How I Fucked Up My Own Game

Image by deejaynye via Flickr

In the foggy haze of a slightly hungover morning, I heard an earthy voice echo softly in my ear, “time to get up, Danny Boy.”

I buried my face into the strange, pink-fringed pillow I’d slept on while slowly realizing my own nakedness. I opened one eye to see an oddly darkened purple room that wasn’t mine. I realized pretty quickly that the wet lips on my ear and the warm breasts pressing against my back weren’t mine either.

My memories spread over me like syrup over pancakes, slow and sweet. I’d only met Maggie the night before, but here we were, in her bed at 5 AM on a Friday morning. I reached up to stroke her hair.

“Maggie,” I mumbled, “you’re a beautiful girl.” As I grabbed a handful of hair and pushed her face back down into her pillow, I continued, “but you’re a shitty alarm clock.”

She laughed. I grumbled. She pushed. I woke up. She made coffee. We kissed. I went all the way back to my house, showered, and went to work. Later, I gave her the “obligatory day-after” phone call, but it didn’t feel obligatory. Maggie responded with a text that she was at work. We made tentative plans in text conversation that we’d get together the following week.

I’d had plenty of one night stands before, but this didn’t feel like one. I wasn’t thinking about hanging out with Maggie, I was thinking about taking her on a date. I was legitimately excited about a woman for the first time in a while. And that’s exactly why I fucked things up.

How soon after meeting somebody new do we feel totally comfortable? How long does it take before we take off our cool and just be ourselves? There are a thousand different reasons why and when we decide to reveal ourselves, but the one constant criterion is that we need to be comfortable enough with our own feelings to let our guard down. Most of the miscommunication that causes men to think women are crazy and women to think men are idiots happens during that critical period between feeling an initial spark of interest and knowing for sure how we feel about the other person.

For me, dating is less about figuring out women than it is about figuring out myself.

If I’m not sure how much I like a girl, I’m not about to waste my time building up her expectations. I’m not going to call her and try to force a conversation or feign interest. I’m too old to be faking feelings just to get laid. More likely, I’ll text her a bit, get a sense of her personality, and see if I’m interested in learning more about her. If she’s not on my mind every day, I don’t contact her every day. If I don’t know how to respond to one of her messages, I simply won’t.

Some people would say this is “playing games” or “sending mixed messages.” I won’t argue with that. But I know that these types of “games” serve the larger purpose of uncovering and validating my feelings for somebody I may know close to nothing about.

When I am comfortable with a girl, there are no games or mixed messages. A text message isn’t an informal way of getting her attention and finding out if I like her. It’s just a text. A phone call isn’t an overly eager message to her that I’m interested in getting to know her. It’s me actually getting to know her. Or, at least, that’s what it should be.

Talking with Maggie the night we met, things felt different. Instead of talking about our lives, current events, or the usual trivial bullshit, Maggie and I talked about our passions. She’s a writer, and she’s been published in some very mainstream magazines. (If I used her real name, you could Google her.) We talked about ideas. We didn’t talk about movies we’d seen or bands we liked, we talked about directors we hated and underrated musical genres. She had wild, curly blond hair and a slightly crooked nose.

Within minutes, I was in love. And in hindsight, that was the problem.

We’d agreed to get together on Tuesday night. I knew Maggie was working on Monday, so I sent her a text asking if she was as excited for tomorrow as I was. I woke up on Tuesday morning to two texts. In the first, Maggie told me that she wouldn’t be able to make it that night. The second one said that she was just getting out of a relationship and isn’t ready to start dating again.

Was she lying? I don’t think so. Did that make it hurt any less? Absolutely not. Just as I haven’t been that excited over a girl in a while, I also hadn’t been let down this hard in an equally long time. Is this really how girls feel when I flake out with some half-assed excuse?

(Um, don’t answer that.)

Like any semi-fractured human being coming to terms with his own flaws, I obsessively checked all communications with her to see where I might have messed up. Wasn’t I charming? Check. Wasn’t I funny? Of course! Was my tone too flirtatious or not sexual enough? That’s crazy talk–I’m good at this. Very good at this. Could I really have screwed things up so royally? Was I *gulp* too desperate?

It sure looked like I was. We’d known each other for barely one week, and I was already sending her three text messages for every one she sent me. They were insanely charming and thoughtful text messages, mind you. But it was too much. I’d called her three times; she’d never called me back.

Then again, maybe desperate wasn’t the right word. I was hurt, but I wasn’t devastated. I hadn’t built her up into anything more than she actually was. I realized instead that I had felt too comfortable too quickly. I had been too sure of myself and my feelings that I didn’t give her enough time to figure out her own. That night and that morning in her bedroom, Maggie was into me. In ten days, I’d scared her away. I’d already finished the game before Maggie had a chance to start.

For me, dating is less about figuring out women than it is about figuring out my own feelings. Maybe it’s too easy to forget that the funny, articulate, and intoxicating blonde I’d just fallen for might be doing the exact same thing.

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  • Wait, our famed DB was thinking of hanging up the cleats for a long term relationship? Say it isn’t so!

    I think sometimes it’s not so much that a girl gets “scared away” as it is that she just didn’t want it to go long term anyways, and was trying to pull the fade.

  • I’d hate to think you scared her away. Her excuse might be true. Or she’s got several men in the cue and one of them stepped up. Maybe she’s not good at dealing with men post hook up. Maybe she’s a committment-phobe and she could tell you were getting serious-ish. There are a lot of reasons that Maggie might have decided not to move forward.

    But you crazy right about a couple of things: miscommunication is what causes men to think women are crazy and women to think men are idiots. But I think it happens in all of men and women’s interactions. For example, guys usually don’t think I’m crazy until it’s break up time.

    And I doubt she thought you were stupid Danny. After reading your blogs I have to say you are a pretty incredible guy. And your perspective that you are trying to figure yourself out is a great one. Good on you for being open to something with a new lady and for pursuing it.


    • Thanks Crystal. You know, there isn’t really one black and white answer to any dating situation; I’m sure her excuse was true to an extent, and I’m sure all of your “maybes” are true as well. All I know is what my actions were and what my reaction would be had I been in her shoes.

      And I probably would have done exactly what she did.

  • What PG said!

    And I don’t think it necessarily sounds like you were “too desperate”, but more that the two of you weren’t really on the same page. You said you text girls to get a sense of your feelings, but it might be helpful to do the same and get a sense of *their* feelings. If you’re both comfortable with each other and really feeling each other, multiple texts and phone calls aren’t an issue. You don’t have to worry about your-text-to-her-text ratio or anything like that, it’s just easy, comfortable conversation and contact.

  • Great article Danny! I only partially agree with the two previous comments: ideally, when “the magic happens”, it does so simultaneously for both of the people involved. However, in real life you don’t meet many “ideal” situations, so sometimes you need to give the other person time to grow into you. This is easily overlooked, especially when you have the hots for someone. I’m sorry for your experience and I hope you’ll learn from it, so you’ll be ready the next time you meet a funny, articulate and intoxicating whatever… 😉

  • I beg to differ with PG, girls can and do get scared away. If I sense a guy is getting a little too intense I immediately cut him off, I may have commitment issues but I’ve noticed that more than a few girls I know have been scared away by a guy getting too intense or too serious too quickly.
    So in my opinion I think she might have been a little scared by the eagerness DB showed before they’d even had a real date.

  • Ouch. I’ve been on both the giving and receiving ends of that particular game.

    This just makes me realize that when all those women’s publications are talking about how women “fell for” men’s games… they’re not taking into account the fact that women can play any part they want you to see to get what they want.

  • See this kind of ticks me off. All we (women) do is complain about how we just want a guy to be honest about his feelings – even if what he has to say is going to hurt – but when you hear a story of a guy who is honest, he just gets burned! Come on ladies, make up your minds! If you really were moving too fast for her Danny, she should’ve just told you as much. Then you would’ve had the chance to back off a bit and give her room to figure things out.

    We always say we hate games and mixed messages, but that means we need to stop playing and giving them too. Seriously, we could all save SO much time if we were just honest.


    • Well said Katie. IMO when someone does you the honor of stepping up and being real, then common courtesy demands a simple honest reply. I really don’t think there is anything worse than being forced into an advanced mind reading session with an unknown adversary…….just sayin you know?

    • fuck i want your pussy

  • I’m going through something similar right now… hanging out with a guy that I met through mutual friends and hooked up with on New Years. The connection was perpetuated by him because I mean, he’s shorter than me – not someone I would pick out on my own. But he was confident & he seemed so enamored with me, telling me how much smarter I am than the girls he’s dated, plus being beautiful, etc. and just really genuine. That was awhile ago & we recently re-connected, he had just got out of a relationship and now we’ve been hanging out like once a week since New Years but he’s told me he doesn’t want to rush back into another relationship because he just got out of one. But I can understand him being cautious, and he knows I want something more but we’re still hanging out. Its hard when you know how you feel & you’re just waiting for the other person to come aorund, and now I’m at the point where I feel like I’m being taken for granted because now I’m the one who is all eager to hang out with him, even though I let him do most of the asking. Just goes to show, sometimes it’s not really about you. They think you’re great but they’re not in the right place mentally & you are, so they start to feel like pressured to make a decision and they’re just not ready so they end up fading. I don’t think she was turned off by your excitement as much as she just sensed that you were sure & she wasn’t so sure (maybe because she really did just get out of a relationship) so she broke it off to avoid feeling guilty if it turned out she didn’t feel as strongly.

    • Okay, Mels, I think I owe you an apology on behalf of the site, because….

      Dude, that is the most pathetic looking avatar I’ve ever seen. 😉

      Although, I guess it does kinda fit with the mood of your comment.

    • Just be careful, mels. There’s a fine line between waiting for someone to come around and being strung along, and sometimes they’re one in the same.

  • Three Text Messages to her one text message??
    Oh Dear.
    You got it bad.
    Plus In a previous comment that Ive made on one of your other blogs to this site before you already know my stance on text messages.
    It sucks balls when the attention and the Lust (Yes you are in a Lust stage) arent really reciprocated.

    I must say though I have done exactly what she has done to you, but this was me taking a stance on I will no longer be treated like crap by men, and if they can get away with this kind of behaviour then so can I.
    So you never know maybe she had been badly burnt and had also decided that she would behave in the whole Man Behaviour that seems to be cropping up as of late?

    • “if they can get away with this kind of behaviour then so can I.”

      Yep- I suppose feminism has granted women the freedom to act like callous and self-centered pricks in regards to their sexual partner’s feelings. Congratulations.

      That didn’t happen here though. I know the difference between a girl who’s interested in me and a girl who’s just interested in getting laid- this girl was definitely the former.

      But… I fucked it up. Obviously.

  • I’d say you were “over excited” not “desperate”.

  • I think it just all boils down to timing. Sucks don’t it? This actually gives me peace of mind that women aren’t the only ones this happens to. You didn’t scare her off – she just wasn’t looking for anything and you just happened to find this out quicker being more up-front with your feelings. Less time wasted!

  • I think Leigh is probably right here. It’s not like you were pushing her for a commitment. You were just letting your excitement and interest show about your upcoming date. After years of playing the game and trying to decipher mixed messages, I find it refreshing and ATTRACTIVE when a guy openly shows this kind of genuine affection for me! This is the case even if I’m not sure yet how I feel about him. Maybe I’m not the norm. But when caught in exactly this scenario, I tend to continue dating the guy until I do know for sure how I feel about him. I’d much rather take a chance on that guy than one who’s playing it cool. 😉

  • This is such a sweet post. We’ve all been there, where we want to step away from the sassy games and just be ourself. Sorry the date didn’t work out.

    Many fish, big sea 😉

  • I just went through this same damn situation last month. Sucks, man.

  • One final text message – appropriate days, weeks or even years later. “Hey girl, Can’t completely drop this without telling you that I didn’t intend to push you. I simply felt a connection and let myself go with it. I can imagine a thousand reasons why you might not feel the same but the only one that means anything is the reality of your own at the time. Anyway – for now, that door is open should you choose to walk through it. Smiles for you

    Bottom line is that her life is her business. Offer all the cake and cookies you want and she still has to choose to eat them or not, right?

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