Dawson’s Blog

Why Do People Play Mind Games in Relationships?

Reasons Why People Play Mind Games

Why Play Mind Games
I hear from many of you about how confusing and frustrating dating relationships can be. It is simply hard to understand the opposite sex, especially when the person you are interested in plays mind games. It can get in the way of a deep meaningful relationship.

Dawn asked: Why do guys bother with the mind games? You know, when they say one thing and mean another just to get what they want?

To be fair, girls play mind games too. So let’s include both sides here.

There could be a number of reasons why guys or girls play mind games, and sometimes they don’t even know they are playing games because they are so unaware of their own needs, much less yours.


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Here are a few reasons I’ve observed over the years and how to respond.

Reason #1 To Manipulate

Some people use mind games to selfishly manipulate others so they can get what they want to meet their own unmet needs. This may include:

  • sex
  • always having someone by their side
  • having someone adore them
  • a need to control someone
  • hoping another person will heal their deepest hurts
  • boosting their self-image because they have someone to show off to others
  • having someone to listen to them

Not all these needs are wrong, or unhealthy. It is the way they go about getting those needs met that can be selfish and hurtful.

So what should you do in this case?

Call Their Bluff

mind gamesIt’s very important for the person who’s playing mind games with you to know that you know the game is being played. You may want to confront them directly, and ask what exactly their motives are in your relationship. This will do one of two things: it will either challenge them to stop the games with you and move on to someone else, or they’ll quit not only messing with your head, but also with your heart. You don’t need to waste time with mind players. Who needs the drama? Not you! Read about how to “>have a meaningful relationship here.

Perhaps they are unaware of his manipulative and game-playing ways. Someone once said, A liar will first lie to himself before lying to others. Your willingness to lovingly, but firmly, confront someone on what they have clearly been doing may help them to stop a game they may not even know their playing. But just remember this: don’t simply listen to what they say, watch what they do. That will tell you more about motives than anything. I want very much for you to have a really great loving relationship, but I sure don’t want you hurt by a game player. You can do much better than him.

What’s another reason for mind games?

Reason #2 They Like the Rush

Kourtney asked: Why would a guy flirt and act like he likes me and then all of a sudden stop? I have this guy friend who would email daily and tell me everything that’s going on and then he just stopped. In another question, Brittany asked:Why in the world do guys act like they like you one minute and then the next they treat you like they barely know you?

Some people just want to see if they can get a guy or girl to like them. To them, it is more like a game or a challenge. They say to themselves, If I can get a girl or guy to fall for me, then I must be pretty cool. All of this comes from a low self-esteem and an unawareness of how they hurt others. Still others are in a frantic state of mind, wanting that thrill of knowing at least one person cares about them. It’s like a high. But they soon get bored once they think the person they have been pursuing actually likes them. Then they are on to the next conquest. The hunt is on for the next rush. Sadly, many people have very little insight into what they are doing and why.

Well that stinks…so now what?

Confront and Move On

You have a choice in this. You can choose to confront this guy and ask him what he’s really feeling (be prepared for him to become angry and defensive because no one likes being found out — remember, he may not fully understand why he’s doing what he’s doing either!). Or you can take his indifference as a clue that he’s not truly interested in you, and move on. You don’t have to be a victim of another person’s lack of consideration for others.

I have one more reason for mind games…

Reason #3 Testing The Water

mind gamesOther times people play with your mind in an attempt to find out how you feel about them. It takes so much courage to be vulnerable enough to share our deepest needs of wanting to love and be loved. What if you tell someone you really care for them and you are rejected in some way. You may feel like you are being led on, but perhaps the other person is just nervous to make the first move.

Riah asked: “When you know a guy likes you and that guy knows you like him, then why does it take so long for him to make the first move?”

For years, there’s always been pressure on guys to make the first move. Now it seems girls are getting more aggressive all the time. Still, in many relationships, both genders (either consciously or unconsciously) expect the guy to be the initiator and the girl to be the responder.  Remember a lot of guys act tough and macho, but inside they also are very much afraid of rejection.

Wondering how to move things forward…

Suggest Defining the Relationship

You may want to help each other out by making a simple suggestion. You might say something like this: You know, you and I have been talking to each other for a while and I’m a little confused. So let’s define our relationship. This allows you to talk about it in a non-threatening way. Being emotionally open and vulnerable isn’t easy, but it might have GREAT rewards or at the very least allow you to move on.

For more insight into the opposite sex download one of our free eBooks today.

Dawson McAllister Dawson McAllister (born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania) is an American speaker, radio host, and author. He is the founder of Dawson McAllister Association and TheHopeLine and host of the national radio program Dawson McAllister Live, which is aired on Sunday nights. Dawson has been speaking to and in support of teenagers and young adults for over 40 years.
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  • anonymous

    What really gets me is that at the beginning of the dating stage it’s all sweetness, hey baby, this and that, but then you notice conversations get shorter..time you down is on his own terms and guilt is played so well you don’t even realize it’s been played on you until after you distance from eachother. I don’t know if it’s his ex that made him like this but why do I have to be the one to go threw confusion and pain?

    • TheHopeLine Team

      Lisabeth, Sorry for the delay in our response. Relationships can be confusing and can cause much pain at times. We know it’s been some time since you posted this, but we would love to talk to you more about this or what ever issue is going on. How about calling 800.394.4673 or clickin on “Get Help” to chat. If you want download our free app to your phone to chat, get an email mentor and get encouraged here is the link to download it. http://thehope.dm/thlmobileapp

  • pat

    I have a husband who try every day to play mind games with myself. I feel he is a sad person and needs lots of prayers. he made my life a live hell. thanks to god and jesus I am still here. need all the help I can get to stop my husband now. god bless all of you, pat

  • Angelia Monroe

    I’m having an odd problem with a close friend, and I’m not sure what to do about it. Recently, she ignored me for weeks, because I wasn’t interacting with her enough on Facebook. I’d just had several deaths in my family and was having major medical problems and so I needed some space from FB. When I finally returned, the relationship resumed as before. I told myself that I’d just imagined it all in my grief. Then, something else major came up, and so I decreased my Facebook participation. Again, I got the cold shoulder from her. Disgusted, I closed my FB account. She emailed me two weeks later and asked if I was mad at her. Huh? I told her that I’ve just been busy. A week has passed. No reply. No phone calls. Nothing. I feel that she’s playing mind games with me. I feel that she has no understanding of the problems I’ve faced and is punishing me for not giving her enough attention. Is this a fair weather friend or what? Should I end this friendship?

  • Boe

    Guys are not inclined to playing mind games the way women are. They are hard wired to use brute force, not manipulation. If they really are playing mind games, they are either a text book sociopath, in which case they are doing it for power, and you really need to get educated about them because they are the most masterful, most psychologically damaging manipulators, the most sly snakes in the grass you will ever find, and can easily pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, including most psychologists, unless that psychologist specializes in the study of sociopaths.