Josh Sway
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/ Playing the Long Game: Exceptions

Playing the long game can be better than playing no game.


In an earlier article I discussed why you should (almost) never play the long game, and why I thought the long game was a bad idea. But there’s a reason why I prefaced it with an "almost." There are some exceptional situations where I would consider pursuing the long game a valid strategy.

The overall criteria I use for a valid long game situation is whether the alternative to long game is simply no game.  You should only use the long game because some external variable outside your control makes anything but playing the long game impossible, or at least very difficult.

So, let’s review some of these exceptions to the "don’t play the long game" rule, and respective examples.  If these examples seem unlikely, unrealistic, or downright absurd, that’s because playing the long game is never a good idea 99% of the time.  So the scenarios were it does apply are not going to be common, everyday situations.

So with that said, this is TVJ’s official list for When It’s Okay to Play the Long Game:

1. She has some misconception about you that prevents her from liking you, but with enough time you think you can prove her wrong.

Example: There’s a girl you’re interested in, and initially she liked you but then somehow got the idea you don’t like animals, which is a deal-breaker to her. But you actually really like animals and even have a dog.

In this example, it can be worth pursuing the long game to prove that you do like animals. For example, you can ask if she wants to hang out at a park and bring your dog, or ask if she’s be interested in volunteering one weekend at animal shelter, or whatever. These aren’t very good "dates," but the goal of the long game here is to essentially prove her misconception wrong. This can work, but note that in this example, the misconception was the key reason why the girl stopped being interested. If a girl’s not interested in you for other reasons, no number of hours at the puppy pound are going to prove otherwise.

Also, this only works if the misconception is something you can concretely disprove. Maybe she thinks you’re too short for her, even though you’re 6’1″, because she loves dating super tall guys that play basketball or volleyball. Even though most people would say calling someone over six feet tall "short" is a "misconception," you aren’t really going to be able to convince her that her evaluation of height is "wrong." This isn’t something you can remedy by asking her to get coffee and then breaking out some actuarial tables on at the Starbucks.

2. Quickly escalating will have consequences with someone else.

Example: Your friend invites you to a party for his older sister’s birthday. She’s excited to see you and throughout the night you start picking up major IOIs from her. You don’t think your friend would be upset if you dated his sister, but he’ll definitely be pissed if you take her home for a one-night stand.

These are the situations where escalating quickly with a girl can cause problems, even if she wants to as well. If the girl in question has some other relationship to your life, then you need to weigh the consequences of any sexual interaction. These are the girls that are your family friends, your co-workers, your boss’s niece, or your friend’s sister, or anything else along those lines. Even if she’s fine with it, other people you care about may strongly disapprove if they knew you escalated quickly. And they will definitely have a problem if the girl wants to see you again, but you turn her down.

So you play the long game purely for their perception. If they see you going out enough times, they eventually won’t care if you have sex at a certain point. They’ll feel you "treated her right" and even you stop seeing her, then you can just say "things didn’t work out" and nobody will be too upset about it. It will probably feel stupid adapting your dating strategy for the satisfaction of people that aren’t you or the girl, but the alternative could be getting fired or losing a friendship.

This is what I mean by "only play the long game if the alternative is playing ‘no game.'" The only way you can escalate with your friend’s older sister without him being pissed off is if you play the long game. The alternative is simply not dating her at all.

3. Logistically, there’s no alternative.

Example: Pretty much every long distance relationship.

I generally advise against having a long distance relationships, but if you’re in one though, then by definition you’re playing the long game. Again, the alternative is simply not dating this girl.

4. She underwent some recent, serious trauma.

Example: She just underwent surgery for cancer.

A lot of times girls will say they want to "take it slow." But if she has suffered some real trauma, then she’s probably in an emotionally fragile condition. If the trauma literally just happened, then she’s probably too fragile to consider any sort of relationship at all. But if it’s been several months or years, then she may be open to dating but still sensitive or guarded.

So if you sense any sort of escalation will pretty much be shut down, then it can be okay to play the long game. However, you can still play the long game while having your intentions known. You’re not just hanging out with her to be BFFs, she needs to know you’re interested romantically and sexually. If she’s fine with this and you think a little patience is all that’s needed for her to reciprocate, then the long game is fine. Don’t fall into a trap where she tells you how much your "friendship" has helped her cope with her trauma. You can’t be responsible for someone else’s happiness if they’re not going to take responsibility for yours.

5. She’s religiously conservative.

Example: She’s a practicing Catholic, and you’re not.

This could also (and eventually will be) it’s own article, but this is probably the most common situation you’re going to encounter. Because of her culture, faith, etc, she requires a serious commitment before you can escalate.  If you really like this girl, this may be something you can consider.

However, before you start brushing up on the New Testament, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t default to the long game without trying the ‘short game’ first.  If you try and escalate and she plays the religion card, then you can re-evaluate.  But let her explicitly tell you that.  Lots of people participate heavily in their religion but may not follow its moral code to the letter.  Just because a girl wears a cross and goes to church on Sundays, doesn’t mean she follows the Bible’s proclamations on pre-martial sex to the letter.
  • If you get shot down and she says that dating her is going to require a full faith conversion, I’d strongly recommend against considering this if you’re still high school or college age.  For one, this will probably be controversial with your own family, and you’re still at an age where you need them to support you.  Two, they’re going to tell you you’re delusional, and they’re probably right.  There’s no way a 19 year old deciding to convert religion for a girl is making a smart decision.
  • If you’re both the same religion and you’re just not practicing while she is, then this is a different story. If you’ve felt guilty about falling out of practice with your religion anyway, and she suggests you guys go to some church youth group meetings or something, then this can considered part of an acceptable long game.
  • As with the trauma example, make sure your intentions are known.  You want to get closer to God so you can get closer to her.  Make sure she doesn’t have a problem with that.

Sometimes The Only Way to Win Is Not To Play

While these scenarios all can justify playing the long game, most of the time you should essentially be concluding, "eh, not worth it."  Sometimes it’s just not worth hitting on your sister’s friend or that religious girl. It’s very likely you’re just better off investing your time and effort (and money) that you’d spend playing the long game on them, on other girls who are much more readily available and approachable.

But if you are going to pursue those kinds of girls, then playing the long game can give you a shot and eventually an opportunity to escalate.  Just make sure your intentions are clearly known, and your goal is always in mind.





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