35 Reasons Guys Play Hard to Get (And What To Do About It)

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There are a ton of reasons guys play hard to get, and most of them aren’t hard to figure out. 

But, what should/can you do about it?

Before you can answer that question, you need to know why he’s playing hard to get to begin with. 

Read on below and explore 35 of the most common reasons why guys play hard to get as well as what you can do about it!

Why Do Guys Play Hard to Get

Guys play hard to get for a lot of different reasons, including everything from having no experience with relationships and being scared to admit they like you, to simply enjoying mind games.

So, why do guys play hard to get?

Here are some of the most common reasons they do it:

1. He Wants to Appear Mysterious 

young couple leaning on wall holding pink balloon

When a guy wants to come off as more mysterious than he actually is, one of the tools sure to be found in his toolkit is the good ol’ “playing hard-to-get” card.

The less mysterious he actually is as a person, the harder he may try to appear the opposite. In this case, he’ll be playing very hard to get.

Likewise, If he has a bit of natural intrigue to his personality and life circumstances, he may decide to up the any a bit as well, purposefully missing phone calls or canceling dates.

2. He Wants to Build Your Interest

Mystery man or open book, guys that want to forcibly build your vested interest in them may play the hard-to-get card a few times.

The good thing is that if they’re trying to build your interest, they must really like you. 

But, on the other hand, they could also simply want something from you… something that starts with “S”, ends with “X”, and has an “E” in the middle.

3. He’s “Hot and Cold” About Things

making a move with a chess piece

Sometimes when a guy is hot and cold about things with you, some sort of back-and-forth type mind game comes with the territory.

If he’s really into you, but something is making him hold back, his actions could very well be seen as him playing hard to get.

Sometimes, however, he may not actually be “playing” hard to get at all. If he isn’t sure that he wants to pursue a relationship with you he could truly be avoiding you quite often.

4. He’s Actually a Shy Guy

If a guy is secretly really shy, his actions may be genuine as can be but come off as him playing hard to get.

One minute he may be bold enough to text you or approach you in person and tell you what’s on his mind. 

But, the next time he sees you or picks up his phone, he may not be feeling so confident.

5. He’s Trying to Keep You on Your Toes

serious looking male embraced by his happy partner.jpg

When a guy is trying really hard to keep you on your toes, or even throw you off balance a bit for whatever reason, playing hard to get is a go-to tactic.

Whether he’s trying to build interest, has some sort of secret plans, or is just having fun trying to keep you guessings what’s next, you can expect missed calls, canceled dates, and cocky banter in front of his friends.

6. He’s Hiding/Affected by His Past

The past has a way of holding onto us and coming back to haunt us from time to time. 

If he is dealing with past issues, whether a recent breakup or something much more serious, his off-and-on attitude with things could be seen as him playing hard to get.

In reality, he may just want the space/time to heal, and/or try to protect you from whatever monsters are lurking there.

7. He’s Insecure About Himself

couple embracing each other in beach

When guys are insecure about themselves they often deal with it by trying to come off as more confident and macho than they really are.

This often comes along with a nice dosage of him playing hard to get with you.

The good thing is that the more he realizes you like him, the less insecure he’ll feel when he’s around you. 

That means that eventually, you’ll get to see and know the real him.

8. He Wants You to Feel Insecure About Yourself

On the flip side, some guys who are insecure, or are psychotic on some level, want to make you feel as insecure about yourself as they do themselves.

These scenarios aren’t pretty… and they don’t tend to end well for either party.

The best thing you can do when you realize he’s trying to make you feel insecure is call him on it. 

If he was doing it subconsciously and actually cares about you, he’ll stop. If not… he’s a psycho and you should run!

9. He’s Trying to Pull You Deeper into the Relationship

couple holding each others hands standing

Speaking of psychos, and really sweet and genuine guys as well, they’ll both try to pull you deeper into a relationship with them by playing hard to get if they think it’ll work.

If your guy is missing dates, avoiding face time, and is taking centuries to text you back… he may actually be attempting to reel you further in.

10. He’s Concealing His True Feelings From You

Guys are just like any other human beings; they also sometimes have insecurities about their inner-most thoughts and feelings. 

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That means from time to time your guy seems to be playing hard to get, he may be concealing his true feelings from you.

Whether those feelings are directly about you personally, your relationship or something else altogether is a very different story.

11. He Has Other Plans (That Don’t Include You)

Men like to build things, which includes making plans and carrying them out, and sometimes those plants don’t include you, whether you’d like them to or not.

happy couple woman flirting with her man

If his plans don’t include you, but he isn’t ready to move on quite yet, his actions may very well be interpreted as him playing hard to get rather than as him losing interest.

12. He’s Making Other Plans (That Do Include You)

On the other hand, your guy could be playing hard to get because he is making plans that do include you.

In this case, he more than likely wants to ensure that he has your interest until the time comes to unveil the big secret.

This big reveal could be a wedding proposal, a surprise vacation, or something else he’s incredibly exciting/invested in.

13. He Wants to Get Intimate With You

couple lying on the ground looking at each other

If a guy wants to get intimate with you, and things are taking longer than he’d like it’s possible that he starts acting hard to get.

It’s a textbook reverse psychology maneuver; fiending lack of interest in order to actually reignite the other party’s interest.

14. He Doesn’t Want to Get Intimate With You

There’s always more than a single side to a coin. Sometimes the reason a guy is playing hard to get with you is that he doesn’t really want to “get with” you like that. 

If he doesn’t want to get intimate and feels like you, on the other hand, are actively pursuing intimacy, he may pull away.

Further, if he really likes you, just doesn’t want an intimate relationship, he’ll keep texting, answering the phone when you call, and even hooking up.

That said, every time you go for that extra inch towards real intimacy, he’ll pull right back away.

15. He’s Dating Someone Else

man kissing girlfriend while holding hands with another woman

There are plenty of guys out there that are dating more than one person at the same time.

Some of them are in open relationships, and some of them do it behind their partner’s backs.

Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing if your guy falls into one of these categories when you first start dating and he’s playing hard to get with you.

16. His Friends May Not Approve of You

In the case that a guy’s friends don’t approve of you or your relationship, and they are important to him, he may be off-and-on with the relationship.

At the very least, when he’s with his friends he may pretend around them that you aren’t as important as them.

At any rate, it leaves you in the same boat: feeling like he’s either confused about your relationship or just playing hard to get.

17. He’s a Genuinely Busy Guy

We have a way of getting caught up in life when we have a lot going on, and guys are no exception to this.

When things are crazy busy for him, whether from work, home life, or otherwise, it may seem like he’s playing hard to get.

busy office co workers conversation

In reality, sometimes guys are genuinely busy and don’t have the time to text back right away or answer every call. Likewise, they may skip dates from time to time for the same reason.

18. He Has a Crazy Family/Parents

We’ve all known at least one person with crazy parents/family. 

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s also the reason why guys seem to be playing hard to get with you.

In this case, those missed calls and non-returned texts may not be him trying to avoid you at all.

19. He’s Slightly Afraid of Your Experience

When it is obvious that you have more experience than the guy you’re into/whose into you, he may fall back on the play hard-to-get tactic as a diversion.

Whether you’re older than him, have a higher position than him at work, or anything else that is a clear indicator of your higher level of experience, a lot of guys feel insecure.

co workers showing his laptop

It is this insecurity that drives them to play hard to get, hoping to keep/attract your attention despite differences in experience levels.

20. You Are Trying too Hard

If you’re trying to “get” a guy too hard, his reaction may be something along the lines of playing hard to get.

Not all guys respond well to what they perceive as the aggressive pursuit of an exclusive relationship.

21. He Likes You, Just Doesn’t Want a Relationship

When he doesn’t actually want a real relationship with you but does like you enough to hook up, he may play hard to get with you.

He may not even understand exactly how he feels about you, hence his behavior may seem as hot and cold or as him playing hard to get.

22. He Wants to Get to Know Your Friends

happy friends having drinks in a bar

As messed up as it is, some guys get with you and pay hard to get to string you along all just to get to know your friends.

It sounds unbelievable, but ladies, believe it or not, there really are plenty of guys who do just that.

The good thing is that if your friends are genuine, they’ll end up like a dog without a bone in the long run!

23. Your Friends Don’t Approve of Him

When you’re friends obviously don’t approve of a guy and he notices it, playing hard to get could be his reaction.

So, if your friends don’t like your new guy, don’t be surprised if you get some hot and cold/hard to get type behavior from him.

He may want to see if you’d put him first, before your friends, or it could just be his way of retaliating for them not liking him.

24. He’s Just Having Fun With You

There are plenty of guys out there dating around and playing games with people, without a care in the world.

The really bad part about this one is that you can’t really see it coming in the beginning.

happy couple embracing her man

That said, once you get to know a guy a bit, there are tell-tale signs as to whether or not he’s just playing with you or investing in a relationship with you.

25. He’s Really an Immature Guy at Heart

Some guys are just little boys in grown-up-looking man-bodies, it should come as no surprise that they attempt playing hard to get as often as possible.

Whether they see it as exciting, or they’re just doing what they think you expect from them, don’t be surprised if this sort of behavior is always a part of your relationship with said guy.

If you put up with him long enough, you may see some changes once he begins to mature.

26. It’s Nothing But a Game to Him

Speaking of guys who are really just immature at heart, it is a similar type of guy that uses the hard-to-get tactic as a regular “move” because it’s nothing but a game to them.

Guys who use playing hard to get as a regular more in their game aren’t typically the sort of guys who play fair.

stalking couple in the background

If you suspect your guy is a regular gamer/player, it may save you some suffering, later on, to pull the cord early on rather than attempting to level up together.

27. He’s Killing Time (Knowing It’s Over)

When a relationship has run its course, at least in his mind, and he doesn’t think you realize it, he may start playing hard to get in order to keep things going for some time.

If he isn’t ready for the relationship to end, he could suddenly plan surprise dates and shower you with gifts in an attempt to re-woo you.

But, the next week he could ignore your calls and not return your texts if he doesn’t see the point anymore.

28. He Wants to Impress You 

A classic reason to play hard to get as a guy ever had was simply wanting to impress you.

It is in a guy’s nature to want to impress their partner or potential partner. 

swan mating performance

Even animals put on displays of showmanship that stand out from their normal behavior while attempting to attract/find a mate.

29. His Outlook Towards You is Indifferent

Some guys have an outlook, seemingly towards everything in life, that is completely indifferent. Including indifference towards you and your feelings/relationship.

It’s a scary prospect, but a realistic one to say the least… sometimes guys just don’t care.

30. He is Desperate for Your Attention

woman listening attentively to her partner

Another simply classic reason behind guys playing hard to get is that they are desperate for your attention.

The last thing a desperate guy wants you to think is that he’s desperate and has no prospects.

He may act tough, or cool, even blow you off to make his point, but don’t let him fool you!

31. He Has No Clue What Else to Do

When he has exhausted his mental facilities and has no clue else what to do to keep you with him/interested in him, he might just resort to good old-fashioned playing hard to get.

He may take longer than normal to message you back or let your calls go to voice mail more often.

He could also go as far as to ditch you on date night to go hang with the guys.

32. He is Experimenting

male reading comic books in the dark

Some guys read too many comic books and play too many video games, and haven’t dated much.

In these cases, sometimes, when guys are playing hard to get it’s really just them experimenting with relationships and how they work.

33. He Has Really Bad Luck

Believe it or not, once upon every other blue moon or so, there is a guy who actually-factually has really bad luck. 

All those missed dates, calls, and unread texts weren’t what you thought they were. 

He really did have a flat tire and sat on the side of the road waiting for a signal for 7 and a half hours that one weekend, which is why he missed that date and didn’t even call to let you know.

34. His Ego is the Size of Russia

Guys with giant egos are perhaps the most prone to playing mind games like acting hard to get.

The funny/sad part about it is that they may not even realize they’re doing it.

When you’re ego is the size of Russia, it’s hard to see past it to anything else.

35. He Thinks It’s What You Want

couple in the dark trying to kiss her patner

Guys can be pretty good at doing what they think you want them to do. 

Sometimes that just happens to be playing hard to get.

It doesn’t make a difference what plants the seed of thought, once it’s there, it’s there.

What to Do When a Guy Plays Hard to Get

Now that you’re aware of most of the reasons guys play hard to get, it’s time to have a look at some of the things you can do about it.

Here’s what to do when a guy plays hard to get:

  • Be persistent. If he really likes you, he’s not going anywhere.
  • Have self-respect. If he doesn’t respect you, he’s not worth it.
  • Be yourself. Remember, they are trying to get YOU, so keep being you.
  • Compliment him. If he really likes you, your compliments are like a drug to him.
  • Ask about his life. The more he thinks you’re into him, the more “real” he becomes.
  • Show you care. Letting him know he’s special to you puts him on cloud nine.
  • Invite him out. If he really likes you he won’t be able to turn down the invitation.


Do guys play games if they like you?

The answer to this question is a resounding “yes”, guys will absolutely play games with you if they like you. In fact, most people won’t bother “playing” with someone’s head that they don’t either really like, or really dislike. So, if he doesn’t dislike you, and is playing games, it’s because he indeed likes you.

How do you know if a guy likes you or is playing with you?

You have to look at the little things to find out whether a guy actually likes you or is playing with you. His actions towards you reveal the most: Does he hold the door open for you, or let it close on you after he walks through? Does he look you in the eye, or break eye contact? Does stand up for you to his friends, or laugh along with them? The answer to this question is hidden there between the lines.

How long do guys play hard to get?

There is no one-size-fits-all type of answer to this question. Each guy is playing hard to get for different reasons. The amount of time it takes them to get what they want/deal with their issues also varies. However, for the most part, if the attitude usually gets dropped once you’ve moved past the first stages of attraction/your relationship.

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