Life Advice



Erika Ettin: Don't fall for the 'thrill of the chase' fallacy

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Someone on my mailing list — not a client, but a person who seeks dating advice — asked me this question via email:

“Is it good to have some secrets in a relationship? Isn't that one of the many things that attracts a person … a little mystery? Are there things that you should always keep to yourself?”

My response to him was short and sweet:

“I would say that it is not healthy to have secrets. ‘Mystery’ sounds like playing games to me. A person who wants to be with you shouldn't only want you when you hold back or act like you’re hiding something.”

Now, I’d like to elaborate a bit further on this point.

Expressions like “the thrill of the chase” or “playing hard to get” have made it into our lexicon, sadly, often as something positive. Here we are talking about the early stages of dating, before you’re in an established relationship. Many people believe acting distant or not being available to make plans will make someone like them more. Their rationale is, “I don’t want to make it too easy for someone” or “I want them to work for it.”

Can this strategy make you more desirable in the short term? Sure — to people who only want the chase and not the prize (you), if you will.


It may also work with people who are more insecure, because your aloofness feeds into their insecurity. Some see this uncertainty as “excitement.”

I see it as a game. In fact, Neil Strauss made a name for himself (and a fortune) with his book, “The Game,” teaching men how to pick up women with tips and tricks, like ending a conversation early to leave her wanting more.

But if you're looking for a long-term, committed relationship, then you want to be with the person who appreciates your ability to communicate your feelings, not withhold them.

Speaking of long-term relationships, while I don’t recommend sharing every intimate detail of previous relationships, I would never condone hiding things simply for the sake of hiding them. That hurts both people in the couple.

The thing that keeps most relationships working — or not working — is communication. What do I mean by that? Sharing things, bringing things up when they’re on your mind, not harboring resentment, asking for what you want, telling your partner when something is bothering you, sharing your love with your partner, and the list goes on. Every lie, or, in this case, omission, will come out. You should be the one to let it out.

Relationships are never easy. Don’t make it even harder on yourself by continuing to perpetuate a false assumption that leaving someone wanting more makes you more desirable. At a certain point, this behavior gets frustrating, making your partner wonder why you can’t just let your walls down and be you — the full, honest you who has the confidence to know that when you open yourself up to someone, amazing things can happen.

©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC