There comes a certain point where childish shenanigans and immature actions in your romantic life feel dumb to do and have done to you. For some who mature quickly, that point is middle school. For others, the game extends beyond high school, into college and beyond. They may even continue to treat their love life like an arcade well into their adult years, because that’s just how some people are. All you can do is recognize when someone is playing games with you, then you can decide for yourself whether you’re interested in participating or not. These are the terrible tomfooleries you’ll potentially run into if you date enough these days.
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Deciphering if they're playing hard to get or if they're just uninterested
They look similar, but are complete opposites. People play hard to get, but it's almost impossible to tell if they're playing hard to get or if they're flat out uninterested. This is a game that’s usually played solo, and involves a great deal of driving yourself crazy trying to carefully analyze every last bit of interaction.
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Showing interest without being creepy
The key to this game is first learning if the other person is interested, because that’s really the only difference between your actions being embraced and your actions being screencapped and shamed. Whether sliding into someone’s DMs or mentioning that you remember a detail about them, you must tread lightly if you aren’t fairly certain how they feel about you.
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The "purposefully taking longer to text back to mask interest" game
Yes, sometimes when daters do nothing, they’re doing something. Texting is done so strategically these days and people aren’t above intentionally waiting to see if you’ll text first, or purposefully taking longer to respond to mask interest. It’s all silly, but “I’m gonna wait for her/him to text me first” is a phrase people frequently think and speak.
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Veiled social media communication
Posting song lyrics or quotes indirectly meant for someone on Facebook or Instagram is so much more difficult than speaking to them like a mature person, but people still do it. Once someone has indirectly communicated with you, it’s easy to respond the same way - then suddenly, you find yourself wondering if her friend would ask her if she likes you (but then you remember you're not in first grade anymore).
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Searching for a label through the foggy vagueness
Many daters try to avoid the “What are we?” conversation, which can often lead to confusion on precisely what the relationship is. People don’t know what the level of commitment is, and after all these years, people still don’t know what “we’re talking” truly means. The uncertainty makes for a heck of a time searching for something definitive.
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Purposely losing the emotional race
When it comes to two people putting themselves out there, the ideal way that this happens is simultaneously, with both people naturally taking the plunge together. Unfortunately some people who’ve been wronged in the past or have whatever reasons for proceeding with caution will keep their walls up and leave it wholly on the other individual to open up and be responsible for closeness.
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Should I be concerned or am I being paranoid?
Because of vague anti-labels like “talking” instead of being "in a relationship," it becomes tricky to figure out what’s acceptable and what’s not – especially when you’re involved with a person who communicates in a particular way with other people that makes you uncertain of and uncomfortable with the situation. Some people do this because they enjoy being flirtatious with the masses and they might say it’s harmless, but you’ll be left trying to figure out if you should legitimately be worried, or if you’re just being jealous. The lack of a definitive label might make you feel as if you’re not in a position to inquire, which only builds on the discomfort and inspires your imagination to cook up unpleasant thoughts.
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Guessing what “I’m fine” actually means
When someone is being short or seems moody and you ask what’s wrong, “I’m fine” is the last response you want. It’s uncertain what “I’m fine” actually means, but what’s for certain is that they’re probably going to make you pry to find out.