want a friendship, say it. If you only want sex, just say it. You have nothing to lose. This person wasn’t yours in the first place to warrant the idea that you’re losing anything. You would save so much time, energy and so many feelings from getting unnecessarily involved if you were to just be upfront and state your intentions. To paraphrase Drake, if you just want some head in a comfortable bed, it could all be so simple.

We have created stupid stigmas around the way in which people should be treated and the way in which we must present ourselves. This pitiful pride that we seem to care so much about that we’ll actually allow it to obstruct us from wholeheartedly pursuing something we clearly want. We listen to the rules, stopping ourselves from showcasing and admitting our feelings to the one person who most likely feels the same way. Instead, we’ll tell our Twitter followers that we’re interested in someone, post hints on our stories, and publish thirst traps (provocative pictures) to get the attention of that one person, all the while making that exact person feel insecure as to who we’re aiming these things at. Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to the idea that monogamy no longer exists; everyone has at least one back up option. You can never be sure of someone’s intentions as their attention is usually occupied by at least one other person.

I can’t say I’ve had much experience with relationships or talking stages, but I have unfortunately fallen into traps, been played, and learnt the rules first-hand.

The talking stage is scripted; You must follow ‘the toxic texting trick to make anyone fall in love with you’, which works as a cycle of being really interested in them for a day, replying fast, making the best use of emojis, and then being really distant for two days, barely replying, with each reply progressively becoming drier than stale bread. Speaking of replies, even if you’re not employing the use of this toxic texting trick, you cannot, under any circumstances, reply too fast. You must wait at least an hour more than they made you wait to reply. God forbid someone actually thinks you’re interested in talking to them. We swipe right and use story replies as a way to slide in the DMs because we absolutely cannot seem keen enough to want to talk to them for no reason other than the fact that you want to talk to them. You must keep them guessing, keep them on their toes, have them wondering whether you like them or not, maintain low levels of enthusiasm and interest. This is part of the chase. Don’t get me started on the chase. As a girl, I can safely say from experience that the ones you’re interested in aren’t interested in you until you’re no longer interested in them. It would seem that you have to act uninterested to keep them interested; she’s not into you? Chase her, she is a challenge to be conquered. She’s into you? Move on, there’s no fun in getting what you want. The chase also comes with a side of sweet-talking.

Whatever it is you want from someone, the best aids to help you obtain it are empty compliments, false affirmations of love and the portrayal of something you are the complete opposite of. You must filter your true self to appear to be what you think their dream partner is, fooling them into falling in love with the persona you’ve created. They’ll find out about your psychopathic tendencies once they’re in too deep, once they’ve given you what you were chasing. Therefore, under no circumstances can you let them in on how you feel about them. They must just assume and somehow know that we like them through all the dates, calls, FaceTimes, and sex. However, we are not official, and we are not loyal to each other until the boy has asked the girl to be his girlfriend, regardless of all the dates, calls, FaceTimes and sex.

Apparently, verbalising your feelings and admitting you like someone is a way bigger deal than having sex with them. Sex has no meaning; it is a simple act, impersonal and a means of fulfilling human needs. Sex, in my opinion, should come after commitment. In this generation however, sex comes before commitment and, a lot of the time, even without commitment. I’m not saying you need to be married to your sexual partner of choice. I know the concept of ‘friends with benefits’ exists and if that’s you, get yours, no judgement here, but we don’t even clarify our intentions before giving a piece of ourselves to someone. Our abundance of insecurities which lead to our lack of self-respect allows for our boundaries to be completely obliterated; we have grown to expect 24/7 conversation, even when there’s nothing left to say. We have grown to feel entitled to each other’s time and energy on a non-stop basis. We feel obligated to allow people to know the deepest, darkest, and most sacred parts of ourselves and equally, that person feels it’s their right to know these things. People tear our boundaries down and we disrespect ourselves every time we allow someone to cross them. For a generation fuelled and disarmed by insecurity, it amazes me how eager and willing we are to let someone play on those.

Let’s not forget to mention the influence we allow social media to have on our perception of love and relationships. Relationships are for Instagram. We aren’t in a relationship until we have publicly announced it on Instagram. We must post a million cute couple pictures and start a joint YouTube channel and TikTok account to prove just how in love we are. We must archive our pictures together to indicate our rough patches, signifying that we’ve reached the verge of breaking up, only to unarchive them when we make up and are back in love. The thing is, I don’t think any of us are actually in love with our Instagram approved partners; we’re in love with the idea of love, but as a generation, we can’t handle love. We want everything to be sunshine and roses; girls want that princess fairy tale where a charming prince sweeps us off our feet, while most boys seem to want that porn fantasy where the only sound coming out of their dream girls mouth are affirmations of the size and skill they think they have.

We give into the other’s wants and needs, holding back on revealing how we really feel so as to not feel completely mugged off once we’ve fallen for the deceit and subsequently get ghosted. See, the amazing thing about being a phone based generation fuelled by impatience is that once we’re no longer feeling that person, or someone better comes along, you don’t need to worry about having that awkward ‘let’s end things’ conversation. Why go to that trouble and effort and put yourself out to let someone know where they stand when you can just ghost them?! People are disposable; once we’re done with them, we can bin them from our lives, they get reused by the next person they allow in and we’re on to the next six month thing that tickles our fancy. You’d think that common decency was common, but like common sense, it’s not so common. Don’t forget that if the next few people you set your eyes don’t get your juices flowing, you can always recycle an ex thing. We can very easily go back to them when we realise that we couldn’t find a connection that hits quite the same. The hopeless romantics of this generation (me included) will allow the pricks to come back because we allow them to fool us into thinking the roses will come with it.

We are an insecure generation, putting our self-worth in the hands of others who do nothing but feed our insecurities. For an impatient generation who are used to the fast paced day-to-day, it surprises me that we play games with each other, longing out the entire process of getting to know someone or get in a relationship. We procrastinate, and waste time. We deceive and lie. We tell people what we think they want to hear. We run from honesty and open conversations. You shouldn’t have to guess someone’s intentions. We are adults. If you’re old enough to be getting into relationships, if you’re old enough to be having sex, if you’re old enough to get yourself into these situations, you are old enough to handle them and deal with them like an adult. You are old enough to have no fear of the truth, to have no qualms with being honest and know that someone’s actions towards you are never about you, they are a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in this game of love is that if you’re confused about a situation or a person, that situation or that person is not for you. Because if that person wholeheartedly wants you, you’ll know about it.

Time is the most valuable thing in the world, you can never get it back. Stop wasting it playing games you’ll never win. 

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