Rethinking: Playing Hard to Get (For Men and Women)
The ole' "Should I play hard to get?" issue plaguing you, is it? Well, join the club, brothers and sisters, and pull up a chair, because there's absolutely no consensus about the right answer. Truthfully, the most honest answer you'll get from us is, "It depends". But we'll get back to that.
Regardless of which path you're traveling to meet potential dates, you'll soon come face to face with this universal question. In a perfect world, you like someone, you contact them, and they either agree to go out with you, or they don't.
If you're female, you've been beaten over the head since you were a wee lass with the age-old advice that you should let a guy call you and make the first move. And once he expresses interest, don't be too easy.
If you're male, ever since your hormones starting pinging, you've been trying to figure out how you're supposed to tell if a girl actually likes you enough to risk being rejected by making the first move...and then how to proceed after she actually goes out with you.
Both of you, in identical, parallel comic strip cells are scratching your heads (or other parts of your body, if you're a guy) while your thought bubbles read:
Guy: Damn, that girl was hot! Awesome night. Better not text her too soon though. She might think I'm needy. Isn't there that 3 or 5 day rule or something? Ugh. Dating sucks.
Girl: Damn, that guy was hot! Awesome night. I think it was mutual, but how fricking hard would it be for him to text me that he had a good time, or ask me out for the weekend?
Girl: Ok. This is getting ridiculous. It's been 3 mofo days since our date! Should I text him? F that... I'm not going to be the one. He's probably a man-whore. If he texts me, I'm going to tell him that I already have plans for the weekend. I don't want him to think i've been sitting around waiting for him to call.
Guy: Ok..here goes (texting): HI GIRL! How's your week been? Want to check out that sushi joint that I mentioned on Market and 5th this Saturday?
Girl: (texting):Who IS this? Oh...hey! Weeks been great, but tired from a late night. This Saturday? Damn, I already told someone I'd go out with them :(
Guy: (texting): Oh, no prob! Catch ya soon! (Argh!! I hate dating. I KNEW she was dating a million guys!)
Girl: Seriously? Not even an 'I'd love to see you again'..like...on Wednesday? Nothing? Forget it.
So, what happened here? Basically, it was a SNAFU (situation normal, all f-cked up) of typical dumb dating communication choices.
The Scoop for Men
Yes, we know that the last 200,000 years of evolution and at least 4 years of high school have drilled into your psyche that the more confident and strong you appear, the less likely you will be to be eaten, or at least mocked. So it’s understandable that you will strive to look strong and invulnerable.
The thing is, you can use this strength and vulnerability to your advantage. There is nothing more appealing to a woman than a strong, take-charge man…if done with confidence, and not arrogance. So instead of playing mind-games with her, in hopes that you'll appear like The Man: tell her what you want, and close with a plan:
“I had/ a great time this evening, and I want to see you again this weekend. I’ll text you tomorrow and we can figure out what day works best".
Then do it. Don’t ask permission, ("Is it okay?") and don’t say you’re going to do it unless you mean it, whether it’s calling or texting on the appointed day, or showing up on time. You don't need to worry about whether she liked you enough; instead focus on whether you like her enough to see her again. If she doesn’t, she’ll tell you that she’s busy, without suggesting an alternate time, or will tell you that it didn’t feel like a good match.
Guys, ladies are as tired of the dating cat-and-mouse head games they've been enculturated to play as you are.
One of the biggest complaints women have is that after the first contact has been initiated (by either of you) they'd love to let you follow up, but often they end up waiting for an absurd amount of time. This then puts them in the position of having to decide if they should be the one to contact you, which can then undermine your desire to take the lead.
In reality, you may indeed be enjoying playing the field, or perhaps trying to fine tune your approach...not coming on too strong-- or needy and desperate. Either way, when you over-compensate by waiting too long, you can send very confusing signals to your potential dates.
Instead: try a middle of the road approach. Play the field all you want, but be honest about your dating life. It's ok to tell each other that you're both dating others. It's true, and this modified "hard-to-get" dynamic keeps everyone on their toes.
The Scoop For Women:
Yes, we know that for far too many generations you've been taught that you WAIT for a guy to make his druthers known, and that it's advisable to let him make the first move. Given the online dating format, waiting for a man to contact you would be patently absurd. Men would be thrilled to be contacted by a confident and attractive woman. Don't believe us? Ask a guy friend.
See someone you like? Make the first contact. The dude will thank you for it if he's interested, and if he's not, just move on. Once you guys connect, you can let him take more of the lead again if you'd like, but feel free to get the party started.
Ladies, for good or ill, playing "hard to get" has historically been your game to play. You can modernize this paradigm by choosing to focus on the mutual thrill of the chase. Admit it: if a guy is overly available, eager, or hyper-focused on you, you can end up feeling claustrophobic, and you may lose interest. Your guys feel the same thing. It's human nature to enjoy a bit of a challenge; to pique curiosity, to keep us sharp, and because it's exciting.
Guys also appreciate your vulnerability, so don't be so guarded and afraid of rejection that you give him the wrong message. Tell him what you like about him.
Dating Exclusively (For Men and Women)
Men: Made it to past a couple of dates? Awesome. You're a rock star. If you're ready to ask her to be exclusive, tell her that you like her better than all the other women you've met, and that you'd like her to be your girlfriend. Sexy words, my friend, music to her ears. And don't panic: once you're dating exclusively, it doesn't mean that you're engaged, or that you just over committed yourself. It means that you are recognizing that there is something special there, and you're committing yourself to finding out if you are good long-term partners. Just don't start taking her for granted. You're still dating, and you have a responsibility not to get lazy. Have your own life, your interests, and your activities. Not being available all the time is a turn-on.
Women: You've been patient, and you've allowed your guy to come to the brilliant conclusion that you are indeed worth giving up those other women for, and now you can enjoy this awesome guy that you agreed to give up all those other guys for. Just like before, though, remember that this is not the time to become complacent. This is the time when you both are feeling each other out for a more long term possibility. It's most important that you aren't tempted to give up your weekly girls nights, or Monday and Wednesday yoga class to be with your guy. Part of what made you desireable was the fact that you have a life that makes you fully you. Yes, women tend to be more nurturing than guys, so nurture away, but be resolute about keeping some things sacred for yourself.
Playing "hard to get" is really just another description for not being predictable, and not being so eager to become a couple that you lose yourself in the process. If you're busy being yourself, and living your life, there really isn't a reason to need to "play" anything.