Playing Hard to Get is Overrated

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

I used to work with a girl who was a very big fan of The Rules. Not just a fan, she would try her best to follow the book’s advice to the letter. It always seemed a little silly to me, but it was amusing to hear her read passages out loud, or when she instructed me to read a chapter she deemed instrumental. I would humor her by reading, or listening, or nodding at her advice, but in the end I knew The Rules weren’t something I planned to follow.

I don’t know all The Rules — and to be fair, there might be a few I agree with, or wouldn’t have a problem following — but I know for sure I don’t like their “play hard to get” theme.

I’m not saying a woman should fall all over someone the first time she meets them, or make herself an open book before she knows whether the feelings are reciprocated. After all, it’s okay to have a bit of mystery and hold certain things back for the other person to discover later. What I don’t like are silly rules, like when a guy thinks he has to wait 2-3 days to contact someone after a date because he doesn’t want to seem overeager. Or the one that says a girl has to wait for the guy to initiate contact.

(Or the one that says if a guy hasn’t asked you out by Wednesday, you can’t accept a date with him for Saturday because he didn’t give you enough advance notice. Do we not live spur-of-the-moment lives? Don’t our plans change at the last minute, which means we suddenly find ourselves free to do something different? Am I supposed to sit at home just because my invitation didn’t arrive three days in advance? I don’t think so.)

The other part of playing hard to get is when guys and gals think they shouldn’t answer text messages and emails right away. If you truly and honestly don’t want that contact from someone, then sure — ignore it. Make your feelings known. But don’t refuse to answer just because you’re trying to make a point. Most of us are electronically connected; there’s no reason not to take advantage of it.

If you and I go on a date and you enjoy yourself, send me a message (text, email) that same night, or the next day, and tell me so. I often initiate this contact myself if I had a good time — I don’t think I need to leave that action up to the guy. If he had a nice time, too, he’ll respond and tell me. If he decides to ignore my message, well then, I know where I stand and that’s perfectly fine.

There was one guy I went out with a few times last year…I never knew when he was going to respond to my text messages. I knew he loved his cell phone and carried it with him all the time, so he was obviously getting my messages. But did he respond? Only occasionally. (And yes, in that case I was smart and took the hint.)

More recently, there’s been another example. I’ve been out with this guy a few times, and I’m getting the impression he likes me, but I’m experiencing the intermittent contact thing with him, too. In his case, though, I think it might have more to do with formality and not wanting to scare me off, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. (He’s slightly older than guys I usually date, and he also seems a little shy, so I’m keeping these various factors in mind instead of calling him out or getting pissy about it — which isn’t my style, anyway.)

I wish I could tell everyone to stop following antiquated rules. If you want to get in touch with someone, do it. Don’t feel like you have to wait a certain period of time because you’re trying to act cool, or because you want to seem popular, or aloof, or because you’re trying follow rules in a silly book. It was easier to get away with that when people contacted each other through land lines and payphones. But if I know someone has access to initiate contact with me or respond to something I’ve sent…and they don’t? I don’t like those games.

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