How to Play Hard to Get (Without Playing Any Games)

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You’re really into a guy but you’re not sure how to get his attention.  You like the idea of learning how to play hard to get…but you’re not into games (good news: neither is the Sexy Confidence community!).

Is there a way to do it without acting like a teenager?

Learning “how to play hard to get” might not be the most accurate description of what I want to cover in this article, because it does, in some way, indicate game playing. I mean, you’re playing hard to get, like a game, right?

Better to say that in this article we will look at some ways to get his complete attention…while not necessarily giving him 100% of yours. Let’s get started.

7 Tips on How to Play Hard to Get

flirty woman

Learning how to play hard to get requires no games at this age!

You’re not 20 anymore, so games aren’t for you, so you can’t apply the same methods of how to play hard to get that you might have back then. In truth, playing games to get a boy’s attention probably didn’t work then, but magazines and websites geared toward that age demographic perpetuate the idea that they do. At this point in your life, you really don’t have the energy to invest in a man unless you’re sure he’s right for you. Bravo.

Still, if there’s a man in your life that you’d like to spend more time with, there are a few ways you can shine the spotlight on you without really blatantly calling attention to yourself. It’s the subtle things you do that will get his attention, not the big splashy things. So let’s look at a few ways you can learn how to play hard to get while still acting your age.

1. Don’t Ignore His Calls…Leave Your Phone in the Other Room

Your younger self might think ignoring his calls or texts for 2.5 hours is the best way to make him want you more, but that’s a game, isn’t it? It is, however, a good idea to not be quite so available all the time, and the best way to do that is to either a) be busy or b) legitimately not see that he called or texted.

I know how much you love your phone. I get it. I love mine too. We fall in with the 90% of people who carry their phones with them frequently, according to recent research.

But let me guess: you constantly check it to see if you missed a call from him…even though it’s been turned on right next to you all day. You’ll make yourself crazy jumping at every ping your phone makes! This is not, by the way, how to play ‘hard to get’!

A better solution is to turn it off or put your phone in another room. So many benefits here. First of all, you’ll be more focused on whatever you’re working on. That place you spend 40 hours a week? You might actually be productive there. When he does call or text and doesn’t get you, he’ll be disappointed and wonder what you’re up to. If he’s a little insecure, he might get nervous that you’re out with another guy (not a bad thing, actually!). And when you do get around to checking your phone, you, like Pavlov’s dog, will be rewarded with missed calls and messages you can lap up.

Put it in action: For the rest of the day, I want you to put your phone on silent. Check it no more than once every two hours. You will not die, I promise. See how it feels to delay responding to a text from your guy. See what his reaction is. Lather, rinse, repeat.

2. Don’t Run After Him…Let Him Do the Chasing


Yes, you’re a modern woman, and I fully support you making the first move with a guy, but realize that men are psychologically wired to like to chase things (women, animals). And it’s always fun to mix things up.

Maybe in your 20s, you were the forward girl who would kiss a guy first. So you might not even know what it feels like to be pursued. The women I’ve coached on dating and relationships who switched from being the one to make the first move to being pursued have told me that it feels absolutely fantastic.

So what have you got to lose by being a little patient?

If you’re talking to a guy through a dating app, don’t get frustrated if he doesn’t ask you out after a few days of messaging. Some guys want to make doubly sure that a lady is interested in them before risking rejection. So flirt a little. Mention that you’ve got a free evening in the coming days. But let him come to you. That’s how you play hard to get.

Put it in action: The next time you start to feel impatient, remind yourself that everyone moves at different speeds when it comes to dating. Maybe he’s shy. Or busy. That doesn’t mean he’s not interested. Busy yourself in other areas of your life, and when he’s ready, he’ll come around, especially if he realizes you’re not giving him all your attention.

3. Don’t Stay Glued to His Side at a Party…Work the Room

One of the secrets of how to play hard to get is simply being yourself, particularly if you are naturally outgoing. If you attend a party with the object of your desires, don’t stay with him all night. It’s a party, after all!

I’m not telling you to ignore him or even flirt with other men to make him jealous (no games, right?) but let’s look at two scenarios:

Rebecca is so into Steve that she doesn’t let go of his hand all night except to go to the bathroom (and even then, she holds it. Red flag!). At the end of the night, Steve’s hand is sweaty and he’s oversaturated by Rebecca’s attention.

Michelle is equally into Dan, but she lets go of his hand and runs to hug a good friend at the party. She keeps checking in with him but then goes back to talk to other people. At the end of the night, the couple has a lot to talk about, comparing conversations and sharing laughs from the evening.

Which guy do you think wants his woman more?

So I’m not telling you to deliberately ignore your date. Nor should you abandon him if he doesn’t know anyone. Introduce him to a guy you know he might have things in common with, then check on him to make sure he’s having a good time.

Put it in action: At the next group event you go to together, notice what your tendency is. Do you feel like you want to stay glued to his side? If so, aim to spend at least 30% of the time away from him.

4. Don’t Blow Up His Phone…Find the Initiation Ratio

woman with phone

Have some self-restraint! Wait to text him.

You’re thinking of him, so you want to text him several times a day. But until you know he’s equally as into you, hold off.

Instead, use what I call the Text Initiation Ratio: for every two of his calls or texts, initiate your own. You want to make sure he’s reaching out because he wants to talk to you, not in response to you always initiating the conversation.

Also if you wait to text him (until it’s your turn), you’ll have more to say, rather than disrupting his day a million times with trivial things. Later, as you get to know each other as a couple, you may end up doing that, but in the early days, especially if you’re trying to learn how to play hard to get, resist texting or calling every single time you want to. Show a little restraint, m’lady!

Also if it ends up that this situation doesn’t work out, you’ll be more tuned into that fact if he rarely texts you. When you text all the time, you don’t notice that he never initiates. But if you wait for him to initiate at least 2/3 of the time, you quickly notice when the time between texts stretches out to days.

Put it in action: If you pick up your phone to text him, first see who initiated the last text convo. If it was him, resist the urge! Put your phone away!

5. Don’t Give It Up Right Away…Wait to Have Sex

This isn’t a game. It’s just smart. If you’re going to let someone get so intimate with you as to have sex with you, don’t you want to know them a bit first?

Especially because you’re looking for something long-term, understand that sex factors hugely into shaping your relationship early on. If you have sex too soon, he might get the impression that you just want something casual (which is fine with him), while you may get emotionally attached too early, making you invest more emotionally into the relationship than he does.

Research shows that women, more than men, tie sex to emotional attachment. Researchers have found that during climax, women release more oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) than men do. That’s why you want to cuddle afterward, where he wants to go to sleep or leave.

So…do you want to take the risk of falling for him faster until you know the feeling is reciprocated? No? Then wait to have sex with him. You’ll be more sure of your feelings (not amped up on sex hormones) and know better what you want for this relationship if physical intimacy isn’t involved until a few weeks or even months into dating.

Put it in action: Waiting to have sex can be tricky if he’s put off by the idea of waiting. Find a way to let him know that, while you want to get to know one another better before jumping into bed, you are looking forward to it happening when it does. You’re not teasing him…but you do want to let him know you want to take your time…and that it’ll be sooo worth it when it happens.

6. Don’t Be Overly Available…Keep Living Your Life

For each of these tips on how to play hard to get, I’m comparing the advice your teenybopper magazine might have given you 20 or more years ago with real-life advice I’ve seen work for women who are over 40 and single.

Younger you might have ditched her friends to hang out with her guy nonstop. How did it work out for ya? I’m betting that Bethany and Tiffers were pretty peeved that you were “that girl” who ditched them for a guy…only to come crawling back when you two split.

But you’re older and wiser now, and you understand that it’s important to balance all aspects of your life, including love.

So if you think this guy is worth your time, by all means, give him some of it. Just not all of it.

Men are drawn to women with full and happy lives. If you have dance class on Mondays, go out with the girls for happy hour on Wednesdays, and do yoga on Saturday mornings (not to mention having lots of time for you to curl up on your couch and read by yourself), don’t change a thing about your schedule. You still have plenty of time to fit him in.

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Keeping your activities communicates to this guy that, while you like him, he doesn’t take priority over the other things that are important in your world. These are the activities and hobbies that keep you whole and happy, so never ever give them up.

And P.S. there is absolutely no rule that says you have to have the same hobbies as him! Either you do your own stuff separately or you can introduce one another to things you enjoy doing. But there’s no guarantee they’ll stick. So if you absolutely hate hockey after he takes you to a game, he can share that with his brother while you go get pedicures with your BFF.

Put it in action: When you first start dating someone new, block off the days you have things going on in your calendar so you don’t accidentally agree to go out on a date on those days. Even exercise should be a calendar item so that you prioritize the things that make you happy.

7. Don’t Give Your Heart Right Away…Make Him Work For It

It’s a major deal to give your heart away, particularly if you’re 40 or older and single and have had it broken.

You may be eager for love. This guy may or may not be it…but it does you good to simply roll slow as you get to know him.

You’ve got baggage. He does too. Even if you talk about the big things at the start (what are you looking for? do you have/want kids? are you open to marriage again?), you can’t really know whether things will work out between the two of you or not. There’s always the issue of compatibility, which you can in no way force.

Open up a little at a time and wait to see if he reciprocates. Maybe talk a little about your childhood or past relationship…and see if he opens up with similar stories of his past.

Communicate how you feel, but also pay attention to what you’re getting from him. If he clams up every time you mention the future, he’s either uncomfortable talking about it (reasonable) or isn’t seeing a future with you (red flag).

Put it in action: Consider your behaviors from the past week with this man, including conversations you’ve had in person and via text or phone. Are you the only one putting yourself out there, or is he equally in the game? If you don’t feel like he’s meeting you emotionally, pull back and pay attention to his actions.


You don’t have to master how to play hard to get in order to have a man fall head over heels for you. These tips are merely a way to keep you and your emotions in check, ensuring that he’s responding in kind in his actions and behavior. Falling in love is best done together. It’s not a one-sided situation (well, sometimes it is, but that sucks).

Just try to move slowly when dating someone new and pay attention to what’s going on. It’s easy to be consumed by the butterflies in your stomach and the sparkles in your eyes, but I want you to also have a realistic view of what’s going on so that you don’t get hurt. Because that’s my job, you Sexy Confident lady; to help you find love and minimize the heartache.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below...

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5 years ago

I’m a girl and I’m going to Try This on my crush (who is also a girl) so lets see How it goes, wish me luck!

5 years ago

Would it be fine in the 3rd date to stay in his place but no sex gonna happen?

5 years ago

I’m going to try this on my guy. I found this to be helpful. I like the aspect of enhancing my self worth (both in the girl and the guy’s view of her)

4 years ago

Maybe a better name for this article would be “how to keep your independence while dating”. Everything you’ve suggested here is more about having your own life and maintaining your individuality more than it is about “playing” hard to get. Playing hard to get is, indeed, a form of game playing, and personally I find it a huge turnoff. But your suggestions seem like they are more about living your life and not giving up who you are for someone you’re interested in. That is something my partner and I both do in our relationship and it works really, really… Read more »

4 years ago

I’m gonna try this on my crush. Its not exactly what I was looking for but it gave me a little help…I think my crush likes me too but he doesn’t seem super into me. When we are alone its great and the conversation keeps flowing but when we are with a group of people he almost ignores me…He also told one of my friends that he’s taking his time (with asking me out) but its been over a month that he’s known that I like him.

4 years ago

The onus is on women to chase as they are the ones with baggage such as wanting children and the security that comes with commitment so if a woman plays games i just call another one as time and experience is on my genders side not yours.

Playing hard to get on guys with options doesn’t work.

All the best,

1 year ago

You’re a gem! Feel sorry for the ”options” you’re calling.

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