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It’s very hard to pretend that you’re in charge and that it really isn’t all that important to you when you’ve just spent a month chasing a girl. She’s not stupid. She knows what you went through to get her there and that history becomes part of her assessment of your value. Whatever you win by being persistent and accepting multiple rejections, you will lose, either with the same girl later in the relationship, or with a different girl when, in your own head, you are not sure that you’re a guy who can walk away from an attractive woman, irrespective of how little interest she’s giving you.

That internal sense of scarcity and need is making you less successful with the most desirable women, whether you know it or not. Those are the women who are most adept at spotting weakness in a man. That weakness is in your body, in your micro expressions, as well as in the words you say to her.

It’s hard enough to become the man who – when he’s not getting what he wants – can walk away from an otherwise exceptional woman. It’s infinitely harder not to walk away but act as if you could. There is something natural about the former, a sense of your own value that is universally admired in literature, film, professional and personal relations. There is nothing natural about the latter. The image of a man groveling at the feet of a beautiful woman as she treats him with indifference is universally reviled. You have to protect your sense of self worth above all things.

Regarding your second point – about your mom’s relationship with your dad – what you are describing is not a good power dynamic. A good power dynamic is one in which both parties – though they may be cautiously optimistic about the relationship – are willing to walk away if they aren’t appreciated or don’t get what they want. There is nothing worse than meeting an attractive woman only to find out that she is needy, insecure, and afraid to butt heads with a man for fear that he will leave her. In other words, when you have good game, you’re likely looking for a worthy opponent, not a pushover.

In this sense, game is not a means of getting a relationship. It is the relationship. When both parties are growing, staying social, staying attractive to others, learning, and finding success, there is subtle pressure on both to keep up, and they remain attractive to each other. Nothing is worse than the promise to stay together no matter what. I don’t want to be with a woman who would stay with me if, for example, I were to stop working, stop pursuing my hobbies and interests, and stop taking care of myself physically. I expect no less from her.

Subtle pressure, a sense of mystery, a tinge of concern that you may not be good enough for your partner, these are the elements of attraction, not emotional certainty, persistence, and unconditional commitment. That’s what Esther Perel writes about in her books. (Watch her TED talk if you don’t have time to read them.)

Ever heard the hokey romantic expression, “You make me want to be a better man”? It’s right on the money. It expresses a subtle insecurity. That’s how a woman should feel with you, always trying to be as good as she can be. And that’s how you should feel with a woman. Game. We are happiest when we meet our most worthy opponent.