Love Games

02 Aug 2006

The masks, the tricks and the dinner mints

I recently decided to venture out to the Harbourfront Theatre dateless to catch the play I'm Not a Dinner Mint (... the Crap Women Swallow to Keep a Relationship). But I’m no fool. I was perfectly aware that bringing anyone I’m currently dating along with me would have led to the inevitable probing conversation as soon as we left the theatre. As I’ve outlined in my latest blog entry, my currently rather schizophrenic dating life was more than once reflected on stage.

But try as I might, I still didn’t escape the “dinner mint discussion.” A couple of days after I saw the play, I get a call from one of the girls I’m currently dating, inquiring to go see the play together. After navigating the minefields of explaining how I already saw it (and why not with her), I get asked the inevitable question: “Have you learned anything from the play?”

Of course, that is a loaded question. The underlying tone there was: “now that you know what we women go through for you men, have you come to atone for your sins?”

But perhaps a bit to my surprise, I actually found the play to be more balanced than I had expected. Instead of a gratuitous male-bashing diatribe, the masks and deceptions worn and perpetuated by both men and women in matters of love were explored. Basically, the message was, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, “what goes around, comes around.” Treat a person a certain way and you can expected to be served the same dish in due time.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, we can all think of a time when we treated someone’s feelings in a way we might regret now. Or had our own desire to be the pearl of someone’s eye dashed by the cold reality that we “just don’t do it for them.” How we react and move on from either of those realities have much to do with our own egos and sometimes warped sense of reality.

They say that there are three sides to any story: “my version, your version, and the truth.”

If we tried to be more honest with ourselves, and each other, about matters of the heart, much of the grief would be spared. But since all is fair in love and war, the inevitable games do go on. Bottom line though is that we often put ourselves in self-made cyclical patterns. Why is it that certain people are always the dinner mints while others are the eternal wrong-doers? Perhaps, in a sick and twisted way, they need each other. It’s hard not to believe that we send out certain signals to the world that either attract or detract specific categories of people in and out of our lives.

Like a satellite dish attracting all kinds of signals onto our lives, it’s up to us to tune out some of the channels. At certain times in our lives, we are channel surfers flicking through a bunch of channels without knowing what we really want. Some of us have invested in split screens that allow us to watch two channels at once. Or sometimes, we watch one channel while recording the other one for later enjoyment. Eventually, the channel or rollerdex flicking slows down as we become more and more aware of what our real needs are.

For my “dinner mint conversation” date, it’s clear that what we have together is worth putting the remote or rollerdex away for. She knows that I’m not there yet as far as the two of us are concerned. But her affection is genuine and comforting. I keep my mask on. Honestly, I doubt that I will ever feel for her how she feels for me but am I a “wrong-doer” by sticking around? I haven’t told her I’m in love with her right? Deep down we all have our own justifications for maintaining often selfish status-quos until we either get the courage or the opportunity to get what we actually want. And while we don’t necessarily see ourselves as bad people, the games that we play to mask our true emotions are the stuff that make us the “wrong-doers.”

I must say I did recognize myself in I’m Not a Dinner Mint . But since we are dealing with a Karmic wheel here, coming face to face with how I dish it out also brought some invaluable insight as to how I deal with being on the receiving end of it too. Yes sisters, even though we don’t often write plays about it, men do get that dinner mint treatment too. Being the hunters, the male species will undoubtedly occasionally miss his prey. I occasionally have discussions with some male friends about how much of strange twist of fate it is that “those you don’t want flock to you, but those you want give you the run around.” For the female, the chase is a pure aphrodisiac.

Maybe it’s trait of nature that we are instinctively attracted by what seems inaccessible at first. Hence the love games.

Some of us just have trouble figuring out if a game is just a game, or merely a mask hiding the promise of future bliss. Some, especially women, will spend years believing that someone will eventually fall in love with them after they realize what a good thing they have. If I just do this or that, then …

But sooner or later, the masks must come down and reality must be dealt with. But beware of those who permanently keep on their masks and refuse to let the light shine in on their true selves. Granted, no one can, or should, navigate the minefields of love without an armour of some sort for protection. But not seeing, or giving, even an inkling of shining light under one’s mask amid the courting games is a tell-tale sign of impending doom. But there’s nothing more beautiful, as I’ve experienced myself recently with a woman I’ve been dating following a rocky start, when in the heat of the battle of the sexes, the mask is taken off (even for a just a little while) and you know that what you have is worth fighting for.

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