Does Keeping Someone On Read Make Them Want You More? Here’s What The Experts Say
Have you ever watched the show The Good Place? In it, both heaven and hell are custom made to best reward or punish you. If the afterlife is anything like that IRL, my personal bad place (because let’s be real, that's where I'm goin') will be just a phone screen with all my texts marked read — and maybe the occasional disappearing typing bubble. Ugh, someone call the Geneva Convention because that's straight up torture, which is why it’s pretty intense that it's actually a tactic folks use in online dating. But the question is, does keeping someone on read work? And, if it does work, does playing hard to get digitally make you, well, kind of a jerk? Because if you've ever been on the other end of on read, you know how much it can suck.
To clarify, leaving someone on read is when you have your iPhone's "Read" receipts on, and you purposefully don't answer a crush's texts so that they know you read it, but you haven't replied. The whole point is to make them wonder why. It's a weird power game, and if you've dated as a millennial, you or your crush has probably tried it at some point.
Even if it’s not the best feeling to be waiting on a reply, there is some value in seeming a bit unavailable and mysterious. For one thing, it keeps you from coming across as "thirsty" and will weed out anyone who isn't willing to do a little work. There's nothing like a brief on read to reveal a "nice guy," aka someone who claims to be nice but immediately turns into a monster at the slightest sign of rejection. The sooner you spot and eliminate them, the better. But it also means that you have to play games, which can be both exhausting and can backfire. But again, does it work? To answer that, I reached out to the experts. Here's their take on why, yes, it can work, but why it may or may not be worth it.
It Creates Tension
Using the on read tactic works in the same way that the old school playing hard to get worked, by creating tension by withholding.
“Humans seek resolution and clarity," NYC relationship expert Susan Winter tells Elite Daily. "The partner that creates tension sets up a situation where you won't know where you stand. Yes or no? In or out? Do they like me? This dating game keeps one's prey on guard and insecure.”
It also works, she explains, by making the person waiting on the response feel a bit more vulnerable and insecure, which “activates their desire for acceptance,” says Winter. “It creates incentive for the non-priority person to work at becoming a priority. Yes, it's a game. And yes, our ego tends to jump in and want to play in order to win.”
It’s Very Manipulative
While it may be effective in drawing someone in and holding their attention, dating coach John Keegan of The Awakened Lifestyle explains it’s an extremely manipulative tactic that may cause unintended consequences.
“Keeping your text 'on read' message is a manipulative tactic used to get people to feel off-center," Keegan tells Elite Daily. "When someone's doing that on purpose it's because they are manipulative.” He adds that it can even lead to obsession.
“Searching and checking for someone's read messages is a sign that you are becoming obsessed. It's also a sign that something is unhealthy in the relationship between you and the other person. What it means is that you don't feel that there is a back-and-forth flow that feels balanced. If you find yourself checking over and over you need to get a grip and focus on something else in your life.”
But Does It Actually Work?
Listen, online dating is hard. With all the options out there, the people playing games, and the ghosting — so much ghosting — sometimes you just need a tiny edge. So, despite being a bit on the shady side, does deliberately putting someone on read work?
Both of the experts agreed that, yes, it definitely can work to make you seem more desirable — but it’s still a mixed bag further down the line.
Keegan explains that, as a seduction strategy, keeping someone on read really does work. However, it can also read as a red flag about you.
“It creates obsession within people. What it tells you about the person that's doing it is they are manipulative, they are trying to control you. They are trying to have power,” Keegan explains.
While early on it can be effective, Winter warns the real problem is what it means for the relationship further along. Winter says that, “[in the] short term, the one who uses 'on read' feels powerful and in charge. They feel they have the other person where they want them; weak, insecure and struggling for approval. In the long run, no healthy relationship can be formed from a polluted foundation. Game gets game. Real gets real.” She adds, “When you start with 'game' it's almost impossible to convert to 'real.’”
So ultimately the answer to if putting people on read works is, yep, it sure does. But there is potential for a lot of baggage. So use the tactic thoughtfully.
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