The Games Adults Play with Love

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Red light… green light… one… two… three. This had to be one of your top ten, favourite games as a child, right?

And who can forget Simon Says, hide and seek, catch, and snakes and ladders?

Remember when these games were the hottest thing on our entertainment calendar?

From the time I woke up to when my parents or grandparents yelled at me to go to bed, playing never seemed to end. I lived in a yard where my house and my aunt’s house shared the lot. And just a stone’s throw away from me was my maternal grandparents’ home. That meant having my cousins (and there were many) close by.

We played these games from morning until night, and we never thought about how they’d affect us in our adult years. We never knew that playing was a way for us to develop our socializing skills, nor did we ever stop to think that one day we could move from searching for a cousin in the kitchen cupboard to desperately searching for a boyfriend or girlfriend who had mysteriously disappeared.

As children, everything was all play, and it’s only as adults that we look back and realize the significance these games had in our upbringing. The games we’ve played surely allowed us to express our emotions, and think differently, while enhancing how we communicate with others.


‘Are we fantasizing about things, and hoping they’d be just the way we played it?’


Take for instance, playing a game of ‘house’. As children we emulated the roles we took on as ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’. We understood it to be roles set for boys and girls. Yet playing ‘house’ has left a psychological stain in our minds, as to what we want our own households, and, more importantly, our relationships to be like.

Are we fantasizing about things, and hoping they’d be just the way we played it? Will our relationships be as perfect as Barbie’s and Ken’s? Are we always expecting to win?

Like Pat Benatar says, love is a battlefield. You go around hearing everyone saying, “I not on games; I doh have time for games”. So why do we all play them at some point in our relationships?

When we played games as children, we all had one thing in common – the desire to win. Whether we were on a team or solo, we all aimed to win at whatever it was, and to be recognized as the best at the end. We’ve been so conditioned to be competitive, that it carries out in just about everything that we do, especially our romantic relationships.

Have the games we played as children affected the way we interact with others? Or are games a constant in our social interactions? Do you think any of the games you played helped you to develop tactics to get what you want or to outdo someone? Do you think any of the games you played had some kind of effect on the way you handle your relationships?

Take for instance the hide and seek game we (men and women) play when it comes to sharing our feelings with someone. When we’re too afraid to go forth, we tend to hide behind the mirror we use to tell people what they want to hear. Sometimes we don’t reveal our true selves and have high hopes that the other individual will be persistent enough to crack the mirror and seek out what really moves us, rather than being upfront and communicate openly.


‘Manipulation has to be one of the most popular games we adults play’


Manipulation has to be one of the most popular games we adults play. How can I get the man or woman I’m with to do what I want? How can I trick someone into being with me? How I can take you for all you’re worth? Tit-for-tat, adult life is filled with games.

In the game of love, however, there’s a particular league few of us are skilled to play in, and it’s best left to ludic lovers. What’s does ludic mean? Coined by John Lee, a Canadian sociologist, this style of love is where partners enjoy ‘the game’, keeping multiple lovers from finding out about each other, and being mysterious or silent about their plans and or commitment to their significant other. Deceit, after all, is a game.

Sociological terms aside, they’re players. Men (probably between the ages of 18 and 29) are more considered to be ludic lovers (and I’m quite sure some women out there maintain the same qualities – think Vivica Fox in Two can Play that Game; one might also call a “gold digger” a ludic lover).


‘They see love as just a sport’


In their 20s and 30s, guys are in their prime, sowing their oats (shout out to the good guys who tend to one garden), and they find pleasure in having more than one lover. They see love as just a sport – a game of where the more lovers you have, the better you are at the game. There’s definitely a winner and a loser in this situation, and if you don’t got skills, you know where that leaves you.

Like it or not, we’ll always have to deal with mind games, because somewhere inside of us, there’s that competitive spirit that says, “you’ve got to win”.

You can blame it on immaturity, distrust, insecurity, socialization, self-destructive impulses or plain ol’ stupidity, but on some level, even the most mature of persons sometimes find themselves playing a game (sometimes more as means of survival). So, if we’re supposed to hate the game, and not the players, why do we keep toying with each other?


Follow Onika on Twitter @onikapascal or on her website

Onika Pascal

Onika Pascal is a Trini living in New York, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is a single mom, author of two published collections of poetry, aspiring novelist ,and lover of all things purposeful.


  1. karel

    July 19, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Games are unavoidable at times because sometimes even if you aren’t playing games, someone else might be playing games with you. You could play games with them too in response, but I like a quote I saw recently. To paraphrase, it said that to render a player powerless, take yourself out of the game. Boom.

  2. Randumb Thinker

    July 19, 2010 at 7:50 am

    I think an important issue we fail to realize is that relationships are partnerships, and if someone is winning then your partner is losing… so even as kids how do we learn or measure that aspect of the game of house

  3. Deva

    December 23, 2010 at 2:39 am

    society has put some sort of acceptance to men playing game and discriminate when women do the same. So women thinks that well if they can do it I can do it better, i don’t think it is immaturity but rather persons wanting to feel what that person is feeling doing it. Then later on in life they realise how little fun it is, what satisfaction they feel knowing that they always have to lie, eventually they bring themselves to the light because they forgot what lie to they told you and me. I don’t think it has to do with the games we play as children because the bible stated in 1Corinthans: 13 verse 11 (not trying to be too biblical) says that when we were a child we think and behave and do things as a child. People will like to stay in that state of mind as a child because they can blame not growing up for the foolish decisions that they chose as an adult knowing wrong from right.

  4. Deva

    December 23, 2010 at 2:45 am

    I’m in a relationship where the my partner thinks that he always have too win. He did this by always willing to do something for me and when he ask me sometimes i will tell him no and he will be like but when you ask me i am always willing. Well i told him that is so small minded of him because we suppose to be equal in a relationship and not trying to make each other feel bad because we were unable to do something for the other at some point in time. MY love for him is deeper than his fault is something that i can live with because i realise he is trying to change but will get there soon.

  5. Aknok

    January 7, 2011 at 12:39 am

    great article

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