This Valentine’s Day, scientists are gifting men around the world with priceless dating advice: never tell a girl how much you like them!

This advice has been passed around amongst guys of varying social groups, races, religions and ages since it has been commonly believed that women want what they can’t have. But does playing hard to get make someone like you more?

Up until now, this advice was sheer speculation and  facilitated by anecdotes until researchers Erin Whitchurch and Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University found substance to support the claim!

Playing hard to get cartoon


The researchers told 47 female undergrad students that male students had seen their Facebook profiles along with the profiles of 15-20 other female subjects. They were then shown 4 fake profiles of the “males” who saw their profile.

One batch of women were told the men thought they were average, the second batch of women were told the men liked them the most and a third group of women were left guessing as to what the men thought of their profiles.

The women of the third group, those who were left guessing about what the men though of their profiles, were most attracted to the men who viewed their profiles and reported thinking more about them than the other groups of women.

Women who were told they were ranked average were least attracted to the men and women who knew the men liked them were in the middle.

The psychologists weren’t surprised by the results as prior studies have shown evidence to this phenomenon (also known as the reciprocity principle). According to the reciprocity principle, people GENERALLY like others as much as they believe others like them.

This study expands on this principle as it found that an individual may like someone MORE if they are uncertain of how much the other person likes them–assuming initial attraction exists.

My two cents:

The findings of this research make sense! The problem with anecdotal advice is that guys take it too seriously and act like jerks in an effort to play hard to get.

This study shows that acting like a complete tool won’t give you success! Of course, you won’t find success in dating by wearing your heart on your sleeve the first date either.

What you have to do is strike a balance; if you like someone, don’t be too clingy or needy, but at the same time, don’t act aloof or superior. If you act like yourself and show some interest, but a certain level of reserved interest, you will pique the curiosity of the person you are crushing on and hopefully they will start to like you as well.

Once you are more certain of his/her feelings toward you, then feel free to open up more and show your level of interest; otherwise, keep somewhat of a poker face and you may be able to get a date!

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