Monday, June 19, 2006


In an all too common moment of introspection not too long ago - and by not too long ago I mean within the last 20 or so minutes - I came to a self realization that I often approach dating like a chess game. Suffice it to say that this isn't necessarily always a very healthy way to approach personal relationships. But it is what it is.

I contemplate how I got to this point. When I was a teenager, matters of the heart seemed so cut and dry: someone likes someone else, they tell their best friend who tells the affection-object's best friend who tells the affection-object and the next thing you know you are making-out in a park with the biggest pair of blue balls you could possibly ever have imagined. Then you spend the next few months, if not years, in a dramatic real-life teenage version of a really bad Woody Allen movie. A few years later, being somewhat seasoned, is the college stage where the kids who didn't learn their lesson in high school make up for that lost time and the ones who lived through it are tired of it and begin their quest to get as much ass in as little time possible. Post ass-getting-college-stage, we actually start to consider things like "real-life relationships" and the whole dynamic changes because you've just spent the last several years getting ass and now applying an emotional factor into the mix takes some time and training. This is where years of trial and error occur. For some people, this trial and error occurs with the same person. Hopefully for people in that group, they can find a way to stick it out and be happy. For the rest of us, this means trial and error with different people - each of them taking a piece of us and possibly leaving us with something (preferrably something positive that's not an STD test).

The experience is a good thing. Hugh Hefner even wrote in his "Little Black Book" that people aren't ready for marriage until they are in their 30's and that even then, there's no reason to get married unless they are planning kids. I'm not sure I agree that one could generalize that much, but certainly I think that's pretty accurate for a good number of people. And Hef might be the ultimate icon of masculinity and sexuality - a modern day god - but he himself has been married multiple times, which makes him an expert or a hypocrite whichever way you want to take it.

The thing is, the real problem comes in when you realize that there isn't a balance between what you've given and what you've taken (read: learned). What's more is when you start to question whether you hit that balance a while back and just didn't recognize it or if you still have yet to hit it. You also wonder how "balanced" the people you might be interested in are. Regardless, you enter a world of calculated movement.

Let the game begin.

I move my pawn forward and call her. She calls back, moving one of her pawns. We know that each one of these moves is monumental for the rest of the game - this is where it all begins. A few more of these moves are played out like Vince Vaughn's diatribe at the beginning of Wedding Crashers. If all things go well from that, you might capture the support of her Bishops (Closest Friends) which takes things to a new level of vulnerability. After trading rooks a few times (staying at one-another's castle) you have to confront the knights (the past relationship experiences that make-up the emotional protection layer). The first person that gives up the knights is in the most vulnerable position and moving all over the board can take a long time because nobody wants to give up that position. And the game is fun enough that continuing to play is comfortable and entertaining. Until it gets boring and repetitive and one person forfeits. Or possibly things get beyond that and King and Queen live happily. Either way, it's tough to make it beyond the pawns sometimes. And sometimes someone makes a wrong move and loses the game after the first few moves. The most important thing is to get motivated enough to play the game, which i'm finding is more difficult as I get older.

Or am I?