Playing Hard To Get: How To Know When You’ve Taken It Too Far



Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Weve all heard the old adages from our mothers, grandmothers and, well, a whole industry designed to teach women how to play hard to get. Even though dudes like a little bit of a chase, it’s possible to take it a little further than necessary. Want to know when playing coy might be pushing him away? Heed these cautionary signs:

Your Schedule Suddenly Seems Very Empty
One of the more rigid rules of playing hard to get is not to be too terribly available. The rule about not accepting a date for Saturday night any later than Thursday is all well and good if youre prepared to spend a lot of Saturday nights doing laundry and watching reality television. Sometimes he doesnt even know hes free until Friday and lo and behold, he wants to spend his suddenly free weekend with you. Be a little more flexible when it comes to making plans and trust your gut. You’ll know the difference between comfortable planning and a booty call.

You Get Accused of Being Cold
Theres a fine line no, actually a very clear line between not telling a man you want to get married on the first date and completely shutting off emotionally. You dont have to lay out all your cards, but giving hints of your interest here and there will lead the right guy in the right direction your direction.

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Being too cold? Photo:

You Thought He Was Interested, But Now Youre Not Sure
Ok, so you know that whole rule of acting like youre not interested in a guy and hes suddenly in hot pursuit? If youre really not that interested, he might sense that and make chase, but be prepared to send a really nice guy into the arms of a girl who seems a tad more interested in him if you consistently act disinterested (or the deal-breaker: consistently interested in other guys.) Men have somewhat fragile egos and no one wants to feel outright rejected.

Hes Not Interested in Sleeping With You
Now, this could be due to a lot of reasons, but men who are hot for a woman will usually go to extraordinary lengths to sleep with her. You can tease him for only so long before he decides to either put a ring on it or to ring up the lady who might be a tad warmer. Calm down, Im not saying that you have to sleep with him or someone else will. What I am saying is that you cant keep pushing a man away and reeling him back in emotionally and physically for too long without rewards or one day youll pull back an empty line.

Youre Playing a Lot of Phone/Text Tag
Ill go ahead and say that the dumbest rule I have ever heard is not calling a man back right after he calls you in order to give the illusion of mystery. Waiting for 30 minutes might add a bit of intrigue in the hmm-I-wonder-what-shes-doing category for a bit, but seriously, heres the reality of the situation: if youre out there living a full and busy life and so is he, theres no need for that load of crap. Returning phone calls in a reasonable time is not only courteous, it will save you LOADS of voice mail, missed calls and lengthy text threads that could have been avoided if youd simply answered the phone.

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Are you spending more time playing phone tag than talking? Photo: iStock

Not Dating A Lot, Are You?
Now, this is not to be confused with nights and days alone by choice. Many of us are completely happy living our lives, running companies and generally being fabulous. If, by chance, youve decided that youd care for some companionship, lets take a look at some quick signals that your rules are driving guys away: Does the man always have to approach you? Do you demand that a man ask for your number first? Does he have to call first? Does he have to initiate all dates, make all plans and woo you? If you answered yes to any of these items, youre not just playing hard to get, youre not playing at all! Ladies, you dont have to throw yourself in front of a guy, but saying Hi and complimenting him on one article of clothing is the easiest pick-up line in the book. Its practically a lay-up. Giving a cute guy your phone number or business card? Also easy! Throw the dog a bone, ladies.

Dont get me wrong, men love a little mystery and revealing just enough about yourself to keep a man intrigued without oversharing is a skill we all need to master. But sometimes youve got to give a little to get something back and throwing up hurdle after hurdle in the race for love will sometimes drive a guy off the track and into another field. The best thing about being a woman these days? Youre fabulous. Make your own rules.

Kristin Booker is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle writer in New York City and has contributed to such publications as Marie Claire, Running With Heels, YourTango, SHEfinds, Daily Makeover and Ebony/Jet. She is also the creator and editor of Fashion.Style.Beauty, a fashion and beauty blog.

Related: A Field Guide To Dating Outside Your Age Range