To play or not to play games when dating - that is the question. The popular point of view has been to play in order to improve your chances of winning the one you want; however, sometimes this strategy can backfire.

I recently met a guy (Mr. X) I was instantly attracted to. We were only able to speak for a few minutes, so he took my number and said he’d call me that night. He seemed to be as interested as I was, and I looked forward to his call.

I was surprised when I didn’t hear from him that evening. I assumed he’d either programmed my number into his phone incorrectly or something came up. No problem. I figured he’d call the next day. Nope! 

Three days after we met, I received a text saying, “Hi Lucia. How are you?” I was busy when the message came and since I didn’t know who it was from, it wasn’t a priority and I didn’t respond right away.

Four hours later as I was scrolling through my texts, I realized I still hadn’t answered that text. I wrote back, “Who is this?” By this time, I had forgotten about Mr. X and it didn’t even enter my mind that it might be him. Indeed, it was.

I realized he was going by the three-day rule – waiting three days to contact someone after you first meet them. My first thought, after he confirmed it was him, was to write back, “I don’t have time for guys who play games.” However, knowing that the ego speaks first and the ego speaks loudest, I instead just answered his question.

So now I had a dilemma. If he was playing games, he was obviously interested, as you don’t bother to do it with someone you’re not into. However, it also meant that he was a game player. Even though I know all the games and have even invented some of my own, I’m past the point of wanting to play them. Game players are a turn-off because it shows insecurity. I like to keep it real, and want someone who is on the same page. 

I understand that a certain amount of game playing is necessary because there is always some ambivalence when meeting someone new. We know that this could end up being the best thing that has ever happened to us, or possibly the worst. Of course, it’s usually somewhere in between.

The irony is that I was already very interested after speaking with him for only a short while, and wouldn’t have lost interest if he had called that night. However, by waiting three days to contact me, I actually lost interest and he ended up playing himself.

So what is the solution? I say, keep it real while acknowledging that you understand that games do exist. Being real means that you are willing to let someone know you are interested. It doesn’t mean you want to be in a committed relationship with them, it doesn’t mean you’re going to have sex with them, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other people you’re interested in –it simply means you’re confident enough to let someone know you’re attracted to them, and confidence is the number one quality both sexes look for in a potential romantic partner.

If Mr. X wanted to call me the same day we met, he could have said, “I really enjoyed meeting you today. I know there’s a stupid three-day rule and I’m supposed to wait to call, but I didn’t want to wait three days.” If he had said that, I would have been impressed and even more attracted. It would have shown me that he understands the “rules,” but he’s also willing to be a “rebel” and do what he wants to do. It also would have shown that he was very interested, and that would have made me more interested.

Just as “game recognizes game,” “real recognizes real.” Play games and you will end up with a game player; keep it real and you will end up with someone real.

Write to Lucia at Read an excerpt from her book, Lucia’s Lessons of Love, at Listen to Lucia live every Sunday at 3 p.m. PST on Remember: Love inspires, empowers, uplifts and enlightens.