How To Play Hard To Get (And When You Should Even Bother)

Don't start your relationship off with a cheap gimmick.

doubled image of woman looking coyly over her shoulder paffy / Shutterstock

I've always hated the term "playing hard to get." It sounds inauthentic and shallow.

Should you play hard to get?

There are some that argue that, yes, you should play hard to get, as it can increase the level of attraction and his interest in you. The pursuit gives evidence that he's persistent, can be a turn on for the woman controlling the narrative, and his overall effort shows the value he has for you.


But for me, the answer is a resounding no — you shouldn't play hard to get. Doing so can be confusing and may risk losing your ideal mate.

Having a strong backbone while remaining feminine is an incredibly valuable trait that will gain men's love and respect. But being fake with men just perpetuates the mistaken notion that when women say "no," it's not a real "no."

This is, frankly, wrong, and bad for all of us as women.

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For those that are into the risk, you can learn to play hard to get by using some simple tactics.

Here are four ways to honor your own needs while drawing him closer to you at the same time.

How to play hard to get

1. Put your phone away.

Don't train anyone in your life to be able to reach you at any second. This eliminates the expectation that you'll always text back right away and gives him some room to miss you and wonder what you're up to.

Space and time in a new relationship are excellent things.

2. Refuse to clear your schedule in anticipation of seeing them.

Have you ever fallen into the trap where you meet someone new and all of a sudden you are hoping they'll make plans for Friday, so you turn down girls' night? Because you were hoping that maybe he would want to hang out?


Start making him fit into your schedule, instead of vice versa. Don't be so quick to throw yoga class under the bus to hang out. If he wants to see you, he'll make the time.

The key here is authenticity. If you are free on Saturday, tell me the truth. If you aren't, don't cancel any plans to hang out with Mr. New and Shiny.

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3. Maintain your boundaries.

Be polite with men, but firm. If you're going to your weekly pottery class and he begs you to cancel, give him an alternate day to go out. Don't cave into giving up your interests.

Also, don't start inviting yourself into his life. Don't assume that you both are spending time together unless that is the actual plan.


4. Do what you authentically think is fun.

If you're having fun on the date, have fun on the date! Laugh and play. People don't do it enough.

As someone who has always been accused of being "too serious," I've found that lightening the mood really goes a long way toward building rapport with men. Then, if you didn't have the love match you were hoping for, at least you both had a good time and created a nice memory.

Genuinely having a good time has an additional benefit, and this is that men are incredibly attracted to happy women. In the long run, drawing him closer because of your genuine zest for life will make him fall for you like a ton of bricks.

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Being hard to get is valuable. Playing hard to get is cheap.

If you start out a relationship with a gimmick, you have to maintain it. Otherwise, the relationship suffers. However, this is vastly different than actually being hard to get.

Being hard to get is a state of mind whereby you honor your own needs over those of someone else. You have enough self-esteem and confidence to not concern yourself with engineering your interactions with men and just have interactions with men.


When you're really interested in someone you just met, it's important to express the interest in getting to know them, but not clear off your schedule for the next month in hopes he'll want to hang out.

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Elizabeth Stone is an author, dating, and personal development coach who helps women restore themselves to help improve their relationships.