While both men and women play games in relationships, women seem to get called out more on their games than men do. Most men are pretty straightforward when it comes to relationships and expect women to be the same.
So, when they see women playing games, they get pissed. They find it hard to wrap their heads around why women play such vicious mind games.
If you’re a man and her games are bothering you, you have to take a closer look at the phenomenon to understand what’s going on.
This article will discuss the core reasons women play games in relationships. Understanding these reasons will help you see your dating or relationship in a new light.
Women play games to get what they want
Women play games in relationships to achieve certain desired ends. Of course, her games may not always work, but they do most of the time. This is why women are hard-wired to play these games in the first place.
Also, most women play these games unconsciously. Half the time, they don’t even know what they’re doing. Some smart women, however, are fully aware of their games and play them deliberately.
Attracting an ideal partner, retaining him, and getting his commitment are the key goals around which most of her games revolve.
Other goals include seeking power, being in control, and avoiding direct communication. Let’s go over these reasons one by one:
1. To attract him
Women instinctively know what attracts men to them. So, they’ll strategically push those ‘attraction buttons’ in the psyche of men they want to attract.
For instance, men have an innate desire to protect women. If a woman can trigger his ‘hero instinct’, she can easily attract him as men love to be heroes for their women.
Women can activate this instinct in several ways, such as:
A) Showing submissive behaviors
Women can signal submissiveness via verbal and nonverbal communication. Looking down, avoiding eye contact, speaking softly with a high pitch, and flowing body movements are good examples of submissive behaviors.
Women naturally go into the ‘submissive mode’ when they’re in the presence of the men they’d like to attract.
B) Playing ‘damsel in distress’
A hero is supposed to rescue a damsel in distress. This theme has been done to death in fiction because it strikes a chord with people.
Ancestral women chose men who could protect them from wild animals and other men. Therefore, when a woman plays ‘damsel in distress’, she gives a ‘protect me’ signal to a desirable mate.
When the man protects her, he feels good and attracted towards her. She feels protected and attracted towards him, even if she never was in any real distress.
C) Playing ‘immature and dumb’
This is also a form of submissive behavior display. Women sometimes go overboard and act childishly to attract men. They behave how a child would typically behave.
“Can we have ice cream? Pleeeeease. Pleeeeeease.”
Other times, they’ll play dumb and act like they know nothing about something they know a lot about. They do this so the man can feel smart and good about himself.
Women instinctively know that men like to show their women they’re smart. They also know that men appreciate a woman who appreciates their smartness.
2. To test him
Women deploy specific tests to gain essential information about the men they’re trying to pursue. After all, any man can lie and present himself as someone he is not. That would be his game.
Therefore, women’s tests are designed to elicit certain reactions (behaviors) from men to reveal their true nature. Behavior is always the best way to judge someone, not words.
These tests include:
A) Testing his value
To test if a man is really as valuable as he’s showing himself to be during courtship, a woman may ‘go cold’ or give him the silent treatment.
She may withdraw all of a sudden, cease communication, ghost him, or block him, sometimes without explanation and sometimes with a fake explanation like “I need space”.
It’s annoying, I know, but you have to understand there’s a greater evolutionary burden on a woman to choose the right partner. So, she sometimes goes to such extremes to test her man.
“What’s she testing here?”, you ask.
Well, she’s testing whether the man would come crawling back to her, whether he’ll move mountains to restore communication. If the man desperately tries to resume communication, begs, and weeps, he fails the test.
He proves he’s not a valuable, sought-after person in the dating marketplace. If he was, he could’ve easily found a new partner.
It’s a harsh test but also one of the most effective.
I remember I was talking to a girl once. We weren’t in a relationship but danced around the idea of getting into one. Since things weren’t moving forward, she wrote a long goodbye message praising me and then blocked me on social media.
This behavior was confusing because we had gotten closer over the past couple of days. I spent hours trying to figure out why she did that, and then it hit me.
Every cell in my body was asking me to restore communication with her. Sudden rejection like that is bound to get to you. I could still contact her via email. My mind was imploring me to drop her a message and at least demand an explanation.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t because it hit me that this was precisely what her game was trying to test:
“Would he get desperate and restore communication?”
Months later, she restored the communication herself.
B) Testing his mental strength
Women generally want to be with men who’re physically and mentally strong. You can judge a man’s physical strength by looking at his body, but how do you gauge his mental strength?
Games. Of course.
Typically, a woman will hurt him- criticize, blame, and disrespect to test where his breaking point lies. Men can pretend they’re calm and emotionally strong all day long, but if they lose it after one pointed remark from their woman, they fail the test.
If you’re an emotionally strong man who doesn’t get easily offended, then prepare for some heavy, hard-hitting offense from your woman. They can’t help it. They’re wired to see how far they can go before you crumble emotionally.
If they do go quite far in trying to offend you, it means they consider you reasonably strong mentally, or they wouldn’t resort to such extreme tactics.
C) Testing his willingness to invest
Men typically have to invest more in a relationship because women’s parental investment in children is higher. So, unless a man’s willing to close this gap, it’s hard for a woman to get into a serious, long-term relationship with him.
Therefore, a woman must test how willing her man is to invest resources in her.
All the wining and dining and men taking women out to eat comes from this. Women have this ‘feed me while I have your babies’ program pre-installed, and a man who doesn’t feed her is communicating:
“I’m not willing to invest in you and our offspring.”
That’s a red flag in the woman’s mind, especially when she’s looking for a long-term partner.
Such ‘Invest in me’ games also include tasking him and expecting him to support her at all times.
3. To inflate her value
Both men and women tend to inflate their value during the courtship stage. Value inflation means showing you’re more valuable than you really are.
As you saw in the above sections, women can sniff out value inflation in men because they have a strong incentive to find Mr. Right.
Yet, women themselves inflate their value sometimes, especially when trying to attract a high-value man.
Here are some strategies women use to inflate their value:
A) Playing ‘hard to get’
Everyone knows women like to play hard to get. She inflates her value by presenting herself as a challenge or a prize. It works because we all like to chase prizes and value things that are scarce.
This strategy can easily backfire, though. She plays hard to get to appear valuable in his eyes. He likes being straightforward. He thinks she’s tough to get or is uninterested, so he gives up and moves on.
Women need to use this technique carefully not to push away the men they want to be with.
B) The ‘making you wait’ game
“I’m an important and valuable person, so you should wait for me.”
Women playing this game arrive late for dates and give lame excuses for the same. They make you wait for hours before they reply to your texts, and so on.
C) Pretending to be uninterested
If you’re chasing her, then obviously, she’s high value. Women make men chase them by pretending they don’t care and showing disinterest. They under-invest in the relationship and maintain a minimal level of investment to maintain attention.
4. To get his commitment
If a woman would like to move things quicker to commitment-land with a man, she has some good tricks up her sleeve:
A) Withholding physical intimacy
Physical intimacy is the most powerful trump card of women as it is usually the number one thing men want from them. They know they can use it to get anything they want, including commitment from a man.
So, a woman withholding physical intimacy in a relationship is like:
“If you want to get physically intimate with me, commit to me.”
Ultimatums are threats used to push a man to commit, such as:
“If you don’t commit, I’ll end the relationship.”
C) Making him jealous
Making her man jealous is a common game women play at all stages of a relationship. She may do this by flirting with other men, ‘casually’ flaunting her options, or bringing up her ex into conversations over and over.
When she’s trying to make him commit, the message she’s sending by making him jealous is:
“If you don’t commit, there are others who will.”
5. To feel powerful
Like it or not, humans are power-hungry and want to exert power over others. Playing games and making a man dance to her tunes allows a woman to feel powerful and in control.
Men who chase women way out of their leagues are likely to dance to her tunes because they’re too scared to lose the ‘prize’. These same men are highly likely to get friend-zoned because the women they try to woo don’t see them as valuable enough to be their partner.
6. To avoid direct confrontation
Women’s bodies are weaker than men’s, and they aren’t designed to indulge in physical confrontations. Their aggression is more verbal and indirect. Famous passive-aggressive lines delivered in the right tone that women throw at men include:
“I’m fine.” (When she isn’t.)
“I won’t get mad.” (She will.)
“Do whatever you like.” (Don’t.)
“We need to talk.” (You messed up, or she wants attention.)
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve published one book and authored 400+ articles on this blog (started in 2014) that have garnered over 4.5 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.