You own a collection a snappy shoes and pungent colognes. You are a suave conversationalist, well versed in the games of “hard to get” and the persona of the “bar star.” You consider dating to be a sport at which you excel, and the saying “quantity over quality” rings all too true when it comes to your past love life. You are a player, or at least, you were a player. But you finally met your match in a woman, and now you want to move on from your playing days into a serious relationship. Can she handle your sex-ridden personal history? Can you? They say you can’t play a player, but can you fall in love with one and expect a solid future?
Most men and women relish their single days, especially those who manoeuvred the dating world as players. The player has become a cultural icon that is both ill respected and widely revered. Most people imagine the world of players to be one in which phone numbers are abounding and beds are never cool of strangers. Many non-players, who silently disapprove of the lifestyle, secretly relish in the details of a player’s weekend, living vicariously through the racy stories and adventures. With notches on the bedpost as evidence, male and female players continually reaffirm their status in the dating world by having a good time while avoiding commitment, at any cost.
In light of their avoidance of “settling down” in the past, there are several important issues that players must consider before entering a serious relationship. The primary question the ex-player must ask himself or herself is: can I find happiness in monogamy? The male ex-player must believe that he has found “the one” – the woman of his dreams. The change of lifestyle that is required of him in a serious relationship will demand that he believes in his passion for this woman, and this woman only. The female ex-player must be convinced that she is a force that is capable of change in her new man’s life. She must realize that her new beau’s expectations of her will be high, even unreasonable, and be patient as he learns the ropes in the relationship.
Secondly, the ex-player must accept that his or her past will have some repercussions on the new relationship. Anonymous past lovers may occasionally surface, and one must be prepared for the potential fallout. An unexpected 2am booty call from an old conquest, for example, may come at a very inopportune time in the eyes of the new lover. Such an interruption, especially from a past keeper of the booty, could throw a wrench in the mood of an evening, or an entire weekend. In addition to turning off the ringer on the cell phone, ex-players are well advised to avoid their old haunts, especially as their new relationship is getting off the ground.
The third issue that the ex-player must address upon embarking on a new life of monogamy is: can my partner and I both be tolerant, forgiving and understanding of each other’s pasts? The person who falls in love with an ex-player must have a strong view of the present and future with their elusive mate, and almost no eye for the past. The new woman in a male ex-player’s life must not be the kind of girl who wonders with every phone call or text message if her man will lose his resolve. She must also be tolerant of his desire to resurrect stories from the days of yore, when his masculinity was continually reaffirmed by the attention of female admirers.
At the same time, the reformed female player’s new lover must accept that his woman has a past. More and more women in today’s dating world are said to date like men – they do not always fall hard, and they are capable of casual sex without an emotional attachment (at least for the short term). Some men are threatened by women who have taken many lovers, especially if they over-exude a sense of comfort with their sexuality – these men best avoid dating a female ex-player. But a double standard may also come into play here, where a woman with an active sexual past is perceived as dirty or slutty, while a man with a similar past is often celebrated. It’s best not to let these perceptions cloud your judgment of your new partner.
It may be that the ideal relationship candidate for the reformed male player is his female equivalent – the reformed female player. Such a couple would understand each other’s past lifestyles, and would share the desire for a fun and active relationship that includes regular sex. There is also a strong potential for two dating veterans to have a steamy and passionate sex life that could keep them both curious and satisfied for years to come.
For those who may not believe that players can change their ways, you need not very look far for examples. Madonna celebrated her sexuality and sexual exploits in music, television, film and even print – remember the book called Sex! Now Madonna is a committed wife and mother who rides horses around the English countryside. The peace that she has found in reformed life has even inspired her to write books for children, which is the furthest thing that we would have expected from the woman who was nothing like a virgin, especially in the company of flamboyant basketball stars. Which brings us to another recent trend, involving famous sports stars promoting the lifestyle of reformed players. Athletes such as A.C. Green and NBA coach Dean Smith are spokesmen for organizations that promote abstinence, monogamy and education because of the health risks associated with sex with multiple partners.
There is hope for ex-players who are looking to make the move into a serious relationship. However, choosing a life of commitment will be no bed of roses, and reformed players should expect some bumps along the way. The hardest thing for the ex-player to learn in a committed relationship will be trust and consideration for their new partner’s feelings. But if they can believe in themselves, see beyond each other’s faults, and enjoy the present and future that they have together – this couple will have a strong hope for survival. They may even spend their life “playing” each other, and find new satisfaction and appreciation of their old charismatic ways. It might take a successful couple of reformed players to prove that you can play a player after all.