How To Play Hard To Get: 8 Tactics That Won’t Put Them Off

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‘Treat them mean, keep them keen.’

Dating advice like this has been around for years, but how are you meant to do it without just being… mean?

What is the right way to push them away, and when will they just give up and stop chasing?

Playing hard to get is full of nuance and subtlety and not always easy to pull off, which is why we’ve put together our top 8 tips to keep them chasing…

1. Keep it playful.

The whole point of playing hard to get is that you and your crush are both having fun playing a bit of a game.

And play is meant to be light-hearted!

Make it a bit flirty, send some cute messages or emojis and be silly with it.

You can send little teasing texts. Maybe send a photo of a cute outfit you’re going to wear for your next date and then leave them to look forward to seeing you in it.

However you choose to do it, make sure it’s enjoyable for both of you.

Sure, you can tease them or wind them up a little bit, but make sure you’re not hurting their feelings along the way!

They should be left wanting more of your time and attention, not needing it. 

2. Make yourself the priority.

This is something that will really help you while you’re dating, but can also help them.

If you’ve got plans with friends and don’t want to be on your phone, tell them.

Text your crush to say you’ve got something fun happening so won’t be on your phone for a couple of hours.

This shows them that you’ve got a social life beyond just texting them, which will make you even more attractive.

It serves as a reminder to you that you don’t need to be available all the time (something most of us are guilty of during the early days of a relationship!), and lets them know what to expect going forwards.

It’s a good way to keep them excited for when you do then text later on, and it sets the expectations for both of you that you’re not the kind of person to wait by your phone all day! 

3. Gauge their boundaries.

So, the key here is to find a balance between keeping them entertained and keeping them guessing.

It’s worth gauging how they feel and what their expectations are before you play this game!

You might find out that they will genuinely become upset or frustrated if you don’t text back for a couple of days.

If so, try to avoid this as you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

You’re doing this because you like them and want to get to know them more, after all.

It may be that a few hours is enough to keep them chasing you, in which case you can play around with that.

Playing hard to get doesn’t mean totally blocking this person from having any kind of access to you…

…it just means that you keep them wanting a bit more from you – but not at the expense of their confidence, self-worth, or interest in you! 

4. Keep it balanced.

It can be really easy to think that playing hard to get means that the other person has to put in all the effort.

Sure, it’s fun to be wanted and to be chased, but not if the other person ends up thinking that this is your personality type!

If it feels like a game and you keep making an effort with them, you’re doing it right.

If you always leave them on read, shut down conversations, or give them a bit too much sass, they might start to question the kind of person you really are.

You don’t want to give off the impression that you’ll never be interested in them – nobody wants to feel that way from the person they’re dating or in a relationship with.

Instead, make an effort, give them some attention and don’t expect them to throw themselves 100% into just getting a response from you.

It’s not fair on either of you and may lead to them resenting you for it and not wanting to date you anymore – definitely not the intended outcome! 

5. Physically play hard to get.

If you want to keep getting to know your crush and want to build some tension (the good kind!) between the two of you, try holding off on getting physical for a little while.

That’s not to say you should be cold and hostile toward them, but that you can just tease them a little bit rather than sleeping with them straight away.

Let that anticipation grow by giving them a cheeky kiss at the end of the night, or letting them know you’ve thought about sleeping with them.

This will give them just enough to feel like you’re interested in them, but will keep them wanting more.

They’ll keep chasing, keep getting to know you, and, by the time you do sleep together, you’ll have probably bonded over just getting to know each other more anyway.

Small things like touching their arm or their knee can keep the heat between the two of you without you actually sleeping together.

The anticipation will probably be fun for both of you, so play around with it and see what feels good.

Of course, they won’t be chasing you purely so that they can have sex with you, but it’s nice to keep them interested and to have a little fun with it along the way.

6. Give them space to miss you.

If you’ve been dating for a few weeks and want to play a bit hard to get, make sure you take some time for yourself every so often.

It can be really easy to get caught up in the early stages of dating and end up spending all your time together!

But, to keep them on their toes and chasing you, add a little bit of distance into the mix every so often.

Maybe make plans for the weekend that don’t involve them.

It’s not that you don’t want to see them, it’s just giving them some time to realize they’d rather be with you!

This time apart will make them miss you and want to be around you even more.

By playing hard to get like this, they’ll be chasing you and be really excited to get to see you again.

Time apart will make you both appreciate the time you do spend together and will make it feel more special and sacred.

Plus, it gives you both a little breather to do your own thing and focus on your separate lives – which is so important in every relationship and will help you build a strong foundation together, rather than risk building a codependent one. 

7. Keep busy.

People love what they can’t have, so don’t be afraid to turn down plans or make some with other people.

It’s so tempting to clear our calendars when we’re dating someone new, and to get wrapped up in spending all our time with them.

If you want to keep them keen and play hard to get, make sure you stay busy.

The harder you are to get hold of or pin down (within reason!), the more they’ll want to see you.

They’ll also feel pretty special if they’re someone that you make the effort to see despite being super busy – when you make allowances and find some free time to see them, they’ll feel important to you.

This will give them a little confidence boost and will make them even more keen to keep seeing you

Either way, by being a bit more unavailable, you suddenly become a lot more attractive to them.

Get ready to be chased…

8. Know when to stop.

Playing hard to get is all well and good when it’s working – but what if it has the opposite effect?

Some people may get confused by your hot-and-cold personality, or they may feel like you’re playing too many games.

If your crush thinks that you’re not willing to commit because you’re messing them around a bit, they may back off and think that you’re not ready for a relationship.

You don’t want them to think that they’ll never be able to get hold of you over the phone.

Most people are looking for a partner they can rely on, not someone who takes 3 days to respond to a simple ‘Hello’ text.

If you’re interested, make that very clear before you play any games!

While you may be aware of the context of your actions, they might just think that you have changed your mind, or don’t want a relationship that involves physical contact, for example.

Playing hard to get should be something fun and exciting, not a way for you to test how someone feels about you…


So, as it turns out, playing hard to get is a pretty tough game to crack!

Remember to be your genuine self as much as possible – you want them to like you for who you are, after all, not a pretend version of yourself you’re trying to project.

While it’s good and healthy to have plans that involve them, and it’s okay to distance yourself a bit to get them to chase you, make sure your crush knows that you are actually interested in them.

Some people will just give up rather than try harder, so gauge how your crush is feeling, learn when you’ve overstepped their boundaries, and try to keep things fun and light-hearted.

Still not sure what the right way to play hard to get is? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.