The New Rules of Playing Hard to Get

Before you sniff that you don't want to play games, you might be interested to learn that playing hard to get works. Research at Northwestern University suggests that we're more attracted to people we aren't sure like us back than we are to the sure-things. Maybe it's the thrill of the chase or the allure of a little mystery.

That said, we've had it with folks advising daters to act as if they're interesting, busy and have a life (suggesting anyone who'd take that advice seriously isn't and doesn't). This waiting around for him or her to ask you out, or calculating the right amount of time to hold off calling after your first date, or turning down a perfectly good Saturday-night invitation just because it was issued on a Thursday night, is nonsense.

Here, the new rules to playing hard to get.

The Game: Telephone Tag
The Old Rules: Wait three days to call after a date, wait 2 days to return calls.
The New Rules: Here's a revelation: call whenever you want to talk. Not suggesting you leave a dozen "just checking in" messages on your paramour's voicemail, but waiting just for the sake of waiting isn't any less crazy.

The Game: The E-mail Exchange
The Old Rules: Don't reply right away. It looks like you were waiting for it.
The New Rules: We all know that it doesn't take longer than two minutes to tap out a "hey, good to hear from you" reply, so waiting longer than a day makes it obvious you're scheming.

The Game: Being Busy
The Old Rules: Always look too busy to schedule a date.
The New Rules: If you really can't make plans less than three weeks in advance, perhaps you're too busy for dating. Either leave a few holes in your calendar for love, or invite your dates into your interesting life. Never miss your Saturday kickboxing class? Invite him along. Planning on hitting the new exhibit at the local art museum? Ask her to join you.

The Game: Stoking Competition
The Old Rules: Hint at having other dates.
The New Rules: Don't try to imply you're hot property by dropping mentions to other love interests. Most daters are going to be savvy enough to see you for the insecure manipulator you are. Retain a little mystery about the rest of your personal life until it's time to talk exclusivity.

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Try These Pickup Lines

  • Is your last name maple? I could have sworn you're as smooth as syrup.
  • I just bet that gentleman over there $25,000 dollars that you would have dinner with me in Paris tomorrow.
  • I must be in heaven because you're an angel!
  • I hate to see you leave, but from here it's great to watch you go.
  • Do you have a map? I'm lost in your eyes.