When two people are interested in each other, they should be together. Right?
No, of course not.
Although that would make perfect sense, human interaction could never be that easy. Why not? Because if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. It wouldn’t be fun, it wouldn’t be exciting, and we would get bored even though we are in the ideal situation of mutual wanting. We’ve convinced ourselves that when we want someone too much, we don’t want them at all. If we wanted them at all, we would make them work.
Hence, the infinite game of “playing hard to get”: of making sure your friends don’t let you respond to that text message until 11:39pm and 46 seconds, of leaving the conversation in a terrifying cliffhanger by not answering the question “Did I tell you that I ran into ‘x’ today?” No you didn’t tell me, and I’m not going to risk my mysterious persona by allowing this conversation to get irrelevant and pointless. The beginning of a relationship is like writing a screenplay–every word has to have a significance. And if it doesn’t, then it isn’t worth saying.
I used to be and still am terrible at playing hard to get. It isn’t that I’m easy, and it isn’t that I’m a slut. In fact, I’m far from both of these things. Instead, I’m a premature yenta that can’t keep her mouth shut. I was born as a small fuzzy caterpillar waiting to turn into a social butterfly. (If you know my mom, you know exactly where I get this quality from). When I entered the fiery hell of high school girl world, I had trouble understanding how it wasn’t considered the rudest thing possible to play hard to get. I was confused about the bitchy aspects of the dating game; i.e., making a guy text you five times before responding, ignoring his physical existence unless he approaches you, and whatever else my American Girl book “All You Need To Know About Boys a.k.a. How To Get Guys With As Little Sluttiness As Possible” told me to do.
My fears were all legitimate. What if he thinks I died? What if I seem so rude that he’s not going to like me at all anymore? What if he thinks I’m not who he thought I was? Eventually, I became so frazzled that my friends would have to deal with my relationships for me. Every text I received was treated amongst my friends like a table read of Girls.
I eventually realized that I’m not the only one with hard-to-get/how-to-text anxieties. Last week I was snuggled up in bed with my teddy bear, blankie, retainers, and sleep mask. Click here if you want a nice image of what that looks like. As I was falling asleep, someone BURSTED through my door (which I obviously forgot to lock) and jumped on my bed. My first thought was that I was being recruited by Agent Cody Banks and the CIA. Momentarily, I came to my senses and realized that it was one of my best friends. She got a text message: “Hey, what’s up?” Then, the conniption fit initiated. Pretty standard.
My mom was keen at enforcing that I should play hard to get since I was in middle school. He should have to come to your house, she would say. Make him work for you. Originally, I thought that she was crazy. But now, I think she changed me for the better. I feel like I value myself (sexually) more than most of the girls I know do… even more than some of my feminist friends do. Impressive, right? I think that although I feel guilty ignoring a text, or making someone who wants me on the bottom of my priority list, it’s all in good reason. If we don’t make someone–anyone–work to get us, then we ultimately give ourselves less value. Sure, anyone’s daddy can buy him a LandRover. But your daddy will never be able to buy you love from a nice Jewish girl like me.