Dear The Bolde: How Do I Stop Letting Guys Take Advantage Of Me?

Dear TheBolde,

Your writers always talk about playing hard to get in order to get a guy to chase you and holding out for someone who respects you and not tolerating any BS, but I’ve always been “nice” to people and have kept many of my thoughts and opinions to myself in order to not stir up trouble or offend anyone. Because of this, I always get taken advantage of by guys. I know I should play hard to get, but HOW do I do that? How do I become less accommodating and not feel so obligated to say “yes” to everyone (this goes for my regular social life too, not just romantic relationships).

Thanks, much appreciated,


Dear Kate,

So here’s the deal: As a gender, women have been taught since the days of old that it’s our “duty” to be accommodating. We’re supposed to always say yes even when we want to say no and we tend to apologize when we have nothing to be sorry for. To quote Amy Poehler, “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry about.” Is it safe to assume you apologize when you don’t have to, too? If you’re all about accommodating, you probably do.

In relationships, whether they’re romantic or otherwise, it’s okay to be selfish. When you allow yourself to be selfish, you actually get what you want. Human beings in general are selfish AF, so why not join the club? That doesn’t mean you’ll lose your “nice” standing, but it does mean a new version of Kate will evolve; a version who isn’t going to hold her tongue when she doesn’t agree, who isn’t afraid to say “no” when she wants, and who isn’t scared to rock the hell out of a boat that needs to be rocked. When you do that, you take a stand. You become less accommodating and you’ll find that in being this way, this new and improved Kate, it will be harder for guys to take advantage of you.

Which brings us to the whole playing “hard to get” thing. Playing hard to get isn’t so much a game, but a way of life. It’s about putting yourself and your life first. It’s about not dropping what you’re doing for some guy. It’s about being in the moment with your friends, as opposed to staring at the phone waiting for a text. It’s about prioritizing correctly and that means not putting any guy, even one who seems great, before your friends, your family, and most certainly not yourself. It’s really easy to take advantage of a woman who ditches plans with her friends to be at the beck and call of some guy – this is not a woman you want to be. Not just because you deserve more, but because you ARE more.

Ultimately it comes down to self-respect. When you value yourself, your opinions, your ideas, your goals, and all that good stuff, people pick up on that. When you’re aware of your worth, you hold yourself to higher standards and others do, too. You’ll find that the caliber of guys who will come into your life will be different and the new Kate, the one we talked about, will no longer stand for BS. You’ll also realize that you don’t have to play games because you have your priorities straight. You’ll simply be hard to get because you have other crap going on in your life and that’s how it should be.

Of course, you won’t wake up tomorrow morning a woman who has shaken all her accommodating ways from her bones, but if you practice putting yourself first, focusing on your life and your loved ones, and realizing your worth, you’ll get to a place where no one will be able to take advantage of you – nor would they even dare to try.


Your BFFs at The Bolde

Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.