In the early stages of liking someone or dating, it can feel a little like you’re playing a game of cat and mouse—you’re doing the chasing while the other person is running away.
But how do you know if they want you to pursue them or if they’re really just trying to get away from you?
It can be difficult to figure out if they’re playing hard to get or not interested in you. After all, there are similarities between the two. Someone playing hard to get often seems aloof, coy, mysterious, and unavailable in the hopes of being more attractive and alluring. Meanwhile, someone who is uninterested may behave similarly as a way of showing their disinterest.
So, how can you tell the difference?
We’re here to help you out. In our guide below, we’ve outlined some common signs they’re playing hard to get as well as some signs that suggest they might not like you back. Follow along for help figuring out if this person is giving you the green or red light when it comes to romantically pursuing them.
Signs They’re Playing Hard to Get
Think they might be playing hard to get? The following are a few signs that they could be trying to lure you in and play the game:
They are Always Really Busy
If he says his social calendar is packed to the brim, then this might be a sign he’s playing hard to get. This is because seeming busy all the time will make him seem popular, important, and desirable. Basically, he’s saying, “If you want to hang out with me, you have to get in line because so many other people want to spend time with me.”
In reality, he’s most likely not as busy as he’s making it appear, but this is a common tactic people use when they’re trying to hook someone while not revealing how interested they are in them. By showing just how many people want his attention, he’s hoping it’ll make you become more intrigued and vy for his attention, too.
They Take a While to Respond
Are they playing hard to get or not interested in texting with you? It depends. If she’s interested in you, she’ll reply to your text messages or phone calls—eventually. She won’t ignore them completely, but she may take a while to respond. You see, she doesn’t want to come off as overly eager or too available, so she will probably wait a few hours or even days to get back to you.
Just like the need to seem busy, this strategy makes it appear like she has a lot going on and ensures you’ll wonder about what she’s doing and who she’s with.
They Seem Mysterious
A big part of playing hard to get involves mystery because they want you to keep coming back for more. Remember, it’s a game of chase, so they’re not going to lay everything out on the table for you. If she acts coy, skirts around certain subjects, or leaves out major details when you’re having a discussion, these are signs she’s playing hard to get. In this case, there’s a good chance she’s purposefully acting mysterious to add to the intrigue, spark your interest, and make you eager to learn more.
They Playfully Tease You
If he teases you or picks on you, this might be a sign he’s playing hard to get. After all, some people playfully joke around with those they like to try to mask their true feelings toward them. For example, instead of complimenting you, he might poke fun at you. Or he might gently nudge you, crack jokes about something silly you said, or make up a funny nickname for you.
However, it’s important to note that this kind of flirting and teasing should all be in good fun. You shouldn’t feel targeted or like the butt of his jokes. If he’s saying mean things and hurting you with his words and actions, then this is a red flag and a sign you shouldn’t get involved with him.
They Give You Mixed Signals
If they’re giving you mixed signals, it can be difficult to decipher whether they’re playing hard to get or not interested. For instance, maybe one day, it seems like they’re flirting like crazy with you, and then the next day, they act like you don’t exist. Or maybe they were texting with you all night, only for them to go silent for two days straight.
This hot and cold attitude toward you can certainly be frustrating and misleading, but oftentimes, it’s all part of the game. Basically, they’ll give a little and then retreat, hoping that it’ll make you pursue them even more.
Signs They’re Not Interested
While it can be confusing trying to sort out if someone’s playing games or not, there are some tell-tale signs that reveal they don’t like you in that way. If any of these sound familiar, it may be time to stop your pursuit.
They Stand You Up
If they’re playing hard to get, usually they’ll seem busy, take a long time to respond, and may even be wishy-washy about committing to plans, but they will show up because they want to see you.
Now, if they’re not interested in dating you, then they may stand you up. This suggests they don’t want to spend time with you and may not even care about hurting your feelings along the way. If they bail on your plans at the last minute or don’t show up at all, they just might not be that into you.
They Ignore Your Messages
Someone who is playing hard to get may take a while to respond to you, but they won’t flat-out ignore your messages. Remember, they want to seem busy but still want to interact with you.
If she doesn’t ever return your phone calls and leaves your text messages on read, then this could be a sign she doesn’t want to interact with you, so you may want to let up on your communication with her to avoid being a nuisance.
They Won’t Open Up to You
There’s a difference between being mysterious and being unwilling to share anything. When they’re playing hard to get, they may hold back on telling you certain things to keep you guessing and attracting you more.
However, if they seems like a closed book with no intention of opening up to you, then they may not want you to know anything about them, which suggests they probably don’t want to pursue a relationship with you.
They are Disengaged
If he fails to laugh at your jokes, hold eye contact, ask you personal questions, or even engage in a conversation with you, then he might be bored, uninterested, or both. He’s not playing hard to get—he’s simply not invested in you or a potential relationship with you.
They Tell You They’re Not Interested
Keep in mind that someone who’s playing hard to get typically won’t be upfront and blunt about their feelings for you because they want you to keep chasing them. Therefore, if she tells you point-blank she’s not interested in you, then there’s your answer. In this case, she’s not playing games. She’s probably just trying to be open and honest about her feelings and intentions while trying to reject you nicely.