Is love a game where the one who loves more loses?

I have a girlfriend who has had more loves than I have shoes. Each time she meets a guy, she tells me, “Estella, he’s the one.” She wants to introduce me to him, to show me what a wonderful upstanding fellow he is and each time, I think I’m seeing the exact same man.

To be sure, they’re all physically different. But the ending of each of my girlfriend’s romantic encounters is such that they might as well be the same person. Whilst watching this scene from the 2006 Korean movie “Seducing Mr Perfect”, it occurred to me that my girlfriend and many other single women – save for the sweet young things out to nab a sugar daddy – are not aware of how the game of love is played. Most are not even aware it’s a game, believing their earnestness, kindness and gentle, loving nature will win them the guy. According to Robin, played by the fabulously handsome Daniel Henney, giving advice to his recently dumped colleague, June, played by Uhm Jung Hwa, South Korea’s doyenne of Pop, they’re all wrong. Here’s that scene:

“Why have I been dumped 3 times now?”asks the doe-eyed June.

“Because you don’t know the rules,” says Robin.


“The rules of the game.”

“Love isn’t like playing Starcraft you know.”

“Yes it is. It’s actually a game that requires even greater precision and planning. A game of power. Manipulations of emotions to control the mind…that’s the game.”

She looks at him incredulously.

“Well it is a game,” he insists. “It’s a game where the one who display’s affection first, gives up total control and goes around like a dog on a collar.”

She exhales and looks to her wine glass for comfort.

“In relationships, you’re the one to call first and he was the one to hang up first, right?”

“Right.” She nods.

“And when you’re together, you’d always run to him and you always give him gifts on anniversaries, only you, right?”

“Right. How did you know that?” she asks, her mood visibly brightening.

“I know these because these are the consequences of dating without any self respect, Ms June. That’s how I know.” He has a sip of his brandy, then says, “So take my advice, and this is sincere so listen to me: If you continue acting like this, being so…” He searches for a word. “Pathetic. You will always be treated like trash by men. And you’ll grow old…all by yourself.”

At this, His Royal Highness who has been watching with me, points an accusing finger and says, “Now I know why I am wearing a dog collar!”

“Hey, it’s only a movie,” say I, even so realising that this Robin character may be on to something.

Not that I’ve ever played these sorts of games with my husband.  We’ve always been honest and open with our emotions, where the other stands a known fact from the word go. My abiding belief is that game players deprive others of knowing the real them; as such, they may have control or a relationship or situation, but that control is based on illusion. Be that as it may, if my girlfriend’s romantic woes are indicative of the strife faced by single women in general, it appears more and more men are into these games.

Now, is hiding one’s emotions and following a set of rules the right way to go in romance? Men have tried playing me before and got a rude awakening when they found themselves on the curb, next to yesterday’s newspapers and take-out. I know all their tricks: talking themselves up, not talking at all, calling me like my number is the only one in the phonebook, not calling at all, calling me on certain days of the week then hanging up…

You see fellas…that’s the reason why I just celebrated my 11th wedding anniversary while you’re undoubtedly still trying to con women. I suggest women be aware of these games and if men try them on you, then you just use your sidekick and send them flying. I’d leave a message for these sorts of men too, but not enough of ’em players read my blog. The word “parenting” in my banner usually puts them all off.