The idea of “chicken” has its origins in a game where two drivers race towards each other on a collision course and someone needs to swerve first to avoid a fatal crash. While it’s in the best interest of both parties to get out of the way, the driver who wimps out and swerves to safety first is considered the loser, or the cowardly “chicken”.
Today, playing chicken can take many forms, but the point is that both players continually up the ante until one person backs out or caves.
When you’re getting to know someone new, it’s common practice to try to play it cool. You might show up late to a date apologizing for earlier “plans” that ran over, despite the fact that you were just watching Netflix alone in your apartment. Or, maybe you take a couple hours to respond to a text that your crush sends, just so you don’t look desperate.
But there are other times when you just want to be all in.
You feel that intangible, elusive “click” and you can’t get enough of each other and all you want to do is spend every second tangled up in slightly sweaty sheets talking and kissing until your lips are chapped and your throat is raw.
Three dates in and you’re ready to introduce this new person to your friends. “He’s amazing,” you tell them. “Let’s all grab drinks.”
And somehow, shockingly, asking him to meet your crew less than a month in doesn’t scare him off.
In fact, he doubles down.
“Come to happy hour with me and my coworkers,” he insists. “They’ll like you.”
You’re flabbergasted. He’s ready to introduce you to his work people? Can you outdo this?
“Let’s take a picture so I can post it to instagram and share with all my followers,” you venture.
He doesn’t flinch. Instead, smiles sweetly for the camera, watches as you add the Valencia filter, and looks over your shoulder as you post it for the world to see.
By this point, most men would be running for the hills.
This entire charade wreaks of commitment, affection, DTR’ing — it’s every guy’s worst nightmare and yet… he seems to be entirely on board. If anything, he’s daring you to up the ante.
You get a text from him the next day.
“Hey check it out,” he types. “I printed out your Instagram pic and hung it up on my desk at work.”
He follows up with a message showing a picture of the two of you perched on a shelf just above his computer screen. As a couple, you’re now “framed photo” official.
It’s clearly your move.
So, what’s next?
Can the game continue or is relationship chicken an inherently dangerous concept? Will you end up walking down the aisle a month later because no one put an end to the nonsense?
Maybe it has potential as a dating tactic if both people are fully on board and ready to commit to each other, but if there’s any mismatch of feelings, it will inevitably backfire the moment one person swerves.
And, in an attempt to avoid collision, backing down from relationship chicken means someone’s heart could get shattered into smithereens. Ouch.