Do Guys Play Hard to Get? The Truth, 21 Reasons & What You Should Do

Do guys play hard to get, and why? Here’s the complete truth behind why some men do it, what you need to know, and what you should do next.

do guys play hard to get

Is it just women who play hard to get when it comes to dating? Do guys play hard to get too or do they only want the chase?

If you’ve ever played hard to get, the idea is to make him work for you. And if you really like the guy, it is a lot of effort to hold back your feelings, not texting first, and feigning indifference rather than showing excitement. 

We know women do this. And it’s something that’s been evolutionally programmed into the idea of dating and mating.

On one hand, it is a common understanding that men love the chase. It makes them feel more masculine. But on the other hand, do guys play hard to get too?

This isn’t something that we hear much about. Usually, you hear if a guy likes you, he will make it known. Why would he play hard to get? Let’s take a look into a guy’s mind, and try to understand what goes on in his mind when he plays hard to get.

[Read: 27 signs he likes you as more than a friend and wants to date you]

What is the meaning of playing hard to get really?

Playing hard to get is the act of pretending you aren’t interested in having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone, with the intention of making that person more attracted to you.

On one hand, you behave like you don’t care for them. On the other hand, you subtly drop a few hints to let the person know you like them and want them to pursue you and woo you.

People do this intentionally and sometimes non-intentionally, but it happens all the time. Maybe someone does it to get extra attention before finally giving in. Perhaps, they don’t want to come off as eager or desperate.

Playing hard to get isn’t exactly lying, but it isn’t honest. If you like someone, you tell them. Playing hard to get means you purposely take longer to respond to their texts, so they think you’re busy and, therefore, you become more coveted and desirable.

You might even convince yourself you don’t like someone and push them away when you actually do like them but aren’t ready to admit it to yourself.

Whatever the reason, playing hard to get is a game. It works very, very well, but it’s a gamble. Sometimes, instead of making someone pursue you, you may end up pushing them away because they believe you aren’t interested in them.

Do guys play hard to get? The truth: Probably not

Now that we know exactly what it means to play hard to get, it is totally possible that a guy could play hard to get. Anyone is capable of anything, right?

But, generally, it is a no. Not only do most guys prefer to do the chasing themselves, but many men don’t have the willpower or desire to hold back like that.

If a guy really likes you, he most likely makes it known to you. On the other hand, he may like you, and yet, he may hide this thought from you. That’s probably because he either doesn’t want to freak you out by being too eager, or he’s just nervous.

On the off chance that a guy seems to be playing hard to get, there’s a bigger possibility that he isn’t doing it intentionally. Why? Read this feature on why men absolutely love the chase and why they prefer pursuing a girl instead of getting pursued to understand how a guy’s mind works when it comes to playing hard to get.

Then why do guys confuse girls with their games?

Women spend a lot of time dissecting the mind of guys. Figuring out why guys do what they do and how they need to counteract their moves. It’s a tiring process!

One minute, a guy seems really into you, and the next day, it’s like you’ve never existed. What’s up with that? Now, it could be that they’re simply not that into you. Sorry, but someone had to tell you.

But there’s also a second option which most of you will probably go with *it’s definitely easier on the ego*. It could also be that he’s playing hard to get.

It’s time to know the truth once and for all, and we’ll get to the list of reasons why a guy may be playing hard to get below. But first, let’s try to understand a guy’s mind and the idea of playing hard to get.

What to do when you think a guy is playing hard to get

If you believe a guy you like is playing hard to get, he, unfortunately, may just not be interested in you. We can’t say that all guys don’t play games, but many of them don’t plan to do so exactly.

If he wants to date you, he usually wants to get intimate with you. And playing games only delays this, so why would he intentionally create drama when he can date you instead?

But if you still aren’t sure, as it is a possibility that’s he just playing hard to get, just ask him. Of course, don’t ask him if he is playing hard to get, but do as him if he’s interested.

There is a good possibility that he could just be nervous or afraid of rejection. So make a move yourself. If he is interested, he’ll make it clear. [Read: How to ask a guy if he likes you without embarrassing yourself]

Why do guys play hard to get?

Think about why women play hard to get. You play hard to get to make sure this guy is willing to put in the effort to date you. It shows that he is deeply interested in you and wants to woo you. Women who play hard to get want a man willing to work for them and take the initiative.

Likewise, if a man plays hard to get, he would be saying that he wants you to put more effort in for him. But considering men generally do the pursuing, it doesn’t make much sense for a guy to be playing hard to get *from an evolutionary perspective – men want to sleep with as many women as possible*. [Read: How to attract men – The evolutionary secrets no one talks about]

But one thing guys do that is similar to playing hard to get is leading a girl on. They aren’t showing interest in a girl, but also they aren’t making it clear that they aren’t interested.

This usually means he is waiting for something better to come along *UGH* but wants to keep you in the mix so he can have multiple options. This is the type of guy you should drop immediately. [Read: 17 signs you’re being benched and strung along by the guy you like]

Guys love when women play hard to get

Have you noticed this? Because it is fairly obvious. Whenever you make it too easy for a guy by agreeing to date right away or make it clear that you like him way more than he’s interested in you, his interest in you seems to drop.

Men love the chase. They find a woman who holds her feelings back to be mysterious and complicated.

And although it is also common to hear men say they hate women who play games, that is not always true. It is sort of like saying you hate drama, then binge-watching Real Housewives.

Men may say they hate the games but continue to go after women who are “hard to get.” [Read: How to make a man chase you – 20 very subtle ways to make him fall hard]

How do you know if he is playing hard to get?

If you can’t figure out if he is disinterested or actually playing hard to get, the best way to find out without asking him directly, is to not play into it. Don’t ghost him, but don’t reach out, initiate dates, etc.

Don’t fall into his trap if he likes you and thinks playing hard to get will work on you. Eventually, he should realize you’re above that and make an actual move to ask you out.

What if he still hasn’t made a move?

To be honest and quite harsh, if a guy doesn’t make a move to connect with you when you stop pursuing him, it’s almost certain he doesn’t like you or doesn’t want to date you.

If he was secretly attracted to you and was waiting for you to chase him, the fact that you aren’t making a move should be reason enough for him to panic and drop a few hints that he indeed does like you.

So if a guy couldn’t care less that you haven’t texted him in a week, sorry, but at least now you can move on.

You need to read this sign and understand it. If someone likes you, they WILL drop some clues if they’re playing hard to get.

But if you don’t remember this biggest sign, you could start a never-ending cycle of miscommunication. You think he’s playing hard to get, and then you play hard to get back, and neither one of you budges, and this could go on for a while!

So, the best move in this game is honesty. Speak up and ask him if he likes you. If he says no, at least you know. But if he behaves like he likes you, and yet tells you he has no feelings for you, he’s just enjoying the drama. And a guy like that is not worth having in your life. [Read: 12 big clues to know for sure if a guy is just playing you for fun]

How to prevent someone from playing hard to get with you

Pretty much the only way to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again is to be bold. If you’re interested in a guy, tell him flat out. It can seem scary and intense, but at least you won’t waste your time in dating limbo, not knowing what’s going on.

The sooner you face the truth, whether good or bad, the sooner you can move on and potentially find a mature adult relationship. You deserve better than the games anyway.

Do guys play hard to get with you often?

If you feel like many guys play hard to get, it’s possible that you may be misreading the signs. Sorry if we sound harsh, but if you get that feeling from multiple guys, you may just be picking the wrong signs.

It can be stressful to deal with rejection, and because many guys don’t flat out admit they don’t like you, it feels like they string you along. You deserve a guy who makes it clear that he likes you. So maybe branch out from the type of guys you normally go for and see what happens. [Read: Is he friendly or flirty – 12 signs to make sure you’re not reading the wrong signals]

Come to terms with the truth

Sometimes, it’s hard to accept that a guy may not like you back. Especially if all your friends assume this guy likes you, or if someone told you specifically that this guy likes you. You want to be right, and you ignore the red flags that say otherwise.

If a guy isn’t making it clear that he is interested in you, he probably just isn’t. Putting a ton of energy into a guy just so that you can prove something to yourself, or worse, someone else, really isn’t worth it.

You’re so much better off going for someone who has no problem voicing their feelings and interest. If you have to work to get a guy to show interest or admit he likes you, what would that relationship look like down the line?

Not great.

[Read: Is he just leading you on? 16 signs he’s only having fun at your expense]

The biggest reasons why a guy MAY play hard to get

Now that we’ve discussed in detail why a guy may not usually play hard to get, let’s talk about the scenarios when a guy may play hard to get.

After all, there are a few scenarios when a guy may like you, and still hold back from letting his intentions show. It isn’t common, but it happens.

The thing is, when a guy plays hard to get, he probably isn’t being intentional about it the way women are. So if you come across a guy who behaves like he’s interested, and yet, doesn’t make any move to pursue you or win your attention, this could be why.

1. You’re too “easy”

You may really be into this guy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Also, there’s nothing wrong with being the one who makes the first move instead of waiting for him to do so.

But now that he knows you like him already, he doesn’t really need to do anything to chase you or woo you, so he just takes it easy instead.

That, and he’s probably freaking out a bit because he isn’t sure if he likes you, and you’re making it VERY clear that you like him already! [Read: How men fall in love and the 7 stages they HAVE to go through to like you back]

2. He doesn’t want a relationship

He may seem like the perfect guy. He makes you laugh, he’s affectionate, and you two can talk for hours, however, nothing is official between you.

Though you guys act like you’re together, you’re not. Maybe he misses his ex or doesn’t feel like he’s ready. So, instead, he plays hard to get in fear that you’ll lose interest and he’ll end up alone. [Read: What to do if a guy likes you but doesn’t want a relationship]

3. He doesn’t have time

Some guys are really busy, especially if he’s deep in the “hustle” or trying to make something of himself. Now, some guys use this as an excuse to have causal relationships. [Read: Hustle porn – What it is and what makes it so bad for your life]

However, there are some guys genuinely busy. He may look like he’s playing hard to get because he’s hard to get a hold of. It’s possible that he’s just really busy, and it’s also possible that he doesn’t care enough about you to get in touch. Either way, that’s not a good sign for you.

4. He’s getting attention

Perhaps, he’s getting attention from several girls, and he knows this. He understands the law of supply and demand, and he’s realized that many interesting girls seem to want him. So what does he do? He enjoys all the attention without really having any intention of tying himself down to one girl.

He may respond to your texts, and he may even flirt with you. But if you ignore him for a while, he may just go on with his life like you don’t exist. This sucks, but clearly, he was never into you or any other girl, he’s just seeking attention because it makes him feel important and desirable. [Read: 20 wily signs of a player that can stop you from getting played by him]

5. He’s weighing his options

He likes you, and he may even want to get exclusive with you. BUT he’s also talking to another girl. So why is this guy playing hard to get? Probably because he isn’t sure who he likes more, and he’s weighing his options.

This is selfish of him, and he’s leading you on because he doesn’t want to lose either of you while he decides on which one to pick. But one thing is certain, he’s not into you right now.

6. He’s dating someone else

He may like you, and he may even be falling for you. But he may be dating another girl already. If he’s dating someone else, and finds himself falling for you, he may back off or blow hot and cold. Of course, to you, this may seem like he’s playing hard to get.

But in reality, this is him being torn between the girl he’s dating, and you. He doesn’t want to leave what he has for something uncertain, but he may be interested in you. Fixing this is all up to him, though. You can’t make him leave the other girl. [Read: 22 signs he’s fighting his feelings for you and holding himself back]

7. He wants to cheat with you

This is one reason that you shouldn’t ignore. He takes you out, you talk on the phone, but you’ve never met his friends or family. Well, there’s something he’s not telling you and most likely it’s that he has a girlfriend already.

He’s not playing hard to get, he’s clearly avoiding you when he’s spending time with her. You may think he’s playing games, but in reality, he may be trying hard to juggle both of you. If a guy avoids your calls during predictible times of the day, but always behaves warmly at other times, chances are, he already has a girlfriend and wants you to be his backup. [Read: The biggest signs you’re just his backup babe and will never be his girlfriend]

8. He’s shy

Sometimes, when you’re wondering why do guys play hard to get, it could be that he’s not playing hard to get at all. It could simply be that he’s just really shy.

This can be a little tricky to figure out because it can come across that he’s really not into you. But you’ll be able to see this through time as he becomes more comfortable around you. [Read: How to tell if a shy guy likes you – 14 clues that’ll never go wrong]

9. You’re only for fun

This sucks. But instead of being honest with you from the beginning, he plays hard to get while you give him yourself on a platter.

Here’s the thing, he had no intention of making anything serious with you, and you’re just chasing a dream that will never happen. He only sees you for a good time and that’s it. If he’s bored on a Saturday evening, or if he wants to hook up with some girl, he’ll text you and hang out with you. This may sound harsh, but you’re only the filler he wants when he has nothing better to do.

10. He’s nervous

He could genuinely be super nervous. Whether he is awkward or has low self-esteem, he may just be scared to ask you out.

He may play hard to get or even cold, but in all probability, he just worries you’ll reject him. Or he has social anxiety and freaks out when you’re around. The best way to cure this is to let him know how you feel. [Read: How to get a shy guy to like you and ask you out]

11. You’re aggressive

Even if he likes you, you may intimidate him. This isn’t always your fault. You are a strong and powerful woman, and he may just be nervous and hesitant.

But, intensity can also be a bad thing. Maybe you really like him and want to make it clear. But in his eyes, you may be coming on too strong, or worse, even clingy and needy! He may like you, but he may be worried the relationship would move too fast if he showed any interest in you.

12. He’s immature

Many men are immature, that’s just the way it is. No matter the age, they somehow always end up acting like they’re twelve.

If he’s a younger guy, then this is most likely why he’s acting like this. He’s watched a couple too many YouTube clips on how to get the girl and now he’s trying to attempt the impossible. He’s playing hard to get because he has no idea what he’s doing. [Read: 15 things immature men do and why you definitely need to avoid them]

13. It’s an awkward situation

A guy who likes you but seems to back off every time something almost happens may have a good reason for it. Did he use to date your best friend? Did you date his best friend? Maybe you are super close friends? If starting something up could be a social or personal problem, he will back off, even if the feelings are there.

If these sound like reasons he might be playing hard to get, ask him about it.

14. His friends don’t like you

He may really like you but his friends have told him that you’re no good for him. So, he’s struggling with his feelings.

He wants to make a move but then again, he’s worried about what his friends will say. It comes off as being hot and cold, giving you the impression that he’s playing hard to get. [Read: How to read the signs a guy’s friends don’t like you all that much]

15. He has commitment issues

Guys who can’t commit still have feelings. It may make no sense to you, but he could adore you and not want a relationship.

When you like a guy, you want to date him. It is simple. But for a guy afraid of commitment or clinging to his single life, he will not put you ahead of his lifestyle. [Read: Is he a commitment-phobe? 20 ways to tell for sure]

16. Your friend is into him

Now, if he’s a younger guy, this may keep him from moving forward with you. He likes you, and he likes your friend as well. So that’s his shitty dilemma! If he flirts with either of you, the other one would know. So he plays it safe by playing hard to get with both of you.

He’s looking at his options and if he knows that some of your friends are into him, he’s just going to string you along until he figures out which one he wants. Or he may end up empty-handed, however, he’ll keep you all chasing him like hungry dogs.

17. He’s inexperienced

Whether he hasn’t dated much or is a virgin, he could just be so scared to mess up. He doesn’t want to seem like a loser, so he won’t tell you he needs guidance.

He would rather not have anything happen than do something wrong. All you can do is boost his ego or let him know you’ll be patient if you like this guy. [Read: How to flirt with a shy guy – 15 baby steps to get him to talk to you]

18. He’s worried about his parents

Guys can be weird when it comes to their family, especially if both of you are young and live with your parents. Maybe his parents are slight control freaks or extremely nosey. He may come to your house a lot, but he never invites you over.

Of course, this makes you feel like something is shady and that he’s hiding something. This impression that he’s playing hard to get could be because he’s thinking about what his parents and family are going to be like if they find out about you.

19. He’s scared

Ah yes, one of those weird reasons why a guy plays hard to get with you. In all honesty, he’s scared shitless of the idea of you and him. Not because of you, but something else.

It could be that he’s scared to open up to someone and be vulnerable, he’s scared you’ll reject him, he’s scared he’ll never be able to hook up with another girl.

Whatever his reasons, it starts and ends with him being scared to make his feelings known. So, instead, he plays hard to get because, well… it’s easier for him than telling the truth! [Read: 16 signs he really likes you but is scared and unsure what to do]

20. He’s a player

Sometimes a guy will play hard to get just to win. He wants to know he can treat you poorly and still have you chase him. He is leading you on with minimal effort, and when you ask about it, he can say he hasn’t done anything to lead you on.

Sure, he likes your company in bed, but he has no interest in taking things beyond that. He just wants you to keep thinking about him so he can use you. [Read: 15 signs a guy just wants sex and is using you for his pleasure]

Players only love you when they’re playing. If you’re wondering why do guys play hard to get, there’s a good chance the guy who’s pursuing you is just a player.

There are some guys who are inexperienced and immature, which is a horrible combination, and they only know how to play with women. This behavior is also because playing doesn’t result in him being hurt. So, as a player, he mind f*cks you, traumatizes you, and walks away happy. Not a bad trade-off from him, right? [Read: How to play the player and turn the tables]

21. He knows this won’t last

This is somewhat depressing, but it’s true. In his head, he knows for sure that he doesn’t see you in his future. But he doesn’t want to lose the pleasure of your company right now.

So, he takes this more as a game and has decided to entertain himself while the chase is still on. This way, he reaps the benefits, but he doesn’t have to get too deep into the relationship.

[Read: 20 subtle signs a guy likes you but is trying not to show it]

The last word about guys who play hard to get

As you’ve seen here, it clearly is possible for a guy to play hard to get accidentally, even when he likes you and is very sincere. But the odds of that happening is very slim. If a guy blows hot or cold, or seems like he’s playing you, take it for what it is. Chances are, he is just using you.

Do guys play hard to get? And if they do, why? Now you have all the answers. And it is time for you to move on to greener pastures, or you know, a guy who is interested.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...