Posted in Dating

Game Theory… Is that what just happened?

A friend of mine brought the idea of game theory to my attention in response to my last post. Game theory is the basic idea that there has to be a winner in the relationship arena. And in order to have a winner, someone must be the loser, so it’s safer to not allow yourself to feel anything because then you can’t get hurt, and by default cannot lose.

So is that what just happened? The Artist decided it was better to not play the game than risk losing?


Or was he playing the offensive version of the game? (Which is sort of the same thing)

So the rules go something like this: Every interaction between the two people offers up 2 options: to cooperate or to defect. Cooperation means playing nice, or looking the other way when things get a little uncomfortable. Defecting, on the other hand, means confronting the other person or provoking them.

There seem to be some people who’ve twisted the rules to mean that Player A is generally jerky to Player B to keep them unstable in their feelings in order to keep them hooked. In essence, Player A consistently defects. (I believe the Artist calls this “turning someone out.”)

pretty girlsIf Player A is a female, she is the “Mean Girl” type, the pretty girl who knows how gorgeous she is and uses that to her advantage constantly playing hard to get because she is so pretty that she knows there will be a new guy waiting to take the place of the guy she tosses aside.

women_love_bastards-gifIf Player A is a male, he is the stereotypical overly confident Alpha Jerk. The guy who will interrupt you while you’re working on your laptop in a Starbucks so you can take a picture of him with his date (that actually happened to me). He accepts only the best, which means he trades his significant other in for a younger model periodically. Meanwhile, he makes his girlfriends feel like they’re worthless by pointing out all of their flaws.

This type of person is usually so involved with him/herself that they don’t really care who they hurt in the process. But perhaps that’s because they are secretly insecure and don’t want to get hurt…

Who knows?

I am of the opposite variety. As a “people pleaser,” I lean toward cooperation until I reach the point where I’ve been disrespected too many times.


Then and only then do I defect.

And I get hurt when the other player refuses to at least work towards a cooperative solution.

I’m not asking to be dominant. I want to respect the other player and be respected in return. Thus far, it has never been equally returned. And perhaps that is my fault for being too easy going. Perhaps I allow the precedent to be set that I will always roll over and be “cooperative”.

My friend tried to suggest that perhaps the Artist was trying to be the Alpha Jerk style Player A, but I don’t think that’s entirely true. Perhaps he was trying to be, but a part of me doesn’t believe that about him.


For one thing, it does need to be mentioned that he did put forth some effort into this. The weekend we spent when I was keeping him company while he worked on his art project, he was very sweet, and he paid for all the meals. The conversation was fantastic, and things felt really good then.

Similarly, the first weekend I was stuck in a hotel, he drove out of his way to come see me, and brought dinner. Plus he drove us to the movies, and paid for the movie and the drinks. I did give him gas money, so maybe that makes us even for that night… But does that belittle all the other things that he did? I don’t know.

In my anger, I was quick to suggest he hadn’t done anything, and this is a thing that gets thrown in my face a bit. When I’m angry, I tend to not mention the good things, because they aren’t what needs to be discussed, but apparently I don’t give enough credit when things are good…

Perhaps that can be seen as me provoking him.

Or perhaps this whole Game Theory thing is just a myth…



High school teacher by day, relationship/romance blogger by night. Help me add author to the list. Vote for my book idea here:

6 thoughts on “Game Theory… Is that what just happened?

  1. It is a myth game theory is about strategic decision making within negotiation. There nothing strategic in the way your alpha jerk did this. The art of negotiation is about what you can gain through concessions to the other parties. This guys strategy appears to be a total fail and has lead to a loose position. Clearly, he had no idea what his win position was and how to achieve it.

    1. Thanks for explaining it to me. There are a lot of websites with information, but some of them contradict each other, and I hadn’t found one that gave a concise, non-economics explanation.

      1. The best know example of Game theory in action is Henry Kissinger’s negotiation with the Chinese in the 70’s. I think a lot of people have chosen to think of it as a the psychology of how young children play games and their behaviours. Also many men confuse brinkmanship and oneupmanship with game theory. Dr Strangelove is a good example of brinkmanship gone wrong

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