couple on a dateA million years ago (okay, just six, but it feels like forever), when I was single and dating a LOT, I thought playing hard-to-get was a waste of time. I thought I should be able to snag a guy by being myself -- nice, genuine, outgoing, 100 percent honest. As far as I was concerned, playing hard-to-get was playing games, and if it was the right guy I was after, I wouldn't have to play games. Silly me! Little did I know, most of us have no choice but to play the game -- at least a little -- if we want to win it.

Now actual research has proven it, too! According to a study that was just published in the European Journal of Personality, playing hard-to-get can actually score you a higher-quality mate with the greatest level of commitment for a long-term relationship. And it's not as horrible a practice as I used to think ...

As I learned when I started feeling a bit more comfortable as a single person dating in NYC, playing hard-to-get doesn't have to mean being a total b*tch or d*ck to members of the opposite sex you're truly attracted to. It can simply mean not being too available, i.e., dating other people (if that's what you want to do, of course), making it apparent that you have various interests and activities that demand your time, not waiting by the phone. Basically, everything Ryan Gosling taught Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid, Love and everything Ginnifer Goodwin and Kathryn Hahn learned NOT to do in He's Just Not That Into You and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days respectively. (Yes, I am clearly a shameless rom-com fan.) And yes, I totally employed these tactics myself when I first started dating my now-fiance! And they totally worked!

Turns out, I had been mistaken in thinking playing hard-to-get had to be this contrived, phony-baloney behavior, when it's really just a natural part of the dating game. After all, all of the "hard-to-get" behaviors work because they allow you to present yourself as confident, self-assured, having healthy self-esteem, which is the height of sexy! Long story short, you just have to believe -- or at least act like, but preferably believe -- you're a hot commodity for someone else to believe you are.

Do you/did you play hard to get? How did it work out for you?