Playing hard to get doesn’t actually work, according to science

It’s time to ditch the long game


New research says that playing hard to get is going to get you nowhere because researchers have confirmed what we all secretly know – the more you talk, the more sex you have.

The 2016 study, “Intimately Connected: The Importance of Partner Responsiveness for Experiencing Sexual Desire”, confirmed that sexual desire actually subsides over time, albeit gradually – so it’s time to reassess those courting tactics.

The results, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, came about through a three-part study.

Subjects from 153 couples had a 10 minute online chat about a life, after which they filled out a form to say whether if they felt their partner cared for them during chat. Then they filled out second form to say how much they wanted to do sexual things with their partner – only they were speaking to a researcher, not their partners.

The results showed “women experienced greater desire while interacting with a responsive partner than while interacting with an unresponsive one,” whereas men generally had more sexual interest but they it didn’t really depend on how responsive their “girlfriend” was.

The second experiment consisted of 178 straight couples having face-to-face conversations about life events, and it showed both women and men expressing more sexual desire for each other if they thought their partner was more responsive.

However – there was less sexual attraction when partners told sad stories as apparently, “the individual focuses on personal weaknesses or stressors.”

The last part of the study focused on 100 straight couples. The published study outlined a daily experienced methodology, explaining: “we asked both members of romantic couples to complete a nightly diary for six weeks in which they recorded the quality of their relationship, their perceptions of partner responsiveness and mate value, their sense of feeling special, and their desire to engage in sex with their partner.” This allowed them to assess whether responsiveness directly correlated to an increase in sexual desire over time.

Unsurprisingly, on “responsive days”, women and men both sexually desired their partners more.

The best part of the study doesn’t just link to sexual desire though. In fact, the researchers found that when everything is present – high respondency, feeling special, sexual desire – we’re far more likely to actually have sex.

So, it seems the key to sex is just being nice.

Illustration by Juliette Hayt.