Rootless Cosmopolitan

Matthew DeCoursey's Blog

Matthew DeCoursey

Matthew DeCoursey
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
December 30
I am a Canadian academic. I have been wandering, and have settled in Hong Kong. I find that Open Salon draws me in, using time and energy that I need for my regular work. I stay away from months at a time, but I come back.


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JULY 3, 2010 8:00PM

Does "The Thrill of the Chase" Exist?

Rate: 6 Flag

Many women seem to have a very firm belief that "men love the thrill of the chase." That is, men take great pleasure in pursuing a woman who is elusive. It strikes me now that I have never felt this, though I'm middle-aged, and have only heard of this from women. In a lifetime of knowing men and reading literature written by men, I have never once heard of, or run across a portrayal of, this supposed "thrill" from the inside. 

Yet for all I know, there may be men who feel this. And even if men don't feel it, women may have reasons to work on this basis as a functional thing. That is, women may play hard to get and think that it works because "men love the thrill of the chase," though in fact it works for quite other reasons.

 I would be glad to hear people's experience, and the gay perspective could be revealing too. 

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stereotypes, dating, gender

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As much as women are taught to repeat this mantra, I have found that the men I preferred when I was on dates were not in tune with that line of thinking. Those that were usually annoyed me in other ways. It is about who wants to be in control. If as a woman, you state a preference or ask for something not offered, and you are turned down, we are reminded that men prefer to do the chasing, the asking, etc. But, it's true, there are many men who live for the conquest not the woman.
I never thought that, or behaved that way. It seemed like insincere gameplaying. I would rather truly be with someone I want to be with.
I don't think it's the chase. I think it's about availability. If every time he calls, you're home, ready and just waiting, then there's that what's wrong with her taint. I know this is true because I saw it on Seinfield. That's my two cents for what it's worth. Enjoy the Fourth!

Well, I will enjoy your holiday from the distance of Hong Kong with friendly sympathy. We had a double holiday a few days ago, because Handover Day (marking the return of HK to China) coincides with Canada Day on 1 July. I duly went to a barbecue.


You're right, I think, that the best experiences transcend the scripts. We still have to start with the scripts, though, and make some sort of assessment of what the other expects. We make use of the scripts to signal to each other when we don't want to speak out loud.

If you ask for something and are turned down, that may be because the man believes that's what you expect. He's supposed to be strong and decisive, and he may turn you down to show that he's strong and decisive. And that may all be because he thinks that's what you want. The damage is done when people imagine that these roles come out of the nature of either sex or arbitrary conventions turn into real motivations. As long as we know that we're just playing social roles to serve a purpose, we're all right.


I think this aspect of the conventions is dispensable, and it has never played a positive role in my life either. At the same time, when you go out with a relative stranger, you have to realize that they may take the conventions more seriously than they should.
The "chase" is a game that never wanted to play. I much prefered honestly getting to know a person, come what may.
I've heard over and over that men are "apt to despise what comes too easily." Never matched my experience of men, though. I do know a few men who would consider it unladylike for a woman to ask a man out, however.

I agree. The metaphor doesn't reveal what's happening, but puts an overlay over it, pretending it's something it's not. Maybe some men like the metaphor because they like to think of themselves as hairy Paleolithic hunter types.


I'm a bit surprised to hear that anyone of your age is concerned about what's ladylike. I'm glad you put experience above preconceptions. Maybe it's the training in philosophy.
I doubt many people from my generation would use the word "unladylike," but certainly many still have ideas about things it "isn't quite right" for a woman to do, including asking men out or *gasp* proposing marriage.
I think the "thrill of the chase" exists, but I certainly wouldn't limit it to a male role. Females are also drawn to that experience. Maybe it can be better understood in light of "accomplishment" rather than "chase." Something one works for tends to hold more value. Think: disposable plates tend to be just that, but very few people toss a china plate in the trash can.
Hi Matt, you may remember that we met in Hong Kong. Leah's my girlfriend. She highly recommended your blog to me so here I am.

To weigh in on the question of this blog, I think there is a certain thrill in obtaining the unobtainable and it applies equally well to both sexes. Have I ever gone out with any girl who asked me out? No. However, there is a confounding factor: none of them were very attractive.
I don't think women say this - I think women's magazines and advice books say this. And it's a hangover from the bad ole days when women had to guard their virginity ("virtue") in order to be marriageable (and not to be marriageable meant a very restricted life - well, even more than marriage). Birth control has profoundly changed things (tho 'easy' women are still labelled as slutty in some circles...)
Im glad to hear from you again, Pranay. You may well imagine that Ive heard a lot about you. I am writing from Brazil. I cant get the keyboard out of Portuguese mode. Hence the lack of apostrophes. Asehpe (whos on Open Salon) gave me excellent advice on what to see in Belem.
I know I stumbled upon this a little late but my opinion is that this "love of the chase" concept applies equally well to men and women.

It is often a result of the need to feel accepted or validated again and again or it might simply be the Rolling Stone syndrome, the need for perpetual change, the fear of being tied down to a place/person forever.

Either case applies equally well to both the sexes.
I would imagine that "the chase" is rather exhausting. Perhaps we should all just relax and enjoy one another.
By the way, thanks for the feedback on my post.
This was a satisfyingly extensive response to a short post. I see no one who wrote asserts that there is such a thing, at least stemming from male nature.

Some posts seem to suggest that men and women both have something like this. Maybe. I think of my dog Adriana, who has a desperate desire for an old sock as long as I fight with her for it, but will drop it as soon as I stop. There is a difference, though. Adriana knows the sock has no value for her except as part of a game. Another person does have inherent value, and we always know this.

Check out W.B. Yeats' poem "Never Give All the Heart." It asserts, rather bitterly, that women do something similar, though he doesn't use the hunting metaphor. Even though I love the poem, I always think that as an assertion about women, it isn't really true. It's true as an expression of the bitterness of rejection.


Some women do say this, though they may well have got the idea from women's magazines as you suggest. We might add dating advice books for women. (See earlier rant of mine on this on Mary Wollstonecraft, Open Salon: "Looking for the Manual in Dating.") Also songs in a female voice about playing hard to get. There's one of Reba McIntyre's, the title of which escapes me just now.

Another reason the metaphor troubles me is that, after all, it suggests that the woman is killed at the end. You can think of it as a bang-you're-dead playful thing, but I find that it still troubles me.