Good Question: Does Playing Hard To Get Work?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a real dilemma for daters. When engaging in the dance of seduction, do you play it straight or do you play hard to get?

“I’ve been a victim of women playing hard to get,” laughed Christian Betancourt, a Minneapolis single. “I think sometimes it backfires. Girls act too back-offish, and like Jay-Z said, onto the next one.”

If there were an easy answer, dating wouldn’t be so hard.

“I am torn over whether playing hard to get works or not,” said Leah Michele, a single woman from St. Paul.

Researchers from the University of Virginia studied this question, and their results were published in Psychological Science.

They showed women Facebook profiles of men who had already seen profiles of the women.
The women were asked to rate guys who liked them a lot, liked them an average amount, or liked them at an uncertain level.

They were testing the Reciprocity Principle. The concept that we tend to like people who like us, or dislike people who send the message they dislike us.

With the two certain groups (the men who rated the women average and the men who rated the women very high), the results paralleled the reciprocity principle. But surprisingly, the mystery men rated highest of all.

“Uncertain participants reported thinking about the men the most, and this increased their attraction toward the men,” wrote the researchers.

“Men like to play games. It’s a chase, a game, chasing the unattainable, they have to work harder for it,” said Michele.

“You want what you don’t know about — want what you don’t have. You want something new, exciting, interesting,” added another St. Paul woman.

Researchers call this the pleasure of uncertainty. In dating, it apparently trumps the reciprocity.

“I think ultimately we both like playing games,” said Betancourt.

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  • Iconoclast

    I certainly get the principle and think it works both ways. You have to make sure the person is a little interested and then play it kinda cool for a bit. It does work. Someone always has to create some interest.

    I do have to admit that I hate games though. I want to just be open and honest. I would love to find someone who appreciates that and returns the favor. I think it takes two more mature and secure people to do that though. There is nothing I hate more than being straight forward with a girl and she dismisses you as naive and uninteresting because she just don’t get what you are doing.

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  • M B

    I despise games in relationships and I’m a guy. Every woman I dated in my past LOVED to play them though, so saying it’s only a guy thing is totally wrong and sexist.

    Life itself is hard enough without needing to entertain oneself in relationship games. If one does need the games for spice of life, then they should instead be thankful that they haven’t suffered enough in life to realize how pointless and damaging they can be.

    I don’t like the hard to get attitude because to me it makes them appear conceited and overly self-ingratiating. It was an instant turn-off for me.

    It’s also a throwback behavior from our animal past which many seem to want to denounce as barbaric, but then do these very games in their everyday lives. If you’re confused, go watch some nature shows with animal mating rituals and almost all of them play hard to get at some point. It’s part of our genes to make possible mates work for affection.

  • tea anyone?

    As stated by the guys from “Spinal Tap”…..”There is such a fine line between clever and stupid”

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