Occasionally, I read a post in which a young user describes their circumstances and then asks, “Will no contact work in this situation?” Sometimes, I read about a failing relationship and I recommend that the user break up and have “no contact.” I did not take long for me to discover that “no contact” has two different meanings. I am going to address “No Contact – The Game To 'Make' Him Or Her Take Me Back."
When we are talking about relationships, “playing games” means engaging in certain behaviors to try to manipulate what our partner/potential partner/ex partner is thinking or feeling about us. Here are a few simple examples of game playing:
I go on a first date and have a great time. She is fun, engaging, not pretentious, intelligent, and very attractive. I sense that she is also attracted to me, the evening ends with a goodnight kiss, and I certainly want to have our next date very soon. However, I don’t text her when I get home to tell her that I had a great time and I don’t text or call the next day. Why? Because I don’t want her to think that I am too eager, already hooked on her, desperate, clingy, etc.
A guy calls you to ask you for a first date. You have noticed him in your English class and you were excited when he asked for your phone number a few days ago. You’ve been hoping to hear from him but, when he asks about Friday night, you say “no.” Why? Because he waited until Wednesday night to ask and you don’t want him to know that on Wednesday night, you still did not have a date scheduled for Friday.
So, you made an excuse about this Friday night and told him that you’d love to go out the following weekend.
The common thread behind games is the belief that if you honestly reveal yourself, you will not be as attractive to your partner. “If I manipulate what he thinks about me, he will think I am a more valuable catch and will be more interested in chasing me.” In the short term, that strategy may work with some guys, but . . . eventually, if you begin dating on a regular and exclusive basis, they are going to learn who you really are and they will know that you were playing games with them.
Also, the most consistent advice you hear about relationships is to communicate honestly and directly with your partner. Beginning a relationship with game playing sets a precedent of not being sincere and direct and it gives your partner a justification to treat you in the same way. Do you really want your partner to not be sincere, to not tell you what they are thinking or feeling?
Game playing also is an impediment to developing trust. “I’d really like to believe her and trust what she says, but she doesn’t always say what she means, so . . ..”
When the relationship breaks up, what do you do? Accept it, learn your lessons, and move forward? No! There’s another opportunity for playing games!
The break up game is based on a notion which is more common among young people: after a break up, a couple should remain friends. I think this is a horrible idea. One of you is probably clinging to the hope that you will reconcile and trying to be “friends” just encourages this hope. Most people find it difficult to go backwards in a relationship, especially if you had developed a physical relationship before the breakup. Do you really want to hear about your ex’s new boyfriend or girlfriend? How are you going to handle it when they say something that indicates they spent the night with the new Mr. or Miss Wonderful? Most of us will feel jealousy and you should have no shame in admitting that you will feel that way. We are humans, not automatons, and jealousy is a part of our nature. So, when he breaks up with you, instead of starting to do “friend” things together, you don’t answer his phone calls, you ignore his texts, and you ignore everything else he does to reach out to you. You assume that he will start wondering why you are treating him this way, he will feel hurt, and will want to restore the relationship so that he can be at peace with you.
There are three possible outcomes.
First, he may not think that returning to being friends is all that important and he will just stop reaching out to you. You’ll get the idea after a few weeks.
Second, he may finally text you and suggest getting together . . . but not because he can’t wait to have you in his arms again. It may be that he wants to ask why you are treating him this way. He may be angry and he might just tell you that he has decided that he doesn’t even want to be friends with you and that you should expect to never hear from him again.
Third, he may feel guilty about the break up and welcome you back with open arms. It worked! Your strategy worked! But . . . wait a minute . . . or two weeks. Suppose you resume dating again. There were some reasons why it didn’t work the first time. Maybe he did not want to date exclusively and you were jealous. Maybe he realized that your long term goals weren’t compatible or maybe he thought you were the ice queen in bed and he wasn’t satisfied. Whatever the reasons were for the break up, you are going to encounter those same reasons again, and probably more quickly the second time you are trying to make it work. Maybe one of the reasons it didn’t work was that . . . wait . . . you didn’t communicate directly, effectively, and clearly!
So you break up after the second attempt, and this time there is no going back. So what have you accomplished? You have wasted a few more months of your life, unless you learn a lesson from this experience.
This is NOT how mature people conduct their relationships. If he calls on Wednesday night and you really want to see him on Friday night, you say “yes.” After a great first date, you text or call and tell him or her that it was a wonderful first date. You don’t wait three days to call her. You reveal what is in your mind and in your heart; if they don’t respect that, then you probably were not a good match and you move forward. But they probably do respect your open communications and it becomes one of the things that they cherish about you.
Having a relationship is not like playing Monopoly. If you approach a relationship with a game playing mindset, you will have – at best – a shallow relationship, and it probably won’t last. Are you ready to take things to the next level? Put all those “strategies” aside and start being sincere with your partner. And when you overhear your little sister talking about some game playing strategy, you’ll probably tell her that games are for little kids.