You have probably heard that playing hard to get is an essential part of dating. Our friends, movies and advice books reinforce this concept over and over again. You’re not alone; I’ve heard it too.
Where I come from, playing hard to get is a controversial topic. I’ve never understood it. Debates whether people (especially women) should play hard to get or not is usual.
If a woman is welcoming, she might be labelled ‘cheap’. If a woman is unwelcoming, she might be labelled ‘expensive’ and even ‘proud’.
On one hand, you do not want to seem too eager or overzealous, because you might be perceived as desperate or annoying. On the other hand, if they have not communicated with you after calling them two or three times, they are probably just not that into you.
Some dating and relationship advice suggest that people should play hard to get in order to increase attraction and desire. Others suggest people should be more direct and straightforward, to improve trust and liking.
Is the principle of playing hard to get a dating essential and does it really work? Do we have to jump through these hoops just because we like someone? Given all this confusion, I went searching for more specific research on whether to play hard to get or not.
Studies have found that women who are physically attractive, appear healthy and youthful, and are hard to get correlates with them being reproductively valuable to men.
In other words, playing hard to get is a tactic used by women to show men that they are to be valued and therefore, are more desirable to men.
Women who play hard to get give the appearance that they are more
selective in choosing a mate and will
not date just any guy.
Some theories suggest that playing hard to get functions to test a man’s motivation, ability to invest resources (time, money, effort, etc.), and/or a sign of his fidelity. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that playing hard to get is a beneficial tactic for women to use.
But what about men? Should they also play hard to get? A study by Whitchurch, Wilson, and Gilbert on uncertainty and romantic attraction says affirmative. They found that women were most attracted to men when uncertain whether these men liked them in return.
In this study, the researchers told women that men from different universities rated their Facebook profiles. They informed the women that they were rated based on the degree, to which the men thought they would get along with each woman. But, what the women did not know was that these men were fictitious.
The women in this study were either told that the four male profiles they were examining were men that liked them best, liked them on average amount, or in the uncertain condition (which meant that the men either liked them the best or liked them an average amount), and the women were unaware of what the men had rated them.
The study found that the women were most attracted to the men when they did not know how they were rated. Also, the women in the uncertain condition reported thinking about the men the most and it is suggested that, this enhanced their attraction toward these men.
It is proposed that the reason for this increased attraction is that the women might have spent more time
thinking about these men and
wondering how the men felt about
This study suggests that men who
create a sense of uncertainty (keep women guessing about how they feel about them), can actually increase that woman’s interest. So, what does this mean for me in the dating world?
It means that if you are a woman, you can maximize the chances of getting into a relationship by valuing your self-worth and playing hard to get. You can do this by not being overly available and having (or just appearing to have) other male options.
For men, it means that you should not immediately tell a woman that you like her, and leave your feelings about her a mystery for awhile. By leaving your feelings a mystery, she may think about you more and therefore be more attracted to you.
Playing hard to get is practiced by women all the time, subconsciously or deliberately. Guys do it too. But when they do it, we call it “weighing their
options” or “scared to settle down.”
I asked some guys if reading the signs was really all that simple: Is playing hard to get a turn on, a turn off, or just plain confusing? Here’s what they said.
Every Woman Does It—And They Like It
Generalizing for all females, Edidiong says “I don’t think I’ve ever met a girl who doesn’t play hard to get, at least in some way — and I like that. I’m a guy, I want to feel like I worked hard to get your attention and that you’re not just paying attention to me because I’m the last one at the bar before last call.”
“Playing hard to get?,” asks Nana, “It’s like the tried-and-true way to get a guy to notice you. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like it when girls are straight forward too, but there’s just something about a girl who teases you before letting you know she’s interested.”
Sammy, says “I like the idea of playing hard to get, but when the time comes, I can’t tell if you’re just messing with me or if you’re trying to let me know you’re into me. Girls in general are really hard to read! So something like teasing and tempting me, but then backing off isn’t really helping me feel confident and wanted in the situation.”
“If you’re playing hard to get because you noticed me and want me to make the first move, that works for me,” Chinedu says, “but once we’ve started dating and you wait days to return my calls, keep telling me that I have to ‘work really hard to keep you’, it’s a really big turn-off.”
They’re Completely Over It
“I’m not a super confident guy to begin with,” says Abe “so when a girl is playing mind games, intentionally or not, that doesn’t say ‘Hey, I’m interested in you’.”.
Femi tells me flat out, “No, I can’t
compete when a girl plays hard to get. I did it for years, I fought the battle like so many other guys, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the type of girl I want isn’t out to mess with my head or emotions.”
Lastly, Kofi says “After being with so many girls, I don’t want someone who puts mind games higher on the list than honesty. I’ve been the jerk that plays games with girls’ emotions. I’ve been the guy that’s hard to get. When the shoe’s on the other foot, it’s not fun.
Playing hard to get does not always work. Used at the wrong time, or in
the wrong way, it can backfire. While being aloof and scarce can make you more attractive, doing so too early or too often can make you less likeable.
Of course, if both women and men
play TOO hard to get, then there will be no chance of anyone getting together. So, please play hard to get responsibly. Remember, individual opinions differ.