Jess – we’ve been best friends since we were 12. Remember that one time at band camp?! Lord knows, I’ve been listening to your advice for a LONG time (and frequently ignoring it – hence my f*cked up love life). So I sat down with great interest to read your Ode to Players. I figured I would read it, contemplate it, internalize it, own it, and then send a “checking in” text to that guy who just blew me off. Sounds like a plan, right?!
But I read the Ode to Players (READ IT HERE), and I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of the Self-Justifying Player – the SJP. I can think of a bunch of guys in my life right now who fit the description as I understand it:
He SWEARS he’s looking for love as he engages in one meaningless fling after another. And it’s not him (he was straight up!), it’s YOU and YOUR mistake if you interpreted his thoughtful gestures, frequent emails, non-date invites and deep confiding as any kind of serious interest. Haven’t you read He’s Just Not That Into You? If he WERE into you, he would have moved sky and earth and asked you to marry him by now! Duh. Crazy girls.
Makes me furious! But then I had a thought. What ABOUT us girls? And what about YOU? I hate to break it to you, Jess. But…I think…you’re a Self-Justifying Player. And I might be one too. Let me explain…
I believe that the dah is a beautiful thing. Engaging with different guys on different levels…exploring connections that move us…investigating feelings we may not have felt clearly before… I’m so grateful to have this idea – and these guys – in my life. I feel liberated from onerous expectations and assumptions (do you have a date for Friday night? oooh, is that +1 “someone special???” you know if you don’t start finding him now, soon it will be too late!)
I don’t have to be defensive about my love life or how I’m living it. The fact is, every guy who comes into my life – as a Boyfriend Prospect, as a friend, as a fling, as a really cute UPS delivery man – can teach me something about myself and what I need in a life partner. Having a dah – whether my Husband Of The Future comes directly out of it or not – is better preparing me to recognize and build a life with him than any outmoded Rules of traditional dating.
Or so I think to myself.
But what if Dating & Hookup is one big, giant, Self-Justifying, defense mechanism?
Take YOU for example. I have it on good authority (read: a decade+ of emails, text messages, phone convos and late night jacuzzi dish sessions), that your dah has always been mostly Ego Boosters and Career Boosters. What kind of dah is THAT?! Sure, you might have really deep connections with these guys, and they may “get you” as no one else (except me!) does, and they might be SO EAGER to help out and rave about you to the boss (or come over and fix your broken cabinet). BUT, is that bond really an exploration (of yourself? of a relationship? of anything?) if there are no stakes, and no risk involved?
At the end of the day, if you’re just not that into the guy, then you get all the benefits of a deep relationship without any of the hard work or trials or tribulations. You go to sleep at night satisfied that you’re on a path to self-realization and love, but you’re not actually putting yourself out there. Just like a Self-Justifying Player.
Do we ALL do this? Is Dating & Hookup a means of surrounding ourselves with the relationships that make us feel most comfortable? So that we don’t ever have to truly engage or commit to…anything? If you’re constantly hedging your bets then – yeah! – the stats look great on paper. But the investment is essentially empty. So much hot air. (has the financial crisis taught us nothing?!)
By way of example – I’ve long been obsessed with the George Cukor film, The Philadelphia Story. It came out in 1940, but it is timelessly modern.
Towering goddess Tracy Lord (played by Katharine Hepburn) has a dah of guys, but ultimately learns about herself (and finds love) through pain, humiliation, heartbreak and, frankly, comeuppance. See below.
Yes, she needs to engage with all these guys in order to learn about herself – BUT – the sh*t must hit the fan (and does it!) in order to force her to see herself and her life more clearly. See below.
But of course, Jess, in your infinite wisdom – you’ve already thought of all this (sorry! just got past the first half of the Ode to Players!). You admit that we’re ALL probably limiting ourselves and staying cozily within the confines of our comfort zone. When what we, as modern women, have to do is DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY (our dahs).
And I must begrudgingly say: you do an admirable job diversifying your own dah. I didn’t even know Super Horny Guys EXISTED before you brought them into my sphere! And now I can’t imagine that my Husband Of The Future won’t be a connoisseur of flip cup.
So my question is: HOW? How do girls like – ahem – me diversify our dah? Are we beating the SJPs at their own f*cked up game?
Will someone call Jimmy Stewart back from the grave to console me? See below.
Rebecca Coale - aka Becky - is a writer, musician and producer. She and childhood best friend Jessica Donalds created Dating & Hookup and founded J&R Creative Media. Becky blogs about love poetry and modern life & womanhood. She lives with her husband, Howard Coale, and their family in Manhattan and Philadelphia.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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