Value. This is what all of us are ultimately trying to add to our lives through relationships of one sort or another. Admit it, even if you are the innocent girl waiting for God to write your fairy tale love story, ultimately you want this love story because it will make you feel happy and secure and loved. You want to add real value to your life. Similarly for the most pragmatic, logical guy looking for the perfectly compatible mate: what you really want is someone who has enough value to you to add value to your life.
So what about when we meet someone we deem as more valuable than are? What if we really want this person? How can we offer them something of value when they seem totally content with what they have?
Girls what about that hot guy you just met that you’ve been hanging out with that seems to have it all. He is popular, he’s funny, and you love spending time with him. And yet there just really doesn’t seem to be anything you can offer him that he doesn’t have to make him want you.
Or guys, what about that girl that is independent and driven. She doesn’t need a man to feel secure. She has a plan and isn’t just waiting around for you to sweep her off her feet. This makes her all the more attractive to you. And yet. What do you have to offer her that she doesn’t already have? What would make her want you in her life?
And this is where we begin to play the game of creating false value.
One way a lot of girls do this is with sex. While I do not have as much experience in the secular world, it would seem that post college sex games are less common: people finally realize that sex is mutually beneficial and stop using it as a tool. But as the economist Steven Levitt once said: guys have always wanted more sex than there are women willing to give it to them for free. So many woman will capitalize on this alluring the guy through sexual attraction and then constantly teasing him either by occasionally giving in or by promising sex once a certain level of commitment has been reached.
I might receive a lot of flak for saying this and am willing to admit I am wrong, but it seems that a large percentage of Christian marriages happen because of this subtle understanding that the guy doesn’t get sex unless he marries the girl. While I would argue there are good psychological and moral reasons to wait for marriage, withholding sex as a tool to make yourself appear more valuable and to get what you want in other areas of a relationship is counter productive.
A second way of creating false value is to make the other person think they are missing something. You create discontentment in their hearts and cause them to think that they cannot live without something they previously were not even aware of. This can often manifest itself as false dependence. A perfectly happy content girl becomes dependent on a guy because he created a false dependency. She may have been fine driving four hours home to visit her family until he traveled with her and suddenly she couldn’t make the trip without his charming company. I call this false dependence because she wasn’t looking for a need to be met; he created a need by offering her something than causing her to imagine it being taken away.
This is fundamentally what marketing is. Making you miss something you didn’t have before by offering it to you and then taking it away. Being aware of the way these feelings are created can help protect you from falling from someone that you wouldn’t otherwise want.
A third way that we play games to create value is by creating false scarcity and demand. Everyone knows that person who always waits a few hours to respond to a text or phone call just to make it seem like they are busier. Many people don’t even think about this but do it out of procrastination. Others however, use this as a mind game. Guys will often disappear for a few days after a romantic night. Girls might say they are busy then be sure that they are seen with other guys in public.
This is basic economics. Because we as humans naturally want what we can’t have, high demand and/or low supply are two things that attract people. If a girl believes a guy to be “out of her league” she might try to appear as if lots of other guys want her so he will wonder what the big deal is. Alternatively, she can make herself seem quite busy every time he wants to see her thus giving the allusion of being scarce.
Most of these games are played sub-consciously. And I’m not necessarily saying they are good or bad. However two words of caution: if you are the one playing the game remember that other may realize what you are doing and your value could diminish greatly in their eyes. If you are the one being played learn to recognize the person’s true value and not be fooled by games. Playing the game is part of how dating works, but some people take it too far by creating false expectations of who they really are without adding any REAL value to your life at all.