Gambitting: The Chess-Like Approach To Relationships Explained

Pretty much everyone knows that dating in the 2020s is challenging, and that's putting it gently. First of all, the pandemic has made dating more stressful, as not everyone is comfortable going out as much as they were before, which makes it harder to meet new people. Plus, some careful individuals still prefer to wear masks in public, and it's hard to see what someone's face looks like under a mask, limiting instant attractions or love-at-first-sight opportunities. But COVID-19 isn't the only variable affecting the dating scene nowadays.

More people are using dating apps such as Bumble and Hinge in today's world, and although it's exciting to meet so many new people through a screen, that convenience often causes some people to put less effort in person, which can be frustrating for people who genuinely want to get to know someone. Don't even get us started on the obnoxious OnlyPlans dating trend. Thus, if you've been feeling burnt out about relationships lately, you're not alone. But thanks to the gambitting dating concept, some people have been getting more strategic with their approaches to dating and even designing their own date experiences.

What is gambitting?

Typically, the word "gambit" relates to chess. After all, who hasn't watched or at least heard about "The Queen's Gambit," the highly talked-about limited Netflix series? According to Merriam-Webster, a gambit is "a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position." To people who don't play chess, this likely sounds confusing. But the online dictionary noted that a gambit can also be "a calculated move," and that's what this dating trend is all about: calculating and extensive planning.

Therefore, gambitting means treating a dating scenario like a game of chess, and the person you're talking to is your opponent. When using this dating strategy, the goal is to always be one step ahead of your date to avoid unpleasant surprises. While this might sound like a nightmare for ultra-spontaneous people who date strictly for fun, it might be helpful for plan-loving people looking for something more serious or long-term.

"With so many dating apps available people no longer want to waste time dating people who aren't right for them ... By micromanaging a date and planning your moves in advance you can anticipate your date's next move and quickly ascertain whether the 'move' they make is right for you," Natalia Kobylkina, a transformational psychotherapist, told Refinery29. When you think about it that way, is getting to know a potential love interest really that different from a game of chess?

Gambitting even applies to texts

Texting is a crucial aspect of gambitting, since some of your most strategic moves might take place over text when flirting or planning a date — so anyone serious about wanting to master the chess-like approach to a relationship or hookup should pay careful attention to what they text to the person they like or desire.

A hilarious TikTok by @toripiskin shared a relatable scenario of how gambitting can help you get the hookup or date you want when the other person seems to be playing games via text. In the video — seemingly loosely inspired by "The Queen's Gambit" — a woman receives a flirty text from a guy who seems to want to come over. However, after she expresses interest in hanging out, the man starts playing hard to get. But after the woman responds to his games with strategic, somewhat flirty yet nonchalant texts, he ends up coming over, and the video is appropriately captioned, "Dating is the ultimate game of chess."

Meanwhile, while some individuals might worry that being the first person to text after a date could appear desperate, others view the action as a power move. "I'd always be the one to send a post-date text because I never wanted a date to think that they were above me," Jen, a 24-year-old woman, told Refinery29. Therefore, you should be strategic when texting the person you're talking to — and don't be afraid to make a bold move.

How to gambit date plans

Not only does gambitting apply to how you communicate with who you're talking to, but it can also apply to planning specific details of your date. Thus, you'll need to do some research when gambitting date plans. Maybe your crush asked you to grab coffee with them on Sunday morning, and you already know that you'd rather drink decaf than traditional coffee because the caffeine will make you feel more nervous. You might gambit by researching which local coffee shop offers the most decaf options and telling your date that you'd like to go there.

Moreover, you can gambit a dinner date by reading the restaurant's menu a couple of days beforehand and deciding what you'll order ahead of time so you won't stress over what to order on the actual date. You might decide in advance that you'll only consume one drink at a bar date to avoid getting too buzzed or embarrassing yourself. Gambitting a date is all about designing the perfect experience for you — and there are ways to get even more clever with it, too. For instance, have you always wanted to experience a romantic kiss in the rain, as you see in the movies? If you and your romantic interest have been talking about taking a walk or visiting a park, you could consider checking the weather for that week and choosing a day with some light showers — not a full-on storm, but a little rain — for your movie moment.

Is gambitting healthy?

Between the strategic approaches to texting, where to go for a date, and what to do, there are many ways to gambit in dating. You can even apply it to clothing. For example, if you want to exude upbeat, positive vibes, you might want to wear a bright yellow top to set a cheerful tone for your date. If you and your date are going somewhere casual and you both enjoy a specific musician or film, you can remind them of that shared interest by wearing a T-shirt relating to that artist or movie, which could be an excellent conversation starter. But is all this planning just clever, or could it be a little unhealthy?

Typically, there isn't anything wrong with a strategic approach if that makes you feel more comfortable. Gambitting is only unhealthy if you start lying to your date or become manipulative, or if dating doesn't feel fun anymore and starts to turn into more of a project or assignment. "Dating is meant to be fun and if you're too focused on sticking to your plan, you're not only going to find the situation stressful but you're not going to be the best version of yourself," Natalia Kobylkina told Refinery29.

So feel free to gambit with flirty texts, your coffee order, or even your outfit, but remember that dating involves real people with emotions — it's not just a new version of chess, so don't set yourself up for disaster by taking it too far.