Playing hard to get may seem pointless, but it’s not always. When done correctly, it can give relationships an extra bit of excitement. The art of the chase can spice up relationships both existing and new. Perhaps a better way to frame playing hard to get is to think of it as building anticipation.
The problem with playing hard to get is that it backfires sometimes. Whoever was playing hard to get was playing wrong or playing too hard to get. It's a fine, fuzzy line.
Before diving in, it’s important to first think about if you’re approaching it from the right place and if your partner or crush will also be into it. Everyone has different limits, expectations, and definitions of love. When you play hard to get, take into account the other person. After all, you are interested in them, no? Maintaining a strong sense of respect for each other is essential. You don't want to play hard to get at the expense of another’s mental health and happiness.
If you want to know how to play hard to get in an exciting, positive way, you're going to want to play the game carefully and thoughtfully. Remember, as much as this is for you, it's also for your crush. Here's how to do it effectively.
1. Give the attention they need, but not the attention they want.
Just as people have limits as far as how much they can handle, they also have minimums as far as how little they're willing to accept. You’ll have to get into your crush’s or partner’s head to figure out how much attention is too much (or they’ll just tell you).
So, when does it cross over? When they no longer feel like they need to work for your attention. No partner should constantly be working for your attention, but they definitely need to be giving a little bit of effort. Holding back a little at times can give them a nice reminder of what they’re missing, of how amazing it feels to receive your attention when you choose to give it, which again, doesn’t have to be 24/7.
However, be careful about not giving your crush enough attention. If they don’t feel that you care, they will call it quits. Find a happy in-between — playful give-and-take can be a good thing.
2. Make your crush work for it, but don't forget to put in some effort yourself.
You want the person you're dating to always be making an effort. This isn't to say your crush must always be on his or her toes, always making sure to give you attention, and putting in an enormous amount of effort — that's exhausting. But you do want them to feel like they should be giving you their best around you. You want your crush to want to make an effort to keep you around.
Playing hard to get is a two-player game. Nothing extreme, of course, just a nice bit of tension to keep things exciting. You want the other person to work for you, just as your partner will want to make you work for them. Reciprocation is the key to any working relationship. Making someone want to work to get you is synonymous with making him or her want you, in general.
“For a relationship to be healthy, both partners must be putting in the work equally,” Dr. Christie Kederian, a licensed marriage and family therapist, previously told Elite Daily. "A one-sided relationship is similar to a group project where one person has to work harder than all the others to get a good grade, except in relationships, you don’t get a good grade unless both people in the relationship do the hard work.''
3. Build sexual chemistry and anticipation.
Sex can be wonderful, but as with many wonderful things, it becomes even more wonderful when you have time to let the anticipation for it grow. Sure, spur of the moment things are exciting in their own way, but building sexual tension over time can bring more thrill to a relationship, regardless of if you’re having sex with someone or not.
If you haven't had sex yet, then giving it some time — time to get to know each other on a deeper level, if that’s what your mutual intentions are — will make the sex more meaningful (hookups are a different story).
If you've been having sex, try not to make it part of a routine. Sex shouldn't be routine. It should be spontaneous and fun. Routines, no matter what they consist of, inevitably become boring over time. Sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr previously told Elite Daily that using small and playful physical gestures can help build sexual anticipation.
“Tease your partner with kisses or sensual touch and let the fire start burning,” Fehr said. “Do this during the few days preceding the date or the morning of.”
4. Open the window, but don't let them jump through.
You should always be careful with whom you let in. Not all people get the chance or even deserve to get to know you on an intimate level, only those you choose. Instead of laying your hand on the table, show your crush one card at a time. Pull back the curtains, even open the window, but don't let them leap until it's time.
Think about it this way: If your goal is to find someone to spend your life with, then you should approach each relationship as if it has the potential to become what you're looking for. If it doesn't even have the potential of becoming what you want it to become, then you likely shouldn't be in the relationship in the first place.
Take your time. Get to know each other slowly. Don't rush this process, because it's more fun not to.
5. Give them affection, but always take your space.
Relationships can be disappointing when the people in them are aiming for the impossible, and being together all the time is an unattainable goal, even if you feel like you want to spend all of your time around your crush or partner. Letting your partner be themself and letting you be you on your own time can build anticipation for when you do come back together.
“In reality, brief periods of solitude recharge our soul batteries and allow us to give even more to our partners and to the relationship itself,” clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte told Bustle.
The beauty of spending time apart is that it regularly reminds you how important the other person is to you and what you enjoy most about being around them. It allows you to miss this person.
The truth is that you can't miss someone who's always there — and you want this person to miss you. Spend enough time apart to ensure that the time you have together is as exciting, intense, and magical as it should be.
While playing hard to get can definitely veer into manipulation if you take it too far, approaching it thoughtfully can be a way to spice up an existing or new relationship. If true desire is really there, your partner will continue to make an effort and want you even when you are purposely holding back just a little for the sake of building anticipation and playful tension.
Dr. Christie Kederian, licensed marriage and family therapist
Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy coach
Rachel Astarte, clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator