Playing it Cool

A common myth in dating is that “playing it cool,” or appearing far less interested than you are, is the best way to attract love while protecting your heart until you’re sure you want to commit. Rules like “wait three days after a date before calling” or “don’t text back right away” give singles an idea of what they need to do to be labelled a “cool guy” or “cool girl,” something many see as the ultimate compliment in dating.

“Playing it cool means you don’t chase,” said Mackenzie Brooks, a senior majoring in family studies. “You take it slow, you’re patient and you let them come to you. My mom always told me when I was growing up that if you’re chasing a boy that means he’s running away from you. Let them come to you instead.”

While this is an effective method of emotional self-preservation, it is damaging to relationships, keeping both partners from getting to know each other.

“I dated someone who played it so cool that I was never sure where I stood with him,” said Brooks. “We dated over the summer and were going to do long distance but I didn’t want to keep dating someone who made me feel like I had one foot off a cliff and the other on a banana peel. When we finally broke up for good, I decided that I wasn’t going to date anyone who made me feel like I was privileged to have them in my life. No amount of butterflies, good-night texts or ‘I’m crazy about yous’ are enough to make me stay with someone like that.”

How can you connect with someone if you’re too busy trying to seem like you aren’t connecting? While you think you’re giving off a mysterious vibe, your date might get the impression you’re uninterested or judgmental, and they can become frustrated trying to figure you out.

“When I first moved to Provo, I was interested in this guy who was very high-end,” said Alice Mackay. “He was very cool and smart, and I worried that who I was wouldn’t be enough to catch his attention. I decided to play it cool, and ended up pretending to be totally different than what I was really like. I would deliberately take hours to reply to messages, even though I really wanted to talk to him; I pretended to really like sports, even though I don’t and I’m actually really horrible at them; I dressed up every day, even though I’m normally more casual in my dress, and I even started changing the way I talked. It was exhausting, honestly, and even though we did end up dating we never actually got to know one another.”

If you’re interested, what is the point of pretending you’re not? You shouldn’t be afraid to admit that you want something more. If you’re feeling it, let them know, but don’t attach expectations to them by demanding they return your affection, or pressure them to move faster than they are comfortable. Don’t feel compelled to reply the second you get their message, or expect them to do the same. Just be confident and open.

“In my last relationship I decided to just be super open about how I felt,” said Matthew Bloomfield, an electrical engineering major. “We could talk about anything that bothered or intimidated us and other things you normally wouldn’t talk about, like past relationships or problems. We tried to be super respectful about how we would bring it up, and any time anything bothered me I wanted to talk about it and get it out. It’s easier to learn about a person by talking about the things that make you uncomfortable.”

Next time you’re embarking on a new relationship, instead of waiting some arbitrary amount of time before calling after a date, call when you want to talk. That can be the next morning or never, depending on how interested you are. Just be honest.

   -Shaye Mullen

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