Monday, August 17, 2009

Hard to get.

(Jesus, no posts for almost a week! Eeek. I'm a naughty blogger. It was also a really bad week at work.)

A friend of mine has been interested in a girl who keeps giving him come-ons, then rejecting him. Not just rejecting him but doing it in a condescending, "aw, too bad, better luck next time" sort of way. It happened several times and then he finally gave up. He decided that either she really didn't want him, or she was so devoted to game-playing that he didn't want her.

I've never done this even a little. Partly it's because, honestly, although I'm in slightly better physical and way better emotional shape than I was a few years ago, I still don't think of myself as so attractive that I can push boys away and have them stay attracted anyway. And part of it's because I often want guys so strongly that I couldn't stop myself from leaping at the first chance. But it's more because I just don't like the idea of a pursuit. Pursuing is frustrating, being pursued is creepy, and it's all unnecessary and couterproductive if the pursued likes the pursuer anyway.

This isn't some utopian/socially-clueless "we should just immediately agree on our relationships" thing because I know people don't work like that, but there's a difference between pursuit and courtship. Courtship is the good-faith development of a relationship, taking time to learn more about each other and to create a connection. Pursuit is trying to make someone attracted to you. It's one-sided and it's an invitation to manipulation.

It also assumes that the pursuer isn't questioning their own desire, which is the appeal of playing hard to get; a guy who's busting his ass to impress you would suffer cognitive dissonance if you didn't turn out to be All That.

But I don't want cognitive dissonance in my relationships, and I don't want to make myself the prize in some bullshit contest. I want to date guys who are cute and awesome and not date guys who are not, and spend enough time with intermediate cases to tell the difference. But when I say I don't want someone it's because I don't, and when I do want someone, shit, they know.


  1. I've always found the pursuit paradigm PROFOUNDLY uncomfortable. I am not prey and I don't like to be chased. I don't necessarily have the guts to be completely straightforward all the time, but that's basic human fear of rejection- I don't get off on the uncertainty, it makes me sick.

  2. I've been that guy.

    I finally asked if she was manipulating me on purpose. She at least had the decency to answer that she was.

    Then she got really bent out of shape when I pointed out that her ex-boyfriend's ex-wife (who she despised, and I also knew) did exactly the same thing to me.

    She didn't find it at all amusing when I kept pointing out "Oh yeah, that's exactly what $other_girl does, too."

    I found this suitable revenge. :D

  3. What a touchy topic. Once upon a time I loved being the pursuer (technically I still am - always chasing hubby for some), I got quite a thrill out of being a woman who went after what she wanted. When I am being pursued, part of my is so complimented and tickled by the idea of being pursued it usually takes a minute before I realize it's not what I want. I do, however, think it is a thousand times easier for a woman to pursue than it is a man.

  4. LabRat - About fear of rejection: rejection is indeed a pretty shitty feeling, and it seems shitty to deliberately inflict it on someone you like. I feel kinda bad turning down guys I don't like, I don't think I'd want to inflict it on someone I was starting to care about.

    Black Pearl - Ideally I don't want anyone to pursue anyone. It's possibly easier for a woman to initiate a relationship with a man, but pursue, I dunno.

    I was thinking today about what would happen if I wanted to date a man and he told me no, even in a playful/teasing way--I'd almost certainly take him at his word and never try again.

  5. As a straight guy, my default role is as pursuer/initiator, and although I've become better at it, I doubt I'll ever enjoy it. (Sexually aggressive women FTW.)

    This post brought up two thoughts:
    * Because my default position is pursuer, it can be a pain to convince a woman that I'm not pursuing her (e.g., I'm just being friendly). This can put me in the ookie position of being rejected when I didn't want anything.
    * Once I've pursued someone and been rejected, does that mean I should never try again (i.e., after a suitable amount of time and under different circumstances)? Being perceived as clueless, insensitive, or threatening sucks, especially when we might otherwise have been friends -- but missing out on a potential relationship might be worse.

  6. Holly, I totally feel you on the distinction between courtship and pursuit. But I would argue that pursuit has it's place -- and it's place is not in the courtship phase. Pursuit/playing hard-to-get tends to be better later on in a relationship and it's best initiated in a knowing, nudge-nudge-wink-wink kind of way to inject a bit of intrigue into the relationship.

    Other than that, I really don't see the point in setting myself up as a passive object to be pursued and obtained. I have been put in this position though. Not because I was being hard to get, but because I'm independent and don't like having people keep tabs on me. Unfortunately, some guys/girls (I'm bi) take this as "hard to get" on my part and either a) prematurely assume that this means I'm into them or b) call me a cocktease/clittease.