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Relationship Games: Playing Hard to Get

Playing Hard to Get is a peculiar game. Does it work? Yes and no. If we look at what kinds of creatures most attract men and women; it is babies, puppies and kittens. Do any of these play hard to get? No they certainly do not. They just exude the charm that they have and that is all they need to do.

However, human beings are also attracted to whatever is exclusive, rare or unavailable. It can be tempting to use this to attract people to us. However, this is not necessarily a healthy attraction. Sooner or later the person has to get to know us. The attraction needs to be based on qualities we have, other than just being ‘unavailable’. Playing Hard to Get may peak someone’s interest (it may also put them right off), but ultimately we have to base our relationships on what we genuinely have to offer not on a myth.
Some benefits of playing hard to get.

A possibly useful effect that Playing Hard to Get offers is it prevents us displaying some forms of ‘dependent’ behaviour that can be off-putting to others. We don’t come across as ‘needy’ or ‘insecure’ when we are being ‘distant’ in hard-to-get mode. These two; ‘needy’ and ‘insecure’ seem to be the biggest turn-offs in relationships. If we come across as too needy or too insecure – especially early on – the other person is likely to be put off or stick us in the ‘just friends’ category.

Therefore, Playing Hard to Get seems to offer two main benefits 1) the allure of the unavailable 2) the avoidance of appearing ‘needy’ or ‘desperate’.

However, these are of very little long-term use. Ultimately we need to feel known and loved for who we are and being ‘distant’ doesn’t give us that opportunity. Also, Playing Hard to Get does not really give us a chance to get to know the other person, so how can we really get love them for who they are? We might love the attention, but will we love them while all the time we know that we won them by not letting them get to know us?

If we are Playing Hard to Get because otherwise we keep making mistakes in relationships (ones that cause the other person to lose interest) then it is better I find out what those issues are and resolve them. That way we can learn to create relationships based on who we are rather than being based on what I we are not (i.e. not there).

Don’t flood the plant

The other side of Playing Hard to Get is making sure we don’t flood the other person. When we are watering a plant in a pot we watch to see how quickly the water is being absorbed so that we can water it at a pace that does not cause the water to spill over and make a mess. Relationships are a bit like that. We need to watch that we are giving the person what they need, when they need it and in the right amount.

It is interesting that many more house plants or killed by over watering than by under watering. Perhaps that is also true of the start of relationships. Sometimes we need to back off and give the person space to absorb our interaction. This means not being full-on all the time. It also means observing the other person to see how the are responding. If they look like the want to be somewhere else then we may need to change the subject, or give them space to sort to breathe a bit.

Rules for a Healthy Relationship

Having a healthy relationship means playing by a set of rules that come from a sense of respect for our own needs and the needs of others. Below are some suggestions for rules for a Healthy Relationship, maybe some of these will be useful to you:

  • I won’t lie to you, but I won’t give you more truth than you can handle.  I won’t be in-your-face with how ‘honest’ and ‘open’ I am.
  • I respect your boundaries. I start with a sense of mutual respect and take it from there.
  • I will keep it light until you show me you are ready for more. I can be serious about you later, but for now it is playtime.
  • I expect my boundaries to be respected. If I sense unhealthy games I will not respond, or I will ask you what is happening – in a fun and playful way.
  • I will be gently attentive, and not make you feel you are always on the spot. I will let you catch your breath and give you time to sort out for yourself how you feel about me.
  • I will notice what you like and give you more of it. I will notice what makes you smile and what makes you laugh and give some thought to how I can give you more of those moments.
  • I will not try to buy you with gifts or the like. I will give to you when it feels like a genuine expression of how I feel. I won’t do it just to impress you, or to be ‘nice’.
  • I will pace myself so as not too overwhelm you. I will remember the importance of timing and pace myself to suit your natural pace. I may sweep you off your feet at some point, but not unless I see signals that you are receptive enough for that.
  • I will take responsibility for how I feel. I don’t expect you to take care of me, or be the source of happiness in my life. I take responsibility for my own well-being. I am getting to know myself and what makes me happy. You may, or may not, be part of that process. Let’s see.
  • I will put my best foot forward. I will present myself in a positive light. Being a good friend to myself I will only reveal my quirks and foibles in a constructive and timely manner.
  • I will not judge you purely on looks. Looks may a part of my deciding whether I want a relationship with you are not, but they will not be the only factor. I will take time to get to know you for who you are.
  • We are both OK. Whatever happens between us I will treat both of us kindly. If it does not work out I will not berate or blame myself, nor will I encourage myself to blame or berate you. I will congratulate myself for trying, pat myself on the back for what I did well, consider any changes I want to make to my behavior in an encouraging and positive light, and move on.

Play on…

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