A New Way of Playing Hard to Get

“I can’t make myself play games. He’s worth more than that to me, because he’s not just any other guy. And I don’t want to be just like any other girl. I can honestly say I’d rather never be with him than be typical or predictable.”

“What I hear from society is that to get what I want, I have to back off, play hard to get…nobody wants to date a friend because the point of dating is to get to know someone. But I honestly just can’t make myself play games because that’s not who I am. If God wants me to be married eventually, He’s just going to have to find me a man who’s okay with being friends. It’s not worth my time; he’s not the only thing on my mind. I’ve school on my mind. I’ve got work on my mind. I’ve got youth group and photography and friends and LIFE on my mind. Simply put, I’m not investing all of my time and emotional energy into pursuing something that may not even be God’s plan. If it happens, it happens, but I’m not shutting everything else down to carefully orient my life and actions toward manipulating him into wanting an elusive fictional character with nothing better to do, no nobler goal to pursue, than playing a game.”

These are journal entries from nearly a year ago, but these feelings go back much further than that.  I have always, always been frustrated by the concept of playing hard to get, partly because I fail at it.  But it’s also because I see it as being inconsistent.  All my life I’ve heard suggestions such as these: “Pretend you don’t see him.” “Stop answering the phone when he calls.” “Act like you could care less.” “Flirt with another guy.”  No, no, no, and NO.

Here’s why.  I’m contactable 24/7 to anyone I remotely consider a friend (okay, not as much now as I used to be, because I love my sleep).  But if I reply to YOUR text 45 seconds after you send it, I’m not going to sit around and agonize over whether I’ve waited long enough to respond to his.  “He took 20 minutes, so I have to wait 30!”  No.  Just no.

And I’m not going to act like I could care less, because I DO care about him.  A lot.  Not just because I think he’s cute.  Because, as my brother in Christ, I love him and consider it my responsibility to help protect his heart as well as my own.  In Scripture I see “one another” passages like “Love one another.” “Pray for one another.” “Bear one another’s burdens.”  Nowhere do I see “Ignore one another  to solicit attention for your own emotional affirmation at the expense of another.”

Playing hard to get leads to relationships that are based on an entirely false premise.  Think about it.  The rule of thumb behind playing hard to get is “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and I hope to God that’s not true.  Do you really want someone to love you more when you’re NOT there, than when you ARE?  I’ve felt that way about people before, and you know how it ended up?  Ha! NOT in spending the rest of our lives together.

At the same time, though, I will concede that sometimes a relationship needs its space if you’re spending too much time and emotional energy focusing on each other when it’s not quite the right time.  The question, then, is how to achieve that needed space without a game.  For you straightforward girls out there, like me, here’s a new way of playing hard to get.  One that honors God, does what’s best for the guy, and guards your heart without wasting time counting chips and upping the ante.  One that bypasses the shallowness of games to win you a relationship that fulfills rather than confuses, and a love story that rivals Sleeping Beauty’s.  You ready?  Okay, here it is, with a little bit of back story:

Last summer, one of my co-workers and I were discussing this, and I explained that I felt stuck in the middle with a guy, not sure how to back away but knowing that things couldn’t continue on the same trajectory without some sort of definition.

“You know my favorite thing about you?” my co-worker asked.

A little caught off guard, I shook my head.  I’ll never forget what he said next.

“Watching you worship,” he answered. “When you worship, it’s like there’s nobody else in the room.  It’s just you and God, and you’re 100% focused on Him without worrying what anyone else thinks of you.”  He paused to let this sink in. “Just be like that all the time.”

And there it is: pursue God, not guys.  Live your life proactively and wholeheartedly, seeking His calling for you instead of chasing after a relationship that will hold you back.  The less you stress over figuring things out, the more likely they are to fall into place; the closer you are to the heart of God, the more clearly you can discern what He’s doing.  If it’s not the right time, that’ll give you the space you need.  When it is the right time, God will lead you to you each other.  And if you’re both following Him, you’ll meet in the middle for the most beautiful love story of all time —  a love story only God could write.


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  1. The ancients would agree with you. The greatest theologian of what was still an undivided Western Christianity would say “one anothering” could only take place in significant personal encounter, where two people could be emotionally and intellectually available to one another. And, of course, his two greatest statements of love: “I seek your highest good” (ultimately, God), and “I seek to have union with you.” Together, both know that other knows that the other knows, etc. He would also say that, the one who shares him/herself with the other is not the one being close to the other. It would be the one who “got shared to” that was closest to the other. The one “not shared to” was the distant one. In all of this, there can still be absence in closeness. Both must equally share in order for their to be significant “one anothering.” Good article.

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