When Game-Playing Works

He Said/She Said

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1. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

He Said...

The key here is consistent inconsistency. The player makes like a dollar bill on the end of a fishing line. Give a little, take a little: friendly and attentive for a while, then randomly aloof. Now you see them, now you don't. If played correctly, the player compels his target to solve or figure him out.

She Said...

Mixed signals work...in a way. I'll admit, "consistent inconsistency" has led to many a girls' night spent attempting to crack the code. But player beware: This game will come to an abrupt end when the object of your desire realizes they're now more interested in figuring out what's wrong with you than actually dating you.

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2. The I Don't Like You/Make 'Em Jealous Game

He Said...

We all want what we can't have, right? The player refrains from showing any interest in his target. He can enhance his game by flirting with other girls (flirting with her friends annoys her even more). While other guys are putting her on a pedestal, the player is hard to get. This game can be saved for when the player knows his target likes him, and he's trying to get her to admit it.

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She Said...

There's a thin line with this game — spend too much time talking about other women and I'll take myself out of the running. But people can smell desperation from a mile away, and someone who is seemingly unavailable or picky is certainly more attractive than those who are too available. Balance is key here. Pretending you're not interested at all can backfire, so if you dig them, don't spend too long acting like they don't exist.

3. The Doubt Game

He Said...

The player obnoxiously brings the target back down to earth by challenging her goals: "There's no way you can run a marathon. You have no idea," while others are supporting and kissing butt. If played effectively, the target will not only assume the player has — at some point — accomplished what she's trying to accomplish, but she'll see the player as part of the goal: "You say I can't? Then maybe I'll just conquer you too."

She Said...

Playful banter and teasing? Sign me up. Someone confident enough to challenge you is sexy...and when you're just starting to get to know each other, a little feistiness is definitely appealing. Keep it light and friendly, and throw in a smile or a wink to show them you're being playful, not mean.

4. The Crass Bastard Game

He Said...

While Prince Charming is laying his coat in a puddle for the girl, Crass Bastard is ordering another round and encouraging his target to dance on the bar. The Crass Bastard player will stand out, his target will never be bored, and she'll feel like "one of the guys." Most likely, her parents want her to bring home Pike Winston Blair III, a graduate of Harvard Law. But Crass Bastard is the guy she wasn't supposed to take home to Mom, and that intrigues her.

She Said...

Being on your best please-find-me-datable behavior can often have the opposite of the intended effect: The one you're after may just find you a bit dull and lacking personality. So be yourself and shake it up by treating your crush like a friend. You want the person you date to like the real you, so be clear about who the real you is, lovable quirks and all.

5. The Be Careful What You Wish for Game

He Said...

So, she said she wants to be friends? The player gives her what she wished for, and then some. He revokes ALL privileges so he's essentially out of her life and some other girl is getting his attention and friendship. The player then demonstrates that some other fun friend has replaced her. He takes all the laughter and fun with him...and the target wants it back.

She Said...

When someone tells you they just want to be friends, that wish should be respectfully granted, game-playing or not. But I'll be the first to confess that I've had second thoughts after drawing the platonic line in the sand. Am I merely playing into a game? Perhaps...but sometimes the cliché is true: It often takes an absence of something for us to realize that we wanted it in the first place.

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