Playing Hard to Get: Does it work?

By Meg Regiec
For Unwind magazine

Candlelight dinners, talking on the phone and love letters are all obsolete. They’ve been replaced with “Netflix and Chill” and simple text messages with acronyms like, “ILY,” because “I love you” just takes too much time to type.

These replacements give us a new, less personal societal norm. Rather than face-to-face communication, dates and relationships begin with technology. Instead of being honest about feelingman-1082894_960_720s, people choose to “play hard to get.” For some reason, society deemed this method of self-protection and dishonesty the new dating norm. Even worse, at some point it became okay.

In an effort to define the idea of hard to get, freshman journalism major Cameron Hasbrouck said, “It’s about trying to make yourself unavailable at times in order to induce a sense of jealousy. It’s like leading someone on and then making yourself unavailable so that they’re thinking about you, but can’t actually have you.”

The approach when playing hard to get is to withdraw from a situation in order to let the other person involved question your motives and intentions. People are afraid that by showing too much emotion and interest, the other person will be frightened and back away from the budding relationship.

To freshman journalism major Ryan Kamber, this method is futile: “If someone’s playing hard to get, then I’ll probably take it as they’re not interested and give them space.”

Hasbrouck and Kamber agreed that honesty triumphs over all other approaches to dating. They would rather know the motives and interests of a potential romantic interest than play any games. Both confessed to not having experience with playing hard to get, but Hasbrouck concluded that many people use this strategy because “it’s just well-known.”

Unwind SeptOct-12
Photo by Rachel Kuipers

Girls tend to have a different perspective on the dating process than boys. Unlike for boys, the fear of being viewed as “desperate” seems to be extremely common for women. One female student explained the process of playing hard to get as “trying not to seem desperate and trying to keep up a chase.”

“[Playing hard to get] is making someone work for something, instead of easily letting them have it”, said freshman business student Vanessa Gorman, voicing her opinion in favor of the method.

While Hasbrouck and Kamber seemed to dislike this strategy, Gorman explained her belief that most people play hard to get in some way, shape or form.

“Doesn’t everyone do it? You’re not just going to throw yourself at someone,” she said.

However, this way of broaching a potential romance can also backfire easily.
Freshman criminology and criminal justice major Mariome LaBarbera recalls a negative memory of a time someone played hard to get with her. Although the incident wasn’t recent, she’d “felt annoyed and upset, and insecure, and [was left] wondering if he was talking to a lot of other girls.”

The game of hard to get employs an imbalance in the relationship, leaving one person seemingly subordinate to the person engaged in playing.

Gorman summarizes her success with playing hard to get with one blunt statement: “I’m still single, so…”


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