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Why It Pays To Play Hard to Get

by Tom McKnight

According to Bertrand Russell, "Human nature is constructed so that it gives affection most readily to those who seem to demand it the least."

This being the case "and I assure you it is" then what hope can any normal human being who intensely craves love and affection have of winning the one they want?

Won't their very need for the other person be the thing that turns the one they want away from them?

The answer is "NO!" It is not the need for love, which all people inherently feel which drives others away from them, but it is their indiscretion about exhibiting that need. What we need to learn is to make a distinction in our lives between the way we feel and the way we act! Or, in other words, we must learn self-control. Not that we should suppress our emotions to the degree that we deny to ourselves what we are feeling. No, no indeed.

We should always realize and be honest with ourselves what we are feeling inside. But we must be discerning, discreet and wise about the things we know about ourselves, which we share with others. Just because you find yourself desperately wanting someone, for example, doesn't mean you should act desperate. But neither does it mean you should try to deny the feeling in yourself.

So you feel desperate! So what?! There's no shame in that. Join the club. Millions of wonderful, great, fantastic people who have lived long before you have felt this way. There's nothing wrong with wanting.

But what I warn you against is not trying to control the way you talk about it to others. You see, a dog should wag his tail, not have the tail wag the dog. And YOU are the one who ultimately controls your behavior, your emotions should not be doing that.

Remember when you were small and felt unhappy and upset about not getting your way? What did most of us do? We would lie down on the floor and act out our emotions by beating our fists on the floor and kicking wildly. But when we got older we learned to put away childish behaviors and hold back, except in the area of romance.

What I'm saying is that we need to be mature in this area as well. "But," someone cries out, "isn't it dishonest to not express what you feel?" "No," I answer. "It's a simple matter of growing up." The mature thing to do is to learn to distinguish between feelings and actions. Feel intently, deeply and honestly. But keep your behavior in check.

That person who keeps his behavior separate from his feeling ultimately commands the most respect, and love from others.

Remember how, as a child, you were instructed that if a big dog came rushing up to you, you must do your best not to show any fear? The reason was that, if you show fear, it encourages the dog to bite you. Well, sadly, the same thing applies in human relationships. If you tip your hand too soon that you're feeling vulnerable to the other person, then it actually invites them to emotionally burn you in some way. So act as brave as you can and keep your feelings to yourself.

The key thing to learn from Bertrand Russell's statement is that love is given to those who seem to least demand it. Because the truth is we all need love "desperately" but we can overcome the built-in disadvantage by learning how to act.

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