I recently read Modern Romance – the new love and dating themed book by Aziz Ansari. And by read I mean listened to on Audible, which you should also do because it’s like 5 hours and 16 minutes of Aziz Ansari stand-up, on demand.
The book is fascinating and fun. It covers online dating, in person behavior, the change in our desires and priorities and so much more about the current state of our union-making.
But one part really pissed me off.
Aziz gets into the whole concept of “playing hard to get” or “playing games” or “the wait three days to text back” principal (which, to be clear, is not a principal and not something he suggests). Then he provides some concrete scientific information to explain why “the chase” can be so attractive.
“All the psychological principles seem to point to waiting being a strategy that works for singles who are trying to build attraction … When you are texting someone less frequently, you are, in effect, creating a scarcity of you and making yourself more attractive.”
I hate this whole situation. It’s not news to me. I had read some of the studies that Aziz references before as well as countless other articles on what game playing does to the brain. I have also read The Game. And – worst of all – I almost blew the greatest relationship of my life because there wasn’t enough game playing involved. (Yes, my relationship with R, though it is fair to say that I also consider my relationship with the late Nora Ephron “the greatest”).
First that story, then why it was the dumbest thing I could have done.
R was the first guy I encountered in my 20+ years of trying to get boys to like me that didn’t play any games. We met. We hit it off. We went on a formal date. He called me on the phone several times to check in while I was still living in New York (and he in L.A.). Then one month after we met he came to New York to “visit his family” and told me that he really liked me and wanted to make sure we were on the same page.
Now I know that sounds incredible, refreshing, and like something you would give your left pinky for a guy to say, but it was so foreign to me that it made me nervous. And by nervous I mean stupid.
Okay. You like me. I like you too. Now what? We just agree to that and move on for the rest of our lives? Where’s the part where I test you 10,000 ways until you fail, proving that I’m right; I am too “complicated.” And I was kind of looking forward to staring at my phone for hours on end wondering if you like me so I can dwell on all the things I’ve probably done to be unlikable. Also what the hell am I supposed to complain about over brunch when my girlfriends ask about you? I can’t tell them that everything is perfect. They’ll stop being my friends!
Now I know I can’t be fully blamed for this Felicity episode thinking. This is grounded in science, specifically that annoying scarcity principal that says the less of something I’m offered, the more of something I want. Except that in the case of my early relationship with R, I decided to ignore what my brain was telling me and focus, instead, on what my logic would say.
You like this guy so, so much. Every time you are with this guy you want to be with him more, for longer. You cannot find a single red flag relating to this guy, other than the fact that HE TELLS YOU HE LIKES YOU. Can we just call your unease a brain flaw and do with it what we do with your complete and utter addiction to cheese despite painful lactose intolerance: IGNORE.
And that is what I did – kind of. R will say that I gave him a little bit of the run-around forcing him to slip into what he calls the “slow play” before cornering me at a party and saying, “That’s it. In or out?” You should know that during this slow play period he painted my entire bedroom and took me to IKEA twice. For my part in the stand off, I texted him every single time I successfully parallel parked (note: I had by that point moved to L.A.).
I don’t know why our brains do this weird thing. I’m sure it has something to do with evolution. Maybe we felt a hard-to-get man was good because that meant he was busy killing buffalo for our eventual children to eat in our cave kitchen? Dunno.
What I do know is that the game playing period is incredibly short in comparison to – say – the rest of your life. It can be fun. It can be sexy. It can be what you have to put up with for some kind of truly great people. But it always, always ends – most of the time with you in tears. Think about that when you’re considering walking away from a guy because the chase isn’t on. Think about what you’re giving up versus what you’re getting. Think about how easily you apply that very same principal to eating ALL THE CHEESE ALWAYS.
Then tell the guy you really like him back and that you’re on the same page. I did, and so did Aziz, and we are both very happy.
[Image Credit: this great Thought Catalog article: 17 Hilarious Aziz Ansari Quotes]