I’m not an expert in love like the trolls from Frozen (although I’m apparently an expert in bringing up random references), but there are things about dating and relationships we've grown to believe since childhood. From Disney movies with ridiculous love expectations to the most down-to-earth movie or series, somehow they all manage to set these standards and stereotypes we foolishly believe to be true. In my own personal experience, no matter how rational I can be about the subject, in a way, every time I watch, read, or listen to a fairy tale-like story, I can’t help but wonder (or even long) how great it would be to live a story like that. The thing is that these ideas are all around us. We’re trapped in cheesiness and fantasies that I don’t really think even exist.
But enough about true love stories. What matters is how we're taught to achieve a relationship. Don’t force it. If it’s true love it will come naturally. Still, you might want to make a subtle move, just to make yourself noticeable. But not too much, because you don’t want to look too intense. Oh, and the best one, the one we all have heard, advised, and done: They like you, but if you really want something serious, you have to play hard to get. This is probably the golden rule of dating and, in some way, there’s some kind of logic to why we play this game. However, if you analyze it a bit (just as it happens with most of the things related to relationships) you’ll discover the web of outdated and harming stereotypes embedded in the deepest point of our mind.
Why do we play the game? What’s the purpose of doing it? Let’s take a leap back to the past to see what the queen of playing hard to get has to say about it. Yes, I’m talking about no other than Anne Boleyn, the woman who provoked a feud between church and state. How did she do it? By playing hard to get, of course. She refused to become another name on the long list of the King’s mistresses and would entice him without giving him anything, arguing that she would only surrender to passion after getting married. Henry VIII naturally fell madly in love with her and did all he could to divorce his wife and marry Anne. So, he broke all relationships with the Catholic church and established the Anglican church with him at the head. But, kids, that’s another story.
The point here is that we do believe that playing this game can actually give us benefits and power over the other, which is just one of the main purposes. Ideally, relationships should be based on equality, but this kind of maneuvers only encourage a battle of power that, I assure you, is not a really advisable way to start a relationship. Moreover, it also helps to forge sexist stereotypes. We’re told that as women we have the power of enticing men to make them do whatever we want. You might be wondering, what’s wrong with powerful women? The issue is that this power only lies in our sexuality, and in some way that turns us into preys waiting to be hunted by a man. No matter how sneaky the prey is, at some point the predator will reach it.
Which leads us to the next point. How many times have you heard that men don’t take “easy girls” seriously? I bet millions of times. And that’s extremely problematic in so many ways. To start with, behind that advice exists the also outdated idea of men loving the chasing process. It’s interesting and thrilling for them. So, again we become treasures to be won, but it gets worse, since it gets kind of creepy. The logic is that for men it’s exciting when a woman doesn’t fall for his charms immediately, which means that they have to work hard to conquer her, and then the price becomes more valuable. But what happens when a woman is genuinely uninterested by a man’s advances? Basically, the game reinforces the idea that they have to insist until they get what they want, so it encourages harassment. Stalker alert!
And that’s only in terms of gender stereotypes' reinforcement. Going back to the issue of power, it’s also logical to see that the least interested person in the possible relationship is the one who acquires the power. It doesn't matter if one is not interested in the other person, the one who proves to be more insistent is, by inertia, the one who will position themselves in a more vulnerable spot. So, to answer the initial question, this dating technique or move is absolutely manipulative towards the other. Besides that, who really wants to be in a relationship born out of a power struggle?
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Images by @brandonwoelfel