Playing Games vs. Having Standards: Why Rules in Dating Matter

Vanessa Torre

I never wanted to be one of “those women” but here I am. by Josh Willink via Pexels

I am not too keen on being told what to do. I don’t listen. If there’s a rule out there, I will most likely think it’s stupid. At the very least, I’m going to want to bend it.

When I was single in my 30's, I read a few books about rules for dating. I’ve seen more than my fair share of articles. I thought most of them were total crap. No one can fit dating that neatly into a box.

I always felt these rules were a means to game the system. Then I got divorced a second time and realized the importance of having a set of standards for myself and everyone else.

So, here I am. That woman. The one who has a list of non-starters. The one who has wasted a whole lot of nail polish. The one who feels the need to sift through the sand but hopes to God there’s a gold nugget in there.

I feel compelled to do this. I don’t have an overabundance of time. Interestingly, most of the people I meet have plenty of time, they just don’t take it seriously at all. They give it the same level of care and intention as a shopping trip to Walmart.

In my 40s, dating feels like something people do because their cleaning lady is at the house and they need to go somewhere for the next two hours because it feels weird being home.

I would estimate that about 43% of the profiles I read mention not wanting to play games. I know, it’s a very specific number. I’m quirky. I like making up statistics. I’d venture to say most of these people are playing games. The rest of us? We have standards.

The difference between playing games and having standards is simple: Gaming someone means manipulating them. Having standards means you refuse to be manipulated.

I have gone on dozens of first dates in the last two years. I would venture a guess that for every date I’ve gone on, I’ve talked to five men first. If that isn’t the most excruciating example of time wasted, I don’t know what is. by Josh Willink via Pexels

My weeding out process has a lot to do with the standards I have created over the last two years. They’re not arbitrary. They’re forged from hard lessons learned, a lot of disappointment and finally saying “enough is enough.”

  1. I won’t be the first to suggest a date anymore. I’m pretty confident. I have no problem being assertive. I am just too damn tired of doing all the work. I understand some men like boldness. I’ve got it. You’ll see it. Give me a minute. I value assertiveness and interest, too. I need the type of guy who will ask me out first. I’ll suggest and plan the second date. I can share the heavy lifting.
  2. If a message goes unanswered for a week, I’m done. He’s out. I think people could very well be so busy that they forget to check into an app. Those people know they’re too busy. Those people should not date right now. Likewise, connecting with someone and then going on a vacation for a week is lame. If a guy does this, I am assuming the only reason we connected is because he got bored while packing.
  3. Out of town visitors are a hard pass. If I go out of town, I turn my location services off. It’s not hard. Any adult with access to a 12 year old or Google can do this. I don’t want a guy who is passing through or who visits my town frequently for business. That’s shady shit and we all know it. I want a guy I can call because I have something with way too many legs or no legs at all trying to stage a hostile takeover of my home. If you live in Philly but will be here next week, that doesn’t help me. I need the snake/enormous spider/demagorgon out now.
  4. I will still double text if I’m really interested. If that second text goes unanswered, I’m done. I’ll give you 48 hours. After that, I’m out. If I connected with someone and plain forgot about their existence for two days, I’m not interested. That’s what’s happening here. I know how the dice are landing and I don’t feel like losing this round. “Hey. I have a hectic few days. Can I catch you this weekend?” Man, that wasn’t hard to type.
  5. I’m not sleeping with someone until after we have dinner together. This is not to mean he needs to buy me dinner. We can split it. Hell, I’ll pay. I don’t care. It’s important to me that a potential mate sees me as someone important enough to take to a restaurant. It may seem arbitrary but when you go on 42 dates in two years and none involve dinner, you create a standard. I really don’t know when eating dinner on a date because forbidden, but I miss it. Happy hour does not count. It’s not dinner unless I’m asked if I want to see a dessert menu. And the answer to that will be “yes.” I need someone to put some skin in the game before the game involves skin.
  6. If he calls our first date a “meet and greet,” I ain’t goin’. Look, dude, what are you? A boy band? Taylor Swift? Tay Tay does meet and greets. I don’t. If you are so non-committal that you can’t even call going out for a beer or two a date, you have some issues. I can’t pinpoint exactly what they are or where you got them but it’s as glaring as walking out of a bathroom with toilet paper on your shoes.
  7. There is a month expiration period on dates. If we go out and I don’t see you for a month. I am not ever going to see you again. I have been down this road before. A month between dates frequently means, “I have seven other people in my queue after you and I need to meet them all before I start over at the beginning of the buffet.” I am not Sweet and Sour Chicken. No one should be Sweet and Sour Chicken. Don’t be Sweet and Sour Chicken. The only similarity between me and a Chinese buffet is that if you leave either of us sitting out for too long, we’re going to go sideways on you.

I understand all of this may make me high maintenance. Too damn bad. I’ll own that. I’m not bending anymore. I’m not settling. I don’t want mediocre. I’m not interested in a guy’s C game. If it means my rate of dating slows, excellent. I’m tired anyway. Half the dates I’ve gone on? I’d rather have napped anyway.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ

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