Everybody puts on a show in the beginning. It’s hard to get to know who somebody really is,” he said, lamenting the many woes of adult dating.
“Not me. I have no game. What you see is what you get.”
And, I meant it. I guess I’ve reached that certain age where I’m not interested in playing games.
I’m a busy girl—I have no time to waste and really, that’s what we do when we play games. We waste each other’s time. We ask the other person to make an investment of their time under false pretenses. We enter into agreements with them that are not founded in truth, and therefore cannot be sustained long-term in a healthy way.
I am all too familiar with the old bait and switch; I’ve spent many years playing out that game. It was through those relationship experiences that I developed a deep appreciation for authenticity.
There are many layers to building authentic relationships.
First, we have to really know who we are—without influence and pressures from other people. We have to know what we like, what we don’t like, what makes us happy, and where we want to go in life. We have to have a clear idea of what’s important to us, what makes us tick. We have to be in touch with our intuition, so we can hear our own voice over the crowd out there.
Then, we have to offer ourselves deep, radical, complete self-acceptance. We have to give ourselves permission to be exactly who we are—whoever that is. We have to find a way to love ourselves in all our glorious imperfection, embracing every flaw, celebrating every quirk, and believing with all our little hearts that we are enough just the way we are.
When we approach a new relationship from this place of knowing and loving ourselves completely, there’s no reason to play games. We can easily see our value because, hello—we’re pretty freaking awesome.
This is a great place to be, because it allows us non-attachment. We know that what we bring to the table is plenty—we’re good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, and have our lives together enough to be a fine partner for someone.
When we know this about ourselves, the old bait and switch is completely unnecessary. We don’t have to sell anyone anything, because here we are, just being amazingly us. If there’s chemistry and we hit it off, that’s great.
If not, that’s great too, because we know it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with us. It’s just not the right fit—and that’s okay. We don’t need approval, attention, or affection from the other person to make us whole. We’re not a half, after all. We don’t need someone else to complete us; we are happy to wait for the one who will compliment us.
Here’s the other thing about being this certain age—we don’t settle for the wrong fit. Personally, I would rather go down to the animal shelter right now and adopt 30 more cats than spend one more day of my life in a toxic relationship.
The only way for me to avoid dying alone with my army of rescue cats, or falling into another toxic relationship, is to be who I am honestly in my interactions with potential suitors. And, to create space for them to offer me an authentic expression of who they are as well.
Authenticity is kind of contagious, in that when we share from an honest place of vulnerability, it creates safety for the other person to do the same. It’s like when someone shares a secret with you, and it makes you want to tell them a secret. Being unapologetically who we are gives the other person permission to offer us a full expression of who they are as well.
Why do we come to the table with games? Fear, for one. Fear of rejection, judgement, and criticism. Fear of dying alone with an army of rescue cats. Fear of getting too close. Fear of falling for someone who doesn’t fall for us. Fear of hurting the other person if they fall and we don’t.
This fear keeps us dancing the dance. One foot in, one foot out like the damn hokey pokey. Then, because we’re dancing around how we actually feel, or we aren’t in touch with ourselves enough to know how we actually feel, we create this push and pull for the other person. Mixed signals are so frustrating, and eventually, they just feel like disinterest, or like we’re stringing the other person along. Nobody wins this game, and in the end, somebody always gets hurt.
I choose to have no game, because I never want to live a lie again. I know that I am good just the way I am—flaws and all. I don’t need another person to come into my life and make me whole. I’m not willing to give up being who I am to be the person someone else would like me to be. I know that the right partner will be attracted to who I am at my core—not the song and dance I could present to try to trick him into falling for something I am not.
I won’t play bait and switch, and I won’t fall for it again either. I’m much more self-aware now, and always trusting my intuition to guide me. I’m certain my soul mate will be a huge fan of my dorky jokes, my obsession with cheese, and my favorite tie dyed hoodie.
And, if we are not destined to be together in this lifetime, I know my army of rescue cats is out there waiting for me—and they will love me unconditionally.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Catherine Monkman