Should Women Still Play Hard To Get?

By Ella Carroll-Smith··  7 min read
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In a world of casual dating and hookup culture, having high standards is now akin to playing hard to get. There’s one key difference though.

“Playing hard to get” is a phrase that’s been thrown around a lot over the years. The thinking behind it is that, in the early dating stages, you should keep a guy on his toes in order to keep him interested and to do that, you must feign disinterest. According to Psychology Today, “Playing hard to get begins with building initial interest and getting attention, and then switching gears by becoming aloof.” 

The objective here is not to completely close yourself off or become inaccessible (though that’s always a potential outcome), but to be selective and make the guy more eager to pursue you. Playing hard to get can help you determine if a guy is truly interested in a relationship or if he’s only looking for a fling. If it’s the latter, then he’s likely not going to put a lot of effort into the relationship and will probably lose interest quickly. If it’s the former and this guy is actually looking to get to know you and develop a bond, then ideally he’ll still be interested despite your aloofness and will make more of an effort when you start pulling back.

After all, a little bit of mystery during the early days of courtship can be fun. It'll help him wonder: Who is this exciting new person? How does she view the world? What makes her tick? There is a fine line, however, between playing hard to get and playing games. If there’s one thing that reality dating shows and social media has taught us, it’s that playing games is not the right way to go about finding a healthy relationship. Playing games in a relationship is petty, childish, and breeds toxicity. 

There’s a fine line between playing hard to get and playing games. 

Relationships should be built on trust, and how can you trust a person who’s constantly testing you and making you jump through hoops to earn their love? At the same time, you don’t want to rush into a relationship or throw yourself at a guy either. Sleeping with a guy right off the bat is also a bad idea and being too available or desperate can be a turn-off in any relationship. So how can you strike the perfect balance between playing hard to get and playing games?

Don’t Think of Being Hard To Get As a Game

Notice that I just said “being” hard to get and not “playing” hard to get. That’s the key difference. If you’re looking for a serious and committed relationship, then you shouldn’t be playing games when you date guys. Instead, make a point to hold the guy you’re dating (and yourself!) to a high standard, and move slowly. 

Casual dating and hookup culture make women miserable because they devalue sexual intimacy and make it more difficult to develop a meaningful bond. That’s why having sex on the first date is a terrible idea, especially if you’re looking for something serious. Don’t throw yourself at a guy, but don’t be too aloof either. If you’re too hard to get, you run the risk of sending mixed signals and confusing this guy. The objective is to be hard to get in the sense that you’re going to stick to your values and be intentional, not to play games.

It’s possible to be coy and move slowly while still letting a guy know you’re interested in him. 

The early days of a relationship can be difficult to navigate. We’ve likely all counseled our girlfriends on just how much time you should let pass before responding to that text message or whether it’s okay to text him first when you were the one who texted first last time. In the beginning of a relationship, there’s always the feeling that neither party wants to show too many of their cards or be the one who cares more about the relationship, and that’s often true even when you’re both interested in each other! You can wait a bit before texting him back if you want to, but don’t purposefully mislead him or ignore him simply because you think it makes you seem confident and cool. 

Striking the Perfect Balance

You don’t need to be cruel or act disinterested in order to display confidence or make yourself seem valuable. Quite the opposite, in fact. Confident people don’t feel the need to treat others poorly or play games because they’re comfortable with themselves and confident in their own self-worth. Being rude in your attempt to play hard to get can backfire big time because a guy might just assume you’re a jerk. It’s possible to be coy and slow to open up while still letting a guy know that you’re interested in him. 

Show that you like a guy through your actions – a light touch on the shoulder, telling him he looks nice, asking him meaningful questions, or laughing at his jokes (if they’re funny). Most importantly: be honest about what it is you’re looking for. We often think of first dates as a time to dance around controversial subjects, like religion, politics, or money, but asking someone about their religion or views on certain political issues is the fastest way to tell whether the two of you are aligned. 

If you’re looking for something serious, then cutting to the chase earlier on will help you weed out guys who don’t want the same thing more quickly. That way, neither of you need to waste your time going on dates that won’t lead to anything.

Being a little hard to get is actually a sign of self-respect. 

You can be open about your expectations and the fact that you like a guy while still letting him know that you’d like to take things slow so you can get to know each other better. Contrary to what modern feminists might have you believe, women actually enjoy being pursued – when it’s done in a healthy way. Traditional relationship roles are traditional for a reason: because they complement the natural energies that men and women have. I’m not saying you should put on an apron and have dinner ready by 5, but let him be a man. Let him plan dates, woo you, and buy you flowers. Being pursued is part of what makes dating someone new fun and exciting. 

Allowing your different (but complementary!) energies to shine will help your relationship progress more naturally. Masculine energy is typically more action-oriented and aggressive while feminine energy is softer and more intuitive. Men are doers, so being a little hard to get and letting a guy pursue you will showcase your individual energies and help your relationship feel more natural. Taking things slow gives you both the time and space to really get to know each other on a deeper level. Once you develop a bond based on shared values, respect, and commitment, then it’s much easier to progress into a healthy and lasting relationship. 

Closing Thoughts

So what’s the moral of the story here? Games are bad, but being a little hard to get is good. If you feel like you’re trying to manipulate a guy into liking you more, then you’re doing it wrong. Being hard to get shouldn’t feel like manipulation, it should feel natural and genuine. Being hard to get and taking things slow are actually ways to show respect in the early stages of a relationship, both for yourself and your man!

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© 2022