March 09, 2014 / Don’t Play the ‘Long Game’
It's (almost) never necessary, and it (almost) never works anyway.
"I think it’s dinner. Maybe even lunch. Shit, you might have to take this girl out for coffee."
"Yeah, this is the long game, son."
— Don Jon (2013)
I used to often play "the long game." This is what I’d call it, anyway, when I’d meet a girl and go out on several platonic dates with her before trying to make a move. In my mind, like Jon and his friends, I imagined I was weaving an elaborate net of seduction that would eventually ensnare the woman, and she’d find herself hopelessly and deeply attracted to me without even realizing it.
In reality, I was just spending a lot of time and money on lunches and coffee.
After yet another "long game" effort ended in yet another awkward hug goodbye and then some version of LJBF, I realized that I was basically delusional. These "long game" efforts were usually focused on women I thought were out of my league, and I was making a classic mistake a lot of guys don’t even realize they’re making: changing my dating approach based on how much I liked her. In reality, there was only one question I needed to ask: would going out to lunch or getting coffee build attraction between us and make her more attracted to me? The answer was almost always no, which meant these platonic first dates were almost always wasting my time.
Why the Long Game Almost Always Never Works
You will eventually find yourself in a scenario similar to the ones I did, if you haven’t already: you’ll meet a girl an order of magnitude more attractive than what you’d consider "in your league," and you’ll feel compelled to change your approach. You’ll feel the natural hierarchy of things requires that you treat her extra special, and if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll feel terrified about fucking it up since an opportunity to date a girl as hot as Scarlett Johansson doesn’t happen often. So you’ll feel like you have to play the long game.
But don’t do this.
Because you’ll learn, as I did, that you’re really accomplishing the opposite of your goal. The reason why you feel compelled to ask her out to coffee is because it ultimately masks your intentions. If you ask her out on something that can’t be confused with a platonic engagement, she may turn you down. But coffee, sure, who doesn’t like coffee? So she may go out with you, but what are you really accomplishing?
If she’s already interested in you sexually and romantically, she would have gone out with you on an actual date anyway. But now you’re stuck going out to coffee at 3pm on a Tuesday, where the logistics are terrible and escalation will basically be impossible. Even worse, in such a platonic environment, you risk getting designated to the friend zone.
If she’s NOT interested in you sexually and romantically, then you’re just delaying the inevitable. Yeah, she’s hot, and it sucks she’ll never see you in that way. But the sooner you reconcile this and move on, the best. If she turns you down on a real date, at least you know where you stand. A series of platonic dates is just delaying the inevitable, and you even worse, you’ll probably come down with a base case of one-itis.
Not Just "Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma’am"
I’m not advising that you just try and have sex with every girl within minutes of meeting them. Building attraction takes time, which is the whole point of dating. You can’t escalate if you’re not spending time with her, and usually the most direct way to spend time with her is to ask her out on a date.
But when you do hang out, your goal should be exactly that: building attraction. It’s completely self-defeating to go on a date that has terrible logistics because you’re too afraid a "real" date will get you rejected. If that’s your attitude, then you might as well ask her if she wants to go the DMV or Target on your "date." You still won’t get anywhere with her, but at least you’ll get some errands done.
Of Course, There Are Exceptions
Like most things, advice like "don’t play the long game" isn’t axiomatic. There are a handful of situations where it’s not a bad idea to play the long game, mostly because you don’t have any other alternative. I’ll be covering those scenarios in an article later this week, so keep visiting JoshSway.com and stay tuned.