Maybe you met at a party or you're paired for a project. Whatever the case is you start to notice there's something weird happening and you like it.
Let's be honest. Playing games at the start of a romantic entanglement is one of life's bests. It can be exciting, fun, and in my experience it has a 98% success rate of getting a man's attention and, when used appropriately, it has an 83% rate of return on a dinner invitation.
Here's how to win.
1. Establish Your Willpower (Woods Comma Elle?)
So you realized that your names sound perfect together and you're researching the cost of destination weddings (they've changed since last time!). Well cut it out you crazy bitch. For now.
The first step in this whole process is making yourself realize that you don't actually need this person. Knowing this from the beginning is going to help you maintain your willpower, which is 90% of this strategy. Without it, you might as well go back to missed connections on Craigslist. G train @ 2am, anyone?
2. Confide In A Friend That Approves Of Playing Games
There's nothing worse than a friend that can't keep their non game playing opinions to themselves when you're in crisis mode. You need to have someone* on speed-dial (like, star-1 status) that can give you expert advice in a text or don't text situation. Find out who this friend is and invite them to drinks to give them the run down. Be prepared to be this person's go-to as well. It's part of the code.
*Ideally this will be a roommate you can yell** across the apartment to for advice at a moment's notice.
3. Always Be Prepared (And Always Look Good)
Most likely you've met this person through another friend and you're going to run into each other at the next big thing. Probably someone's birthday party. Most of the time you'll know ahead of time and you'll be able to bring crisis friend along for backup (i.e. hair checks, teeth checks, see-if-they're-looking checks), but if you are caught off guard stay calm.
If you know they haven't seen you yet, get your ass to the bathroom and text that crisis friend the standard "OMFG ___ IS HERE." As you're waiting for the pep-talk reply figure out which one of your friends you can cling to tonight. Someone fun, but not crazy. Someone good-looking, but not someone that's a higher number. They can be the same number but have a back up flaw ready to reveal if they start getting too popular. You'll never want to be standing alone. This risks a pity invite to hang with your future lover's group and if that happens you might as well fall to the floor and fake your own death. On the flip-side if you have the opportunity to extend a pity invite DO IT. You'll be on top.
4. Never Play Old Games
If you know you're going to run into this person, be the first to say hi. Most likely they will have spotted you and expect to play that game where you avoid each other until one of you breaks or it's forced upon you. Shut it down. Go say hi first, chat for a second, and then break away. This should happen in no longer than a minute, maybe two. It's about the amount of time it takes you to order and receive your drink at the bar.
Saying hi first will tell this person you care enough to say hi, but not enough to play that game with them. This is the beginning of making them question your romantic interest and really just start chipping at their self-esteem.
5. Pay More Attention To Their Ugly Friend
In a group setting, you'll want to position yourself right next to your future baby-maker, but pay more attention to their ugly friend. Be sure not to make the rookie mistake of paying more attention to their more attractive friend, because this will only lead to 1) making them think you're just like everyone else or 2) leaving the impression that you actually have no interest.
Paying more attention to the ugly friend helps drive that knife into their self-esteem. Questions like "Am I uglier than ____?" or "Am I not as funny?" will begin to flood their mind. The psychology here is to give them a little by thinking you want to stand near them and then to rip it all away leaving them confused and a little anxious.
6. Never Let Your Text Convos Exceed 30 Minutes
There are a couple of reasons for doing this. First, you don't need to be figuring each other's lives out in one day during an 8 hour text-a-thon. It's fun, but save some for the face-to-face time. Second, limiting your convos to 30 minutes tells this person that you have things to do, that your life doesn't revolve around them, and it leaves them wondering why you didn't want to keep it going. The point is to never let them sit comfortably knowing they've got you hooked.
7. Listen More, Speak Less
If you haven't figured this out by now, pay attention. People that talk more during a conversation tend to leave thinking more positively about the interaction. People naturally want to feel interesting, so give it to them. Find out as much as you can about the other person and ask plenty of questions. The mistake often made here is to tell the other person as many interesting things about you as you can so they're intrigued. Don't. When they leave feeling awesome about your exchange they will at some point realize that they still don't know much about you and continue to want more.
8. Reinforce Your Upper Hand
The beauty of this technique is that you can do this via text.
In the middle of what seems like a great text convo, go ahead and cut it short. Be sure to make it a little painful, too. Example: "Ha ha. Listen, I'm actually really busy here, so I can't be texting. I'll talk to you later." If you really want to be a bitch, add a ":)" at the end. Not an emoji. A ":" and a ")".
The next few hours will be the most pain you will have put this person through. They will want to text you and redeem themselves because you basically just shredded their heart to pieces with that last one, but they also want to respect your busy day. If they text you first that night, you've made it.
9. Be Nice
Throughout the entire soul-crushing process, be nice. It's one thing to withhold and push away just a touch, but it's another to be an asshole. Nobody wants to chase someone that knows they're being chased. It's not cute. If they offer a compliment, take it. If they extend a dinner invitation, take it.
10. Know When To Cave A Little
The point behind all of this is to keep them guessing. If you're not careful, though, it can ruin the entire relationship. Holding off and being a little stand off-ish can play in your favor, but too much of it will run the other person off. If you notice they are a little more hurt or put off than you want them to be, give them a little hope. The point is to find a balance.