featured image by We The Blackwells
[Before we get into this, I want to acknowledge: It seems that people naturally think of females as the ones playing “hard to get”, but I am not directing this post towards one sex or the other. This is directed towards humans. Proceed.]
So many of us, girls and guys, play “hard to get” and then wonder why a good relationship is…hard to get. Been there. Done that. Didn’t get one. Didn’t work. But I wore the title loud and proud.
I had been called “hard to get” in high school and college for reasons I honestly didn’t know. From different random comments, I’ve gathered it probably had something to do with being more reserved, to myself, unbothered, having involuntary RBF… (it’s just happening. I’m FIIIINE I swear. Probably just thinking about food).
Somewhere along the line, I associated that title with a way of standing out. A badge of honor. Ironically, no one ever said this title was inherently good or brag-worthy, but society inconspicuously made it that way. They portrayed this title as being the girl or guy that everyone should WANT to get because you CAN’T. Where was that getting us OR the untouchable person? How and why did this happen? I’ve noticed that any persona that is a rarity tends to get categorized as an aspiration. Time out, time out:
“Rare” does not always mean “right.” It does not always mean “goal-worthy.”
A disease can be rare. Doesn’t mean you want it just to be “unique.”
Because “hard to get” seemed to be rare, it made me feel like I was set apart from others, like maybe I had something more unique to offer. The problem was that I fought like I needed to protect that reputation to stay just as unique as I was being made to feel. I was defending a reputation I didn’t even choose, I just THOUGHT it was the right thing to be BECAUSE it was rare. “Special.”
If you are only running towards being rare for the sake of being rare, and this “rare” is not also equally aligned with the values, morals, standards, and character traits you desire to posses, you’ll be chasing many different, appealing, confusing, and meaningless directions your entire life. And too many directions usually ends in no definite OR valuable destination.
Of course we all want to be unique and special — because we ARE. I am not labeling that desire as having ill intention or evil motivation. That characteristic is in our design by nature, so 1. you don’t need to chase acquiring something you were already born with. But 2. you also don’t need to use this performance mechanism as a way of proving you have this characteristic.
What does this look like?
Some behaviors are probably obvious, but for context and REAL LIFE application, this can look like:
- Not texting someone back for a certain amount of time so you don’t look “too eager”, “too interested”, “too excited”, or any of the things…you actually are.
- Giving a sly, cold shoulder in conversation like you’re not even phased by what the other person is saying — ie, responding with ONLY sarcasm and/or empty “cool” remarks that don’t lead to any REAL conversation. ( *I thrive on sarcasm, but I’ve also had to adjust to when it’s appropriate and when I’m coming off as a butt. Don’t be a butt. It’s great to have fun, I’m simply suggesting that we be aware of when we’re coming off as maybe condescending or merely insensitive to someone who’s possibly trying to make an honest effort. We’re supposed to be flattered by the effort, not a jerk. Howeverrrr, if they’re giving off that sarcastic vibe and you’re just reciprocating, sure, have fun, cool. Conclusion: gauge this responsibly.)
- Acting blasé at the idea of spending time together, or worse, when you ARE spending time together to keep the facade of being unfazed. (Because it would be nerdy to act like you’re enjoying yourself. Woah.)
- Not reciprocating any compliments, recognition, or appreciation, and only taking emotional investment from the other person.
#1: Dating should be fun and getting to know people is one of the best parts! It’s adventurous and exciting to learn all about someone new and watching them light up getting to know you return. Here’s the kicker: a perfect way to have the best of both worlds is to keep your poker face strong and soak up every last bit of admiration the other person is throwing your way.
See? I hope you caught that sarcasm. That may be your perfect scenario, but you have to remember that there are two people involved here. What about them? While you’re wearing that unshakable poker face in public and simultaneously squealing to your friends in adoration behind closed doors, you are robbing the other person of having the same experience. You’re creating this fake fence around your true authentic self that they have to keep peering over, hoping it will result in…something. Hoping they aren’t crazy and maybe you really ARE into them. You force them to proceed with caution, living off of a guessing game.
“Hard to get” is just a seed for barriers that KILL authentic relationship and vulnerability.
Playing “hard to get” is “fun” for a time (in the very very beginning probably? Not knocking some good fun), but it doesn’t lead to anything real.
Why? It can seem like it’s all harmless banter, but it may stem from the feeling:
“I don’t want to seem as invested as I actually am…because that’s too honest and lets you see too much of my heart. That’s embarrassing and way too telling.”
Is it? or is it just more fair to the other person involved?
When you do this, it’s a little…selfish. The other person is taking a risk pursuing you — being honest, showing their cards — and you are responding with signals that are opposite of how you may really feel. Now, if you actually aren’t into it, tell them. That’s taking responsible ownership as well and is completely respectable. But if you’re enjoying their pursuing, it’s okay to give a little indicator instead of leaving them to guess while they continue being transparent to someone who is not returning the same courage.
Nothing wrong with playful flirting at all — I believe in a good flirt! I’m talking about heavy self-protection and decieving disinterest. Get me?
“If I’m too authentic, I seem weaker than you are and I’m no longer the thing to be fought for.”
That’s a lie that we mask as “playing hard to get” because we are feeling like we need someone to validate our worth. We wonder: Everything else stripped away, are we worth pursuing even if we aren’t providing any feedback or investment in return? Are we worth coming after just for simply existing? Will they keep coming around because I’m that special? “Hard to get” is our way of testing this.
If this is happening, you may not believe your own worth. Without someone chasing you to make you feel “above them,” you’re not secure in what your worth amounts to. Here is the lie: “Only someone below others would chase someone else. I would never stoop to that level. I’m too good for that.” …Right.
The chaser shares their heart with others and doesn’t save face like they have something to lose.
Ladies and gents, THAT is real courage. They actually don’t have anything to lose when they are convinced of the worth that is already theirs. The level of respect they are giving to the world by being upfront and honest, is one to be commended.
Takeaway: Recognize the value and confidence of the person chasing you. The one you may have subconsciously deemed as “weaker.”
Learn from them. Even if you decide they are not a good fit for you, or vice versa. They don’t mind showing you their heart because they also don’t need you to validate their worth. You don’t need anyone to validate your worth either. Anyone who is brave enough to share their heart with someone and devote attention to them just for a possibility of connection, is deserving of some honest feelings in return. Flirt, have fun, I am ALL for it. But don’t play so hard to get that no one can get to you…
For more on this subject, check out this amazing podcast episode by Justin and Abi Stumvoll called Stop Playing The Game where they talk about ” the games being played in matters of the heart and reveal common pitfalls we’re all susceptible to when we’re not living in self-awareness.” (Plus, it came out the same week my post did so you know the Lord is ON this subject.)