This article is inspired by a dating forum where a lengthy conversation caught my attention. It amazed me how many people fear doing the wrong thing. The same questions continually pop up in the forums, and in coaching sessions.

Can a woman ask a man out?
What is the proper etiquette when it comes to letting a man know I am interested?
How do I ask if s/he dates one person at a time, or several?
What is the purpose of the first ‘coffee shop’ date?
What do women expect from a Man?
What to men expect from a woman?
How do I know when we are exclusive?
To flirt or not to flirt

To make matters worse there are the dating games.
When should you call?
When shouldn’t you call?
Who should make the first move?
How long before you kiss?
Do I play hard to get?
How many times should I pretend to be busy?
What does it mean when he does _________?
Don’t pick up the phone when he calls
Who should introduce their friends first?

The first step to emotionally surviving dating games is to understand the most common ones. Mind games and relationships will always go hand in hand. Some people play them so well that their partner never knows who they are after they marry. Sometimes, the person takes ‘off the mask’ the very same day. Women play more mind games then men do, but men are better at it because most don’t recognize their behaviour as a mind game.

Dating Games Men Play

The first game men play is often called the ‘three day rule’. This varies in time and structure, but it generally follows the same pattern. He meets her, sweeps her off her feet, acts like he is totally enamoured by her – then doesn’t call. This causes her to be insecure and wonder what she did wrong. Men have a sixth sense to call back within hours after she has given up hope of a second date. He has some good excuse, too busy, work, family commitments. The excuses usually make him look like a paragon.

The woman now feels relieved, and the man now has the upper hand. The problem is that this can grow into a form of emotional abuse, and can cover some serious control issues the man is facing.

The second dating game is to take advantage of the commitment-phobe excuses. The true committement-phobe is someone who seems perfect and then disappears. The fake is someone who uses excuses to prevent being forced to make a commitment. Men use these excuses to keep a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship so they don’t feel guilty while keeping an eye open just in case something better comes along. These men will also play the game in tandem with the above game.

The third dating game is the ‘alpha male’ game where they are doing ‘you’ a favour by spending time with you. Women – don’t fall for that. This is not only a painful dating game, but it is often a red flag for serious emotional abusive relationships. The thing is – these men can take you places you’ve never been before.

Another popular game is the ‘predator’. This person wants to have their emotions fed without giving you anything back. He can suck the emotions and joy out of anyone he dates. One thing they often have in common is that they are wounded ‘nice guys.’ They just happen to have a string of bad relationships because they always fall for the wrong women. The problem is, even from the start – you are also the wrong woman.

The last game I am going to list here is ‘playing the field.’ This man’s ego is inflated. He believes he is doing you a favour by dating you. The problem is that he never takes the relationship seriously. Dating to him is not exclusive. He doesn’t see why he can’t check out several women at once. And of course, when you confront him then you are the one with problems.

The question shouldn’t be whether you should play the games. Instead, ask yourself what types of men do these games attract. The problem with dating games is that they are often hide emotional problems, which can lead to a devastating break up. Instead of playing games, take time to get to know yourself and learn what you want out of a relationship. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries when dating. And don’t compromise to keep a man interested.

I am not saying that patting a man’s ego can’t be fun. But deceptive games will always lead to problems in a future relationship.

Dos and Donts of Dating Games

Do be Yourself
Don’t down play your intelligence or achievements

Do be honest about who you are
Don’t compromise your integrity or beliefs

Do set boundaries
Don’t tolerate excuses or lies

Do expect to be treated well
Don’t trick yourself into believing that one sided relationships work

Do respect yourself
Don’t get caught in another person’s ego trip

Do have fun
Don’t worry about making a mistake or saying something wrong

The most important thing to be is ‘you.’ There are far worse things than being lonely. Playing dating games, or allowing another, can result in ending up in the wrong relationship. It is more important to understand why men play games.

The first reason is Emotional Insecurity. They need control to feel safe or they need to prove their superiority. Their expectations are far above what is considered emotionally healthy. In the end, the woman is too tired to play anymore and leaves, hopefully before marriage.

Dishonesty goes deeper than telling lies – it is a core value – a character trait. It will never go away, in fact, it will get worse. The best way to identify this is to ask about previous relationships and listen carefully to the answers. If he beats around the bush, then take a step back.

The last reason on my list is the over inflated ego. This man is not always as easy to identify as you’d think. But he does leave a trail of red flags if you take the time to look for them. This is also the most dangerous. These men can become incredibly possessive.

Understanding dating patterns can liberate us from self-blaming thoughts. We can accept the fact that it is not always us, It is him and his issues. We can view a relationship in a more balanced way, examining it objectively instead of emotionally. Yes, it is exciting to ‘fall in love’ – but we must protect ourselves. Have fun when dating – but do not give your heart away so easily

Author's Bio: 

Suzanne James has 10 years experience as an online life coach and using the telephone to facilitate her coaching strategy. She has vast experience helping clients reset their core values, make changes in their communication and relationship styles, and take back control of their lives. There is a wealth of information on her website: