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  • Writer's pictureAnjana Rajbhandary

Here's What's Wrong With "Playing Hard To Get"

Recently, I read an article by a woman who claimed she used a little trick that helped her attract many men. She started by saying that she didn't have much success with relationships most of her life and was sick of feeling rejected and lonely. So, here's what she did- she met men, started acting utterly uninterested in them, and stated that it completely changed how guys reacted to her. Suddenly, everyone was interested in her- something that hadn't happened before.

The age-old "playing hard to get" is not a new concept. According to Psychology Today, people use this strategy for many reasons; it could be control issues, self-preservation, or higher-quality mate selection. Some play the game because acting uninterested might make them appear more desirable, or they have many options.

Then, there is the group of people drawn to others who play hard to get. I spoke with Portland, Maine-based therapist Sindee Gozansky to learn why so many people are drawn to uninterested partners. Gozansky said, "People may be drawn to unavailable partners for different reasons. For some, it's the challenge and thrill of trying to get someone interested in them, creating a sense of intrigue and mystery that can be difficult to resist." She added that this might be particularly true for individuals who thrive on competition or who have a history of pursuing unavailable partners.

While it's essential to pursue your dreams, applying it to pursuing people is different because aiming for life goals is for your self-improvement while using the same tactic on people is a strange yet common way some people feel validated- that is, if it works.

When it comes to love, many people are irresistibly drawn to people who appear unavailable. "For some, it's that thrilling challenge of getting someone's attention who initially shows no interest. This enchantment of pursuit triggers addictive brain chemicals before you've even gone on one date," said Gozansky.

She added that some might thrive on competition in many parts of their life, and relationships and dating are no exception. The allure of pursuing someone seemingly out of reach falls neatly into their natural tendency to go after big goals. They're used to chasing down their dreams, and that may also lead to chasing after those unattainable hearts.

Another reason some individuals chase after people who might seem unattainable is because of low self-esteem. According to Gozansky, people with low self-esteem tend to get drawn to those who don't seem interested because that reinforces their internal belief that they're unworthy or undeserving of love and attention. Pursuing an unattainable partner validates their sense of worthlessness or inadequacy.

But here's the bigger problem with this kind of chase. "While the pursuit itself may provide a temporary sense of relief from these negative feelings, ultimately, it just recreates an unhealthy cycle of not feeling good enough," said Gozansky.

Dating someone who is consistently unavailable or uninterested can lead to unhealthy dynamics and emotional turmoil, which is the opposite of a stable, happy relationship.

If your potential partner is constantly distant or unresponsive, it's unlikely that you'll be able to establish trust and develop a deep emotional bond. You'll be drowning in uncertainty, self-doubt, and feeling emotionally lost. It will always lack trust, which is vital.

Whether you like playing hard to get or are drawn to people who seem uninterested, it will take a toll on your mind and your heart, and your own sense of emotional well-being.

Healthy, loving relationships are based on mutual respect, trust, and communication and require a secure attachment between partners.

-Sindee Gozansky, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Feeling safe, valued, and emotionally connected to your partner is important. Gozansky said if you want a healthy relationship, you need to find a partner who is available and eager to invest in it.

I hear so many stories from my friends regarding meeting people who don't text back and make plans, and their entire day is wasted obsessing about the person.

If you want to play the field, you can, but letting the other person know your intentions is important. But, if you're ready for a relationship, you need to choose someone who is genuine, has similar values, and is willing to put in the work. Love needs to be mutual to work.


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