Are we in love with love itself?

In today’s safe, neat, and tidy world there is something very exciting and reckless about falling in love. We live in a world filled with warning labels, seatbelt laws, and government regulations designed to keep us from getting hurt. There are few activities left that allow us to push ourselves to the edge or take any serious risks. But no one gives us an instruction manual, a set of rules, or a safety net when it comes to walking the tightrope of relationships. Perhaps ‘falling’ in love is the only thing left that allows us the ultimate adrenalin rush. You can blame Hollywood if you like, but most of us love falling in love and a good portion of our time is spent with this goal in mind. It makes one wonder, is it the object of our affections that we truly love or is it just the idea of being in love that we crave? Capturing the heart of another and occupying their thoughts day and night is intoxicating indeed. And taking a risk of being vulnerable may satisfy a basic human instinct that we cannot fill any other way. As a species, humans have a need to be needed, desired, and adored. The chemicals that are released in the brain when we have the feeling of being in love provide an overall feeling of euphoria that can easily become addictive. In fact, people will tolerate all sorts of mind games and emotional abuse in order to partake of the drug for even a brief moment, making the player’s job that much easier.

Personally, I have seen the most intelligent, logical, methodical men and women do some of the stupidest, illogical, and irrational things when they are in love. Case in point: the woman in Pennsylvania who recently stabbed her fiancé to death hours before their wedding, and declared at her arraignment “I did not mean to kill him on purpose.”  Okay, maybe the jury’s still out on how intelligent this woman was, and I’ll admit this is an extreme example of love gone awry, but you see where I’m going with this.

So many options, so little time.

So what is a ‘player’? There is a column on AskMen.com called The Player, where the author takes great pride in teaching men how to be successful players (player being defined as a man whose primary goal is to have as much sex as possible without getting ‘tied down’ to one woman). But I think it goes beyond the goal of sex. For the player, the thrill of the chase, the seduction, and the gratification of conquering their prey is the ultimate power trip. A skilled player is like a puppeteer and his victims like a stage full of marionettes. If you are interested in getting into the psyche of the player, perhaps to arm yourself against them, I would start with a copy of “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene.

There is a lot of popular rap and hip-hop music that glorifies players. Although the term ‘player’ has primarily been attributed to males, there are female players or playerettes as they’ve been dubbed. If you are a man who’s been ‘played’, please don’t take offense to the fact that I will use terminology here that refers to men as players, even though I know that women can also be players.

I think it’s important to point out that if you are ‘playing the field’ as opposed to seeking a committed relationship, that does not necessarily make you a ‘player’.  As long as you are honest about the fact that you are not looking for a committed relationship or have decided to live a polyamorous lifestyle you are not a player. Being a player is when you are selfishly seeking self-gratification in the form of sex, and the adoration and devotion of your victims, by telling them what you think they want to hear. I have a term for this. I call them ‘SAMs’, an acronym that stands for Self-Absorbed Manipulators. There are different variations of players but basically they fall into two general categories and any SAM can alternate between the categories depending who they’re playing and what their needs are in the moment.

The one-night-stand player isn’t nearly as dangerous as the serial player.

Player #1 – The king of the one-night stand: This is the guy who will typically hang out in bars and nightclubs, where women under the influence of alcohol become easy prey for a short and sweet ‘wham-bam-see-ya-ma’am’ just for the evening. There is no ‘thank-you-ma’am’ because while they appear to be sincere, polite and charming during the seduction, once they’ve ‘hit it’ they will slink off into the night without so much as a goodbye, let alone a thank you. Be aware that this type of SAM is not necessarily limited to bars and clubs as his playground. He may also be found at a sporting event, concert, house party, or even the supermarket, depending how ballsy he is.

Player #2 – The serial player: This is a vampire who feeds off the love, attention, and adoration of multiple women simultaneously, and has won their love and devotion through lies, omission of facts, half-truths, and misrepresentation.  This is the most dangerous of players, and the most difficult to expose, because he is one who seduces with intellect and charm, weaving a tangled web of deception. His primary goal is to capture the hearts of his victims with no regard for anyone’s feelings but his own. This not only ensures that he will have regular sex, often recklessly and without protection, but will also have many of his other needs met, and this feeds his ego. The most savvy type two players are liars, cheaters, and thieves, for they will sometimes play on the emotions of their victims to the point where they will take money from them, in addition to stealing their hearts.

Don’t let the player suck the life out of you.

So how do you know if you’re being played? Here are a few player alerts. Note that these are aimed at identifying the type two player, the most dangerous of the SAMs.

Red Flag #1:  A man who throws the word ‘love’ around too carelessly. For example: He says things like “I love you to death”, or if you’ve met him on the internet he actually says he loves you before he’s ever met you. If you say you love him, he replies with “I love you more.” Talk is cheap, so if his actions don’t back up his words, there is good reason to doubt his sincerity.

Red Flag #2: He says things like, “You complete me,” or “There’s no me without you”, “You are my destiny,” or he tells you he’s not worthy of your love.  Sounds very romantic and it’s guaranteed to pull you in, but a player typically has low self-esteem. That’s why he has a need to have a team of women who adore him – to feed his ego and boost his self-esteem.  This does not have the makings of a healthy relationship.

Red Flag #3: He accuses you of being a ‘ho. If he texts or calls and you don’t reply immediately or answer, he automatically assumes you are with someone else. The truth is that he is projecting his own behaviors onto you.  Extremely jealous, possessive lovers don’t trust you because they don’t trust themselves. And the player wants to feel like he controls or ‘owns’ his women. After all, he’s so good in bed, she won’t be out looking for it anywhere else.

Red Flag #4: After a flurry of texting or phone calls for days, he seems to very regularly shut down for a period of days and stops communicating. Then he suddenly reappears with a reply or phone call as if nothing ever happened. He has to do this to dedicate time to one of his other lovers so that she feels like the most important person in his life. If you show any irritation at his inconsideration he will turn it back on you and make you feel like a neurotic, possessive bitch.

Red Flag #5:  He periodically will find ways to pick a fight with you so you’ll go away and lick your wounds for a few days.  This will give him time to dedicate to his other lover(s).  Then he’ll come back and admit to and apologize for his bad behavior, and maybe even make a big show of it, doing something very considerate like sending flowers or poetry, knowing you won’t be able to resist.

Red Flag #6:  He has a Facebook account but won’t friend you or periodically disables it.

Red Flag #7:  He always leaves the room when he’s talking on the phone, or the phone is typically on vibrate mode and never in sight when he is not. He guards it carefully, because he never knows when one of his other women will call or text.

Red Flag #8: He is all about his image. He seems to overspend on food, wine, and clothes. He wants to impress you, and he’s got to look good so he can keep attracting new women in case some of them figure him out and shut him down.

Red Flag #9: He takes you out but has an aversion for public displays of affection.

Red Flag #10: He takes you to a place he seems to frequent because the wine steward knows him by name, and he thinks he knows you too, only you’ve never been there before.

Red Flag #11: You meet his friends and family, but they seem very quiet. They’re not cold, but they don’t ask you too many questions, and you think you hear them whispering to each other in the kitchen. Apparently they’re used to this.

Don’t be a puppet.

Red Flag #12: He buys you a killer sex toy that gets you off big time, only for you to discover that he’s bought a duplicate that he keeps at his house.

The interesting thing about the player is that when you figure it out and call them on their game they’ll just continue to lie until they dig themselves deeper in the hole. They may even tell you that they didn’t intentionally mean to hurt you – that their behavior was not malicious. That’s even scarier because that means that these behaviors are just second nature to them and probably cannot be changed. The irony  about the player is he might deny being one, and say that he just loves women. The truth is he doesn’t know the first thing about love.

The saddest thing about the player is that they lose out on many opportunities for fun and rewarding relationships (monogamous or not), and will one day grow old, lose their boyish charms and find themselves alone. If only they could simply be honest rather than trying to manipulate the emotions of unsuspecting women, thus creating drama in their own lives, and leaving devastation in their wake like a wildfire burning out of control. I’m not saying that any one of these red flags is enough to convict them, but trust your intuition. If you’re going into this with your eyes wide open and you’re not looking for anything more than a little fun on the side, then go with the flow and keep it light.  But if your heart is involved and you are expecting the behavior to change, have a little self respect and walk, no, run away as fast as you can. It’s not worth it.

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