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Are You Being Played? How to Tell

Dating_PlayeratBar_400If you’ve ever fallen for or been misled by a man’s dating (or bedding) tactics, here’s how to recognize them should they come calling again, from The Body Language of Dating: Read His Signals, Send Your Own, and Get the Guy.

Be ready for the games they play. Study these tactics of the practiced player and note how each one is used to confuse and disarm:

The PROD: The PROD, or Playful Rip Or Dig, is a statement that makes us question our own worth and the worth of others. I can remember an instance in which I was the target of one of these declarations. I had been taking an online class with some phone conferencing involved and quickly made friends with a wonderful guy. We would chat weekly and email daily but we had never met or seen each other. During a conference a few months later, a man walked up to me and said, “I know that voice. You’re Tonya.” I instantly recognized the voice of my online friend. Although it was awkward to meet in person, he made it quite easy to hold a conversation, and it didn’t take long for him to invite me to lunch. While ordering he said, “My future ex-wife will be having the Caesar salad.”

By excluding me with a PROD, he employed a tactic that is often used to gain a woman’s attention. We’re always attracted to a challenge, and most men know it. His approach was effective because he wasn’t falling all over me; he didn’t come across as needy.

A man might use this type of statement in a casual social conversation to attract you, as my friend did. That was his way of sending the innuendo that a relationship between us would never work out. He was indirectly disqualifying himself in order to pique my interest, lower my self-esteem, and intensify my attraction to him by causing me to wonder, Who is this man who has absolutely no curiosity about me?

Men will use PRODs such as “I don’t date women like you,” “My weekends are reserved for my buddies,” or “I have bad memories of blondes” to turn you into the pursuer. Suddenly you have something to prove. Remember the instances on the middle school playground when boys would insult your clothing, make jokes about your hair, or tell you that you smelled bad? Sure you do. We all do. Remember returning home to complain about it and your parents surprising you with statements like “He probably has a crush on you”? Well, not much has changed. If you’re being PRODded, you’re probably on his sexual hit list.

Definition: PROD (noun)— Playful Rip Or Dig; a negative comment that seems to reject or exclude a member of the opposite sex as a dating possibility, but is actually intended to incite sexual competition, expression, and attraction; (verb)—the act of prodding.

Work-Only Bonuses: Men are taught by modern pickup artists not to shower women with compliments unless they’re first earned. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this tactic, you might be greeted with something like “That dress is okay, but you’d look better in something like that,” as he points across the room to a replica of Marilyn Monroe’s infamous white dress. A simple statement like “What’s that smell?” accompanied by a wrinkled nose might make you want to get closer to prove that it isn’t you stinking up the place.

Every time you do what he wants you to do (like express a desire to try on the white dress or move closer to allow him to smell your perfume), you will be rewarded with a compliment. For example, “Yeah, only women with figures as nice as yours could get away with something Marilyn wore,” or “Is that Obsession or Eternity?”

If you choose to keep score in this game, be prepared; the compliment count will never exceed the statements that urge you to earn them.

Interest Level Mix-ups: He might show interest with touch, conversation, or body language only to then push you away with a PROD like “You’re nuts. How do you function in society?”

Stick around. It won’t be long before he attempts to lure you back in with another positive signal. What he’s doing is creating an environment in which he’s teasing you with attention, hoping that you’ll switch from the hunted to the hunter. When a cat’s stalking a mouse, she’s completely engrossed in the pursuit: this is a metaphor for the provocation tactics the Pick-Her-Upper uses. Once the mouse stops moving, the cat loses interest.

Serial Touching: A man who uses frequent touching is doing three things: he’s paying close attention to your reactions in order to gauge your reception to his touch, as well as measuring your willingness to jump through hoops in pursuit of him. In addition, he’s establishing himself as a touchy-feely person. When it comes time for the kiss, it will seem like a natural next step for the Pick-Her-Upper (rather than an awkward moment under the front porch light).

The Socialite: Veteran Pick-Her-Uppers do their utmost to ensure that they’re not seen standing alone. Just as a restaurant with a packed parking lot gets more subsequent customers than one with an empty parking lot, men who seem more social get more resulting attention.

If he jumps from group to group, publicly socializing and drawing attention to himself, he’s hoping that by the time he gets to you, you’re thinking, This guy is well liked; I can’t wait to find out why.

Caveat: Don’t get your hopes up too soon. You could be part of the “social proof”—only a pit stop on the way to the object of his interest.

So, what’s the best way to determine whether you’re his target or just another pawn in his social proof scheme? If he’s PRODding you, you are the end result that he desires. If the Pick-Her-Upper is simply being polite, he’s either getting ready to make tracks or you’re an accessory to his crime.

Monologue Absorption: When a man strikes up a conversation with you that’s more like a monologue, don’t jump to the conclusion that he’s self-absorbed. He could be attempting to steer you with mental images and social proof, seeming more interested in the words coming from his own mouth than in you—but that could all be part of the ruse.

No woman likes to sit still while she listens to a man drone on about himself. However, listening to a man talk about the things that define him and his life without his inclusion of the word I can have a distinctly separate effect.

The Pick-Her-Upper will often use descriptive words that seem to take you to another place and cause a positive emotive reaction in your mind. He might talk about a recent vacation he took to a private beach or his childhood wish to Rollerblade through the mall after closing time. He might talk about singing karaoke with Lady Gaga when she was still Stefani and having drinks with Steve Carell after he’d had a hard day at The Office.

He’s busy creating feelings that you’ll want to duplicate. This is genius, really. He knows that he’ll accomplish much more than he could with general, interview-type conversation because it causes you to want to become part of his exciting world. He creates social proof by showing evidence of why he’s well liked, instead of by saying, “I’m well liked.”

He’ll show instead of tell.

And once again, you become the pursuer.

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