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Does Playing Hard To Get Work? Here's Why Experts Are Skeptical

You’re sitting next to your phone, counting the minutes until you can reply to your crush’s last text. They took an hour to respond, so naturally, you have to take two. Or three. Heck, you may never even reply. That’ll show ‘em. (Editor's note: You are 100% going to reply.) As the minutes tick on, you think about how cute they are and how much you want to ask them out. But as you go to send an earnest and prompt text back, you think of all the reasons why playing hard to get doesn't work anyway.

"Playing [hard to get] by trying to be 'too cool' can leave the impression that you are not interested and that you think too much of yourself to make the first move," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in L.A., tells Elite Daily. "In actuality, you may have more to lose by playing elusive 'come and catch me' games."

Although you may believe timing out your texts or not seeming "too eager" is working in your favor, according to Dr. Brown, playing games can actually hinder your chances of building a healthy relationship. While you may think that your crush will respond better if you pretend not to care or keep from getting excited about or phased over anything, the right person will be super into you being yourself. "If you’re into somebody, you can let them know," Dr. Brown says. "It’s important to show someone that you care for them because it sends the message that you are available."

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Having a crush can be scary! You don't know how they feel or if they like you back, and you certainly don't want to do anything to make them uncomfortable or to kill your chances of you falling in love and moving to a castle in Scotland (I can dream, right?). According to Dr. Brown, although showing your crush your authentic self can be intimidating, if you have feelings for someone and are interested in dating them, being honest and transparent is imperative. "Extending trust is an act of courage, especially when we don’t know how we are going to be received," Dr. Brown says. "It is that trust, and that emotional honesty that helps us create, maintain, and grow love."

As Dr. Brown shares, emotional honesty and trust are fundamental parts of a healthy relationship. Whether you're the type to send 10 texts at once or you like to meet IRL pretty soon into messaging, being transparent with your desires and feelings from the beginning sets up a foundation of honesty and security. "Trust is the cornerstone of a truly loving relationship," Dr. Brown says. "Love requires an open vulnerability in order to build trust."

Although you may think your flirty feelings are obvious, Dr. Brown attests that it's important not to make assumptions. Your crush may have no idea that you come by their desk every day because you're super into them. They may think the only reason you always offer to make them a cup of coffee is that you really like coffee (not because you really like them and coffee). Additionally, if your crush is shy or doesn't date a ton, Dr. Brown shares that they may not pick up on your subtle, "I like you, but I don't want to tell you" cues. While you never need to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, if you have feelings for someone, Dr. Brown shares it can be healthy to express them. "It doesn’t take much: a lingering look, turning in their direction and smiling, a few moments of direct eye contact can make a huge difference." Dr. Brown says.

Of course, it's imperative to be mindful of your crush's comfort level and well-being. Although "making the first move" can be hot, consent is necessary before making any movements. If your crush is super shy, shouting, "I love you, Kenny!" into a megaphone in front of all their classmates or coworkers may not be the best move. Additionally, if your crush is more private, they more feel more comfortable having personal conversations on their own time (i.e., not during work or school). While some people are super into PDA and grand romantic gestures, others prefer to do the lovey-dovey things in their own space. Although it's healthy to express your emotions, you never want to make someone uncomfortable.

Still, if you're getting the sense that your crush would respond well to a dinner invitation or flirty texts, Dr. Brown shares that making the first move can be way cooler than trying to "be chill." "What do you really have to lose by making the first move?" Dr. Brown asks. "You have much more to potentially gain than to lose." Maybe you leave a little note with the coffee you got your crush, or you ask your date to meet your besties. Whatever the case, laying your emotional cards on the table can have some pretty big rewards.

No matter how long you've been flirting with a new cutie, if you're starting to have some serious feelings, it's always OK to express them. While it's important to consider your crush's feelings and comfort levels, expressing yourself makes space for them to do the same. "Playing hard to get" doesn't mean playing it cool — it means playing yourself. Yeah, I said it. Building real and loving relationships means being open and honesty from the get-go. And at the end of the day, being yourself and living your truth is the most important thing. And anyone who finds that hard to get? Well, they've got to go.