I Played Hard To Get

By Holly Riordan

I wanted to tell you how I felt about you, but I kept quiet. I only complimented you once in a while instead of gushing over how good you looked every single time I saw you. I made sure I came across as interested, but not clingy. I was afraid of coming on too strong. I didn’t want to scare you away.

The second you texted me, I came up with a reply, but I forced myself to wait before pressing send. I didn’t want you to think I sat around all day, waiting for your name to pop onto my phone. I didn’t want to seem too eager. I was worried you would get freaked out if my messages came through two seconds later. So I held myself back in an attempt to come across as casual. As laid-back. As down to earth.

Whenever I saw a selfie of yours on Instagram, I would debate whether or not to leave a comment or a like. I didn’t want to give you too much attention. I didn’t want to look like I was actively stalking your page. I made sure to monitor how many times I interacted with your posts so that I didn’t suffocate you. So you would think of my attention as a treat instead of a guarantee.

Then there were the times when you wanted to hang out with me. Whenever you asked me about my availability, I was dying to tell you I would meet up with you whenever you wanted, but I acted like I was only free on certain days. Like I had a busy life. Like you weren’t my main priority. I wanted to seem well-rounded. I wanted you to think my weekends were filled with friends and my weekdays were filled with work. I wanted to impress you — but I failed miserably.

I turned our conversations into a game. I wanted to seem like the person who cared less. I’m not sure why I thought that would help me win your heart, but I guess it was because I have spilled my heart open before and I got screwed over for it, so I decided to take the opposite approach for a change.

I wouldn’t let myself like too many of your pictures in a row. I wouldn’t let myself text back too quickly. I wouldn’t let myself chase after you.

I hate mixed signals, but I thought sending them would help me get you — and I would have done anything to get you. I was ready to do whatever it took. But it turns out, I took the wrong approach, because I didn’t end up getting the only thing I wanted.

Instead of coming across as laid-back, it looked like I didn’t have any interest in you. You moved on from me, because I didn’t try hard enough for you. Because I was never authentic with you. Because I insisted on playing gmes instead of just being straightforward with you.

Holly is the author of Severe(d): A Creepy Poetry Collection.

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