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If you’re dating and have been for a while, one thing I’m confident you’ve heard is ‘play hard to get’. Especially so, if you’re a woman. But does this piece of advice really work and will it help you get who you really want? 

The idea behind playing hard to get is that being aloof and unavailable will drive someone so crazy that they’ll fall right into your arms. Realistically, we all know that dating advice sometimes conflicts. As an example, some advice suggests that people should “play hard to get” in order to increase attraction and desire. While other advice suggests you should be direct and straightforward, thus improving trust and liking. 

Let’s break this down though.

Playing hard to get sometimes works. Sometimes, being on the receiving end of someone else’s aloof and uncertain signals does increase desire. Other times, it just sews doubt in the other person’s mind, which means your tactics have backfired. Some people (researchers) think that playing hard to get increases “wanting” but may simultaneously lead to a decrease in “liking”. And this is important. Wanting speaks to desire while liking speaks to positive emotions. Now you have to ask yourself, which of these is more important? You should want the person you like to like you more than want you. Wanting hints at “possessing” or suggests there’s some sort of conquest. And once a conquest has been completed, then what’s next? 

Let’s go deeper. Playing hard to get might only work under certain circumstances—specifically, if the person was actually interested from the onset. If they weren’t, then why would they spend anytime pursuing something or someone that is of no value to them? In other words, playing hard to get only works when someone is already interested. Playing hard to get is a useful strategy… under the right conditions. It works when your potential partner is already interested and when they think you are “likable” and nice, but are not yet passionate about you. Posing a challenge can turn up their desire. If they are uncertain and not a little invested, however, it might be best to be more direct and engaging. 

We asked 5 men if they like it when women play hard to get. Download the digital version of the July 2021 edition of The Cover, here, to see what they said about “the chase”.

See also: How To Maintain A Friendship As An Adult

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