And once you figure it out, does that have to mean the end of the relationship? Or can you date a player, maybe even lasso that sucker, tag him and claim him for your very own? Questions, questions. Let’s see if we can answer some of them.
First off, I should clarify that I’ve known heartbreakers of both sexes and the carnage they’ve left in their wake is grim. But players of different sexes are of vastly different varieties so here, just to narrow the field, we are going to focus on the male player and what, if anything, to do with him.
Right. So, Where to Start?
First off is the question of determining whether he is or is not a player. Just what is a player anyway? A player, according to the good people at dictionary.com is “a person or a thing that plays.” A player is someone who treats dating like a game. He’s racking up chicks to shoot with his cue stick, so to speak. He doesn’t care about you. He just cares about a good time and getting into as many pants as possible. To outward appearances, at any rate, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
First, the signs of a player are not as obvious as one might like to think. You might not feel like he’s hiding something. He’s probably not taking text messages from other women right in front of you. And you’ve just started dating him so how are you supposed to know whether he’s acting “distant” or not? Signs he might be a player include but are not limited to:
He’s the most charming dude you’ve ever dated: He opens doors, brings little gifts, listens when you talk and picks up the check (the first time, anyway). But you’re sometimes unsure whether he’s just given you a backhanded compliment. The “neg” is a tool used by pickup artists, as described in Neil Strauss’s book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. He might say you look good for your age or that you have big feet but your shoes look good on you. Apparently the aim is disarm and it works on all kinds of women. Even smart ones.
He has an astonishing number of funny and impressive stories to tell: To the point where you start wondering whether they’re true or not but would not feel comfortable questioning him. Maybe he really did climb Mount Kilimanjaro in the year before he went to med school. And maybe his best friend really did die on the expedition. But probably not.
When you run into women he knows, he introduces you as his “friend:” Even if you think things have progressed beyond the “friend” point he might introduce you with that qualifier and you wonder if you’re being a crazy person. But why couldn’t he just say “This is Marianne,” instead of “This is my friend Marianne.” Because he’s keeping his options open and sending a clear message that you are just a friend. That’s why.
He’s the most attentive date you’ve ever had until you don’t hear from him: “[Players] reveal themselves in their efforts,” says Evan Marc Katz, author of Why You’re Still Single: Things your friend would tell you if you promised not to get mad, and, according to his website, “America’s leading dating expert.”
“What determines whether a guy is interested is whether he calls you up and asks to see you again. He can sleep with you and tell you that he loves you but if he doesn’t tell you the next day he can’t wait to see you again, that doesn’t matter.”
He has lot of female friends: “America’s most quoted dating expert” (according to his website) David Wygant, disagrees with me on this one. “A player doesn’t have female friends because nobody wants to be friends with the guy,” he says. But I beg to differ. The sophisticated player leaves women disappointed but not full of hate. After delicately dumping a woman he extends an olive branch and adds her to his social circle of spurned women. I have male friends who have huge circles of female friends among whom I am the only person they have not slept with. This is not (you’ll have to take my word for it) because I am grossly unattractive but because I am one of the guys. Having a circle of female friends opens up your options.
So What Do You Do with Him?
You’ve determined that you are indeed dating a player. But you still like him. There are probably many good reasons for this. As I said, players are charming. They’re also often dynamite in the sack. What to do?
The thing is, even if they appear to be treating dating as well, a game, sleeping with a lot of people doesn’t automatically make you a bad person. For a lot of these guys, for one reason or another, hooking up with chicks makes them feel valued. And they really are just looking for love, like everybody else. But they’re picky. Or scared. Or stupid or whatever.
The recently engaged Evan Katz says, “Just because a guy is not that into you doesn’t make him a player. Speaking from personal experience, I dated everyone in Los Angeles over the course of 10 years. The women to whom I did not commit could turn around and call me a player. But I’m looking for the person that makes me want to stop playing.”
There’s a point where it all just becomes kind of pathetic, particularly as men get older. A player in his 20s is cute. A player in his 40s better have a great job and some money. Sorry but it’s true.
Players are insecure. They probably didn’t have great relationships with their fathers or were picked on at school. They have something to prove.
In a lot of these cases, you might want to walk. Who needs someone with so much baggage they need to stick it into everything that moves? But if you’re determined to work through the inferiority complex because you see that somewhere inside your own personal player is a great man waiting for the right woman, you can give it a go.
Wygant says, “You’ve got to play hard to get. You can’t be at his disposal. A player is only going to remain interested as long as you’re a challenge. You need to tease him. Make him know that every other guy wants you.”
Sounds like a tall order for a whole relationship….
“Play his game,” Wygant goes on. “When you have sex with a player be great in bed and then just shut him down for two or three days so he aches for you.
“A player will settle down with a woman who is really cool. Who is always a challenge, who is always fun sexually, mentally and emotionally. You’ve got to play it cool. You’ve got to be that cool, fun woman. When he’s out with his friends, don’t text him. The less you question him the less he’ll do. Respect his individuality. You gotta realize that your life is your life and his life is his life. Then he’ll realize you’re the coolest woman in the world.”
A lot of that, except maybe the shutting down after sex part, just sounds like grounds for a good relationship in general.
Maybe it will work for you and you and your Lothario will live happily ever after. Or maybe you’ll decide it’s not worth the trouble. Then it’s time to walk away.
Katz says, “You can’t really change anybody. The goal of being in a relationship is finding someone you can accept. If you can’t accept that a guy is a certain way then you probably shouldn’t be with him. Only a player can decide if he wants to stop playing.”
By Elizabeth Bromstein