You probably don’t think of yourself as someone who plays mind games, and that makes sense — the behaviors that are ingrained in us from the time we’re young aren’t easily recognizable as such. The games we play in all areas of our lives, whether with a romantic partner, a friend, or even a business associate, will always backfire in the end. In the meantime, they just push us further from our authentic selves and make it harder for people to get close to us. Don’t know if you’re guilty? If you’ve done any of the following, it’s time to stop.
- The baiting game. The baiting game is a popularly depicted one in sitcoms and rom-coms, i.e. asking a man if you look fat in a dress. He can’t win unless he responds quickly with the most believable monologue about your exquisite beauty. You don’t really want his honest opinion, so instead, try to think about why you’re needing reassurance to begin with.
- Using sex as a bargaining tool. Sex is supposed to be fun, and in the best circumstances, loving. If you start using it as a prize for good behavior, or withholding it to “train” someone, you start to strip it of its inherent luster for everyone involved.
- Testing people when they don’t know they’re being tested. Setting someone up in a situation to see if they fail or not is just wicked. Maybe that works if you’re a celebrity and need to know who’s leaking your stories to the press, but asking a friend to hit on your boyfriend to see how he would respond is probably not a great idea.
- Giving the silent treatment. The silent treatment is a popular option when we just feel like someone should know what they did wrong. The assumption is that they should be apologizing, but giving the cold shoulder is just really crappy and immature, and sometimes people don’t actually know what they did wrong. It’s so much easier and quicker to just express your feelings.
- Using passive-aggressive comebacks. Similar to the silent treatment, being passive aggressive in your interactions uses that “you should know what you did” vibe, but adds in potentially harmful dialogue, as well. Why should wanting someone else to treat us better involve treating them worse?
- Crying to get your own way. There’s nothing wrong with legit tears or showing emotion in general, but it shouldn’t be used as a tool to make someone feel sorry for you. You wonder why your parents don’t trust your career decisions when you’re crying your way into handouts instead of calmly asking if they could help you out with rent this month? It’s because you’re not acting like a mature adult.
- Playing hard to get. There’s a difference between actually being hard to get because you’re awesome and have stuff to do and making a guy work excessively hard to get anywhere near you just for the fun of it. You don’t have to accept a last minute date if you don’t want to, but you also don’t want to lie and say you’re booked out for the next two weeks when your biggest plans involve Netflix.
- Telling people what they want to hear. When it’s authentic, cool, but when you shape your answers and opinions simply to appeal to people, it’s manipulative at best — not to mention a betrayal of all the great ideas you really have.