The Science Behind Why So Many People Play Hard To Get On Dating


Court dancing in a relationship can be exhausting. It’s a game everyone seems to be playing at some point in their lives, from text messages left ‘read’ to even ignored in a public place despite hours and hours of countless chats in both. meaning. It’s a troubled dance that takes up the age-old saying “absence makes the heart more loving”, and in turn, it’s one of the dynamics to play hard at the start of any romantic interest.

But what are the real motivations behind the hard to get game? A new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences delves into the psychological aspect of making yourself look more desirable by playing hard to get.

“If you think of things like ‘breadcrumbs’ or ‘bench’ – you let people think you care about them and then pull or keep it as it is without moving the relationship forward,” Omri Gillath, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, said in a press release.

“You don’t step up or defuse the effort. For example, you sit there and play with your phone – phubbing – without paying your full attention to the other person and making them have a hard time getting your attention. It’s sending a double message. On the one hand, you say you are interested. But on the other hand, you say, “You have to work hard to get my full attention. “

The team University of Kansas and Johns Hopkins University “sought to uncover associations between romantic estrangement, gender, and ‘attachment style’, the psychological term for the way people think, feel and behave in close relationships,” according to a press release .

When analyzing attachment style, the researchers found that women and people with insecure attachment styles were the ones who most often had difficulty playing. These styles are shaped throughout childhood and can make someone’s attachment style secure or not.

The studies – four in total – had over 900 participants, finding that gender and attachment style were good indicators of hard-to-achieve behaviors. Here are some of the main findings:

• Attachment style predicts and shapes hard-to-attain behaviors, especially in individuals with insecure attachment.

• People with a higher level of attachment avoidance and women (compared to men) reported playing more difficult.

• People with higher levels of attachment anxiety and men (compared to women) reported looking more for hard-to-get others.

• When researchers pushed (or primed) thoughts of attachment insecurity, they found that the avoidance that was initiated was more likely to be tough to get among avoidant heterosexual men. Initiated anxiety led to a higher reported likelihood of pursuing hard-to-achieve goals overall.

• While many people may use these strategies (play and chase), their reasons may be different (control, self-protection, partner selection, etc.)

While playing hard to get can be tiring, it’s part of our society and there might be reasons why it happens a lot.

“We’re not saying it’s good or bad, but for some people these strategies work,” said Gillath. “It helps people build relationships and find the partners they want. But who does it and what are the results? These people are usually insecure people – and their relationships are often the ones that won’t last long or are unsatisfactory.

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