Relationships, especially new relationships thrive on mystery, unfamiliarity, and the thrill of the chase — what has come to be known as “playing hard to get”.
Personally, I think every relationship new or old should have a little bit of “play” in it, to keep things exciting and interesting. But as I’ve written elsewhere, “play” is only fun when both people know 1) it’s a game, 2) when and how the game is played, and 3) are having fun playing.
If you are confused about what’s going on, and/or aren’t having fun, you are not “playing”, you are “being played”.
Sometimes, however, it is hard to know what is what.
1) Is the person interested but trying not to show that he/she is overly eager?
2) Is he/she just enjoying the chase because it makes him/her feel good about him/herself?
3) Is he/she just not interested, but you think they are playing hard to get?
One example of a behaviour that can be confusing especially early in the relationship is when s/he says s/he’ll phone later or tomorrow and doesn’t.
1) There may be justifiable reasons why someone may fail to call when they say they will, and we all have had those times.
2) He/she may actually have wanted to call but got cold feet, or thought it might appear too “needy”.
3) He/she had no intention of calling but wanted you to hope and wait.
One way you can tell what is what is by the “excuse” a person gives for not calling. For example if a person says, “Sorry, I was terribly tired” or “Sorry, I went out with friends” or “Sorry, I completely forgot” or any other excuse that makes you think “would a 30-second call to tell me you couldn’t talk have killed you?”, don’t ignore the warning signs or try to squash down your inner voice.
Such seemingly insignificant words, even if made early in the relationship, reveal something about his or her attitude towards you and the relationship. If a person is really that into you, he or she will move a mountain if that is what is standing between them and a phone. I have had perfect strangers borrow my cell phone to call and let someone know that they can’t call or talk as they’d promised.
So how do you tell someone who is interested but trying not to show from someone who is just playing minds games with you?
1. Someone who is interested makes a real effort to show you that they like you. Their compliments are sincere and make you feel good.
With someone playing mind games, you are not even sure they genuinely like you. They throw you a few choice words that sound empty both in sincerity and in emotion. Even their compliments make you ask yourself, “Really? Am I that hot/sexy/brilliant?” because deep inside you know the compliment isn’t sincere.
2. Someone who likes you but is trying not to come across as needy wants you to and encourages you to text/call him/her — and he/she responds.
You may be the one doing most of the texting/calling, and they may come across as nervous or “in a hurry to go”, but the conversations end with you feeling good that you called — and looking forward to the next call/chat.
The person playing mind games is most of the time unreachable. When you finally get hold of them, you quickly wish you never called. Either they are cold and distant and some how you start feeling “needy and clingy”, or they seem all excited to hear from you and act as if everything is great between the two of you. The want you to feel stupid/needy for trying so hard to get hold of them.
Most of the time you are not sure if and when you will speak or see them again.
3. A man or woman trying not to appear too eager will try to show in small ways that you are the only person they are interested in. They’ll “accidentally” mention that they are single, they are not dating anyone else, or that they are not in a serious relationship.
The person playing mind games will hide their “relationship status” from you. They may even try to make you “jealous” by telling you or showing you that they are wanted and being chased by many others. They want you to know that they are doing you a favour, just in case you thinking of complaining about them being unreachable or hard to pin down.
4. Someone interested will make a sincere effort to get to know you as a person: asks personal questions about you, your work, your family or your day. He or she remembers things you say and let’s you know that what you tell them about you is important and interesting. If you ask questions about them, they’ll give it willingly and happily because they think it’ll make you get to know them and like them back.
Someone playing mind games will not volunteer much personal information, and when you ask, you are told this and that and nothing specific. But they want o hear “about you” so they can use if to manipulate you even more. If you try to do your own “psychoanalysis” and ask them about things you’ve told them about you, you’ll find that they remember “selectively” and not the details. And they’re not slightly embarrassed that they don’t “remember” things that are so important to you.
5. With someone interested in you, the signs that he/she really likes you increase with time. They look/stare at you more. They try to talk to /compliment you more. They ask you out more. They increasingly do things that they know you’ll like. You get the feeling they want you to really like them, and that they want to spend more and more time with you.
With some playing mind games, their “interest” in you wanes with time. They don’t make any effort to make you like them more (and sometimes are plain mean and callous), and become even more unreachable and harder to pin down.