4 Famous Women Who Played Hard to Get

Anita Durairaj


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Have you ever heard of a self-help and dating book called All the Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right which was first written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider in 1995?

When this book came out, it was really controversial. Despite all the strides that women had made in their personal and professional lives, the book talked about some dating ground rules that seemed to set women back into the Dark Ages.

The key precept of the book was that men should chase women when it came to love and relationships. It emphasized that a relationship was doomed to fail if the women so much as even made the first move by even uttering the word “hello”.

According to The Rules book, the woman should never even call a man. The man should always lead, pay for dates, say “I love you” first and of course be the first one to propose. Basically, the book advocated for the extreme version of playing hard to get.

There is still a lot of discussion in psychology and behavioral science as to whether playing hard to get really works. You can always find a case where it works and just as likely, you could find another case where playing hard to get is the worst thing that a man or woman could do.

However, in real life and in fiction and literature, you can always come across women who do play hard to get and end up winning in love and in life. I came across these 4 examples of famous women from history, fiction, celebrity culture, and royalty.

Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile (historical figure)

The story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony will forever be etched in the archives of history. Mark Antony was a Roman general and Cleopatra was a Macedonian queen who lived from 69 BC to 30 BC. She was the ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt.

The love affair between Cleopatra and Mark Antony has always been romanticized in plays, movies, and some historical accounts. Cleopatra was known for her “irresistible charm”. It is thought that she had Mark Antony wrapped around her finger and he loved her till the day he died.

There are different versions and explanations to account for Cleopatra’s behavior. Some state that she was a seductress. Others claim that she was a formidable leader who ruled over one of the most powerful kingdoms in the ancient world. 

With Mark Antony, the story goes that she sought to keep him in line by playing hard to get. Whenever she felt that he was inattentive to her needs, she would simply ignore him. She wouldn’t respond to any of the letters he sent and just ignore them. The result was that Mark Antony kept chasing after Cleopatra. He even rejected his own wife to be with her. In the end, he committed suicide from the grief of a lost battle and thinking that his beloved Cleopatra had died.

Elizabeth Bennet (fictional character)

Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, remains one of the most popular classics of all time. Much has been written about the characters in the novel, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy or just plain Mr. Darcy.

Pride and Prejudice is all about Elizabeth playing hard to get. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s initial meeting seemed to be rather cold and unfriendly. Elizabeth never takes Mr. Darcy seriously and even when he begins to get attracted to her and pays her compliments, she appears to be indifferent and unaware that he has developed feelings for her.

At one point in the novel, Elizabeth even rejects a proposal from Mr. Darcy. You would think that this would put off Mr. Darcy from ever talking to Elizabeth again. However, that never happens and the novel does end on a happy note. For Mr. Darcy, it was all about the challenge of winning Elizabeth’s love.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have studied the effects of playing hard to get and have found that the harder the chase for a potential mate, the greater the desirability for that person. That is exactly what happened with Mr. Darcy as he had to work hard and inevitably fell in love with Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (royalty)

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother of the UK is most famously known as the mother of the present Queen Elizabeth II. She died in 2002 but not before living a long life and being happily married to King George VI.

Queen Elizabeth was not born into royalty. She was simply Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the daughter of a British nobleman. From the very start as a young woman, she was pursued by King George VI who at that time was known as Prince Albert. The prince met Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at a party and asked to be introduced to her. He spent as much time as possible visiting her and attempting to spend time with her. Naturally, he fell in love.

When the prince finally proposed to Elizabeth, she turned him down. Despite the rejection, they remained on good terms and this became a chance for the prince to propose a second time. Again she turned him down. The prince became dejected and unhappy after this. It was reported that he was still madly in love with her. He decided to try a third and final time and the rest as they say is history.

Amal Clooney (celebrity)

Amal Clooney is a human rights lawyer, humanitarian, and wife of Hollywood movie star, George Clooney. In her own right, she has won much respect and acclaim for her work.

When she was single, Amal reportedly played hard to get with George Clooney. She turned him down twice when he asked for a date before finally agreeing to go out with him. Her excuse for turning him down was that she was busy.

According to sources, Amal was not fazed by George’s celebrity status or star power. Her behavior intrigued George Clooney who must have been used to having a lot of women fall for him. In Amal’s case, she had the upper hand during their dating relationship.

As of 2020, George and Amal Clooney are happily married with twins. George Clooney continues to praise his wife and state that he is a very lucky man to have met her. 

To conclude, these 4 women are examples of cases where playing hard to get works. This may not be the norm for every couple or relationship but according to science and psychology, there are some benefits for this type of behavior. 

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