Playing the Game of Love

What’s this talk of a game?

Call me crazy, but I think love is a game.

And like all games, how you play makes all the difference.

Before we get into the “rules”, let me share a bit of my story and what changed my thoughts on love.

You see, my heart was broken once, long ago.

So very broken.

It felt irreparable and I believed that life would never be the same.

And it wouldn’t be the same. Ever.

How could it be?

No matter how hard you try to repair something, it can never be what it once was.

That’s not to say it can’t be better, but I never thought of it that way all those years ago.

I simply felt damaged. Broken beyond repair.

Jasmine Lamb says, “Most of us long for love, look out for love, worry we are too late for love, but not enough of us live love.”

Jasmine is so very right.

I’d decided I’d given it my best shot and I was no longer going to be a party to this thing called love. At the ripe old age of 30, I was done.

So I built up the wall, brick by brick, and protected my heart. If it had been the 16th century, I would have joined a nunnery.

Love however, was not done with me.

Love found its way back and managed to somehow get through the cracks. Slowly but surely, love worked its magic.

My heart and I were resuscitated.

You’ve probably had your heart broken too – it’s part of the human package. Few of us escape this predicament.

Playing the Game of Love

You’e got a choice in the game, because it seems to me, there are two ways to play:

1.  Protect  & Defend

Keeping your heart safe can be a full time job. You can’t let up for a minute, because the world is full of people and circumstances that will do damage. This way of playing the game is a 24/7 proposition.

I played this way for a very long time after the original break. I remember thinking, “I will NEVER be hurt like that again.

So I kept my heart wrapped up, hidden away and safe.

S A F E – a four letter word that kept my lizard brain happy.

And while this is a very valid way of playing the game, you’ll notice after awhile that safety is highly overrated!

There is another way to play though – return to the playing field.

“The only kind of heart to have is one that is broken. That’s how people get in.” – Michael Meade

2.  Risk & Play

Think back to when you were a child, how easy it was to love.

That capacity is still there, a part of you perhaps lying dormant, like an unused muscle that may have become flabby.

It’s still there though, I promise. Waiting for you to open yourself back up to the possibility of love.

After years of  surviving the safety my lizard brain so desperately craved, I launched myself back onto the playing field in the craziest of ways.

Like a light bulb going on, I had a sudden flash of knowing – the game of love was a numbers game, and as a self employed woman working from home, I simply wasn’t getting out enough. No longer interested in the bar scene, I had to try something new.

I called my game Zero to One Hundred, and decided if it really was a numbers game, somewhere in that hundred I would find my guy.

I threw myself wholeheartedly into the game.

Dating, dating, dating. Oy, more coffee dates and walks on the beach than I care to remember!

Like a roller coaster, there were many ups and downs, but I was committed and I was going to win this game, damn it!

The self-imposed nunnery had proven a really bad idea (are you surprised?) and I was ready to get back in the game.

I knew it would be a challenge, and I needed help to get through my fear.

I needed guidelines to keep me sane and in the game.

 

Lessons from the Game of Love

1.  Make it public

Suck up your courage and spread the word! I remember feeling vulnerable as I shared with my friends that I’d created this game and needed their help. But I also knew that if I went public, I’d keep at it. I was really committed to being in a great relationship, so I went public in a big way. Everybody knew!

  • The more people know what you’re up to, the more they can support you and keep you accountable.

2.  Ask for help

All my friends were recruited. I knew it wouldn’t all be fun and games and I’d need them to keep me on track. From cheering me on to providing shoulders to cry on, bringing tissues and treats to help me bounce back, my friends were unbelievable. I’ll tell you straight up, I would never have made it without them!

  • Give up your fear of looking cool and ask for help!

3.  Debrief

After every date, I’d debrief. I’d make note of what worked and what didn’t about the date, my behaviour, even my outfit!

Did I show up confidently, true to my self? Or did other, more fearful emotions get in the way?

This practice helped me learn – about myself and what I really wanted in a relationship.

Many of the things I thought I wanted at the beginning began to fall away as I got more in touch with my values and what was most important to me.

  • Notice how you play the game. Do you play full out or hang back in your comfort zone?

4.  Step back

I’d go through phases, becoming a bit obsessed with the game. I needed to take a break, and step back. I’d hang out with friends, book some pampering time and regroup.

I also spent time with my journal to remember and remind myself of what I really, really wanted. In the darkness of 4am as I lay awake burning up with longing…what was I willing to do to break free from my fear?

  • Remind yourself – it’s a game, and even athletes take breaks from their training.

5.  Be honest

Some days I didn’t want to tell the truth about the game, I didn’t want to own up to my role in it. It was just so much easier to blame the guys, then to look at my own issues about love.

I owned up to my arrogance and my righteousness. Some days so righteous, someone should have given me a pulpit!

I came clean about my fears, how terrified I was to be hurt again. I wasn’t sure I’d survive if that happened.

Through it all, I got real.

  • What you can’t be with owns you, tell the truth about what’s getting in your way.

6.  Humour wins

As you might imagine, the game of love got intense!

My ability to find the humour got me through time and again, and honestly? Some of the dates were hysterically funny.

I’d get home and call my BFF and within minutes we’d be laughing so hard we could hardly breathe.

There was the date who forgot to mention his licence had been revoked for a DUI. We pictured him picking me up on his 10 speed bike!

And the date who forgot to mention he was at least 10 years older than his photo. Did he really think I wouldn’t notice?

  • Life is funny, dating even more so. Laugh, learn, and move on!

7.  It’s NOT personal

If you think it’s about you, you’re screwed and thinking that way can lead you down a very slippery slope of judgment, self-doubt and self-recrimination.

  • What could I have done differently?
  • Was it something I said?
  • Was I too intense? Too smart? Not slim enough?
  • WTF!?

How the other person reacts says way more about them than anything you could make up about yourself. Be responsible for how you show up, but please do NOT make it personal. It’s so not.

  • Own your part, let go of the rest.

Zero to One Hundred – the game lasted longer than anticipated and quite frankly, I almost gave up numerous times.

But I’m not a quitter, and my heart had other plans. My yearning for a loving relationship was stronger than my desire to stay safe.

About 18 months after the game began, I met my guy, #54. We’re now married and a new game has begun.

But that’s another story.

You now have a choice…just as I did.

You can play it safe, your heart guarded within its walled fortress.

Or?

You can take a risk and let love in.

Ask your heart what it wants.

You might be surprised by its answer.