The Dating Game as She is Played
November 13, 2011 § 2 Comments
Last night I was out and about with some of my friends, and one of them was what we would call a “Player”. While the term “player” could denote that he played any number of games or physical entertainments, the use of the sobriquet“Player” is unmistakable.
There is but one game that Players play, and that shit ain’t Monopoly.
For those of you who live under a rock, there are people out there who have tried to discover and formulate principles of “seduction” that will lead to success in dating/attraction. In my opinion, this is a hilarious thing and a completely masculine approach to a problem. I can visualize it as an engineering problem laid before a bunch of men in suits and pocket protectors. It starts, of course, by outlining the problem:
Problem: Women will not jump on my junk.
Desired outcome: That women be all up on it.
Suggested Approaches: “I know! Let’s try and find a set of universal rules that we can use to model approaches to people in the wild! Because that would only involve ignoring what thousands of years of human history have taught us and assuming that real humans actually are capable of being accurately modeled by theoretical concepts!”
As thus, the “game” is born, where men are women are constantly jockeying for dominance in an ever-shifting sexual landscape. I’m sure that supporters would argue that it has always been there in some shape or another, and that all that’s happening now is that it’s being properly examined in a scientific way.
That is bollocks.
Oh, I won’t piss all over sociology and anthropology and suggest that humans can’t be scientifically examined in any way shape or form. Obviously we can or we wouldn’t have things like psychology. Which, despite the congealed yearnings of thousands of Scientologists, is actually a real thing. Suck it, Tom Cruise! That’s like, the only time I ever get to feel superior to a man who has a beautiful wife, children, millions of dollars, and was also in Top Gun.
What makes me yell “bollocks” is arguing that the game approach to relationships is “real”. That’s because using the term “game” supposes a great many things: first, that there is a win and a lose condition; second, that there is a set of rules that are followed; and third, and the most important, that it is understood a game is being played by all players.
I suppose establishing a win condition for players is easy: get a girl’s (because from experience the overwhelming majority are males) number and/or access to their domicile for intercourse, usually of the sexual kind. But what of the rules and expectations? Well, the rules are apparently derived from psychological cues and brain behaviour with some basis in objective (shudder) reality.
For example, there is apparently some truth that women are attracted to, what we in the business call “jerks”, at least to a certain point. And that being aggressive and dominant is also, if not a turn-on, than at least something that doesn’t exactly hurt your chances. Of course, mix the two together and you have…problems.
But what amuses me is the fact that people buy into this idea. Again, not because some parts of it might not work. Apparently the brains is slightly more machine-like than I gave it credit for, but still. No-one takes people aside before they go into a bar and says, “Ok, you’re on the man side, you’re on the women side. Here’s the rulebook, and off you go.”
Here’s an example from the other side: at the wing place, the manager of the restaurant decided that the best way to…drum…up sales would be to make his servers dress like skanks. Spandex and push-up bras were in abundance and you could be forgiven for thinking that Lululemon was the official sponsor.
It seemed like the perfect testing ground for the game: there was an unspoken agreement in place where the girls would wear revealing clothing and flash their cleavage at the boys, who in turn, would enter the code as best they could (which, if I remember it correctly, is up up down down left right left right B A START) . If the cleavage was agreeable and the rules were exploited by the boys, then there would be an accord and sexy times would likely happen.
An anecdote: I went to go to the bathroom, and one of the servers did the eye flick (crown to feet to crown) judgement and found me wanting, expressing that by looking away with disdain. My shaggy hair and lack of a tight t-shirt, or perhaps my glasses, were insufficient. I was clearly out of whack, but that amused me because I wasn’t trying to pick her up, but just by my being there she assumed that I was playing the game. If I was, I would have simply lost. Luckily for me, that was not so because I just wanted to find the bathroom. Urinals don’t judge.
So I learned a lesson, a valuable one: you can find yourself a part of a game that you don’t play and have no intention of doing so completely by accident. That is not a game. You can’t “accidentally” find yourself playing Battlestar Galactia, or mistakenly conquering Chile in Risk. Apparently, this doesn’t work when we’re talking dating, at least at sleazy wing restaurants.
I would argue that this game approach is flawed because it assumes that you are always going to be judged according to certain criteria. I wouldn’t say that people aren’t always judging, because that is, for the most part, true. People check each other out and form opinions on others very quickly and often based on surface indicators. But when you remove the agreed-upon win condition, those judgments often don’t mean very much. That’s because in the real world, the one outside of sleazy restaurants, people are more than simply vectors of win conditions, and judgments of appearance cease to matter at a certain level. That level being the moment you realize other people are people too. People who can be interesting and exciting without recourse to their push-up bras and Ed Hardy t-shirts.
If I was going to review Dating: The Game as an actual board game, I would give it a low score and say that it was hideously easy to break the game. So long as you have the “cash” resource, the whole ”prostitution” event card line is just too easy and too profitable to ignore. Because that’s the win condition, right? Get someone to go home with you? And aren’t winners those who can most efficiently use the resources that they’re given to get to the win condition?
Unless you don’t just want to sleep with random people you meet at bars. If so, and you would prefer a happy, healthy relationship that isn’t based on trying to get the upper hand over someone and manipulating them into doing that you are apparently out of luck. The “honesty” mechanic was worked out of the Game at an early stage. Ah well. At least you’ll still be a winner.
And for the record, I am not in the least bit bitter. No sirree. Not at all.
At all. Because I’m a winner in the game of Life.