The importance of playing it cool (and not being clingy!)
Avoiding the extremes of being either the Ice King/Queen or Mr/Miss Clingy is a delicate balancing act when it comes to dating someone for the first time, especially when playing it cool might leave you frozen out in the cold, says Sloan Sheridan-Williams
Acting desperate in any situation is not a good look, but this is especially true when it comes to dating. Clients often come to me having had a string of short-lived romances and starting the next one almost immediately after the end of the previous one. Others have been single for a while and worry that their thoughtful considerate approach might be interpreted as disinterest.
It’s quite common in the dating arena for men to play it cool and women to play hard to get. At the end of the day, all this boils down to is both sexes playing games with each other to avoid looking needy and to avoid rejection, which can result in the object your affection thinking that you’re cold and disinterested. By playing it cool, what you are actually doing is unconsciously shutting yourself off from genuine love and connection because you are not capturing the attention or interest of a potential partner, and thus cutting yourself off from one of your basic emotional needs.
Waiting game or busy life
A classic tactic when playing it cool is to not reply back to a text or e-mail on the same day, however an eHarmony poll of 1,000 singletons found that being stand-offish is no longer enticing, with only 4% agreeing you should wait before replying to a message. It is important not to answer immediately every time, as this can make you look like a convenience not a catch, but you don’t want to keep him or her waiting too often as this can be misconstrued as disinterest.
Rather than trying to keep his interest by playing hard to get, ditch this waiting game and cultivate a genuinely varied and busy life. People who keep themselves occupied with hobbies, classes and activities sound more cool, interesting and intriguing than those who vaguely claim to be ‘super busy’ all the time. The truth is that if you have a varied life filled with commitments, then you won’t need to play waiting games because you will genuinely be busy and will have to make time to reply to potential dates, which will subsequently make them feel more valued that you are making the effort to fit them into your schedule.
Also genuinely busy people tend to answer as and when they get a text. They know that if they don’t answer, more texts, e-mails and tweets or meet-up invitations will come their way and before they know it they are snowed under a myriad of social media. Often people who take longer to answer are putting too much thought into how they look, which means they are being ruled by primitive and superficial drives such as ego. There is a careful balance between being cool and acting cool.
Less is more
Another tactic often used to play it cool is to be vague, or even secretive, however, it is much better to be authentic and drip feed details about yourself. When it comes to information, less really is more, as there is nothing more unattractive than someone with verbal diarrhoea giving away too much information. Over-sharing can be a sign of nervous anxiety, or the trait of a very open person, but no matter what the reason, it is better to censor what you tell your object of affection because the details you leave out can be more powerful than those you share.
This is especially true when it comes to talking about past relationships or other people you might be dating, as it can be a real turn-off for your date to picture you with other people. If you have to share details about your ex (perhaps in the case of children) then keep it light, positive and brief. In the early dates, it is best to talk about your work and interests, interspersed with a few intriguing facts, but hold back on the meatier information until you get to know one another better. This will make you more interesting and intriguing. As their curiosity about you builds so will their attraction towards you and as you do share more with your date, they will feel like they have earned your trust.
Some say that when playing it cool one should end phone calls and dates early to show the other person that they don’t dictate the terms of the relationship. Rather than end conversations early, a more useful tactic is to aim to be the one who tends to end dates and phone calls first as this will show the other person that you are firmly in control of yourself and are not going to rush the relationship. They must not be allowed to believe that they have a guaranteed place in your diary or your life. While it is necessary that they know that you’re interested in them, it is also necessary that whomever you’re dating knows that your life is not on hold for them.
You shouldn’t bother with cryptic clues about what you’re doing or offer small nuggets of information without details, all you need to do is maintain your own life and show the person you’re dating that you like him or her but your world doesn’t revolve around them. Being independent and confident in this way are two very attractive traits that will make you more alluring. Men enjoy the chase, so using these tactics will encourage them to move towards someone who is just out of their grasp. On the other side of the coin, women are more attracted to confident men who don’t smother them. It is less about playing hard to get and more about both of you looking forward to next date without exhausting the all-important honeymoon period.
To flirt or not to flirt?
Making your date jealous by flirting with someone else in their presence is sometimes quoted as the perfect way to play it cool, because supposedly your date will think they need to beat the competition. This is typically behaviour designed to make the man or woman sit up and take notice that someone else is taking notice of you. Casually talking to the cutie by the bar or encouraging others to check you out, might sound like reliable ways to make your date see the green-eyed monster of jealousy, but such behaviour could also lead them to show you the door.
Instead of playing these dangerous games, work on being the extraordinary catch that your date just can’t get enough of, because people are attracted to the way you make them feel rather than purely physical looks or the games men and women play. If you feel your date is getting complacent enough to warrant games it is time to rethink your date and place value on yourself over his or her opinion of you, which says more about his readiness for a relationship than anything personal.
Non-negotiable deal breakers
When it comes to defining relationships, psychologists talk about the “Law of Least Interest,” which basically states that whoever is least interested in the relationship holds the most power. They say that to play it cool you must not discuss your burgeoning relationship with the other person because every time you bring up that conversation about where things are going, you lose power. As a play cool tactic this sounds like it makes sense, however it makes more sense to know what you want out of any relationship no matter who the person is.
With that in mind, it’s important to make a list of deal breakers and stick to them. Committing to expectations or standards that are non-negotiable will help you realise if you’re dating someone who truly is compatible with you. If you are considering playing it cool to gain power, it may be useful to remember the sun can get a man to remove his coat by warmly shining faster than the harsh wind can blow it from his back.
As with any relationship, whether it is new or many years in the making, one needs good foundations. Honesty, trust, respect, integrity and love all make a strong basis for a successful relationship and none of those characteristics require one to play it cool.
The important thing to remember is that dating is fun. What is great about eHarmony is they have put the effort into designing a system that aims to pair you with someone who is a good match so that you don’t have to worry about playing it cool or not. Game plans are for use in sports; if you stay positive and are opposite a date that is a good fit for you, then you’ll be too busy having a wonderful time to concern yourself with the trivialities of who rings whom after the date because it will flow naturally. And if it doesn’t, there is always another date waiting to be matched to you. So stop playing it cool and just be yourself, because an unshakeable belief in yourself and way of being is more attractive than any game.
Visit Sloan’s website for more information or follow Sloan on Twitter @sloansw_london and Facebook
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