Adulterer, womaniser, philanderer, ladies’ man, f-boy are some of the terms used to describe male players. Who or what is a player? Definitions may vary, however most people seem to agree on the notion of a skillful and tactical game played by individuals who have little to no consideration for those they hurt in the process. I am willing to bet that, for most people, the image that appears in their thinking bubble is one of a man, wearing a suit, with a rather alluring yet deceitful glint in his eyes. Allow me to burst your bubble with my metaphorical pin- all types of people, tall, short, man, woman, nb, can become players!
And that’s not all. It is easier to believe that all players are evil masterminds who carefully craft a plan to embroil someone in a rigged game of chess, ultimately resulting in their victory. The truth is that some of these individuals aren’t being purposely mendacious or nefarious. Some don’t revel at the prospect of screaming “Checkmate!” at the top of their lungs, whilst their “opponent” stands there confused and hurt. Certain players don’t even know they’re players.
Are some people born “players” or do they become this way later in life?
This is the quintessential question – nature vs nurture. Do certain individuals have an innate urge or desire to accrue as many notches on their belt as possible, made with fragments of hearts that they’ve broken along the way? Perhaps. I certainly believe that some people can become players due to their life experiences and/or potential traumas. Here are certain factors that could contribute to someone struggling to form long lasting relationships:
- They got hurt before
Do not underestimate the power that a past relationship can hold over someone’s behaviour or thought pattern. Romantic relationships can be extremely rewarding when the emotional intimacy is palpable, as well as the passion (i.e. chemistry) and the commitment (Stenberg, 1986). When you share your entire being with your partner, and let them see your vulnerable side, you are (hopefully) connecting on different levels because you are trusting them enough to see the real you. It can, therefore, be extremely painful to lose that frightfully beautiful type of bond. Some never recover. As a result, they would rather invest their time in short term flings or situationships. Essentially, they are escaping the grips of love for fear of being hurt again.
- They use you for an ego boost
Some individuals may hold negative core beliefs about themselves, which means that they view themselves in a negative light. Some may believe that they’re not good enough, likeable or lovable and, as a result, end up seeking for validation from their potential love interests. Chasing after someone and finally winning their affections is regarded as corroboration that they are indeed desirable and worthy of love. Unfortunately, this type of approval is fleeting and leaves them hungry for more. Without realising, they become addicted to the hunt.
- They genuinely want love but fear it tremendously
Usually these individuals are not consciously aware of their fears, and are, therefore, afflicted by extreme confusion. They blow very hot and cold – anxious to lose you, scared to love you. Why are they this way? They may have been hurt before, or perhaps they were neglected, abused or abandoned. Quite often, trauma is the culprit for the constant vacillation. If they lack self-awareness, they may misinterpret their trepidation for hesitation or lack of interest in their partner.
- They get addicted to the honeymoon phase
Believe it or not, there are individuals out there who never want to give up on the pure bliss they feel at the beginning of their relationship. Yes, that initial stage is wonderful as you are quite literally blinded by chemicals that make you feel as though you’re on drugs. Nevertheless, real love only sets in when you are finally able to come down from your honeymoon phase-induced high and start seeing and valuing your partner for who they really are. Unfortunately, those who are happily stuck in a Groundhog Day romance loop, may falsely believe that love is nothing but a cocktail of euphoria, lightness and fun.
- They want to hurt you
Perhaps these individuals were mistreated and have not processed their own emotions. Or maybe they enjoy deliberately causing pain to others. Regardless of the reason, they are clearly harming people on purpose, which is not acceptable.
How can you stop being a player?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to date, meet new people and explore your sexuality, (as long as you are honest about your intentions), however if you struggle to form long lasting relationships you may need to dig deep. Here are some tips to help you on your journey:
- Think about all the situationships, flings, relationships you’ve had. Do they have anything in common? Were they short-lived? Were you the one to end them? Were you dissatisfied with all of them?
- Once you’ve identified the common denominator, dig deeper. (Could it be that you didn’t like/love any of them and felt that they were not right for you? Or perhaps you felt suffocated each time you interacted with someone?) Think about this carefully.
- Be honest with yourself. E.g. Are you chasing a particular feeling? Are you addicted to the chase? If so, is it sustainable? Or are you too afraid to get close to someone and, therefore, might feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable at the thought of being in a relationship? Do you get the “ick” when you think about long lasting relationships?
- Think about the past. What do you think might have shaped your views on your relationships? Where could these feelings be coming from?
- Work on self-esteem if possible. You can read Ellie Bull’s article on this topic.
- Challenge yourself to be more honest with a loved interest and communicate your needs. E.g. Do you need time to yourself in order to feel more at ease? Does constant communication make you feel more distant? What is your love language?
- Speak to a therapist and work on possible traumas.
Part of what makes life so special is love. If you find yourself seeking for it, yet it always feels out of your reach, it might be time to finally work on your grip.