“Playing It Cool” Doesn’t Work — You Should Be Authentically & Unapologetically You

You’re really interested in someone, but you’re holding back on returning texts, pretending to be someone you’re not, and acting like you don’t care when really you do. Playing cat and mouse like this is attracting the type of person into your life who will keep expecting games and treating you like a pawn. Instead, drop the “cool” act and trade it out for being your genuine self. Speak your needs, laugh your goofy belly laugh, and take a risk in telling someone you like them. Here’s what happens if you don’t:

They think you’re someone you’re not. Playing it cool looks like laughing at something you don’t actually think is funny, like a racist joke. Agreeing to whatever the other person puts out there means you’re not showing who you really are. For me, the fact that I don’t drink alcohol is seldom popular for potential dates, but I’m setting clear expectations from the start. It’s brave to admit your truth.

If you’re being ambiguous, you’re attracting ambiguity. What’s your response when they ask, “So, what are you looking for?” Please tell me it’s not, “I’m down for whatever!” Your gray answers are resulting in a gray area relationship where you’re both unsure of what exactly is going on between the two of you.

You’re not being honest with yourself or the other person. For years, I gave ambiguous answers because I had low self-esteem. I wasn’t able to acknowledge it in myself, though, so I played along with whatever my partner wanted. When you’re letting the other person call all the shots, you’re dismissing what you want and withholding information from them. You’re also depriving yourself of useful insight into your wants and needs.

They take you at face value when you say, “It’s no big deal.” People aren’t mind readers. Say “no big deal,” and they think you mean it. It’s tempting to shrug off something that hurt you, like a date being late and unapologetic, but it’s important that you’re clear about how you feel. We can all still be guilty of being passive-aggressive or quiet rather than honest on occasion, but your needs will only be heard if you speak them.

You’re sending mixed signals or no signs at all. You answer some of their texts right away, maybe all of them, but you don’t text first and don’t compliment them often. They’re not quite sure what your deal is and are wondering, “Does she like me?” I get it — there’s this idea that playing coy is somehow sexy, but it’s a fear-based copout. If you send mixed signals or none at all, you never have to put yourself out there to risk rejection. How about instead, you dare to say how you feel, loud and clear?

Not showing your feelings invites them to be dishonest about theirs. What if they’re totally excited about you, but you’re too busy playing it cool to realize or tell them you feel the same? Then, they assume you’re not into them, get discouraged, and back off. Fear gets the best of us sometimes and can really mess things up. Instead, be vulnerable and let that excitement show! In doing so, you open yourself up to the chance to meet their truth.

Hiding your flaws means they’re not getting to know the real you. I have a trucker’s mouth — I swear a lot. For a while, I tried to hide it on first dates, but my mouth came out over time. I learned that it’s worth putting our flaws out on the table from the start. We all try to be our best selves in dating, and that’s fine. But, when you’re hiding big parts of yourself to try to appear more likable, that’s when you get in a rut. What if someone thinks it’s endearing that you snort when you laugh hard? I say go for it. Let that laugh out.

Being a chameleon is killing your soul. Ugh, do you ever hang out with someone who you feel you can’t be yourself around? The encounter feels STIFLING, like you can’t breathe. I’m a goofball; I like to laugh and make jokes. When I try to act too serious to match my date’s vibe, I feel like a piece of my soul is dying. Don’t try to blend in or act like you’re something you’re not. There’s only one of you; let yourself shine!

Pretending to be someone you’re not repels the right person. You’re never going to attract the right person hiding your chipped nails, laughing at sexist jokes, or waiting for your date to call. When you embrace all of the glorious imperfections that make up your being and open yourself up to sharing them with another, you may be surprised at how the right people come along as if your laugh and interests are magnets.

You’re depriving yourself of happiness. Trying to be something you are not is exhausting. I’m not saying you’re not cool — I’m saying you are cool just as you are, without having to play any games. All that cat and mouse is sucking the joy from dating. It means you’re thinking too much and you’re being untrue to yourself at the end of the day. You deserve to feel happy and contented — don’t deprive yourself of that!

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