Here’s what I know: The Game of Love is fixed. It is no longer a fun, flirtatious dance between two people playing parts as they go through the rigors of courtship. It’s an ugly, scheming, throat-slitting charade played with loaded dice, and for some reason we keep going back to it. We keep feeding the toothless, one-eyed carnie our money and time only to be burned again and again. Why? Because we think it is the only way.
We've come to believe that the tired dating dance is how you find The One You Are Supposed To Be With. That somehow romance is supposed to spring forth from a routine of dinner, dancing, flirting, and sex. We know better, yet we continue to play the same roles. Women behave as if they need to either be coy creatures, pure of word and deed, or harlots happy to subjugate themselves to sexual exploitation. Men for their part fall into roles as either aggressors and pursuers or lovelorn romantics.
Those are hollow roles in an even more hollow masquerade that hasn't had a place in human society in ages. Yet those archetypes play out again and again in every restaurant and every bar on every single night. Why? Why do we think that a game like this, where we behave in ways that aren't true to ourselves, is somehow going to lead us to the perfect partner? And why do we think that partner is going to be anything but a very skilled game player?
The fact is that it won't work. That's why any of us that have been around the dating circuit for a while have a string of failed relationships, unhappy marriages, and several carnal nights that even a medical grade gin lobotomy won't scour from our memories.
So, what is the alternative? It is this: Stop dating. Don't truss yourself into flattering clothes that make you look "appealing." Don't giggle just because some cad thinks he is funny. Don't sit through overpriced meals making dull conversation. Those things will rarely find you "The One." They will just assuage your loneliness for a time, and you're better than that.
The better, more concrete answer is to always seek friends. Friendship is the path to a lasting, loving relationship. Men adore their friends. Ask a man to name every woman he has ever slept with, and not many are going to be able to do it. Yet he will still talk to one of his obnoxious buddies from childhood with a nickname like Kegstand or The Chud. A man will love those wretched bastards in a way that defies passion, defies romance, defies all but the most drug-induced form of logic.
Naturally I am not saying you should try to emulate those people. What you should be doing is trying to find as many friends as you can. The short-term rewards are far better than those of the romantic merry-go-round. By collecting these people, you are building more than a fling. You are building a stable of people that can make you happy. Partners that share your life. Letting it progress from that point with one of them will be natural. They already need you in their life as you need them in yours. Adding an additional layer is not difficult or complicated. It only requires the fullness of time.
The myth that a platonic relationship cannot and should not progress to romance is a fallacy. I have a few close female friends, any of whom I know I would be happy with in a permanent, romantic sense because we've already done permanence in a way that is honest and accepting. That is how men are. We don't keep friends of the opposite gender - or whatever gender we are attracted to - that we don't have an inkling of desire for.
When I find a person that I can be that comfortable with, once I have accepted them into the strange surrogate extended family that we all build, that is where I look for my next partner. That's the only path I have found that doesn't involve rigged games.