Even with all we know about relationships these days, there seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the “chase” and how that differs from “playing games.” There also seems to be dissent regarding whether or not this chase is necessary or obsolete and how to do it right. Well, confusion be gone – it’s time to end the debate once and for all. Yes, the chase is important, no, it’s not the same as playing games, and there is one basic principle you need to know to understand how it’s done.
Back in the ‘90s, a book came along that revolutionized the dating world. Even if you’ve never read it (which I personally haven’t), you’ve heard about it and you know its contents well. It was called “The Rules” and it was hailed as the ultimate guide to getting a guy, preferably with engagement ring in hand.
The book was filled with all sorts of silly rules (as the title aptly suggests): always end the date first, don’t accept a Saturday date if he asks after Wednesday, wait at least three dates before having sex, and on and on. This book divided the female population into two groups: those who lived by it (dubbed Rules Girls) and those who wanted to see it burned and never spoken of again. (Side note: We just released our own book with answers to all your burning relationship questions: “He’s Not That Complicated: How to Crack a Man’s Romantic Code to Get the Relationship You Want.”)
Years after the Rules craze, there was a major backlash against game-playing. Adding fuel to the fire were the countless guys who came forward to declare how much they detest game playing. Suddenly, being branded a game-player became the ultimate insult. Call me a slut, call me a bitch – anything but a game-player!
As a result, being open and honest with your feelings became all the rage. You like a guy? Tell him! Be forward, go hit on that guy at the bar, take a man out to dinner and foot the entire bill! How liberating is THIS!
That was all well and good, but you know what happened? All those men blabbering on about their hatred of “games” found themselves with a case of foot-in-mouth. Their only motivation for removing said foot was to run away from their girlfriends and their newfound penchants for laying it all out on the table.
While not as intense as it was years ago, the game-playing backlash is still present. I see readers lashing out in comments and responding angrily to my emails on the Dating Decoder list any time Eric or I indicate altering a behavior in order to have greater success in a relationship. (Now mind you, by altering a behavior we mean not waiting by the phone for him to call and not canceling plans when he decides he wants to see you, not making your life all about him.)
Please don’t yell at me, just listen when I say there is a middle ground between manipulating your behavior to land a man and being open and available to the point of transparency. (Just to set the record straight, I certainly am not a Rules Girl – I’m a “be a confident, independent, happy with him or without him kind of girl” girl. The problem with following a set of rules is you can’t keep up the charade forever and eventually your true self will be revealed.)
I know women don’t like to hear this, but men love a challenge. Plain and simple. You’re not playing games by making him pursue you. You’re forcing him to realize your value. Everyone values that which they have to work hard to achieve; that is a known fact that applies to all areas of life.
When I was 14 years old I used the money I had saved up over the years from babysitting to buy my first Fendi bag. I will never forget the sheer exhilaration I felt when I was able to afford that beautiful hand-stitched baguette. To this day it remains one of my most prized possessions.
Now on my 19th birthday (or 20th or 21st even, I can’t even remember!) my mom bought me a Christian Dior handbag. It was an unbelievably generous gift that certainly took me by elated surprise. That bag was just as stunning as my dear Fendi and was worth about the same or more. But while I love that bag dearly, it will never hold the same place in my heart.
When we invest in something, we value it more. When you bend over backwards to please a man, you’re not really placing a high value on yourself and he doesn’t really have to do much work to land you.
When a guy has you, and gets to keep you without really putting in much effort, your stock inevitably goes down in his mind. You aren’t a Fendi bag on display at a fancy boutique, you’re a Fendi bag being sold for a mere $5 on eBay. At this point, you may notice that he starts pulling away until he eventually pulls a swift Houdini on you, vanishing into the abyss without even uttering “abracadabra” to give you some warning!
While guys enjoy the pursuit, they hate it when you act in a way that is deliberately trying to get them to chase you. That’s just manipulative and no one likes that. And to be clear, that is not what I’m talking about here.
I am not saying get him to pursue you by acting unavailable, I’m saying actually be unavailable. By that, I mean fill you life with fun, meaningful activities. And do not cancel any of these fun, meaningful activities just because he calls and wants to see you. When you have a fulfilling life of your own that exists completely separate from him, you will automatically be seen as having great value.
When your happiness is rooted in all sorts of things, not just him, you will never have to watch what you say or do for fear of coming off as needy because you will never be needy.
I met this guy a while ago, let’s call him Craig. He was a bartender at a restaurant I used to frequent and after several flirty exchanges, he finally asked for my number. On the night of our first date, I had to delay our meeting time by a few hours because I forgot I was supposed to be having dinner with some friends. When I eventually met up with Craig at the bar, the first thing he said after our friendly hellos and my apology for changing things around last minute was: “I like that you didn’t cancel on your friends. It shows a lot about you and made me even more excited to see you.”
Since Craig and I lived somewhat of a distance away (maybe about 40 minutes) I went out of my way to see him when it was convenient for him. There were forces working against us and I didn’t want to make things worse by being unaccommodating. My schedule was more flexible than his so it made sense that I should work around his schedule, right?
While in theory that makes sense, in reality Craig started pulling away more and more. The amount of calls and texts declined…he was always “too busy” to hang out…he stopped initiating contact (but would always respond when I reached out to him, acting nice and normal like always)… Eventually I stopped reaching out because it was starting to make me feel like an idiot…he was never to be heard from again.
I’ve dated many more blokes since Craig and let me tell you, whenever I’ve been overly available I went through that same cycle. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If this is true, those men in the white coats should have been on me like white on rice.
It took a long time, and a ton of heartache, but I have finally learned my lesson and I’m here to spread the gospel! These days I never, ever prioritize a new guy over my life. I won’t even prioritize a new guy over a new episode of Glee! If a guy can’t see me when I’m available,