High Stakes and the Dating Game

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If you’ve gone on as many bad dates as I have, the good ones tend to stand out. This past week I managed to spend a few hours with a young man who was both easy on my eyes, and a good conversationalist. It didn’t hurt that he managed to pick one of my favourite restaurants, and was the consummate gentleman who opened doors, and remembered to put me on the inside of the street away from traffic as we walked.

I was cautiously optimistic about our chemistry, relieved that he didn’t attempt to grope my “assets,” (although I hope he thought about it, because I most certainly thought about his) and was genuinely looking forward to seeing him again until I broke the cardinal rule about good dates: Don’t tell your single and bitter about it girlfriends, guys that are secretly hoping you’ll give them a chance, or your less than happily married friends! Best believe misery loves company!

My bitter girlfriend saw my date’s age (he’s 32) and his candidness about his previous dating experiences as red flags. “Girl you better watch out now; he’s getting up there and you know older single guys are single for a reason. Besides his previous stories sound like he has issues to me!” I had to remind her that we all had issues, and that I had yet to meet a man below the age of thirty who had an inkling of what he wanted.

One of my closest guy friends who knew that this date was almost two years in the making, laughed sarcastically when I said it was all about timing, before proceeding to ask if I was now “seeing someone”. I had to remind him that I wouldn’t call two dates “seeing,” and while the dating scene in New York was “sad,” what good was cynicism going to do.

Last but most certainly not least, my less than happily married childhood friend proceeded to lecture me on how poorly I played “the dating game.” Our conversations as I described them were way too friendly – we shouldn’t be talking about what was most important in a relationship on date two; we should have been flirting outrageously and making subtle hints about sex.

More than anything else I should want the guy to be thinking about that, and I shouldn’t go out of my way to be nice to him at all.  Didn’t I know that “nice” girls and guys finished last; what I should be was flirty but hard to get at the same time. The point of the “dating game” was to win the best partner; and my refusal to play the part didn’t mean I wasn’t part of the game, it just meant I was setting myself up to be played.

“The point of the ‘dating game’ was to win the best partner; and my refusal to play the part didn’t mean I wasn’t part of the game, it just meant I was setting myself up to be played”

While I appreciated his advice, I shudder to think that all my peers both male and female think this way.  Truth is – if the net result of the “game”, is a comfortable but passionless existence with a kid and even less sex than my mostly celibate single lifestyle currently allows for, I want no part of it!

I asked him if he was then telling me that it was impossible for me to meet a man who would get to know me and think, “she’s hot, she’s smart, she’s honest, I like spending time with her and she can cook,” before deciding to put a ring on it post haste. He chuckled before responding in the negative.

Admittedly marriage doesn’t have a good reputation, but it is still “far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being,” wrote NY Times op-ed columnist David Brooks in his recent column ‘The Sandra Bullock Trade’. He adds: “If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled”. Another study even postulated, “Being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to $100,000 a year”. 

Happiness is a tricky thing to study, but all the research seems to conclude that “economic and professional success exists on the surface of life, and that they emerge out of interpersonal relationships, which are much deeper and more important”.

At 27 – I’m not ashamed to say I’m the strong, independent type. My career is important to me but briefing documents, media lists and seeing my clients name in ink doesn’t keep me warm at night. A toy can take the edge off sexual frustration; I know because I have one, but it can’t replace the intimacy and companionship that comes from knowing someone is rooting for you.

I’m not interested in playing a high-stakes game that isn’t going to result in any net long-term satisfaction. I’m looking for a partner who doesn’t want average; and is willing to invest as much energy as I in cultivating our relationship even after we have kids. The stakes are way too high and life is simply too short to waste one second of it in an unhappy relationship. The only moment I have is the one I’m in right now, and that is no game – that’s life! 

In the meantime, I’m steering clear of the “Debbie Downers,” and doing as they say in Latin “Dum spiro spero” – While I breathe, I hope.


Image credit: Istockphoto.com


Dzifa Job

Dzifa Job is a freelance writer and the voice behind the blog Musings of an Empress (www.dzifajob.wordpress.com). Her writings have appeared in One Love Houston, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly In Sports, The Integrationist Quarterly, and Caribbean Axis. Dzifa is a graduate of Syracuse University, and holds a Bachelors degree in Public Relations from the Newhouse School of Communications. A Trini, living in New York, she spends her downtime writing, training for fitness challenges, and going on adventure vacations.


  1. Gabrielle

    April 29, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Girl after years of serial monagamy I made a swing at the dating game…..ahemmmm…it sucks. But chin up and keep positive. I agree that you can’t allow yourself to get bogged down in negativity and cynacism but be careful and watchful as well and learn to trust your instincts….If something is telling you he is a rat from the get go then he is most probably a rat! But dont be afraid to give the good guys a try and most of all dont be close minded and have a type date out of your comfort zone you will be surprised how comfortable it can be.

  2. Lonnie

    May 4, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    “I’m not interested in playing a high-stakes game that isn’t going to result in any net long-term satisfaction. I’m looking for a partner who doesn’t want average; and is willing to invest as much energy as I in cultivating our relationship even after we have kids.”

    This is why I staying clear of marriage. The expectations are too great. Women who get married expect to be more happy and fulfilled than their single friends (or themself when single) and if that is not happening, the man is in TROUBLE. Because if she’s not happy, he can’t be happy…. she making certain of that.
    True happiness and fulfillment don’t come from marriage or envious friends or a steamy sex life, or even children you can boast about their accomplishments. It just come from simple non-judgmental acceptance of your emotional states and the determination to take control of those states before they biochemically affect your mind. Alot of the pain and suffering we experience is very preventable (poor diet and bad beliefs).
    You can be locked away in solitary confinement for twenty years and still be a happy person if you train and feed your mind and body correctly.

  3. Karen Francisco


    June 18, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Interesting thoughts all round, for the article and the comments.

    I am looking for a great companion. I do have certain qualities I would like in that person, however, the packaging can be almost anything ( hey, I HAVE to at least be attracted!)

    My dating life is great! I’m dating one guy who is very honest about dating more than one woman at a time and I am so fine with that, another guy who is from England but lives in NY (we see each other whenever we travel) and another guy here who is at the top of the list and very connected to me.

    But I still want to date!

    I don’t want to rush into a relationship just because all the fuzzy feelings are great ( basically I feel closest to the third guy). I am confident it will become clear out of these three, who is the best candidate for me. This is still fairly new to me, and the fact that I can focus daily on my career and still feel awesome about my love life, shows me it’s the best formula for me!

    I went to a wedding recently and the groom said it best:

    ” If I get married, I will make a great husband. But if I remain single, I will make an equally great Bachelor”

    He was at a stage in his life, where either way that he chose to live his life, he was truly happy with himself.

    People, whatever you choose, single or married, your happiness resides with YOU! Not the other person. The other person, should be the icing on the cake– an enhancement of who you already are.

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