I hate when people play games in relationships.
– Me, about a million different times
My wife and I occasionally listen to a local radio show in the mornings where the hosts discuss relationships with listeners. Their advice – and the situations listeners talk about – drive me crazy. Everything seems to devolve into games.
Don’t call/text her too soon after the first date. You’ll look desperate.
Don’t add him to your Facebook until after the ___th date.
DO add her to your Facebook so that you can see what she’s really like.
If you get to the point in your relationship where you can share your passwords…you might start thinking about moving in.
I don’t want to date him because he puts mayonnaise on everything. (!!!!!)
Awful, arbitrary rules command how so many people date with intent of 1) making ourselves out to be better than we are while 2) scrutinizing the objects of our affection to make sure they’re worthy of us. We’ve taken the ridiculous dating scenarios of Seinfeld and incorporated them into the way we live our lives.
I hate playing games.
And I think one of my favorite characters, Ami Kawashima of Toradora, would agree.
I recently watched Toradora again, this time very purposely from Ami’s point of view. I always knew that she was designed as the character who “knew the most,” the one who was used to drop hints about what everyone really felt when we as the audience could only make wild guesses based on a character’s sideways glance or a brief word spoken here or there.
But this time, I really dissected what Ami had to say knowing how everything would play out. Her keen intellect put all the “secret feelings” that people had together, sometimes even before the characters themselves realized how they felt. Ami seethes at how Minori and the others hide their feelings, walking on eggshells around each other, afraid or too guilty to share their true selves.
Of course, being the way she is, Ami can’t help but push the envelope by doing things that force the others into uncomfortable situations. Near the end of the series for instance, along with Kitamura (who at this point now knows the truth about Taiga’s romantic feelings, having heard them from Taiga herself), she blocks the doorway, an escape route fromtheir classroom, once the tsundere’s feelings become public, forcing her to face the truth.
Even more abrupt is when Ami keeps needling Minori on their school ski trip. For the first time, having been pressed by Ami to delve some into her feelings for Ryuji, Minori shows her coldness and anger to those who aren’t her most intimate friends. And these actions cause such grief between the two girls that they eventually get into a physical altercation.
But whether her methods are justifiable or not (she questions herself about this at one point), Ami’s point is right on the money – stop playing games and just be honest. Stop trying to avoid getting hurt and just put the truth out there, even if it might mean hurting one another.
When we get into dating relationships, it’s not advisable to give away everything about ourselves at first, but neither should we hide our true selves. Be honest and show who you really are. And on the flip side, be open to the other person, knowing that he or she is flawed just like you are. Starting honestly will help develop an honest relationship, while starting with a dishonest, put-a-face-on attitude can’t help but develop footing on a slippery slope.
It can be scary and it can be difficult, but establishing relationships built on truth, in time, will hopefully lead to faithfulness, trust, and grace. We don’t have to look far to see the same in Toradora. Though they’ve recently had a fist fight, Ami and Minori eventually bond as friends – to the point where it’s only to Ami that Minori can shed her tears and show her truest emotions. For despite the bad feelings that linger, Minori knows that Ami is honest and true – and what better place is there to put one’s trust than in a friend (or lover) who cares for us enough to tell it like it is?