New Relationship Advice: Ladies and Gentlemen, Place Your Bets!
I like to turn every last aspect of my life into a game. Dating is not exempt from this philosophy, and I've found ways to build gaming mechanics like points systems, competitiveness, and scores into my casual dating endeavors.
Many might argue that games and shenanigans should end once one settles into a more steady romantic relationship. I disagree. I will concede that competitive dating doesn't work well when one is not seeing multiple people, but there are plenty of ways in which one might apply gaming mechanics to a budding relationship.
One excellent opportunity involves turning budding relationships into betting games.
Relationships are a gamble- why not gamble ON them?
Before you decide that the very concept of placing bets on genuine relationships is a distasteful, gauche practice, consider the fact that people do this informally all the time. If you're even moderately social, you most certainly have been exposed to relationship-based comments such as "I bet they won't last two weeks," or "I bet you they'll be engaged within six months."
Friends, family, and coworkers bet on others' relationships on a regular basis. They just never follow through by turning their predictions into concrete wagers. Talk about a lost opportunity!
Why New Relationships Make for Great Betting Games
When turning any life event into a game, it is best to build the gaming mechanics around a salient point of friction or conflict. If the game revolves around getting to work on time, the mechanics will naturally revolve around beating the clock. If the game is centered on losing weight, mechanics will be tied to danger zones like diet and exercise.
When gamifying relationships, one ought to work with the greatest friction point associated with romantic involvement: the relationship's inevitable demise.
All good (and bad) things come to an end. Most people like to ignore the fact that every relationship into which they enter is going to end at some point, but where's the fun in that? It is much better, I think, to take that point of discomfort and toy with it.
Doing so has three major benefits:
- The exercise helps one think practically about relationships and mentally prepare for various outcomes.
- The exercise is highly amusing and packed with comedic potential.
- If the betting process is tied to actual money, one can stand to make a profit
If at first you weren't a huge fan of the idea of placing bets on new relationships, will you not at least admit, now, that the practice has some inherent value?
How to Get Started
So let's say you've just entered into a slightly more constant / committed / exclusive relationship, and would like to give this whole betting game a go. Here's what you need to do:
What about you?
Would you ever place a bet on your own romantic relationships?
- Establish a date in the future for which you would like to make predictions.
- Outline all possible states in which your relationship may be at that point
- Place a bet on one of these scenarios
- Encourage your friends to place bets as well
- Wait until that date rolls around
- Bring everyone together, establish the pre-outlined scenario that best describes the current state (or non-state) of your relationship
- Pay up or be paid!
You might also add odds to each scenario based on your estimation of each one's likelihood. See the table below for an example of six common scenarios to include.
A Template of Scenarios + Predicted Likelihood
You're still together at the same level of commitment
The other person broke up with you
You broke up with the other person
Some inevitable / unexpected event caused you to separate
There are several different ways in which this game could be played.
The scenarios I outlined above are exceedingly basic. I recommend creating additional scenarios that are highly specific and customized your lifestyle and personality. Some additional potential scenarios could be:
- One party becomes famous and dumps the other party for a fellow celebrity
- One party is murdered by the other party
- One party becomes an obsessive stalker and the other party has to establish a restraining order
- One party breaks up with the other party who becomes completely dejected and heartbroken
- The couple becomes polyamorous and brings at least seven new partners into the relationship
- The couple dies in a tragic murder suicide
- The couple goes on to found a small island nation
- The couple has an unexpected pregnancy followed by a shotgun wedding
While you may bet on the scenario that you think is most likely to come to pass, you might also consider:
- Betting on the worst-case scenario: That way, if it comes to pass, you at least have the satisfaction of winning your bet.
- Betting as a wishful thinker: Do you really want that engagement ring? Perhaps by reaching for the stars with your bet, you will become more committed to really making that reality come to pass.
- Betting deceptively: Just to mess with the other people placing bets. This would be especially fun.
Public vs. Private
While I think this is a more-the-merrier activity, you can also make this game an entirely personal exercise. If you're the private type and don't like talking about your feelings or your romantic endeavors, you can always do this by yourself just to see how good you are at judging the outcomes of each new relationship on which you embark.
You can also keep the betting just between you and the other party in your relationship. Does that seem weird? I don't think so! Doing so would be highly interesting, especially considering that the two of you might be placing significantly different bets! Whether the other party's bet is based on wishful thinking, genuine prediction, or intentional deception will become a point of constant conjecture for each person in the relationship. How delicious would that be???
Cash vs. Honor vs. FOOD!
Cash need not be the only bet-fodder utilized with this game (though I think it's ideal). You can always revert to bragging rights if you and your friends are particularly broke, or you might also bet with good-as-money commodities such as chocolate and knives.
Honestly, whatever betting currency you settle on is beside the point. The entire purpose of this game is to remove pressure, consider interesting alternatives, think ahead, and have some fun. So long as you do those things, you've won.
Are you in a relationship?
What do you think its status will be in six months?
Ladies and Gents, Place Your Bets!
Games aren't just silly ways to pass the time- they're a great way to develop skills, think strategically, and turn daunting tasks into agreeable exercises.
Betting on relationships might seem like a silly concept, but it can encourage one to think practically and prepare for a wide variety of surprises and upsets. Considering how many people get completely messed up by unexpected outcomes in romantic relationships (often due to a lack of practical scenario planning), I think it's fair to say that any practice that encourages people to think ahead is a good one.
What do you think? Have you placed an informal mental bet on the outcome of a relationship you're in- or a relationship in which a friend or family member is currently in? Would you ever bet on a relationship publicly? Let me know what you think in the comments below!