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What Does It Mean to "Play Hard to Get"?

To ‘play hard to get’ is a common phrase in the dating game relating to the cat and mouse play in the beginning of a possible relationship. This refers to the person being pursued or being asked out deliberately holding back from the pursuer, pretending to be selective and alluring. This term can be used on both men and women as they all use various methods to ‘play hard to get’.

Women usually use playing hard to get to screen and select potential partners. Few women want to appear too eager or desperate so this is an effective strategy which allows them to send mixed signals. A woman may choose to act slowly and conservatively with whatever men have shown interest in her. If several men are pursuing her, she may prefer the one who allows her to take her time or she may prefer the persistent one. However, women tend to use the same strategy even for men whom they are totally not interested in, thus a man may believe a women is playing hard to get, but she simply does not want to be gotten.

With men, they may act aloof and disinterested when a woman flirts. A man can use this strategy to test how serious the woman is about him. When he does not return any of her calls and she still continues to call him, he assumes that she is very serious about getting involved with him. Men use playing hard to get to appear intriguing and confident, they believe it adds an air of mystery to them.

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