How to Play Hard to Get

Dating 101
03 May 2023
10 min read
Is Playing Hard to Get Worth It?

Do you find that you are constantly disappointed with both your friendships and romantic connections? Maybe you feel as if you are putting all of the effort into your relations, and dedicating all your time to being there for others, but aren’t getting much in return for that. If so, you may need to learn the skill of playing hard to get.

Why Should You Play Hard to Get?

“To teach people how to treat you, you do not begin with them, you begin with yourself.”

Josephine Wiseheart, MS, a psychotherapist

Some people can benefit from learning how to play hard to get in order to prioritize themselves in their life. This isn’t about playing games or manipulating people. Instead, it’s a way of limiting how you spend time with people with the goal of focusing on relationships that are most worthwhile.

The whole point of playing hard to get is to counter the effects of making yourself too available. When the people in your life know they can get unlimited access to your time and undivided attention, they often appreciate you less. Your friends may expect you to be available when they call or text. Your lover might assume that you will be spending time with them whenever they want. The end result is that you become the person that puts all of the work into every relationship.

There’s another benefit to learning how to play hard to get, and it applies to romantic and sexual relationships specifically. By learning how to play hard to get, you can make yourself that much more alluring and mysterious to the other person.

Playing hard to get in a healthy way

A Healthy Approach to Playing Hard to Get

Your motivation behind playing hard to get should be positive. The idea is to achieve something positive for yourself, and hopefully the other person too. You want to build healthy relationships where you are treated with value. It’s even better if you can keep some of the romantic mystery alive.

How do you know you are doing playing hard to get the right way? You may notice some of these positive changes:

  • Your self-worth improves
  • You become more independent and comfortable doing your own thing
  • Friends start calling you to make plans
  • Dates treat you like the high-value person you are
  • People appreciate when you put in the extra effort
  • You feel less pressure and resentment
  • Your partner becomes more attentive

Playing hard to get should improve your relationships. When you do it correctly, this is a process that can even be a bit fun and playful.

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A Not-So-Healthy Approach to Playing Hard to Get

Some manipulative personalities use playing hard to get as a way to achieve “wins”. They view relationships as transactional, and play hard to get in order to score the most points. Also, some men and women play hard to get as a way of playing mind games. They enjoy creating drama and evoking an emotional response. Later, they try to use that emotional response to their own advantage.

Play hard to get, but don’t play games with another person’s feelings or mental health. Examine your behavior and motivations. Then, be aware of these red flags:

  • You feel guilty after playing hard to get
  • Friendships and relationships have ended or suffered
  • You find yourself keeping score
  • Your partner accuses you of attempting to play mind games
  • You have a need to maintain the upper hand instead of compromising

Finally, be wary of basing your choices and behaviors in a relationship on stereotypes. So many people think that girls play hard to get to have a guy pursue them. This is based on old-fashioned and creepy narratives where most women aren’t supposed to like sex. At least, they are supposed to pretend that is the case in a new relationship.

In reality, sometimes it’s the guy who needs to remind his partner that he is a good catch. Bottom line, playing hard to get is a valuable relationship tool for anybody who wants to establish the right balance between having their needs met and being there for their partner.

Related reading:
Dating vs Relationship – What Are the Main Differences Between Them?
How to Be a Good Girlfriend: Master the Skill
14 Red Flags in Women – Here’s Your Checklist

Should You Try Playing Hard to Get

How do you know if playing hard to get is for you? Start by taking a closer look at your past relationships. What was your role? Did you find yourself constantly planning and initiating everything from dates to physical intimacy? Were you always the person who put in the emotional labor while the one you were dating did other things? These are indicators that you should consider playing hard to get.

By offering limited physical affection, time, and attention you force the other person to make an effort. Here are some other reasons that playing hard to get can lead to you getting better things out of life.

You Deserve to Be the Biggest Priority in Your Own Life

“The way you believe about and treat yourself sets the standard for others on how you demand to be treated. People learn how to treat you based on what you accept from them.”

Michael Morgan, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist

Do your friends look at you and think, “She’s settled”? Is that how you feel about your own relationship? Too frequently, one person does all of the heavy lifting in the relationship. Meanwhile, the other person will stay glued to their phone or computer or will spend time with other people.

Of course, your feelings are hurt when you aren’t treated like a priority. Unfortunately, when you make yourself readily available for quality time or even sex, you communicate that you just aren’t that important. Meanwhile, your partner may secretly enjoy the fact that they get all the attention from you without making any meaningful effort.

Women who have played hard to get often realize they get more out of life. Not only do they become a top priority in their own lives, their partners also rethink how they treat them.

Learn What Your Partner Really Wants

There are times in which playing hard to get can appear to be passive-aggressive or a front to try and get your partner to say what they want. This can result in your partner becoming increasingly frustrated as well as limiting self-disclosure. In this case, playing hard to get is not a nice way to get a little bit of extra attention but the opposite.

We recommend that if you are using it to try and get your partner to say something, you should clearly communicate your needs so there will be no traits of passive aggression. Since playing hard to get comes in the form of subtle hints, refusal of intimacy, or any other similar things, this can result in some negative emotions too.

Stop Chasing and Start Building

Playing hard to get is often a game that only makes sense to the person playing it. While it may feel as if you are getting to chase them by how you resist texting them or how you find yourself withholding sex, you may find that it is you who is doing the chasing.

Break the rules of your own game and pull yourself away from the hard-to-get mantra and start building up your relationship. Remember that playing hard to get in hopes of keeping a guy and making him interested in you is considered to be a major red flag in the world of dating. If you don’t start actively building up your relationship through actual communication and intimacy, the guy you want will stop wanting to wait for you to get to their level and look to date other people.

Related reading: A Guide to Growing an Exclusive Relationship

Add to The Fun and Adventure of Your Relationship

Instead of giving accidental physical contact or spending lots of time with platonic friends in order to make him jealous, you can think of ways to add to the adventure in your relationship. Most guys want a modern woman who knows their limits but can also be fun and spontaneous.

Rather than staying busy and hanging out with male friends as a way to avoid him, use spending time with him as the reason that you are staying busy. Act like you’re dating for the first time again, relive the first few dates as well as the sex you had when you first got together. Add in some new adventures and ask other men which spontaneous fun and adventure to make. There is so much more that you can do besides wait while you play hard to get.

Increase Demand And Desire For Your Presence

You may be considering playing hard to get because you find yourself comparing the implied feelings of the early days of your dating life with him to now. Perhaps you feel like he isn’t interested in having you around anymore, or you feel like it’s been a few weeks since you both have spent any meaningful time together.

Remember that desire and demand is a two-way road, and our partners tend to feel the same way we do. Therefore, the best way to increase demand and desire is to show him how much you want him to be around. Ask him about his day in a casual way – but make sure that you appear to be interested. Double-check with him and his schedules to help you remember certain aspects of his routine. In general, show him that you care about him and that should keep him interested.

Playing hard to get may work bad for you

When Playing Hard to Get Can Ruin a Serious Relationship

Playing hard to get may not always be a wise idea. It may come across as manipulative. Also, there are times in which a direct approach is best. You have to articulate what you want and why you are feeling the way you do. For example, you can’t fix a partnership that is plagued by emotional distance if you play hard to get. Also, acting sarcastic and being emotionally distant isn’t the way to treat the person you love. Not every guy or gal is receptive to this.

If you are dating someone who seems non-responsive when you play hard to get, they may simply not notice it. Yes, that could be a sign that they are neglectful. But there’s also a chance that they are just a bit clueless, and this kind of thing goes right over their head. Stating clearly what you want in a direct communication is always the best idea in this case.

Remember that things should be fun. At its most serious, you should play hard to get to make the point that you are worth the wait. If you end up hurting the other person’s feelings, it’s not worth it.

How to Play Hard to Get: Value Tips For Acting Confidently

Should you start playing or not? Although there are more reasons why you should not play hard to get, there are still some benefits from it as well. So, the decision is all yours.

If you decide to play this game, remember that things that can potentially go wrong. This is especially true when you lack the knowledge of how to properly do it. Here are some tips that can help you whenever you decide that playing hard to get is the best way to get his attention.

Be Confident

The best way to play the hard-to-get game is to have full confidence that he will want you. Most guys in the world tend to find a confident woman to be much more interesting and attractive than a woman who lacks confidence. Therefore being confident will make the guy you’re interested in more likely to chase you.

Learn When to Say No

When you want to enter a relationship with a guy but find yourself also wanting to play hard to get, you should learn when to say no. This way, you can set clear boundaries for yourself, your partner, and the relationship you have together.

“Before you find a partner, you’ve got your own patterns of behaviors that you become used to. Respecting people’s personal space is a very important boundary in itself.”

James Preece, dating coach

Remember that there is a bit of a rule of etiquette when it comes to saying no. If you never say no, you may be seen as boring or overeager by a guy which can put him off from dating you. If you say no too much, a guy may believe that you have simply rejected him. It’s all about the right balance.

If you don’t know whether to say no in your current situation, it is best to live by the rule of 3. Never say yes 3 times in a row and never say no 3 times in a row. From the first date to the last one, it is best to live by this rule in order to keep him interested in you.

Don’t Respond Right Away

Remember that over-eagerness and lack of eagerness are both turn-offs to a guy. When you are wanting to play hard to get, don’t respond right away and try to act like you were just busy. When acting busy, it can help to tell him that you were doing things like spending some time with friends, talking to another guy, or going to a restaurant that he likes. This will give him a feeling of FOMO, or fear of missing out. When you make him feel like he’ll miss out on things with you, that can result in him being more interested in you.

Let Him Know You’re Not in a Rush

Part of knowing how to play hard to get is to make sure that you are able to take things slowly with him. When you first start dating him, don’t be afraid to talk to other men or even have casual sex, if you’re comfortable with that. Let him know that you’re not in a rush to find love.

Humans are competitive by nature. By taking your time, you place yourself on a pedestal that he needs to work at reaching. If he thinks a relationship with you is worth it, he will work hard to get to your level.

Don’t Praise Him Too Much

Of course, you don’t want to refuse to give him any praise. However, many people tend to praise men for the smallest things. It’s done so much that many guys treat praise like an expectation rather than a reward.

Whenever he acts nicely or does something nice for you, be grateful, but don’t give him more than a thank you or some form of appreciation. Remember that you deserve to be treated nicely. Being nice shouldn’t be rewarded with tons of praise. It should be the default for everyone.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Your Other Experiences

Part of knowing how to play hard to get is to make him feel jealous. Don’t be afraid to talk about casual sex encounters you’ve had with other guys or girls, if that also happens to be a part of your forte.

Of course, you don’t want to force the conversation towards these types of topics. So instead, it is best for you to make sure that you are able to talk about these things casually. If you try and force the conversations towards these types of topics, you may be seen as promiscuous and bragging rather than interesting.

Takeaway: Make Playing Hard to Get a Fun Positive Experience!

When it comes to talking about playing hard to get, there are a lot of factors to consider. These factors can include communication, intimacy, your own confidence, how much you love spending time together, and so much more.

Think twice and examine your capabilities before trying to play the hard-to-get game. After all, there is a lot that goes into making the guy you like interested in you, sparkle many emotions about you, and not send any red flag signal to him. Make sure to take your time to consider your other options and make sure that you are playing the game correctly as well.

Dating Tips Author
Shelly Standford
After a devastating relationship breakup, I threw myself into the dating scene by registering on Hily. I had over 100 dates - some absolute disasters, some pretty average, and some that were actually great. So many stories to tell and insights to share with you guys!
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