Cupid's Pulse Article: 5 Ways Playing Hard to Get Can Damage Your Love LifeCupid's Pulse Article: 5 Ways Playing Hard to Get Can Damage Your Love Life

By Ashley DelBello with contributions by relationship expert, Melanie Mar

“You value the things you have to work hard for, not the things that are handed to you,” says a mid-twenty something male friend of mine when discussing if a woman should play hard to get when she first meets a guy.  While that may seem to sum up the answer to this ultimate singleton question, it’s a bit more complex than that.  A guy may think a girl is really cool, but if she’s too available at first, then he will question it.  The opposite is true, too.  If a girl plays too hard to get and is unavailable, then he will lose interest.

So, throw out the “dating rules” — you don’t have to wait three days before calling or texting back, but you do need to consider each situation and act accordingly.  For instance, don’t be available every time he asks you out, but be sure to offer an alternative day to meet up.  Celebrity life coach and relationship pro Melanie Mar chimed in on what women should do when they first meet a guy and how to keep his interest:

1. Understanding men:  “I do not advocate any game playing, but there is certainly an element of truth to the theory that men ‘like the chase,’” said Mar.  “Nature is that reason, as men are built to compete, conquer and control.”  Mar goes onto say that there is a big difference between women playing hard to get and men enjoying the thrill of the chase.  That said, there does come a point when the chase has to stop.  It’s important to keep it fun and light in the beginning, but if after a while it starts to seem that the relationship’s not going anywhere, then you might want to move on.

Related: 7 Ways to Flirt in a Web 2.0 World

2. If we’re not into playing the game, but men like the chase — what do we do?: “Well, you let him chase you,” says Mar.  “But if you don’t show a man some acknowledgement, he will move onto someone who does.  Always respect and respond to his efforts, but remember easy is not interesting to a man.  He wants to pursue you as it is in his innate, natural design.  Remember the sperm chases the egg!”

Related: How to Master Being in a Relationship

3. Dropping the hanky: To subtly let a man know that you are interested in him, hold his gaze for a few seconds and smile.  It’s not easy for men to approach women, so give him an opening signal to put him at ease and prompt him to come to you.  Be engaging by playing ping pong with the opening.

4. Showing interest beyond the first interaction:  It’s simple — if he contacts you, return his call.  If he asks you out and you don’t have other plans, then go.  Ladies, do the 3 to 1 ratio: if he takes you for dinner three times, return in kind by cooking him dinner once.  “If a woman is being non-responsive in the beginning of a relationship when a man is actively engaging and pursuing her, she definitely will experience a feeling of control, but it will be short-lived.  Eventually he will grow tired of chasing someone who acts as if she’s not interested — even if she truly is — and he will stop the chase,” said Mar.

5. Finding that balance:  As my guy friend said, men question if a woman is always available to hang out, so you need to show that you have your own life, too, and quite frankly that others think you are the amazing person that you are.  While this may seem a bit ridiculous, men are ego driven and do want that validation that you are someone worth investing time in.

Mar added, “Men don’t want you perfectly presented on a silver platter — they want to get to know you.  Their focus in the early stages of a relationship is chemistry; there has to be something about you that makes him want to see you more.  Maybe in the way you touch his arm when you laugh or the way you hold eye contact when he’s talking to you — these are the things that make a man stay interested in YOU, not your unavailability.”

Getting Physical on the First Date:  And as for the other question that all women want to know — if you get physical with a guy the first time you meet him or on the first date does it ruin your chances of a relationship forming from that?  There’s no right answer and every guy is different from what I’ve been told.  If there is a real connection there, then for most guys it won’t matter.  But, there has to be a pretty strong connection for that to not matter.  So again, read each situation before you decide how far you will go with a guy and trust your instinct.

Playing hard to get is all about balance — because if you play it too much, you’ll end up having relationships that won’t go anywhere past the first interaction; but if you don’t succumb to human nature and play it a little, well you’ll mostly likely end up in the same boat — single.

Do you think a woman should play hard to get?  Share your comments below.