There’s a girl at work you have a major crush on. It takes months, but you finally find the courage to ask her out. She accepts and the date goes really well. Before you know it you’re totally smitten. But the thing is, you’re not convinced she’s that into you. Do you reveal all and share your feelings with her? Or is your best bet to leave her guessing whether you like her or not?
Many would advise you to ‘play hard to get’ if you want to win her over. But is there any evidence it actually works? Enter this US study, which set out to determine whether divulging the truth or being mysterious was the way to go.
The researchers recruited around 50 female college students who had Facebook profiles. The students were told that guys from other colleges had looked at the profiles of different women, including theirs, and then rated how much they liked them.
Each student was then shown the profile pic of four guys. Some were told the four guys liked them the most out of all the women they’d seen. Others heard that they’d been rated as just average. But the final group of women were left guessing. They didn’t know if the guys just thought they were average – or if they were the hottest of the bunch.
Next, the women reported things like how appealing they found the guys, how keen they’d be on dating them, and how often thoughts of them popped into their head.
Not surprisingly, the women were more attracted to guys who liked them a lot compared to those who just liked them an average amount, the results revealed.
But the guys they found most desirable of all… were the mystery men. When they were left guessing about the guy’s feelings, they found him most attractive – even more desirable than the guys these students thought were really attracted to them!
It turned out that the women couldn’t get the mysterious men out of their minds. They spent so much time wondering whether the guys in the photos liked them or not, that they ended up believing they were more attractive, the researchers suggest.
Pleasures of uncertainty
Why would women be more attracted to men when they’re not sure if they like them back? It might come down to the pleasures of uncertainty. When someone doesn’t know what will happen – say if the guy they’ve just gone on a date with will ask them out again – chances are they won’t be able to stop thinking about him and what will happen. They may end up believing, “I must like this guy since I can’t stop thinking about him,” the researchers reason.
But what about mysterious women? Are guys more into dates who ‘play hard to get’? Since only women were included in this study, for the time being, the researchers can’t provide much insight into whether men might feel the same way.
In the mean time, if you’re a guy and there’s a woman you’re really into, being a little mysterious might be the way to go. It could even make you more attractive in her eyes.
Source: “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not . . . ” Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction, Erin R. Whitchurch, Timothy D. Wilson and Daniel T. Gilbert
This article was first published on June 10, 2015.
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