10 Reasons Why Men Play Mind Games And How To Deal With Them

Men playing mind games in a relationship can be frustrating. Moreover, men can love and treasure you at one moment and act completely uninterested the next moment, which could be even more annoying.

Some instances of mind games that men play are:

  1. A guy may be interested in you and constantly texts you. However, they may suddenly go off the radar when you reciprocate to them.
  2. You are with your man in a group, and he starts flirting with other women to make you feel jealous.
  3. Your guy may often criticize your dressing style, while others praise you for the same.

If you have encountered any such instances, learn that your man could be strategizing things to manipulate you or play mind games with you. Read on as we discuss signs of a man playing mind games with you, and know why men play such mind games and ways to deal with them.

In This Article

What Does Playing Mind Games Mean?

Playing mind games involves engaging in manipulative or deceptive tactics, often to achieve a psychological advantage or control over others. These actions often involve passive-aggressive behavior to deliberately undermine or disempower the individual’s cognitive abilities, creating a perception of superiority. In relationships, playing mind games can involve actions aimed at creating confusion, insecurity, or emotional distress in the other person. This might be done to gain a perceived upper hand, test the other person’s loyalty, or fulfill a desire for power and control. While playing mind games can be a deliberate and calculated strategy, it’s important to note that such behavior is generally considered unhealthy, which often leads to erosion of trust and communication in a relationship.

12 Signs A Man Is Playing Mind Games With You

Men are usually very clear about their feelings for someone. But if your man likes to keep you hanging without giving any clear indication of how he feels about you, then here are some signs that he is playing mind games.

  1. Hot and cold behavior: You used to constantly text each other for days and weeks before he suddenly cut contact without any warning or reason. You worry and wonder what happened to him. But a few days or weeks later, he reappears with a reason that sounds absurd to you. This is known as the ‘hot and cold’ behavior. You know he has been online, only he hasn’t messaged you. If he does this often, then know for sure that he is simply playing with you.
  1. Not good as his words: You go on a date with this guy, and you both seem to have a good time together. Soon after the date, he texts you, asking to meet him soon. You agree to it and then wait for him to ask you out, but his message never comes. Tired of waiting, you text him asking about the date. He now gloats over the fact that you were waiting for him, and are interested in him. He basically showed interest and kept you hanging only so you could chase him.
  1. Comments on your looks: A few meetings with this guy, and you will hear him say something like, ‘You should work out more often to look more attractive’ or ‘You should try a hairdo that will make your face look slimmer.’ When a man feels you are too good for him, he will first try to kill your self-esteem by acting indifferent to your attractiveness. With such comments, he wants you to believe that you are not as attractive as you think and that he is the one settling for a compromise in this relationship. This is a sly trick that indicates he intends to play mind games.
  1. Ghosts you several times: This guy calls you, makes elaborate plans for the day, and tells you he will be there, but never turns up. You try to reach him, but he is unavailable. A few days later, he will show up apologizing and promising to make up. He may or may not make up with you but will surely leave you in a lurch again. You feel he is dangling a carrot only to have you run after him.
  1. Toys with your emotions: When together, he might often ask you how you feel about him. You open your heart to him, sharing your love and affection for him. You might expect him to share his feelings for you, but instead, he will change the topic or start bluffing. If he is someone too full of himself, he might even tease you by stating his fantasy of dating another girl despite knowing how you feel for him. Such men enjoy teasing women and rocking their emotions, and often do so without any guilt.
Young couple arguing over emotional conflicts

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Keeps contact only for physical relationship: You notice that this guy you are dating is AWOL most of the days but suddenly showers you with attention when he needs to be physically intimate. He will not bother to reply to your message for days on end but will suddenly seem active and interested in you. He might even falsely assure you of his feelings for you, but his actions never back up his words. If this is the case with you, then he is using you. Run away from him as far as possible.
  1. Does not introduce you to his family: If a guy introduces you to his family, it means he could be serious about you. If he doesn’t, then he is probably not. He may invite you to hang out with his guy-gang but will never take you to meet his parents or siblings or anyone important to him. He could be doing so because he is not fully sure of his feelings for you. He gives you little glimpses into his life only to keep you hooked until he finds someone better.
  1. Makes you follow unreasonable rules: He makes rules for the both of you that might make you feel like you are his dirty secret. For instance, you two cannot hold hands in public, or you cannot publish images of you two together on social media. He may do this because he could be dating multiple women simultaneously and does not want to get into any trouble.
  1. Treats you bad in front of others: Your guy suddenly transforms into a demeaning monster who passes snide remarks about you. Guys often like to show domination in a relationship but putting their partner down is the worst thing to do. They may even pretend to command you to impress others. If your guy does this, you better speak with him about it before it gets out of hand.
protip_icon Did you know?
Men who play mind games aim to keep their partners vulnerable. They enjoy the power and believe that their partner will never leave them if they have poor self-esteem.
  1. Never texts you first: No matter how well you two hit it off in person, this guy never texts you first. When together, he gives you the impression that he likes you and enjoys your company, but he never takes the initiative to text or makes plans. If a boy is doing this to you, then forget him and move on since he is most likely just being nice to you and does not really have any romantic interests.
  1. Flirts with other girls in your presence: He may be a great guy, but he cannot seem to let go of his habit of flirting. What makes things worse is that he flirts in your presence. He may say it is harmless flirting, but his behavior makes you uncomfortable, which is probably what he wants. If he does not consider your feelings and continues, it may be to make you jealous and show off his ability to impress other women. It is his way of playing mind games by showing that he does not really need you.
Man being flirty

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Talks about his ex a little too often: It is fine to mention your past relationship to your current partner, but if your guy seems to talk about his ex too often, it is a clear indication that he is not over them. He is probably filling the space their ex left with you and will continue pining for them without considering your feelings. Remember that such men will not think twice before leaving you and going back to their ex or someone else.

10 Reasons Why Men Play Mind Games

There can be more than one reason why men play mind games. Here are some of the most common reasons behind such behavior in most men.

  1. Satisfy their ego: Men can be extremely egocentric sometimes. By making you worry for them or chase them, they enjoy the feeling of being desired by a woman. It makes them feel more confident.
  2. Enjoy exercising power: When you are after them, asking why they won’t reply or why they won’t call back, they understand the kind of influence they have over you. They may not have control over other aspects of their life, so they enjoy exercising control over your emotions.
  1. Perceive you as a challenge: Many men get into the chase because they enjoy the process. For them, impressing a woman is like a challenge that they would do anything to win. Once the girl is impressed, they have accomplished their challenge and show no interest in the woman.
  1. Suffer from low self-esteem: Some men suffer from low self-esteem and need constant validation for their looks and desirability. Your restless reaction to his hot and cold behavior gives him the validation he is seeking for himself, and hence he enjoys doing it all often.
Man quarrelling with his partner

Image: IStock

  1. Interested in a physical relationship: Some men are only interested in physical intimacy. They will play endless mind games to get it because they feel they deserve it or have earned it. Having physical intimacy is like a trophy they think they deserve after ‘winning’ you since they have done all the hard work.
  1. Intend to dominate: Some men simply like to be dominating in a relationship. By playing mind games with you, they feel they can keep you in check while having their way with you.
Dominant man expressing anger

Image: IStock

  1. Want something from you: They may desire something that you have, such as money or some other commodity that is hard to get. He may not like to ask it directly, so he will arm-twist you with his silly games, so you offer him what he wants on your own.
  1. Just for fun: Yes, it is hurtful to know that some men can shake up your life only for cheap thrills. In fact, they enter your life only to disturb your peace and calm. Just seeing you unsettled can give them the satisfaction they desire.
  1. Fear vulnerability: Men who have been hurt in the past can exercise too much caution when dating. They like you and show interest in you. When you reciprocate their feelings, they suddenly feel scared and pull back to protect themselves from getting too involved to the point that they eventually hurt you.
  1. Test your loyalty: Perhaps your man is playing such tricks only to test your interest and loyalty. He wants to know if you are serious about him and will not mind trying a trick or two under his belt to understand you better. Also, some guys just have a nature as such, can be due to several factors such as their family, school, etc. So, before you.

Ways To Deal With A Guy Playing Mind Games With You

Discovering the fact that someone is playing with you can be immensely painful, especially if you thought he was ‘the one’ for you.

  1. Do not panic: What do you do when a guy, who has been fighting for your attention for weeks, suddenly turns cold? You probably panic and wonder what went wrong. Don’t do it. He is pulling back either to sort his own feelings about you or to test your reaction. So, what you can do is give him time. Do not set out chasing him. Instead, wait for him to come back to you without worrying too much.
  1. Pay no heed: When we say ‘it is not you, it’s him,’ we do mean it and not as a consolation but as a fact. Some men can be mean, and it has nothing to do with how you look or how you behave, so do not blame yourself for anything. Instead, cut them off and turn attention towards people who matter.
protip_icon Quick tip
Some men may act distant when their partner shows affection because they are unsure about their feelings. Allow him some time and space to decide whether he wants to be in a committed relationship with you or not.
  1. Confront him: If you know your guy for a while and still won’t stop playing these stupid mind games, then pull him up over it. Tell him how you despise such games and are not up for it. Let him feel ashamed of his cheap tricks, so he does not deliberately try to repeat the same behavior.
Woman confronting the guy

Image: IStock

  1. Define your relationship: Without any commitment, it is easy for men to go back and forth with you. If you have been seeing this man for a while, then be upfront and ask him to give a name to your relationship. If he was never serious about you, he will vanish from the scene, and if he was, then he will stop playing games and be more genuine with you.
  1. Respect yourself: After being showered with affection when your guy pulls back, you might feel confused and may do everything to win him back. In this bargain, you might come across as needy, which might push him further away from you. Instead, take your stand and refuse to be toyed with. Be confident and settle only for a true gentleman and not some smug guy. Simply walk away as you deserve better.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I play with a man’s mind?

You may play with a man’s mind and outsmart him by taking a break from him often, being charming and vulnerable, playing the victim card, figuring out his thoughts, trying to confuse him, and not replying to his texts or calls instantly. However, while deceiving or outplaying him, make sure you don’t push the wrong buttons, as it can backfire, and the purpose of him getting attracted to you can be defeated.

2. How do I beat a man at his own game?

You do not have to hold yourself back if you have discovered your man’s manipulation or selfish deeds. You may show him that his behaviors are unacceptable by mirroring his actions, having him witness that you are happy with others, not giving him attention, flirting with others, going on a trip without him, and staying away from his reach.

3. What are the negative consequences of men playing mind games?

Playing mind games can lead to a breakdown of trust, emotional manipulation, and misunderstandings. These manipulation techniques can impact the psyche of the woman at the receiving end and negatively influence her other relationships. They can ultimately cause frustration and resentment and harm the woman’s overall well-being.

4. Do men play mind games to test a woman’s commitment to the relationship?

Playing mind games is an unhealthy and counterproductive approach to testing a person’s commitment in a relationship, regardless of gender. Rather than relying on manipulative tactics, it is far more effective to establish trust, engage in open communication, and cultivate a supportive and respectful environment to build a strong and secure relationship.

When a man loves you and wants you to be in his life, he will express his emotions clearly. However, if he doesn’t value your company, he will give you mixed signals and fan confusion. He might also play blame games and gaslight you. The best way to deal with men playing mind games is – don’t play along. Instead, observe his actions closely and follow your instincts. If you feel he isn’t worthy of your time, brush him aside and start looking for someone who would love you. Moving on may seem difficult at first, but be strong and put things in perspective.

Infographic: How To Stay Calm When Your Guy Plays Mind Games

A man playing mind games can leave you feeling emotional and confused. In such instances, you may lose your cool and vent out, further damaging your relationship. Our infographic shares simple tips to help you stay calm and avoid conflict. Go through these tips and save them on your phone for a revisit if needed.

tips to stay calm when your guy plays mind games (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • If your man passes comments on your looks, plays with your emotions, or makes you follow unrealistic rules, he may be playing mind games with you.
  • He may do this to satisfy his ego, have control over you, or test your loyalty.
  • Handle such a situation by staying calm, not losing your confidence, and confronting him.

Are you feeling like he’s playing games with you? You may probably be right. Some men enjoy toying with women’s feelings. Learn the 9 signs to look out for in this video!

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