How To Play Hard To Get With A Guy & Make Him Want You

Dating experience | | , Author &Ghostwriter
Updated On: December 1, 2023
Play Hard To Get With A Guy

Do you balk at the very notion of playing hard to get with your guy? If you don’t really like to play games, then playing hard to get may come across as manipulative to you. Perhaps you think it ruins the first few dates, or perhaps you’re the kind who wants relationships to be more organic and spontaneous.

Or maybe you’re the kind who wonders how to play hard to get after sleeping with a guy, just so you can make him want you even more. That’s precisely why some girls play hard to get with guys they really like. You want your man to woo you rather than go running after him. You want to keep things cool lest you appear desperate for love. The question is: How to play hard to get with a man without hurting his as well as your sensibilities? We’re here to tell you the right way to woo your man, that will leave him wanting more but won’t ruin your dynamic with him.

Does Playing Hard To Get Really Work?

Irrespective of your stance on the playing hard to get psychology, numerous studies, as reported in this in-depth study, have found playing hard to get to be more rewarding in the longer run – Be it in enhancing your desirability quotient or testing commitment in a potential partner. “Great, then I need tips on how to play hard to get with a guy I like,” your brain goes immediately. But before you get to work and play cold, figure this out:

  • Is it really worthwhile for you?
  • Are there any positives to playing games this way?
  • Is it cool to try to play hard when you actually like someone?
  • Your college friend might have succeeded with this strategy, but is this going to work for you or will you just seem like a total red flag?

Related Reading: How To Impress A Guy And Make Him Fall For You In 2023

If you want to go ahead after this assessment, know this: The game of playing hard to get can be effective if you play it well and do it right. When Natalie, the ultimate love advice dispenser in high school, doled out a few tips to Rebecca on how to play hard to get with a shy guy, she spoke from experience. “Don’t be someone who is easily available, for you wouldn’t want to come across as desperate.

“Show him that you have your own life which you care deeply about. But beware of leaving them confused with your indifference and cold demeanor. Strike that fine balance and it will make you desirable,” she advised her friend on the right way of playing games to get a guy. As you can see, the trick is to figure out how to play hard to get without losing him, or allowing him to lose heart. Once you have mastered that, there is no stopping you from making this person yours.

As per research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, playing hard to get especially after you slept with him, instills a sense of uncertainty. The study found that making the chase harder is “an effective strategy that heightens perceptions of partners’ mate value.” To put it simply, it increases your desirability and gives you the upper hand in dating.

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If you are considering how to play hard to get with a man, then you must know how and where exactly it is effective. Leading your potential partner onto a chase can:

  • Give you the reins of the relationship. You get to play the entire game as per your whims and fancies
  • Make you attractive. People would want to draw your attention toward them; it will increase demand for you
  • Leave your romantic interest confused in the early days. Maybe you’re not interested in him? Or maybe you are?
  • Make you seem indifferent or portray you as a snob, which sometimes men love running after
  • Strangely build trust and commitment. You can gauge if your partner knows how to woo his girlfriend and is not shy of making an effort to win you over

So what’s the bottom line? Play it well and play it cool, and do it the right way to minimize any harm.

Related Reading: How To Pull Away To Make Him Want You – The 15-Step Guide

What Does Playing Hard To Get Mean?

Playing hard to get means pretending that you are not easily available to someone who is interested in you and whom you are interested in too. It means acting busy, not answering every call of theirs, and continuing to do your own thing while you are seeing this person. You are projecting yourself as inaccessible to them so that they go out of their way to impress you. The idea is to make yourself look more desirable and to initiate a game of chase that can spice things up and make it more fun.

Our 25-year-old reader from New York, Carl, shares his experience with a guy he really liked. When he asked Ahmed out for a movie, the latter just shrugged it off even though he was equally attracted to him. Carl was a bit upset at this but decided to play hard to get, the right way. That night, he went out to the movies with a friend and posted it on his Instagram story for Ahmed to see. He noticed Carl having a great time and texted him asking how the movie was. To keep him waiting, Carl chose to focus on other things over his day and replied the next day saying that the movie was fantastic.

“My intention was never to hurt him or make him feel left out. I just wanted to appear magnetic regardless of whether he decided to spend time with me or not. This way, he saw me as a high-value person. Acting confidently makes all the difference. Even when they reject you initially, they come running right back,” Carl told us.

How To Play Hard To Get With A Guy And Make It Work

So you want to play hard to get with an ex to make him drool all over you again or you simply want to catch the eye of that cutie glancing at you from across the bar. Just remember, there is a thin line between playing hard to get with a man you’re interested in and making him feel like chasing you will be a dead end. Cross that line and you might just end up repelling him instead of getting him interested in you again.

Owen, a data analyst, recalls the time he was dating a girl in his neighborhood. “At first, she seemed like she was easy to get. But it’s like someone flipped a switch and she went so cold on me. I was fine with her playing hard to get initially, but there never seemed to be an end to the game. I stopped trying as it felt like I was being drawn into some kind of power play. I feel it is not necessary to make things complicated in a relationship. Now, I run a mile when I recognize similar patterns in a girl I am interested in – A warning goes off in my head about there being issues with her,” he says.

You might be thinking: How to play hard to get with a guy without falling in the category of such women, and still keep things interesting in my relationship? Don’t worry, you’ll do it the right way without seeming manipulative. Because next up, you will learn how to play hard to get when a guy asks for your number, or when he is not into you. Let’s make it work for both of you as you set out to forge a flirty yet meaningful relationship with each other:

1. Let him make the first move, even as a modern woman

This may be at odds with the time when going Dutch is the norm. In fact, a woman initiating romance is the coolest thing ever, and many women have now starting being upfront about it. So, letting the man make the first move might seem pretty old-fashioned for your sensibility, yet it’s the oldest dating advice on how to play hard to get with a guy.

No matter how attracted you are to this man, don’t make the first move on him. Instead, let him make the effort to show that he wants you in his life. Show him that your presence in his life is not a piece of cake up for grabs at a birthday party. Let him work toward it.

Related Reading: 15 Ways A Woman Wants To Be Treated

2. Keep it fun

An old dating advice on playing hard to get: “Treat them mean, keep them keen.” Don’t cringe at the word ‘mean’, though. We know you wouldn’t want him to be so scarred by the experience that the mere mention of your name brings on a thunderstorm of emotions. So, we’ll keep it fun instead. You want to appear like a good catch, not a terribly rude one.

This is all very well, but what if the guy you’re crushing on is shy? Figuring out how to play hard to get with a shy guy is trickier. This is how you can play hard to get with your guy and also make him look forward to your next encounter, without begging for it:

  • Send him a flirty message and then don’t communicate for a few hours
  • Or send him a picture of a dress you plan to wear for your next date with him, without acknowledging his “WOW” reply

3. Winning at hard to get requires you to zip your lips

You might believe that if you are to embark on a new relationship, you should come clean about your love life and past relationship experiences. Well, that is great, but you can be sure you’ve lost his interest already. In fact, the tables may turn and you may find your guy playing hard to get, and even acting non-responsive. You don’t have to give him the complete lowdown on your life the day you two start dating.

There is a way to play things in your favor. What fans the flame of romance between any two people is the mystery of it all. Now, if you are playing hard to get by merely keeping him guessing, so be it. You can unfold your story gradually as you get to know each other well enough to have developed a comfort level where you don’t need to resort to mind games to keep the spark alive.

4. Staying busy is the best way to intrigue your man

Date him, but also do all the other things apart from him. Fine, it may have been love at first sight for you. Even so, make sure that you don’t come across as someone who’s available for him at the drop of a hat. Keep yourself busy, no matter how eager you are to be with this dreamboat. I know you want to stay glued to him but that might make him bolt in the other direction.

For Nicholas, a budding doctor, he thinks that this is what makes his partner a good catch. “In a way, I feel relieved that my girl is not clingy. It makes her more desirable as she seems to be her own person. It also gives us a lot to look forward to. She’s settled and doesn’t need me all the time,” he says. Maybe you should pay heed to this and make it your go-to strategy for how to play hard to get with a guy.

Related Reading: How To Love Yourself In A Relationship – 21 Practical Tips

5. Stay interested, but aloof

If you want to know the simplest formula to play hard to get and make him chase you, then follow this one closely.

You like someone, you let them know, but you also need to keep them on their feet sometimes. Play hard to get with your man by being a little aloof once in a while – Just enough to intrigue him and get him to make an effort for your attention. However, you need to strike a balance here so that the man you’re interested in doesn’t feel taken for granted or feels neglected in the relationship. Overdo it and you’ll be out on your own.

Martin, a 34-year-old stock trader, says, “I understand that the chase brings a certain excitement in a relationship but who wants to be on the edge 24/7? I’ve been through that before, it is just unpleasant and makes you restless. For me, that was reason enough to believe that she was uninterested and not as invested as I was, so I decided to move on. I’ve never regretted that decision.”

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6. Take your time to text back

Communication is never a problem in the age of internet and social media. If anything, there is an overload of it happening now, so it can be hard to resist texting them. Yet, you have to do exactly that. Gone are the days when people waited by the telephone for a call from a potential love interest. So, how to play hard to get with a guy especially when things like access and communication are non-issues?

Good old-fashioned unwritten dating rules combined with e-age etiquette could lend an edge to your romance. So, hold back a little if you find yourself constantly texting your guy, or you’ll ruin the whole point of what you are trying to achieve. Delay your responses and take your time to reply to his calls or texts. Don’t think there can be an easier way than this to play hard to get with your guy.

7. Playing hard to get works if you first work up a sexual chemistry

Distance does make the heart grow fonder when a couple finds themselves not being able to meet too often. However, for a couple who has just begun dating, the anticipation of getting intimate and the sexual tension make things even more exciting. One way to do that is by offering limited physical affection to this guy you are seeing. You don’t have to have sex with him on the first date or do it every time you meet him. Make him wait a bit, and long for you. There’s nothing wrong with withholding sex for a bit to make it amazing when you two finally get down to it.

Here’s another tactic to try if you want to play things the right way. Accidental physical contact is a game-changer. If you want to play hard to get with your man, take relationship experts’ advice on it – They recommend using small, playful gestures to amp up the sexual chemistry. This will not only boost sexual attraction but also contribute to the romantic and emotional connection that you two have. Sexual compatibility is a huge part of any relationship, so tease them a bit and watch them crumble on the ground for you. You can do this even if it is just casual sex.

8. Make space for some me-time

Women play hard to get to make men chase them. However, sometimes it can be nice to play this game when it helps you focus on yourself. Do you find yourself planning every move of your life around your guy? Does a movie with just your girlfriends seem simply out of the question now? Do you feel guilty about spending weekends without your boyfriend? If it gets to this level, it’s time to consider how to play hard to get after sleeping with a guy and getting too attached to him.

Speaking to Bonobology, counseling psychologist Namrata Sharma, who specializes in counseling for loveless marriages, breakups, and other relationship issues, highlighted the significance of establishing boundaries and space in relationships. She says, “Don’t forget to hang out with your friends and family. Don’t give your all to just one person … Spread out your time and keep some time apart from each other. Keep doing what you used to do. Don’t let go of your hobbies, passions, or friend circles.”

  • Learn to prioritize yourself, even if it means playing hard to get with your guy
  • Don’t be someone who is easy to get, it turns them off
  • If you have planned a trip with your girlfriends, go ahead with it. Let your guy or potential date know that you have other plans and that you intend to see them through without him
  • This sends across the message that you have a social life of your own and that you value your autonomy

Even though it may seem counter-productive, this is the kind of thing that will make him want a serious relationship with you as he will know that you value space, personal time, and energy.

Related Reading: How Spending Time With Friends Helps Improve Your Relationship

9. Let him know you have other men in your life

Among the many things that your crush should be aware of is that you have other men in your life, or male friends too, so you appear like a really good catch with an outgoing and likeable personality. But make it clear that they are platonic. This way, he’ll know that you have your own world of bonds, which also include male friends who are not lovers. It’s bound to keep him on the edge for sure. This is actually a great tip on how to play hard to get with a guy in middle school too.

10. Play hard to get and make him chase you by acting confidently

If you appear anxious, worried, or on edge all the time, your guy is going to run away from you. As tough as it sounds, it is the truth. It’s not a bad thing to be anxious. But when you first start dating someone, you have to display all your best parts to this person first if you want him to run after you, looking madly in love.

In that case, you need to be a cool, confident cat. Don’t be a girl that is easy to get, but be the girl everyone wants in a room. People love a woman who can hold her ground, keep her head high, and stay happy in the moment. Don’t crib about being single when you are with this guy. Show him how happily single you are. He needs to see you are confident and that you make the best of everything in your life. Watch him come back to you again and again.

11. Mess with him on text

We have a few playing hard to get text message examples for you:

  • Limiting self-disclosure: Even when you two talk for long hours in the wee hours of the night, don’t tell him too much or get too vulnerable. Even if he asks too many questions to get to know each other better, take it slow. Say “You don’t want to know the answer to that” or “I’m not telling you that yet” to keep him guessing
  • Acting sarcastic: Be playful with him. When he asks you out on a first date, try to put it off by saying something sarcastic like “Let me see if I even like you first” as a joke. Then, pull him back in by telling him you’d like to see him, and make plans
  • Responding to his missed calls by texting: If he calls you, like most women who are committed at playing hard, just text him instead of calling him back. “I’m a little busy and can’t talk right now. What’s up?” is one way of responding

12. Be honest that you want to find love

The important thing about playing your cards right is being mysterious and using all the right techniques to rope him in, but also being plain honest. Don’t pretend that you want casual sex or are interested in someone else, just to confuse him. Remember, you are trying to pull in this person, not hurt him. Be honest that you want to find love and are keeping your heart open throughout the process. Show intent, just don’t overdo it.

13. Put in some effort in the relationship too

Playing hard to get works only if you constantly show this person that you are worth running after. And acting confidently or acting sarcastically with snarky comments will only get you so far. If you want to find someone to love, get ready to show affection to him even when you are trying to play hard to get.

You don’t need to show up at his house with a boombox after an argument but do show him that you care. Reach dates on time, ask about his life, and remember the little things he tells you about himself. He should feel comfortable around you, not unwanted. You can do all of this and still play hard to get.

14. Don’t get carried away in the chase

Sometimes the chase is so exciting, that both people lose track of what is important here, and that is how much you two like each other. If you really want to be winning at hard to get, then make sure he is not the kind of guy who will chase you and then get tired and dump you. Know his intentions clearly and only play this push-and-pull game with somebody you are truly interested in.

Tina Gonzalez, a copywriter in an advertising firm, knows just how to play hard to get with a guy. She makes it a point to always reserve an occasional weekend for herself. “My guy understands that my social life or my space may not include him all the time, and he’s getting used to that now. Maybe he was annoyed the first few weeks when I played hard to get, but he appreciates it now. I’d have felt claustrophobic if he had reacted to that adversely, and would have opted out a long time ago,” she shares.

Related Reading: Push Pull Relationship – 9 Ways To Overcome It

15. You can even play hard to get after being needy — Just take a break

To be a good catch, you have to put in the effort, but also keep your self-esteem at an all-time high. If you think you’ve been too needy around him (don’t worry, we all do it), then make sure you put a stop to it when you realize it might be going a tad far. We get it, you like this guy and you are feeling so many emotions when you are around him. It feels good to be around him and you want more of it.

But you might have to snap out of it sometimes to not appear clingy and to keep the guy interested in you. Here’s how:

  • Talk to someone else if you have to, but distract yourself instead of clinging onto him
  • If you think you might be overwhelming the guy by bombarding him with texts, give it a break
  • Don’t ask him out until he initiates meeting you
  • Stop calling him for the next week and only text when you miss him

Key Pointers

  • Playing hard to get can work wonders for your relationship if you maintain a fine balance between playful indifference and flirty chase
  • It is an effective strategy to take up if both you and your partner (or date) like a good chase in your relationship
  • Let your man make the first move to woo you
  • A common question: “How to play hard to get with a guy I like?” Work on your chemistry, keep it fun and flirty, and most importantly, show your interest in the relationship all the while maintaining a distance
  • If he is being non-responsive, give him some space and let him come to you

None of these tactics require you to take love games to toxic levels or feel guilty about playing hard to get with a guy. As we mentioned in the first place, research on playing hard to get suggests that early daters indulge in these tactics as they serve as motivation to establish or maintain a long-term relationship. But it need not become a slanging match with unhealthy power dynamics.

So if you are planning to play hard to get with your man, make an art of it. All you need to do is to keep it light and moderate. Hope this article resonates with you, and you can now do a better job at wooing the man you like.


1. How to play hard to get with your crush?

The oldest dating advice on playing hard to get is “Treat them mean, keep them keen.” But remember not to take the ‘mean’ part too seriously. While trying to make a heart connection with someone you fancy, keep things playful enough to keep him interested. 

2. How to play hard to get through text messages?

Follow good old-fashioned dating to-dos and combine them with e-age etiquette. So, hold back a little instead of constantly texting your guy. Delay your responses and take your time to reply to his calls or texts. Use some of the playing hard to get text messages examples mentioned in the article.

3. How to play hard to get after being clingy?

You might be doing everything with him lately, and you have him on speed dial every time you find yourself in a minor problem. Now’s the time to stay a little aloof for a while. This is enough to have him wondering and on his feet to win you over again.

4. How do you know if a guy is playing you?

If your guy is not spending time with you even though he flirts with you, you know he is just trying to have a good time playing with you. He would rather flirt with you than ask you out or take things to the next level. Mixed signals of an on-again-off-again relationship, one where he is all over you one day and absent the other, are enough to tell that he is playing you.

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