Beyond the odd turn at charades I’m not the kind of woman who enjoys games. Blowing hot one minute, cold the next; never knowing if you’re coming or going; always watching your back, sizing up your opponent, plotting your next move. It’s exhausting – and insulting. At best, a woman who’s playing games with you is trying to gain the upper hand. At worst she’s just not that into you, stringing you along like an old boot until she can toss you out and splurge on something new.
After my second date with E17 girl, and feeling all sizzly with anticipation for her, I make a decision to park the games. I text her after the date, telling her I had an amazing time and can’t wait to see her again. I stop messaging other girls, stop swiping. My app has the occasional grumble – don’t keep your match waiting! it bleeps petulantly – but I ignore it, dragging it off my homepage and into the ether.
For our next date we meet in the city for a mid-week dinner after work. It might be a Tuesday but I’ve got a change of clothes, clean knickers and a toothbrush in my bag: what can I say? I’m a glass half full kind of girl. We wander round London’s streets paved with gold – or credit – and eventually seek out a quiet noodle bar for slurping and flirting.
Halfway through dinner she keeps stifling yawns.
“Sooorry,” she muffles through her hand.
It’s not the first time she’s been a bit yawny – on our second date she kept yawning too. This time though, I’m self-conscious. Is it me? Am I so boring she literally can’t sit through a laksa’s worth of chat? I’d been in the middle of saying something but she swallows my point whole with her yawn and I trail off into awkward silence.
Later, we go to look something up on Google and I see, winking cheekily at the top of her phone, a notification from her dating app: new match or message! Of course she has every right to be dating other women – after all, I’m not anything to her. And yet I feel absurdly disappointed. And silly. Here I was gleefully transferring all my eggs to her basket and it turns out she’s got at least one egg stashed away for a rainy day.
I suggest leaving early and she hastily agrees. At the tube she tells me that she’s at a festival for a few days but she’ll send me photos and see me on the other side. She then pulls me into a corner and a kiss. I’m so confused. Does she like me or not? She fancies me, I think, because my hand accidentally brushes her breast and she gives a soft sigh of pleasure. But then maybe I’m just one of many sighs? Is she looking for sex? Or love? Or does she not know yet?
Over the next few days, her messages get shorter, scarcer, and I can tell we’re in the dying throes. My friends gamely try and back her up, “she’s busy,” they say, “she probably doesn’t want to be rude to her friends,” but both they and I know that’s bullshit: when you really like someone you text back, even if you’re on the fucking moon.
There’s a reason why great love stories never start with playing games. Darcy didn’t read Elizabeth’s letters and think: I’ll just hang onto that for bit, don’t want her to think I’m too keen! Instead, he proposed. When it’s right, none of that stuff matters because there is no way you will let that person get away. I tuck my heart safely back up my sleeve out of harm’s way, gird my loins and prepare to jump back into the dating scene.
Which is obviously when she calls. Women!