Games Men Play: Rapo

mousetrap In what I believe is the best instruction manual for social interaction ever, Games People Play , Dr. Eric Berne describes three levels of Rapo, and the Frigid Woman games.

Rapo is basically a social game in which someone lures another to pursue them sexually, takes some pleasure (ego boost) from it, and then dismisses their target. Level 1 ends with the target/sucker being politely dismissed after they commit to pursuit (You’re nice but.) Level 2 ends with the sucker being dismissed by shaming (Buzz off buster!). Level 3 ends very messy and violently with the sucker being lured into physical contact, then being accused of a criminal assault (Rape!).

The Frigid Woman game is basically the marital or committed relationship version of Rapo. The sucker is lured and then shamed to feed the player’s ego.

These games are normally viewed as the domain of women, so men are usually raised with awareness of the possibility of being accused of sexual harassment or rape. Women though, are often caught unawares when a man plays a similar game. Where sex is the lure with the female Rapo player, love is the lure with the male player. The games begin with the player successfully seducing his target into thinking of him as a romantic prospect.

Level 1 male Rapo ends with the sucker being politely rebuffed before any genital contact has happened, or plausible commitment indicating gestures have been made by him. She is told that she is not a romantic prospect. This is “letting her down easy”.

Level 2 male Rapo is happening when the man makes plausible commitment and territorial gestures, and thoroughly convinces his target that he does consider her his partner, but without actually saying he loves her or wants a committed relationship. Part of the commitment behaviors may include intense sex in which he encourages her to try new, kinky, or perhaps uncomfortable, potentially humiliating things one would generally only do with a very trusted partner. There may not be sex happening though. He could be encouraging her to share secrets with him, or using her some other way. It ends when the sucker seeks confirmation that he does indeed want a commitment. He doesn’t, and ices the cake of humiliation with, “I never said I loved you/wanted a commitment.”

Level 3 male Rapo, like its female equivalent, ends in suicide or the courtroom. The sucker is lured into a relationship with the player, much like Level 2, but for an extended period of time and with an added possessiveness on his part (which encourages possessiveness on her part). When she makes moves to get out of the relationship, he pulls her back in until he knows he has her. Satisfied with the results of his mindgame, he pulls off the mask and reveals to her that he not only doesn’t love her, but that he never has, and that it has all been a game that she was too stupid and too much of a slut/whore to realize. Any contact she makes with him thereafter, to try to salvage what she may still believe is a relationship that just went wrong, or even just to vent her anger at the person who caused it rather than others, he calls “stalking”.

Okay, so it doesn’t *always* end in suicide or the courtroom. Some women are very strong.

Ways to Avoid Being Played

There are ways to avoid this game, but some men are very good at it. So one can’t always avoid these players entirely, without becoming a nun or a Lesbian, but once you sense a game is afoot, it’s easy to get out of if you watch for the signs. I’ve survived two Level 3 players who skulked away emptyhanded of my ego after failure to get me to take them seriously. Their mask removals caused more pity than anger.

So there is the first line of defense against male Rapo players: Nurture your self confidence with success.

Self confidence can be very high, but volatile if it is not backed up by some kind of success. This doesn’t have to be something that other people recognize, but it should be something you recognize as making you worth more than the minerals that make up your body. Every human being deserves basic human respect (which includes respect for the fact of their destructiveness if warranted) but in order to be a bad target, you must truly believe that you are worth loving and worth defending. If you falter in this, you will become a nice target for someone who wants to convince you that you don’t deserve to be loved, and that you have no right to be upset when someone deceives you and wastes your time.

So make it a point to do something good for others and yourself each day. It keeps things in perspective, and helps you do the next thing: Develop a good sense of proportion.

Though your heartbreak is important, what’s more pressing at the moment that someone is playing Rapo at your expense, is that they are in-freakin-sane, and you need to put as much distance between yourself and them as possible. Understanding that people (men and women) who play such games are small egos in constant need of propping up from others, is very helpful in getting over them. In this case, it’s easier for women than it is for men, because men often confuse pity with love. A woman however, has alot of trouble confusing pity with love because it’s very rare that one of us will love a man we don’t even respect, or who we honestly view as pathetic.

And what is more pathetic than a guy who plays the same kinds of creepy games that attention whoring girls do?

What Kind of Nasty Bastard Plays This Game?

See above:  attention whores. These are guys who usually had overly doting, possibly emotionally or more physically incestuous mothers. Some of these types will pursue women of lower apparent social status because they consider these women of a sort of disposable class or caste. Some will play this game of women of equal or higher apparent social status as a kind of vengeance for not being born to the manner to which they feel entitled. Either way, this is the domain of spoiled men, just as it is of spoiled women.

So ladies, the way to protect yourself from these types is to be very firm about not giving any boyfriend privileges to someone who hasn’t earned their place as your boyfriend. You will encounter very few guys who you know you can trust almost immediately, and every last one of them has a clean history of good dating conduct. They may not all be Alphas, but Alphas are a bit overrated. Better an honest beta than a deceptive Alpha.

Remember that the Alpha wolf thing was a myth spread by self help gurus. We only use the term because it came to have a common meaning in human social terms. At the root though, an Alpha is really a fatherly type. If someone doesn’t have the kind of character that they can take care of and nurture others, then they are missing a crucial aspect of Alpha status. Most guys thought of as beta are actually more Alpha than the fuckboys being called Alpha these days.

And another thing to be aware of in this is that being Alpha does not make a man ethical or less likely to play games. They’re still human and fallible. In fact, Alphas have certain advantages over betas in the shadier side of game. A beta may do what he does because of the environment he grew up in, and is usually emotionally flexible enough that if he sees something is too destructive, he might have the heart to go get some help. It may be immaturity and lack of foresight and bad coping mechanisms rather than malice that drives him. An Alpha on the other hand, more likely makes a conscious choice, and has a malicious, hateful motive.

Alpha males, especially very goodlooking ones, are also more likely to have an overblown sense of entitlement and low motivation combination. What makes them Alpha is the drive anf talent to get what they want, and the ability to think relatively independently. Neither of those makes a person more ethical.

A man who really loves you will stake his claim, so to speak. So if a guy isn’t telling and showing you that he loves you and that he wants a commitment with you by investing in you, then don’t allow yourself to believe it is more than he’s said that it is.

About Mamasan

I'm a multifaith spiritual counselor with lots of experience assisting people with improving their relationships. Feel free to comment on the site or contact me if you have an issue you'd rather discuss privately.


  1. encyclopedia britannica,eleventh edition

    bizarre, I didn’t think women would possibly have this kind of bitterness, very masculine. I’ve been a victim of rapo many times before I caught on. Now I really don’t try at all, that’s a negative for sure. Hard to believe women feel the same way about men.

  2. Pingback: Game for Girls » Six More Facts About Men (21-26)

  3. This is an excellent article, really spot on. The thing that happens to me is a bit different, though, and I’m at a loss to explain it. It happens when I’m talking to a male friend, who I have no romantic/sexual interest in at all who suddenly feels the need to tell me that he “doesn’t like me that way”. This is irritating to say the least. I’m pretty careful about not sending out the wrong sexual signals, since I’m married anyway. Basically, it’s like level one rapo without the first step even being completed. Very annoying to be rebuffed when I wasn’t thinking about anything sexier than doing laundry or changing the oil in my car.
    Any explanations for this? Thanks.

    • You have a natural sexuality that shows through regardless of what you do. It’s easily misread as a flirtation. Simply giving too much of your attention to a guy can often make him think you’re more interested than you are. Marilyn Monroe often had that problem.
      Best way to handle it is to let it pass by without comment, or mention that “neither do I”. Mutual level 1 rapo as a form of rebuff. A guy playing rapo with you would be devastated. An honest, but miscued, guy would accept it as a simple statement of fact.

  4. Hi Victoria 🙂

    Maybe it’s a proactive measure. It depends on the sort of guys you hang out with. Men and women being active friends as opposed to safe distance friends is a new thing in most places. Most decent guys are still raised to give women a kind of wide social berth. You have to be careful that even if you don’t think you’re sending the wrong signals, you may be crossing some cultural lines you’re unaware of because of the relatively greater rarity of well raised guys.

    Most of my close friends are male, and there is a certain amount of consideration I give to that. I don’t treat the straight ones like girlfriends. No matter how good a guy’s intentions may be, he has a penis. The male sex drive is a very powerful force, even if it’s not directed at you, and pushing certain buttons might feel uncomfortable for them on the level of kissing their sister.

    When a relationship reaches a certain level of intimacy, boundaries do need to be drawn. It’s nothing to worry about, and it’s good that they’re honorable enough to draw them before any possible trouble starts. They’re just telling you to back off, whether or not your intentions were sexual. Consider it a kind of a warning shot that maybe you’ve overstepped, and respect that whether or not it makes sense to you. Other people’s boundaries might seem silly, but they’re theirs, and deserve to be honored.

    The time to worry is if they’re basically treating you like an ego booster, and rebuffing you due to some completely unfounded delusion of grandeur. Some guys never learned masculine ways to get their strokes, and resort to feminine ones. So beware of male attention whores. Some guys convince themselves that a woman wants them just because she’s friendly.

    The best answer to a guy telling you he doesn’t like you “that way” is to roll back to handshake or Christian brotherly hug level. You can tell the difference between the regular guys and the attention whores because after you pull back, the attention whores will try to escalate. It’ll stick in their craw that you really weren’t interested in them, and they’ll start trying to get you to want them. At that point you know that the best option is avoidance.

    Since you’re married, it’s a good idea to mind your presentation. Everything about your appearance and behavior should say that you are unavailable. This is a good way to avoid most misunderstandings…not always, but most of the time. If you’re dressing and behaving absolutely unavailable, then you know in advance that anybody going in that direction got there without your help. Just avoid them because they’re obviously thinking about you the wrong way, and it can come to no good to be around them.

  5. Pingback: Game for Girls » Bitch Shield vs. Prude Shield

  6. This was very interesting to read. I do suffer from low self-esteem, and am in a relationship with a married man who is definitely playing this game. We’ve been seeing each other for two years while he hesitates on the brink of leaving his wife. But if pushed he always pulls back and says that he never promised commitment and can’t bear to give up some aspect of his current life for me.

    Recently I had his baby, which he is making me bring up alone and without any financial, practical or emotional support from him, though he earns a large salary. I am angry with him but also finding it impossible to walk away. Reason? In some respects he offers things which I have never had in any relationship before, both emotionally and physically. I get a confusing mixture of pain and pleasure from being with him and I can’t decide if I want to go because I really want to, or because I ought to.

    To add to my difficulties, I’m pretty convinced that if he were free, I would really not want to be in a ‘proper’ relationship with someone like him! So I’m playing something, too–but where is the exit??? It’s when I break it off that I feel unbearable pain and life isn’t worth living. I ‘ought to be’ stronger but I am not…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.