The relationship with yourself is no Game

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike TDOM, I stayed on the sidelines over this whole debate about “game,” since it doesn’t apply to me.  I must confess at the outset that I never researched it prior to this debate, and that I was only vaguely familiar with this dating tactic, so what I have to say is confined to what has been thrown back and forth at this website.  It’s an intriguing yet foreign idea to me, both as a gay man and as a former religious conservative.  However, one element of the gamers’ argument sticks in my mind.  It can be adequately summed up by a quote from Paul Elam’s opponent, Frost:

Men should learn how to improve their relationships with women, and tune out the voices of men who’ve given up in life, and wish for you to share in their misery.

That statement reminds me of a mother/daughter exchange in “Postcards from the Edge,” starring daughter Meryl Streep (Suzanne) and mother Shirley MacLaine (Doris):


Doris: How would you like to have Joan Crawford for a mother?

Suzanne: Oh, please!

Doris: Or Lana Turner?

Suzanne: These are the options?  You, or Lana, or Joan?

According to Frost’s statement, boys, your options are to listen to gamers show you how to improve your relationships with women, or give up on life.  Therefore, we can presumably conclude the following:

Satisfying sexual relationships and encounters with women equal life; all else is misery.

Well, then all that happiness I’m feeling in the same-sex mating dance must be well-disguised misery.  From what I see in the gay community, all you have to do to get laid is show up.  I’m not bragging about my looks, prowess, or anything I’ve done; I’m merely observing.  My observations include a great many physically less attractive gay and bisexual men.

I am also not advocating that you simply show up to get laid.  Nonsense.  Whether or not a man ever has sex is his personal business, up to and including celibacy (which ought not to be confused with misery).  But since it’s so terribly easy for so many gay and bisexual men with other men, there’s plenty else to do: talk, laugh, hang out, eat, play games (legitimately fun ones), go places, do stuff, etc.  In other words:

Relationships equal life; a life without them is misery.

I decided a while ago, as one of my operating premises, that all coercion leads directly and immediately to death.  As I explained it, the first thing to die is your volition.  Next: your relationships; then wealth; and finally, when coercion is severe enough, it can end your very existence.  It’s a complicated matter, but the association of volition with relationships is key here.  The order of the four deaths also works in the opposite direction.  It is the order of life, or that which is voluntary.

Your free will comes from your mind’s ability to communicate with the brain, which uses the body and all five senses to form the abstract design of your volition.  Therefore, the primary and most important relationship you have is with yourself.  That may sound cliché, but it happens to be true.  This is how Henry David Thoreau can sit all by himself at Walden Pond and continue to relate.  This then is how wealth is built: after relationships are forged through volition.  Ultimately, this combination of relationships and wealth, from one’s own volition, is what lengthens life and makes it worth living.

Most people, including the sometimes “solitary” Thoreau, seek out other living things to relate to, in nature, the animal kingdom, and the human race.  This is natural and good, for those who wish to be life-oriented.  It is also natural and good to find a way to express that desire sexually.

The problem I see from what little I understand about game is that there appear to be elements similar to what I found in reparative therapy, which is a special type of psychotherapy that purports to help gay men turn straight, or at least straight enough to sustain what the client and therapist feel is a healthy romantic relationship with a woman, an emphasis on what Thoreau would refer to as the branches, while ignoring the roots:

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

No, I’m not trying to say that having a relationship with a woman is evil.  But I think that the analogy of a tree that Thoreau uses here can be used for any cause-and-effect relationship.  There are the roots, which are often unseen, and then there are the branches, that can reach into the windows of your life and get your attention.  Therefore, I am going to share a little of my own experience with the phenomenon of reparative therapy.

One of the assumptions in this therapy is that the reason men are gay is because they were arrested in their psychological sexual development at some point in boyhood, for a combination of unknown biological reasons as well as early relationships.  Therefore, there is a disconnect with male peers and a lack of “proper” bonding.  This belief leads reparative therapists, after several “logical” steps, to oftentimes encourage gay men to learn to play sports.  The hope is that finding a way to participate in a set of activities that are widespread in the straight male world will enable the “emotionally underdeveloped” gay man to bond with straight men.  It also happens to be a complete waste of time.

I spent years — years — trying to learn how to play softball, basketball, football, racquetball, and swimming.  Out of all of those, the only one I can say I truly enjoyed was softball, and years later, I can look back on it and see why.  We were outside on nice, sunny, Saturday mornings.  I liked the guys I was hanging out with.  I didn’t need to be good at it.  We all looked equally ridiculous, which made it funnier.  (Watch a femme run around the bases sometime when he knows exactly how ridiculous he looks.)  But what I liked the most is that we would all go out to brunch afterwards.

I never learned to be good at any sport, not even at the level of a below-average straight guy with mild interest in sports.  Bonding with “healthy” hetero boys through athletics just wasn’t going to happen.  Through it all, one overriding truth evaded me, and I failed to be honest with myself about it until years later.

The truth is I don’t like sports.  I had plenty of straight male friends growing up, each of whom showed interest in these manly pursuits more than I did.  I was not afraid of these guys, nor ashamed in their company of being bad at it.  I was simply not interested.  I don’t know why, and it never should have mattered that I didn’t know.

I remember an older man, gay and divorced but convinced that he had turned straight, telling us younger queens in a group session that he made an effort to know the scores and basics of the latest televised sports, so that he could interject into all-male conversations at work in an effort to bond and “stay straight.”  That stuck in my mind whenever I would overhear a conversation between two other men with whom I felt the urge to bond.  I would listen for a while, and all of a sudden it would dawn on me that their conversation bored me, because the subject matter, sports, also bored me.  So much for that urge.

The reason straight men play softball is because straight men want to play softball.  The reason straight men stand around talking about scores that don’t interest me is because those same scores interest them.  The reason straight women talk in a manner that doesn’t interest you is because they want to.  You’re indulging them and misleading them about your intentions.  If game means you have to spend any amount of time whatsoever engaging in conversations you really don’t want to have with women that you really don’t want to know past a Biblical sense, I say here and now that you are wasting your time.

You are also being dishonest, with her and with yourself.  This is what politicians do.  They get out there amongst the people, paint smiles on their faces, and the minute the cameras are off, their true colors and feelings rise to the surface like an oil slick.  Listen at the end of that linked video to that particular politician ask that woman what her kids’ names are.  Like he gives a damn.  They don’t want the conversation, or your friendship.  Politicians want your political pussy.  In that regard, I myself have gone celibate.

To want sex and to enjoy sex is just fine.  To sell yourself (beyond the basics of wearing clean clothes, being polite, etc.), or waste your time with people you don’t like beyond their ability to stimulate your penis… well, honestly, I think you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.  I think you should also ask yourself whether what you are doing is life-oriented or death-oriented.

I eventually learned to accept myself exactly as I am.  This happened when I moved out of a culture that subtly demanded an unrealistic type of conformity, and into a wider world with people who live, work, and socialize in many different situations.  There is nowhere left to “fit in” in such a world, which means that everyone who is observant will fit into his own place just fine.  This is what I see at the heart of what Paul tried to get across in “Chateau Bullshit” when he said:

“O.K., so you want to get laid? Here’s how you do it. Smell clean, get in the proximity of women, and then ignore them. When they come to fuck you, and they will, shut up and let it happen.”

There are two ways to interpret this comment.  One way is as a branch cutter: “Okay, so I want to get some.  This guy says all I have to do is shower and show up.  Got it…  No, write it down.  Do I show up first, or…?”  The other way is, I believe, the only correct way to interpret it, and to be a root striker: forget the pursuit and be yourself.  Be unafraid to be yourself, because you love and value yourself.  Sex, a natural part of life and human relationships, will happen along with the rest of life, which often has very little to do with sex.  Likewise, a meaningful relationship with a woman would, I imagine, based on the reams of wisdom that are out there for the taking if you know where to look, involve sex only to a small degree.

Absent getting all the pussy you want, there are music, art, architecture, theater, film, hiking, biking, fishing, camping, sports, cars, family, friends, beer, wine, restaurants, museums, libraries, parks, dogs, cats, iguanas, leaves, flowers, mountains, rocks, trees, rivers, lakes, oceans, martial arts, weights, bungee jumping, ballooning, hobbies, writing, visiting, working, reading, speaking, thinking, and much, much more.

All of which, of course, you can use to distract yourself from your supposed misery over not getting laid.  Write them down quickly.

One of the many problems with reparative therapy is that it depends too heavily on relationships from without, and not nearly enough from within.  If you’re not truly straight to begin with, or an easily influenced bisexual, no platonic relationship with a straight man is going to do it for you.  Likewise, if you’re straight and miserable, it’s not because you failed to play the game correctly on Friday night, and every Friday night prior.  The problem in both instances is what’s going on in your head.  To rely on others to make you happy or give their approval is a serious mistake.  Ironically, when you feel good about yourself, acknowledgement of that fact seldom gets in the way of having satisfying relationships of all kinds.  Then you can show up at a gathering of other relationship seekers, be yourself with your own temperament, and relax, whether the relationships you seek are romantic or platonic.

Regardless of what game teaches or what the definition may be, I say you would do well to enjoy who you are regardless of what any woman thinks.  You’re a man, for Pete’s sake!  That has nothing at all, in my mind, to do with misery.

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