Playing it cool in a new relationship can drive your date away and cause the romance to fizzle out
“I'm so into him!” Jessica tells her best friend. She's talking about the wonderful guy she started dating a few weeks ago. Jessica wants to do this relationship the right way-- unlike the miserable dating experiences she's had in the past.
She lists off all of her plans for making sure her new guy knows just how special he is to her like sending him flirty texts, cooking him dinner and finding a way to get into his apartment to give him an intimate surprise. Jessica's friend stops her mid-sentence. “You've got to play it cool,” counsels her friend. “Don't come on too strong, act too interested or be too available to him,” the advice continues.
Now, Jessica isn't sure what she should be doing. She's confused about what is the best way to be in this new relationship. She thinks this guy might be “the one” for her and she certainly doesn't want to scare him off.
The advice to “play it cool” in a new relationship has been given and heard by many people. It kind of makes sense. When you and your date are just getting to know one another, it can be wise to allow room. You don't want to crowd this interesting and attractive new person in your life or pressure him or her to move faster than is comfortable.
You want to give the relationship a chance to come together naturally and grow.
The question of how cool or how hot to be in your new relationship can be a difficult one to answer. Every situation is different. There are plenty of couples who literally fell for one another when they first met (or soon after that). There was no question of whether or not to make a long-term commitment for these couples, it just happened and fast.
There are other couples who took longer to decide that being a couple was what they both wanted. For these people, the attractive pull may not have been as evident at the start. Over time, however, it became clear that being together was right for them.
Our point is, you can't always know whether the new relationship you're in will end up being a long-term commitment or whether it's not meant to last. This doesn't make the relationship any less important. Every single date and relationship you have can help you to grow and learn.
What's the harm in playing it cool?
If you deliberately hold back and keep yourself closed to the people you date, the consequences can be big and negative.
If you hide what is true for you, you're essentially being dishonest. If your relationship does continue, this habit will erode trust. Your partner will not know what is real and true about your words and actions.
Now, if you believe that you are in love with this person and you've only been on a couple of dates, be wise. It can feel overwhelming to hear “I love you” from someone when you don't actually know him or her that well or if you don't feel the same level of intensity.
Find ways to be open and authentic that fit the situation. Really tune in to your date. What is he or she literally saying to you when you're together? How does your date treat you? How do you treat your date?
Use observable information to decide how much-- and when-- to share about how you feel and what you want for the future.
If you're considering playing it cool in your new relationship, remember this advice...
#1: This person is NOT your ex.
We know, a big reason why many people play it cool in a new relationship is because they've been hurt and betrayed in the past. They're hesitant to get hurt again and we understand that.
There may have been lying and cheating in your past. You might have felt taken for granted or disrespected in your previous relationship and the last thing you want is a repeat.
We urge you to stay awake and be aware of what is happening with this new person and also to keep reminding yourself that you're NOT with your ex. This is a completely different person. While there might be similarities, don't react as if you're with your ex by holding back because you're worried you'll be hurt again.
In each moment, stay tuned in to what is true for you and what you need. Make decisions about how open you'll be based on the present and not the past.
#2: Holding back sends mixed messages.
While making yourself inaccessible might sound like a good idea, it can lead to a fizzled romance. Your date may become confused and frustrated trying to figure you out. When you hold back you are sending a message to your date that he or she and this new relationship aren't all that important to you.
This may or may not be accurate.
Playing it cool might have the opposite result than what you want. Your behavior could come off as mysterious or it could seem to the other person that you are cold and aloof. Instead of moving closer to you, the new person in your life may think you're rejecting him or her.
Be as accessible and available as is genuine for you. Don't put your life on hold for your date, but if this new relationship is a priority for you, don't hide that.
#3: Playing it cool blocks connection.
One essential element to a healthy and happy relationship-- at any stage-- is connection. The connection between you and your date is what makes it a relationship. You two are linked, if only for a brief period of time. Whether you are “just having fun” or are “serious” and “committed to one another,” there is some form of connection.
Before you deliberately hold back or pretend you are uninterested (when you really are), remind yourself of the damage you are doing to this new relationship. Make choices that open you up to connection. Relax and have fun with this person you enjoy being with and may possibly spend your life loving.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.