Games People Play
This may be a manoeuvre, a ritual or a game. In each case the psychology is essentially feminine. Because of its dramatic qualities, LYAHF is the basis of much of the world’s literature, both good and bad.
1. As a manoeuvre it is romantic. The woman manoeuvres or challenges two men into fighting, with the implication or promise that she will surrender herself to the winner. After the competition is decided, she fulfils her bargain. This is an honest transaction, and the presumption is that her and her mate live happily ever after.
2. As a ritual, it tends to be tragic. Custom demands that the two men fight for her, even if she does not want them to, and even if she has already made her choice. If the wrong man wins, she must nevertheless take him. In this case it is society and not the woman who sets up LYAHF. If she is unwilling, the transaction is an honest one. If she is unwilling or disappointed, the outcome may offer her considerable scope for playing games, such as ‘Let’s Pull A Fast one on Joey.’
3. As a game it is comic. The woman sets up the competition, and while the two men are fighting, she decamps with a third. The internal and external psychological advantages for her and her mate are derived from the position that honest competition is for suckers, and the comic story they have lived through forms the basis for the internal and external social advantages.
Eric Berne, Games People Play, 1964.