Kristen Lem

Don’t Play Hard to Get, Play Honest

Don’t Play Hard to Get, Play Honest.


As someone who’s followed my heart, worn it on my sleeve, and had it broken many times, I get a lot of dating advice. In fact, it’s pervasive, especially since I’m “still single.” Though well-intentioned, I can’t help but feel ashamed for the decisions I’ve made in the name of love. Is my intuition completely shot? Or are my friends, Reddit, and all wrong?

After some thought, I realized that my frustration stemmed neither from my inaccuracy or theirs, but from the fact that there are “dating rules” at all. By stripping away the details, I found that there is only one guiding principle by which to align your love life: Honesty.

Honesty with who you are, who the other person is, and the situation.

Instead of pervasive guidance, pervasive honesty is the key. Like many truth bombs, it is a simple idea, but hard to enact. Keeping these few things in mind help make it more manageable:


Humans are often likened to snowflakes. No two are alike. When humans pair off, each of us takes our own one-of-a-kind life experience, creating a completely unique interaction. It does not make sense to paint any relationship with a static brush such as “the man chase the woman.” Rather, get to know each other thoroughly, HONESTLY, and then act accordingly.

One of the best dates I ever went on was with a guy I asked out. He responded to my initial text inviting me to a show that night, despite it being last minute. Traditional advice would never allow me to be free at the drop of his hat, but it happened I was, and we had a great time. Which brings me to my next point …


We met at the venue because it worked out geographically. I know the guy is supposed to get “docked” for not picking me up, but he was a perfect gentleman the rest of the night, so who cares?

The other thing I get shit for is for staying in contact with guys I’ve dated in the past. A guy friend put it best once when I was deciding whether I should de-friend an ex. He posed the very obvious question: “well do you want to keep in touch?” I did, so he said, “well stay in touch then.” There are a handful of guys who I could give a shit about, either because they are pricks or we don’t have enough in common, and so we don’t speak. But the point is:

You get to choose what makes sense for you.

You dated this person, maybe you had sex, or were in love – all the more reason you got to see what you have in common. Would you spend time with this person sans cuddles? Do you both REALLY like bowling and sushi aside from each other? Ask yourself the simple questions, answer honestly, and act from there. And even if the answers are “no”, remember to…


To yourself, as well as the other person. There is far too much hate in this world without us breaking each other’s hearts unnecessarily. When we decide to bring someone into our lives romantically, whether it’s for one night or 10 years, there was something that you loved, if only for an instant. You wouldn’t be mean to a stranger; why would you be mean to a person you cared for at one time? No matter how wrong or right you are, there is always a kind way to act. When we’re hurt, angry, or uncomfortable, being unkind is easiest. Though a more compassionate choice, kindness actually requires more practical thought and does not run purely on emotion.

One of the soundest decisions I ever made was to walk away from a relationship, leaving it open-ended. I could clearly see our mutual unavailability and refused to allow his mental state to detract from my own self-work. But because I know that each person’s path is unique, I gave him the option of healing in his own time and reconnecting if we were both unattached. Denying oneself closure is precarious, but I knew my life would go on – with or without him.

Some call me stupid. Many call me a doormat with low self-esteem. That I’ll never find love because I don’t “let the man win me.” And they could be right. Maybe I’m a fool. Maybe I make it “too easy.” But at least I’m honest and I’m following my own rules. 🔷