We’ve all heard that sage bit of advice about how we shouldn’t make ourselves too available, right? Well, I think some women and men have taken this advice too literally. The point of playing hard to get is to eventually get caught. And “playing” is the operative word. As in taking a playful approach to the process. Playful is good. Playful can be attractive. Where it goes wrong for many men and women is that they become too willful and insistent. That’s when the dynamic becomes less fun and enjoyable and more like a pissing contest.
Here are some common ways single men and women turn what is supposed to enhance attraction into a grudge match.
1. Oversharing - Nothing will bring a great conversation or date to a screeching halt than revealing that you’re actively dating other people. One should always assume that the person they’ve just met, especially if they met online, is going out with other people. That’s sort of the point of online dating..to provide singles with more options. It’s common for someone you’re meeting for the first time, whom you met online, to ask you about your online experience. That’s the common bond that you two both share. It doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Usually it just means they’re scrambling for something to talk about so they can get comfortable. Where it takes an ugly turn is when they tell their date that they have another date scheduled in the near future, or have met someone that they’ve seen a few times. Ever been on a great interview and you’re sure that you’re a top contender for the job, and then the interviewer tells you that they have other people to see or that they’re going to narrow it down to a few people? You know how deflated you feel? That’s how somebody feels when they’re sitting across from you or on the other end of the phone and hear you talk about your other dating candidates. I think it’s good to let the other person know that you are exercising your options. In fact, I advise it. But you can do that without shooting yourself in the foot.
2. Passive Aggression - Here’s a common scenario: you and he/she set up a night, time and place to meet that is a few days in the future. The day comes and time creeps by and you don’t hear from them. You’re waiting for them to check in, assuming that if they don’t that they’re not interested. You refuse to take the initiative because you fear it will make you look needy or clingy. In an attempt to seem detached and unaffected you text them and say, “So I guess we’re not meeting up?” or “Hey, didn’t hear from you about tonight so I made other plans.” Messages like that squarely place the blame on them. You were so afraid of looking too available or like you were too invested that you end coming across like you have a chip on your shoulder. And you seem kinda rude, as you’re assuming the worst in the other person.Now you’ve played your hand, revealing your insecurity. That will be a red flag to your date. Don’t be surprised if you never hear from them again.
3. Double Booking - You’ll schedule a preliminary let’s meet and see if the other has three eyes “date” with someone you encounter online. But you plan that date before another appointment that same night. Now, it’s one thing to do this and keep the fact that you have other plans to yourself. Sharing that info, however, sends a distinct message. One that conveys lack of interest, game playing, mistrust and unavailability. The best thing about dating is the chance that that will be THE night, the one where you and your date get on really well and see where the night takes you. Every date holds that promise. It’s a let down to be getting on well with someone and then notice that they’re constantly checking their watch or has to split abruptly. It screws up the momentum that you just spent the last hour or so building. If you’re one of those people that has a built in escape plan “just in case” then you’re already in a self-defeating mental space, and the night will almost surely follow that way of thinking.
4. Turning Down ALL Last Minute Invitations - Now, hold on. There are those invitations that come in last minute where it’s obvious that you’re being treated as an option. That’s a personal preference as to whether you want to accept those invites. If they barely stay in touch and pop in they pop out for days at a time, then it’s safe to say these people aren’t terribly genuine. But…sometimes things come up. A friend gets sick, they get out of work early, they want to go out and think of you. When someone reaches out like that, it’s not always an insult. I understand the 48 day rule (yay rules!) but sometimes you just have to trust your gut and give it a go. Especially now, when all someone has to do is hop online and find someone else.
5. Hiding Behind Unnecessary Rules & Tests - This one is directed more at the ladies. In an attempt to stand they’re ground and up the ante, thereby accommodating their need to feel valued, they will invoke or use certain rules or excuses to get a man to prove himself to her. There’s a cute and rather pointless rule women use when they go on a first or second date. It’s the “no shaving” rule. They will intentionally go on a date without grooming legs or bikini area, believing that should things get to sexy time, their stubble shame will keep them vertical. And if the guy calls them again, these women believe it was because they didn’t have sex with the man and that he now perceived them to be a challenge. Adorable. And totally, totally pointless. A guy just looking to get laid has probably done so several times. So he knows how these things play out. The woman just wants to get past the first, second, third date so she’s not “that girl.” Whatever. He’ll play along, because he knows where things are headed. Guys KNOW when a woman is just counting down until she can safely have sex without seeming “easy.” Those are the women who often get pumped and dumped. Either the guy resents that the woman has such a negative opinion of him despite all the ways he’s shown he’s a good guy. Or these guys realize the women aren’t following their own personal beliefs but rather those they feel have been imposed on them by society or their girlfriends. They end up looking like they can’t think for themselves. Delaying sex to gain something – commitment, emotional investment, increased “value,” etc.- isn’t playful. It’s manipulative.
On a side note and not totally related to the topic…equally counter productive is the “safety” test. Yes. Your date could end up being a axe wielding maniac. But a phone call prior to meeting is not going to prevent anything bad from happening, should that actually be the case. In fact, I’m guessing that most sociopaths are highly skilled at being charming. It’s hard to argue when someone cites personal safety as their reason for needing someone to behave in a certain way or do what they want. Usually, though, that’s just a back end way of trying to get someone to demonstrate more interest or effort than they’re obligated to show.