Why Do People Play Mind Games in Relationships?

Reasons Why People 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.

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

It'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 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

Other 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.

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24 comments on “Why Do People Play Mind Games in Relationships?”

  1. Thanks, well written.
    In my case, she ticked every box. Beautiful, she made me laugh, her little expressions .. boy was hooked. She said things like "You're my hero."
    But she was still living w her ex, who I got on with well. She drank too much. She also had a lesbian lover. Enough alarm bells but I didn't listen to myself. I got sucked into little night walks and some late-night texts. Then the games started. "Do you know how I met X" but won't tell me the answer? Some little lies followed. Sending photos of someone's cat while still in bed. Sending a sexy photo only to instantly delete it, saying it was meant to be for her lesbian lover
    Thankfully nothing physical happened with this lady. She even pushed me away once when she mistakenly thought I was making a move on her. The only time in fact where she showed real affection was drunkenly massaging me in front of her poor ex. It took far too long to realize she was using me. Once I knew I'd been duped, the spell lifted. My ego hurt but at least I was wise to it. No point being the victim, stay v calm, confident, dress smart(like a woman wd do after a break up) Then I slowly shut it down, less interest, stayed busy, switched my phone off after 11, etc.
    The takeaway. Sometimes girls play games to whittle down the weak guys. That's ok. Sometimes they do it because they are just messed up. Not ok.
    The trick is to work out which, and quickly!

  2. I have met this Scottish guy during my archaeological excavations here in my country,in Greece. We really liked each other . Anyway we kept a distance . After 12 days we would be seperated and it would be sad if we would share some moments. Before leaving he said 'never say never ' and he wanted to keep contact. So we are here talking for 4 months. And there are some times when he says ' next summer hope to come to see you again'. After he will finish his masters thesis. But is sth weird about him. He has 1 month playing mind games. He ignores my messages , he let them 'seen' and answer after 2 or 3 days or 5.And he continues the discussion where we left. My reaction is just behaving like this. Doing the same thing but never texting him ' why you doing this? ' . Im never acting like desperate. Just acting normally. Meanwhile he checks during the days he is not responding , if i am online on whatsapp or facebook. And when i answer after 2 or 3 days he immediately answer my message like he is feeling like is going to miss me. Is just because of the distance ? Better to keep some space ? Also i can say he is a guy that doesnt tease girls, doesnt give false expetations. Not adventurous guy. And he is not too busy to not respond me. He stays online making me clear that he js ignoring me. Also , he is always interested to keep the conversation going. But playing these games. It's sostressful and annoying.

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