Who wrote the Book of Love?

Kate Bigam

My good friend Dave says I need to learn to “play the game.” The dating game, that is.

Stupidly, he’s the friend I turned to when I was recently pseudo-dumped by a guy I was only pseudo-dating.

Dave told me to stop playing all my cards. I am too emotional, he says: too attached, too caring, too whatever. All these “too” characteristics continue to turn guys away from the prospect of dating me.

I’ve been instructed to quit letting people know they’re important to me. Apparently if guys think they don’t matter to me, I will matter more to them.

With all due respect for Dave, this is ridiculous. However, additional factors would indicate my dating issues are more extensive than my poor sportsmanship in “the game.”

For Exhibit A, look no further than my past encounters with men. My repertoire is riddled with disastrous encounters, such as the time my date passed out in a restaurant or the time I fooled around with an old flame’s brother. My past is mired with would-be boyfriends, such as with the guy who secretly blogged about me and the guy who decided he was still in love with his ex.

Exhibit B on my lack of dating know-how: Before my pseudo-break-up, I read a magazine article instructing teenage girls on the etiquette of relationship text messaging. Based on advice from real-life, dateable males, the piece detailed dos and don’ts of texting. The “advice” baffled me – was I, a serial text messenger, sending too many text messages or not enough? Were the ones I sent too vague or too detailed? Did they make me look clingy or aloof? I worried each time I whipped out the keypad, eventually quitting altogether.

If all’s fair in love and war, where did these rules come from? More importantly, how did I skip the manual on memorizing them?

When relationships hit the skids, most of us turn to the advice of others – friends, magazines, coworkers, parents, movies. We look for someone to say, “I’ve been there and dealt with it this way,” or, “If I were that guy, I’d want you to do this.”

We listen to people who tell us to “play the game,” to lead him on, to wear this shirt or those jeans. We listen to people who advise us not to mention that we’re commitment-phobic or that we’re still BFF with our ex-boyfriend.

We listen when others tell us to hide our flaws and exaggerate our strengths.

But so far, all that’s brought is misfortune and hurt feelings. Why should I have to lie about myself in order to snag a guy who falls for a misrepresented version of me? No wonder I end up getting disappointed – when Real Kate comes out, fans of Fake Kate start running.

Some day, my single readers, you and I will find significant others who love us without the guise of game playing. Because I, for one, will not play this game.

If searching for love is a game of skill and deception, call me a quitter. I’ll sit this one out.

Kate Bigam is a senior magazine major and Forum editor of the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].