This past Friday night, I did a Bloggers’ Roundtable at the Town & Village Synagogue in downtown NYC, featuring participation from the venerable bloggers of BlogsofZion, Kesher Talk, Shabot6000 and Jewschool. And my column in the Jewish Week for this week focused on “Dating 2.0“–a new model for approaching relationships in the digital age. So when a reader/attendee at the roundtable approached me afterwards and asked me about “playing hard to get” and whether women should engage in this, I thought before answering.

My immediate response was that playing hard to get, a la “The Rules” was ridiculous. That there’s a number of days minimum that women should wait before agreeing to date a particular gentleman caller seems antiquated and a little too game-oriented for my taste. But anecdotal evidence does seem to suggest that men do enjoy a bit of a challenge–if something or someone is accessible, it doesn’t seem to be as thrilling or filled with accomplishment as something that’s a little less so. So being available at every moment–or to quote Ms. Roberts-as-celluloid-hooker, “a beck-and-call girl”–might not be the best idea either. Not always being available when he calls also helps to avoid becoming his melancholy booty call baby or his inadvertent friend-with-not-all-the-
benefits-you-were-looking-for, and might help weed out people who don’t have a serious interest.

But once you’re playing the game, there are risks. Not being available can also be interpreted as lack of interest. (Not disinterest, which is something different: see William Safire in this weekend’s NY Times Magazine.) Plus, in the digital age, people are a lot more accessible than they used to be. Back in the day, if you left your house or your office, you couldn’t be reached by telephone. You were off the grid. But today, people can always get a hold of you, via phone, cell, email, pager, Sidekick, texting or whatever. “Hard to get” isn’t the problem.
So my response is this: one should not “play” anything. But constant availability, to the detriment of your own emotional well-being, is also not good. It’s about knowing your balance and what you want out of a relationship. If you want long-term serious, don’t settle for being an FWB. If what you want is an FWB, then don’t get involved with someone who wants a long-term relationship. If you tend to get sucked into long IM conversations with “potentials” who never make a move beyond the message window, just say no. If you tend to respond too eagerly when a potential calls, screen your incoming calls…you can always call them right back if it’s urgent, and if it isn’t, it can wait, and probably should.
So in short, gameplaying, bad. Knowing what you need, good.

But that’s just one person’s opinion. Now’s the part when you tell me that I’m wrong, or that I’m “right, but…”