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Why is it so attractive when a person plays hard to get?

Why is it so attractive when a man (or woman) plays hard to get? Yet if someone makes it too obvious they like you, we lose interest?
Catherine Callinan from West Yorkshire (age 15-24)

Answer

The human mating game is partly about finding the highest value individual who will also have you. If their mate value is too high, they might not be interested in you, and if it is low enough that they are definitely interested, they might not be the best that you can get. So, you are looking for someone just around the threshold of interest in you. A person who is instantly keen to signal that they want you might be of lower mate value than you are, and this could be an indication that they are not the best that you could do. There is a prediction here: in short-term matings, the costs of mating are low for men, and so men interested in one-night stands should not mind how obvious the signals are. Only for long-term relationships where they are going to make a considerable investment should they be concerned about over-keeness, and this looks like it is actually the case.

Daniel Nettle, Reader in Psychology at the University of Newcastle,

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