10 Games Men Play, And How to Handle Them

woman with a gun faces a man with a knife

Why do men play mind games with women?

The answer is very simple: some men play games because they believe those games will help them get laid sooner rather than later.

This article will show you the games men play, and how you can handle a man who plays games.
By the end of this post, you will learn how to bring a gun, to the male mind games’ knife fight.

woman hides a gun meeting a man who is hiding a knife

#1. The Bait and Switch Game

The bait is showing interest first, then switching with (fake) disinterest.

Not proudly, I’ve been doing it myself a few times recently.
Not really to play dating mind games, but because I’m driven and busy with my stuff. And I lose interest if I don’t see reciprocated interest and/or if the first date is not hot enough to make us lovers.

However, some men might use this one on you in an effort to make you chase.
Here is how it looks like:

text example of mind game men play

Men will play this game most often when they’re very busy on their mission, when they are only mildly interested, or when they already have several women that occupy their time (or a combination of the 3)

This one also leverages the time tested technique of mixed signals.
It first sends the signal he had a good time, but then never follows up, sending the signal he’s not that interested.

That vacuum also leads her to invest more and more mental cycles on him, which only gets her more and more hooked.

Handling The Bait and Switch

A basic rule of life:

Never consider anything real until it’s real.

Words are never real. They are warm air (in person) and a bunch of meaningless bytes (in texts).
Actions speak: is he taking you out, is he texting you, is he supporting you?

Also, make sure to work on yourself: these games always work best on fragile egos.

#2. The Adventurer Game

This is a dating game that has been growing in popularity.

The plan is to present himself as adventurer, globetrotters or any sort of label that evokes excitement and the idea of a girl in every port.

Men use it based on the idea that women slow things down with potential boyfriend candidates (and be the Madonna in his Madonna/whore dichotomy complex. check that article too on why late sex is sometimes a good idea).

But, and here’s what they try to angle for, women will move much quicker to bed if they know that he will never be their boyfriend… And if he is exciting.
It’s not a bad idea, also considering all dating books for women suggest to indeed let him wait for sex –a strategy I don’t fully agree with-.

Very common in online dating

This game works well in online dating.

While traveling years ago I had a Tinder description precisely tailored to portray the “roguish” image of an adventurer.
I described myself as a free-spirit traveling the world, a man who didn’t like chatting but preferred to enjoy human connections in person, and a fun-loving daredevil who was happy to share adventures with some local women, as long as they were “cool” (ie.: “DTF”).

Something like this:

bio description of a game men play on tinder

“unforgettable memories” often were not-so-unforgettable, basic hookups at my place designed to be quick and low-investment 

Worked like a charm.

Also read:

How to Handle It

Whenever a guy introduces himself as an adventurer, a globetrotter or such… Laugh at his face.
And if you want to go overboard, you can say this:

You’re like the 10th guy who says that in the last two days. I think it’s insecure of a man to have to sell himself so hard

Then watch how quickly a pricked hot balloon can scuttle running for cover.

This woman also had an interesting approach to blowing the cover of my game:

text example to dismantle men games play

With “hoping you’re not a “poser”, she is using inverse psychology to make me prove myself to her, drop the “adventurer” mask, and be more “real”. Not bad.

#3. The “I Never Date X” Game

Technically, this is a form of “disqualifier”, a PUA technique.

It works by disqualifying you -or sometimes even himself- for any potential of a relationship.
The goal is to indirectly tell you that “you’re not good enough for him” and that “he’s not gonna chase you”. The goal is to pique your interest and make you chase (since he, allegedly, won’t).

So If you’re a brunette, he might say:

Him: I only date blondes

If you’re white, he might say:

Him: I like black women

The idea here is that people want what they cannot have, which is in part true (Cialdini).
And by writing you off and pretending you can’t have him, he is hoping to turn the tables on you and make you chase.

How to Handle It

LOL get ready ladies, this one is a real blast.
The best move here is doing the exact same back to him, only a tad meaner:

Him: I only date blondes
You: Oh, really, usually blondes like other blonde men. No offense, but can you find any as a balding dark haired man

Him: I like black women, they are X
You: Can you actually find black women? They like muscular guys…

The trick is to NOT sound mean. You should say these like you’re really worried for him. As if to say “poor you, can you really find any of those girls you like?“.
He’ll be thrown off and chances are high, very high, that he will reply with something like this:

Yes, of course I can…

No, they also like thin guys…

In either case, he is now proving himself to you.

#4. The Chameleon Game (AKA: “We’re So Alike”)

The sexual chameleon does what a chameleon does:

He adapts.
The sexual chameleon feigns interest in your same passions and pursuits, and seeks to be just like the person you dream to date.

If your ex was an abusive asshole, the chameleon is kind and supportive. If your ext was a spineless too nice guy, the chameleon will act strong and decisive.

Here’s a quick story as an example:

I remember 4-5 years ago, sitting at the clinic and waiting for our turn. We had just met the day before and she was leaving the city on that exact same day.
So I helped her out to get a pill of the day after to make up for a broken condom. It was the third condom, but still.. You only need one sperm to get someone pregnant.

Anyway, as we waited, she was showing me the pictures of this art gallery she had been to.
One image was a big wall in red paint. Nothing else, just a big wall in red paint.
I looked at it thinking it was meaningless, but didn’t say anything.

At that point, she blurted out:

Her: But… You don’t really like art

At that moment I realized I must have given the wrong impression the day before. 

Read more on how to develop a deep connection.

How to Handle It

First off:

Don’t think that all chemistries and commonalities are manipulations. You would lose your spontaneity and not everything is a game.
But at the same time, always reserve final judgment until you see concrete proof.

To uncover the “we’re alike” game, throw him some curveballs:

You: Everybody loves X because he’s good, possibly one of my favorite. What do you think of him

X is either someone almost unknown, or a made-up name. You preface it with “everyone loves X” so that you will make it more difficult for him to admit he doesn’t really know him.
If he bites saying he also loves him, he’s trying hard to position himself as a kindred soul.

4.2. The “I Like What You Like” Version

A similar game is to present himself like what he thinks she wants.
Or going for a stereotypical “great guy image” he thinks will surely make an effect.
Here is an example from Sex And the City (before he started a fight of course):

Him: Great guy! And how about his wife? Now that’s my idea of a perfect marriage
Her: Totally

#5. The “My Girlfriend” Game

This is dangerous for women looking for a relationship.

And it’s mostly women who have a policy of “making him wait for sex” that will encounter it (delay sex like this if you really must).

So what does do?
He might want to try to give you what you want as quickly as possible so he can get what he wants.

How is he going to do that?

He will call you his girlfriend.

The idea is to make you believe you reached your (alleged) goal of being in a relationship so that you can now “safely” have sex.

Not all men will disappear after sex and not all men play this game with malice, so don’t next him just because he calls you his girlfriend before sex.
However, it’s a possibility you should consider.
Look for signs of unreliability, a lack of past long term relationships and a pattern of lies, however small they might be.

How to Handle It

Say that you would prefer not using labels until it’s official and mutually agreed that you two are together.

Don’t say it in a mean way of course, and the more you like him, the warmer you want to be with your delivery.

And make sure you do it privately as anything similar in public would be a major embarrassment for him.

#6. The “I Can Help You” Game

Many men who read on dating advice will not play this one because they are afraid of investing too much (same as most women, after all).

However, smarter men do know that the ability of offering help is actually both extremely endearing and attractive -only men with an abundance of connection, socially skills and resources can help-.
You can see a texting example here.

There is also a powerful, subconscious effect where you feel that to “fully unlock” that offer of help, you might have to give him back something first.
Since you probably don’t have any connections or knowledge that he doesn’t have already… Gosh what is it that he hopes you will give him?

How to Handle It

Again, words are as cheap as air pollution in Bejing.
Let him come up with the facts instead and tell him:

You: Thank you very much, I’d love to meet this great connection. When can you introduce us?

Then stay out of contact until he makes that intro.

#6. Games of Chicken

Games of chicken are power games to get the upper hand in the relationship.

Games of chicken threaten to bring down the whole relationship unless she commits, invests or chases.
When she crumbles and eventually follows through, she submits and gives him the reins of the relationship -or, at least, more power-.

In a committed relationship, threatening to break up is a form of game of chicken (albeit women play that more often).
Early in dating, simply not replying to a text can be a game of chicken.

In this example, it was a tit-for-tat type of game as she obviously misbehaved by canceling on the same day with this weak a*s apology:

text example of games men play
If she was playing a power game first… She lost it.

By the time she came around, the power was all in my side and.. I had already mentally moved past her.
The only date I was willing to offer at that point was “come over and we’ll cook something together” type of date.

This is one of the reasons why I strongly recommend women to play little “chase me games“: they mostly work with non-busy, lower quality men and drive away all the cool ones (read more mistakes in biggest dating mistakes women commit).

#7. The Casually Planned Date Game

This isn’t really a “bad mind game”, but it’s still good for you to know about.

He will carefully plan the date to make it seem spontaneous but instead design it to increase the chances of you two having sex.

Some examples:

  • Doing some exciting (excitement rubs off as sexual attraction)
  • Changing several venues and ending up close to his place
  • Pretending to do something “spontaneously crazy” but actually planned

How to Handle It

Tell him:

You: oh what a coincidence, we went through all these places and now we are just near your apartment. Isn’t that neat, John.
Could it be that it’s not really a coincidence, John?

Say it not in a mean way but as if you wanted to say “you naughty boy” or “how random, eh?”
You just want to test how he reacts.

Now a man who doesn’t play too many games will either come out and say there is nothing wrong with that or, even better, reply with something like this:

Well, honestly, I don’t think the real question is whether or not I laid out a plan to end up near my place. Maybe I did, but isn’t that the man’s job anyway?
But what’s important here is that I do am having a good time with you Julie and that’s why I’m inviting you. Because I DO NOT invite just about anyone, Julie.
It’s two minutes away and we’re just going for a drink. So shall we go now.

#8. “Beauty is Common” Game

He’s trying to paint himself as both experienced, deep and interested in your personality.

Maybe you tease him he is only looking for sex, or that he is a fuckboy.
And as an answer, he will launch on a tirade that while “beauty is common”, he is looking for something deeper as well.

Both sub-communications work heavily in his favor.
He communicates pre-selection (other beautiful women probably wanted him) and that he can appreciate you for who you are on top of whatever flashy thing you got (big boobs, shiny hair etc.).

Of course it will be true for some guys.
But it’s a tiny, tiny minority.
And even those, they would most likely bang you anyway even without the “attractive personality”.

Women tend to believe this game not because they’re gullible, but because that’s actually how they think, and thus believe that (at least some) men will feel the same.

However, I am sorry to break the news for you: 95% of the times you hear that sentence, it’s a crock. And chances are high he’s a fuckboy.
The other 4% of the times the guy has been around so much and he is so experienced that indeed beauty has become his new normal -but chances are it’s now a minimum requirement for him-.
In 1% of the cases, you might have stumbled upon real gold. It’s rare, but not impossible.

8.2. The “Great Sex Provider” Variation

Another variation is to go straight for the sexual and to position himself like a sexual God, promising great sex, orgasms and a guilt-free, full fun experience.

Example:

Him: Listen, sweetheart. Give me an hour in the sack, and you’ll swear I’m the jolly green giant

The best players of this game do it more subtly, with stories, sexual talk, and body language.

Feel free to go for this one if you are so inclined -just be aware of the game, and that the great sex might or might not be true in the end-.

And now the worst kind of mind games men play:

#9. Lowering Your Self Esteem Games

Some of the early pick-up artists, among whom was Neil Strauss, used what they call “the “neg”. The neg meant delivering a back-handed compliment or a light insult.

Why would they do it?

The idea to lower the woman’s self-esteem and make her chase him to regain his approval.

Is it effective?
Sometimes it can be.

But it’s an inherently low-level game because it gives for granted that the woman is superior and he has to take her down a notch to have a chance.
It was also relatively easy for socially skilled women to see behind these games.

However, and here’s the twist, lowering your self-esteem can happen in many ways, some of which can be very subtle and even unconscious.
Here are some examples:

  • You say you go to the gym, he grabs your forearm and says “really”
  • You say you are full, he puts a hand on your belly and says “sure you are”
  • You say you don’t like exercising, he replies “why not, my ex loved staying in shape”

How to Handle It

This is one of the most insidious mind games men play and you should take it very seriously.

Low self-esteem leads to a pattern of self destructive relationships.
This game is indeed the hallmark of abusive men, and abusive men can only give you one thing: abusive relationships.

I have a whole article on how to play the same games back on him. But I recommend you drop the games here and focus on finding out if he’s a man you must avoid.

Say something like this:

Look, maybe you meant it as a joke. And it can be funny, in a way. However, it’s the second time you do it and I’m worried that this is a trend.
You see, these types of jokes make people feel self-conscious and unworthy.
I see relationship as mutually supportive, and this is not how a mutually supportive relationship works.
You probably wouldn’t think it’s funny if I joked about you being weak or having a small penis, would you?
That’s why I am asking you to please avoid these types of jokes designed to make me feel bad.

Then watch his behavior.
If he keeps playing these games, you might want to reassess if he’s the right partner for you.

9.2. The “Dread Games”

A subset of the “lowering self-esteem” games are the so-called “dread games”.

Dread games consist of keeping her in fear so that he can keep control of the relationship.

How to keep her in fear?
One or a mix of the following:

  • Never fully commit
  • Flirt with other women in front of her
  • Triangulation games (see “The Art of Seduction“)
  • Talk about “hot exes”

You can see here an example played on a friend of mine by her current boyfriend:

text example of triangulation games men play

Did he really have so well-endowed exes? Who knows. Sure it’s helping him keep her on the edge though

You can play the same back in what I call “my studdy exes game”, see “how to make him value more“.

Sadly, there is a subset of the male population in The Red Pill, a group often bordering on the misogynists, who purposefully learn how to play dread games.
For men, please see “how to move beyond The Red Pill” and become true leaders who don’t need to lower her self esteem.

Needless to say, these games lead to truly toxic relationships.
Sociopaths also play them, so also see: “are you dating a sociopath?“.

#10. The Average Joe Games

We have reviewed a few popular mind games men play in dating.
However, the most common and widespread games are the ones you are probably already familiar with.

And they include:

  • Exaggerating the depths of his feelings

This truly seems like a bottom feeder game to me, and yet in Buss’ survey 71% of men admitted of having exaggerated the depth of their feelings to have sex with a woman.

  • Appearing better than he is (richer, smarter, cooler…)

At the extreme are the men who will rent out a car or borrow to show off resources they don’t have.
These are some of the lowest quality games that should immediately ring “low quality man” bells in your head.

  • Low quality “I’m alpha” games

These are all the overly flashy attention-grabbing tools he uses. Noisy cars, loud stereos, backslapping with his friends.. Or even starting fights (smartest way to get girls, ever, eye rolls).

  • Appearing better than he is (richer, smarter, cooler… )

At the extreme are the men who will rent out a car or borrow to show off resources they don’t have.
These are some of the lowest quality games that should immediately ring “low quality man” bells in your head.

  • “Buttering up” compliments

Gushing compliments about your sexiness, tastes or personality are an example of low level “buttering up compliments”.
Usually, it’s either inexperienced men or men who are “love bombing” her, which can be a sign you’re dating a sociopath.
Other times, buttering up compliments are obvious attempts at getting something from you (quid pro quod games):

How to Handle Men Who Play Games

How you handle a man who plays games depends on the type of games he plays.

We could argue that we all play games.
Games are nothing but “marketing” of our product. Putting make-up is a sort of game, choosing what dress to wear is a sort of game. And of course, waiting before replying to his texts, or thinking what he meant and how to reply are also games.

Playing no games at all would mean telling the truth and nothing but the truth. And only the social outcasts and the mentally ill do that.

As long as both people’s interests align, a bit of games to reach results might not only be OK, but also a sign of social skills and an indicator of quality.

So here is your rule of thumb on how to handle a man who plays games:

If his games are neutral, or value-adding, let him. Games are a sign of effort, and it means he is puting effort in the courtship.
If his games are value-subtracting, confront him or cut him loose.

If you decide to confront him, whether or not you will keep him depends on how he reacts. If he repents and stops, that’s a great sign.
If he denies or doubles down on his games, that’s the sign you need to move on.

The Good Types of Dating Games

  • Thinks twice about what he texts so that he comes across well
  • Schedules and leads the date in a way that helps the two of you to get together
  • Makes you invest in the relationship as much as he does (something you should help him achieve!)
  • Failing to entertain bad behavior (my game of chicken above was one such example)

The Bad Types of Games

Dating games are a bad sign in all these situations:

  1. Games only benefit him
  2. Mind games are actively damaging you
  3. You can’t get to know the real him because there’s way too many games
  4. When it’s all games and little substance

For the last one, think of the English proverb all sizzle, no stake. In Italian it’s even better, and it would be this:

Much smoke, but no meat on the fire

The smoke is the games.
When the smoke serves to cover up the lack of talent, resources, and personality, then they are bad types of dating games.

But when games are used instead to stoke the pleasure and excitement for the upcoming high-quality meat, then it’s all good.

SUMMARY

Games men play in dating are not always and necessarily bad.
Your task is to tell apart the low-quality game players from those who use some games to benefit both of you.

This article gave you an overview of the topic and a few specific games men play.

2 thoughts on “10 Games Men Play, And How to Handle Them”

    1. LOL, awesome name 😀
      Yeah, they’re all based on real-life. Every woman is likely to see some of these, in one shape or another.
      Good to stay prepared. Games are OK, nasty games that only benefit one partner is what we need to watch for as they are indicators of poor potential partners.
      That’s for the longer term. Shorter-term, you can use the games to learn, but then choose based on how attracted you are to that person.

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