Does Playing Games Really Work?

by Gideon Hanekom
August 19, 2021

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There tends to be a rule of thumb that building a healthy relationship does not rely on playing games, trickery or tomfoolery.

That’s sound advice, for the most part.

However, there are different kinds of relationship games…

Some games can be part of a relationship but others, the dangerous ones, are based on selfish subterfuge and manipulation.

You must learn to recognise which is which.

For example, early in the relationship, and even later in a marriage, men have specific needs that, when met, whet their appetite for the hunt.

But when a woman is always available 24/7, take his every phone call, answer every text immediately, plan their life around his wants and needs or likes and dislikes, he can quickly lose interest and decide that that person is just way too easy.

Don’t get me wrong, some guys WILL exploit this, especially if you’re too easy to jump in bed with them because they’ll take that if they can.

But even if sex isn’t on the table yet, even good guys will lose interest if a woman’s just too desperate and easy to be with him.

What women often see in these instances as them compromising, being available or letting him know she’s interested, men will often see as just being too easy.

When there is no hunting to be done, the chase isn’t exciting and the catch isn’t as appealing.

There HAS to be a hunt, a chase, or a game, of some sort!

And therein lies the dilemma…

Playing the wrong games at the wrong time can destroy a relationship, but not playing any games at all could hinder your chances of ever getting into a relationship at all.

For example, remain your own independent self and maintain your own independent life.

When a guy knows that you have friends and interests outside of him, it’s less smothering and less threatening…and MORE appealing.

Let the phone go to voice mail once in a while.

Wait until you text back.

Make plans with other friends as you would normally, not because you are trying to play hard to get but because you genuinely do have a life apart from him!

That’s a good thing, even after marriage.

Don’t share ALL your “secrets” or heart upfront, but save some of the interesting stuff for later.

Understandably, many women like to bond by sharing information about their past or current situations but it can have the opposite effect with a new guy.

Some men may find it a bit off-putting to be with someone who is willing to share intimate details too quickly, for there is no game to be played.

Even after you are in a committed relationship, men still like to know that your world doesn’t revolve completely around him, except for narcissists.

When he is all you think about and plan your life around, things can become too smothering.

Now, there is a fine line between living your own life and including him and playing mind games to get him to pursue you or declare his intentions.

Because if not playing games are risky, playing hard to get is farcical.

For you might think you’re simply determining whether or not he’s really interested in you, but instead, he will more likely see your behaviour as discourteous and rude.

Let’s put it in different terms – if the hunt is impossible, the hunter will leave!

For instance, it’s OK to be busy when he calls but it’s not OK to be late for a date you’ve already booked.

It’s fine if you can’t see him every Saturday night but not OK if you cancel dates with him at the last minute.

It is OK to have a life, it’s not OK to be rude and treat him differently than you would any other friend.

It always pays to be honest, with yourself and with the guy.

If you are interested, let him know but don’t be at his beck and call every day.

If you are bothered by something in a relationship, then say so.

Talk to him.

If he doesn’t want to talk about it, even after you’ve established a relationship and are dating, then he probably won’t talk about it later either.

Make your decisions.

If he says you are smothering him, listen and give him room to breathe.

If all he wants is room to breathe except when he wants to jump in bed, make it easy for him by giving him all the breathing room he needs and send him on his way…indefinitely.

But if he tells you that he doesn’t see enough of you, listen to that too!

For the game might just be a tad too hard and you need to adjust your strategy.

About the author 

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a renowned relationship blog that ranked among the top 50 relationship blogs and top 100 marriage blogs in 2021. The blog is dedicated to providing valuable insights on cultivating healthy relationships and love in daily life. Gideon holds a Master's degree in theological studies and transitioned into professional counseling almost a decade ago. In addition, he completed graduate and post-graduate studies in Psychology at Massey University. With over seventeen years of marriage to his wife and two children, Gideon brings both professional and personal experience to his relationship advice. His articles have been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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