February 01, 2019 at 01:11PM by CWC
One of my father’s favorite refrains about my love life is that I only like men who don’t like me. He’s constantly joking that the easiest way for a man to turn me off is for him to show interest. Based on history, I do see where he’s coming from, but I’m still not totally convinced. Still, he does point out a polarizing, age-old issue: Is it true that the more someone is into us, the less into them we are? And if so, is a silly game of hard to get actually effective?
Apparently, the basis of playing it cool in dating—in which there’s an unspoken contest of sorts where whoever cares less wins—has a lot to do with human nature in general. “Part of it is about a primal desire that we have as humans for things that are valuable,” says therapist Daniel Olavarria, LCSW. “When someone plays it cool, the subtle message is that they are difficult to attain. If we’re relying on our most basic primal instincts, this will make them feel even more desirable.”
Furthermore, since it’s so easy to assume a potential love interest’s attitude applies to their entire disposition and life, being aggressively open and vulnerable off the bat isn’t the best look. “When someone seems too available, it can give the impression that they don’t have much going on in their own life to contribute to the relationship,” Olvarria says. Plus, one person feeling like they are the center of a their love interest’s schedule can add a lot of pressure to a new relationship . “In short, having your own life is sexy,” he adds.
“Do your best to be authentic in expressing your interest, but try to avoid folding your whole life around a new person you’re looking to get to know.” —Daniel Olavarria, LCSW
The answer here isn’t to be fake, but rather to communicate your interest without seeming needy or too available. “Do your best to be authentic in expressing your interest, but try to avoid folding your whole life around a new person you’re looking to get to know,” Olavarria advises. So if, for example, you have plans with friends and your new potential S.O. texts, don’t clear your schedule to hang. “Being too available in this way can send the message that you don’t have your own life, which makes things a lot less interesting for your date,” Olavarria says.
Share that you’re busy, but suggest a follow-up date to make clear that you’re still into them. By the time you actually get together, your date may be even more attracted to you and your full life.