The things people do so as not to get played.
The idea of playing games in relationship simply has to do with the tricks people play, the things people in the hope of gaining a leverage or staying in an advantageous position in a relationship. The efforts they put into guarding themselves from hurt or to not end up looking like a fool or getting played.
Take for instance, it is largely believed that to gain a woman's attention, you should not go all out. Desperation, it is said, will likely put her off.
So it's not uncommon to hear guys say they are playing it cool so as not to scare away a woman they like with their overzealousness.
In some other instance you'll hear people advise that after getting a babe's number, you are not supposed to call her immediately.
Nah, come on, how can you get her number and call her few hours later?
It's better, they advise, to wait it out some days. Play it cool and call her after some days so she won't feel too special or begin to act too fly because of the attention you're showing.
Another example of popular relationship games people play is the one that involves sex on a first date. It is widely believed that if a babe allows a guy smash on the first date, she's cheap. So, of course, a babe who is drawn to a guy and dying to have sex with him would hold back herself from doing so. Not because she really wants to, but because... rules are rules.
Following the definition in the second paragraph above, there can be no way to fault these games.
Doing what you think is right in order to guard yourself from potential heartbreaks can never be wrong, as it has been shown from relationship stories and experience that anyone who is not vigilant can, and will be played, and emotionally exploited in a brutal manner.
While I acknowledge that the duty to guard your heart from predators and hawks is yours and yours only; it also has to be said that the whole point of dating and relationships is trust... to put yourself in a position to be hurt but trusting that the other person won't do so.
It's OK to be wary and to watch carefully before making romantic and emotional leaps, yes, but there comes a time when you'll have to let go of the games and express those emotions the way they come.
You can't continue playing these games if you intend to find true happiness in a relationship. Doing that would mean repressing emotions, not saying how you feel, denying your partner the opportunity to see the best of being in love with you... and that's not good.
No one desires a partner who plays games. Besides, whether you play these games or not, que sera sera. The heartbreak will still happen if it would. One can only be as reasonably careful as possible about these things; they are hardly stoppable, if ever.
Do not overdo the carefulness bit. You'll hardly ever enjoy a relationship with such attitude.
There comes a time to let go and trust someone with your emotions, fears secrets and all. To still fearfully hold on to those things at that point would be taking things too far.
And by doing so, you'd be playing yourself.
McShayn's Love Thread is a weekly column that aims at explaining modern relationship practices, and tries to demystify relationship myths while proffering useful advice for stronger relationships and modern marriages. You can read other articles here.