When we have a pattern of unhealthy relationships, there’s a level of game-playing taking place. Often, this is mistaken for ‘normal’ dating and relationship behaviour when actually, it’s destabilising. Playing games is anything we do that relies on creating doubt and shifting power and control. Basically, it’s mind games. Think blowing hot and cold, gaslighting, playing hard to get, withdrawing, guilt-tripping, emotional blackmail. There’s testing people out, setting traps, projecting, and more. Here are three reasons why mind games are bad for relationships.

1. Playing games is a form of manipulation and control that removes the relationship’s foundation. 

Mind games have no business being in any healthy relationship, so you have to decide whether you are going to forge a relationship based on trust or mind games. Being honest with yourself about the type of person you value being and the relationships you want to create allows you to make conscious, loving decisions. You can match your subsequent behaviour to those intentions and values

2. Mind games exacerbates your insecurities. 

You won’t feel secure about the relationship because you won’t know whether your partner’s response is autonomous or as a result of the game. You will also lose track of your feelings and behaviour and so won’t be able to trust this person, the relationship, or you. It’s a vicious cycle. Each time you feel insecure, you’ll play games to reassure you against doubts and insecurity. This will provide temporary relief, but the fear still remains. And lather, rinse, repeat. It’s far more beneficial to examine your motivations for playing games (e.g. doubting your attractiveness, wanting to be in control due to fear of getting hurt, believing that a ‘little’ insecurity makes you powerful) and address the root cause.

3. Your game-playing may trigger insecurity, self-doubt or trauma in the other party. 

Even though your game-playing may originate from a place of insecurity and it’s not your conscious intention to cause harm, your actions could be very triggering. At best, they might be triggered into their own insecurity and people-pleasing, which ironically, might cause you to lose respect for them. At worst, though, they might feel gaslighted and destabilised, which is a sign of a toxic relationship. 

In essence, if you leave out the games, you keep the relationship and its boundaries clean, healthy and authentic.

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