One of the most fun parts about dating or talking to someone new is the "texting" phase. Every time you hear your phone's message notification, it feels like a little electric shock runs through your stomach. But should you reply right away, or is it better to play it a little "cool"? There is definitely something to say about the idea of wanting what you can't have, but does ignoring someone you like make them want you more? According to Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and executive dating coach, straight-up ignoring someone you're crushing on not only doesn't look good, but it may even come back to bite you in the end.
"I would never endorse ignoring someone," says Barrett, calling the behavior potentially "manipulative." However, he adds that it is sometimes a good idea to give someone you're interested in some distance to feel your absence. "It's OK to give someone the gift of missing you — to give them space and let them think about you a little bit."
This is especially true when you are first getting to know one another, says Barrett, when it may actually be the most tempting to just leave them on read or ignore them completely. "If you're in the early stages of dating, you want to avoid being overly eager, because that can come across as needy," he explains. But Barrett adds that this doesn't mean you should be rude or play mind games. "Rather than ignoring someone, you want to cultivate a full, rich, busy life, and people who lead busy lives will give the person they're dating space, because they're not always texting and calling," he says.
The issue, Barrett explains, is that purposefully ignoring someone is a mind game, and it's inauthentic, which can easily backfire. So, his advice is to stay busy instead of just pretending to be busy. "Instead of ignoring someone, which creates the appearance of a full life, cultivate an actual fun, rich life, and then you won't have to use tactics like ‘ignoring.’ You'll just be busy, which does make you more attractive," he says.
Barrett stresses that when you are interested in someone, it's all about finding a balance between letting them know that you're open to dating without coming off as "too eager". "Dating is a dance, and part of that dance is not to be or appear needy or over-eager," he explains. "Actively ignoring someone might work in the short term, but it usually backfires, because if there's mutual interest and chemistry, it will just come across as 'game-playing' and manipulation."
What Barrett is ultimately getting at is that, if you want a real connection, you might want to just be authentic with the object of your affection. Sure, ignoring them may work in the short term, but you're actually short-changing yourself by simply creating the artifice of a full life instead of striving to actually have one. It's also easy to get caught up in a lie. So, maybe just give the mind games a pass and go ahead and reply to their texts instead.