mystery is key

If you've ever been with a silent, brooding "wounded-tiger" type, you might be shocked finding out how juvenile you could become.

In trying to pin a man down and solve the puzzle of his life, women have been known to give up even their most concrete resolutions.

Playing hard to open up is men's way of keeping women interested, smitten, even mental over them.

Relationships therapist Reshma Narayan says: "Our mothers battled the same odds that we face today. It's just the little nuances like hi-fi's as opposed to iPods that set us apart.

"Just like enigmatic women were considered worthy of marriage back then, it is the reclusive ice queen types that are considered enthralling," Narayan adds.

Her idea is seconded by Linda Khafula, a bartender who claims to have dated "half of Gauteng".

Khafula and his colleague Brian Jonase say that being in the business of making women careless with their words and their hearts means that they see and analyse more women than most men and psychologists will ever hope to see in their entire lives. It would be an envious position if it didn't come with so much predictability.

"Most women hit the bar for the sole reason of drowning their sorrows. I always end up having to deal with gibberish and playing Dr Phil or just waiting for my turn on them," jokes Khafula.

"There's nothing worse than knowing everything about a woman, especially things like how she's been hurt, how she's been abused, how rich she is, what she would do to settle down, her biological clock. It's pathetic," says Jonase with a devilish smirk.

In her Why Men Love Bitches Sherry Argov does not mince her words.

"Women have to understand that men love the thrill of the chase and are highly competitive. They like racing cars, engaging in athletics and hunting. They like to fix things, to figure things out ."

In other words, keep them guessing. We'll teach you how. It doesn't matter if he already knows that as a five year-old you had a little rag doll that you took everywhere and that your cousin pumped three bullets in his former boss's chest. It's never too late.

The problem with telling a man too much too soon is that you snatch the chase away.

"This is a big mistake because the mystery behind a woman is one of the key elements to keeping a man attracted," says Narayan.

Tips on undoing the damage:

l Go partying.

Make sure to break a leg crawling back in the wee hours like a man would. His reaction - "That must have been fun, too much fun. Should I be worried?" he wonders.

l Work your butt off.

Not only will this keep your mind off him, it shapes your work in ways unimaginable. You might even forget that 2pm call you promised him and get a promotion. His reaction - "Should I be worried," he wonders.

l Give your numbers to other suitors and take some of the calls outside or from another room.

His reaction - "Is she talking to a man, why wouldn't she want me to hear it and since when does she do this?" he wonders and might even ask. If he does, keep it cool and don't look him in the eye," says Khafula.

"The secret is to hold your horses and reveal only the essential information needed in order to keep the peace, but keep his interest level high," says Narayan.

l Still on the phone, speak in a language he doesn't understand. His reaction - "WTF!!!!"

l When he starts ranting about his family, hoping for yet another lecture, just listen.

Don't comment. Ask if he wants something to drink. Refuse to be dragged into his domestic issues.

l When he asks if you are cheating, answer that you are not (please don't cheat), but state that neither of you hold the crystal ball for relationships.

l Don't always be available. Nothing is more banal than a transparent woman.

This might bring about sporadic apologisies for his blase moments in the relationship, blaming it on his childhood, his unavailable father or a dog that died and left him.

"Say that you are just enjoying the relationship one day a time," says Khafula.

l Take more care of your appearance, not only does it rev things up in your love life, it makes you feel better about yourself.

Important tips:

Games should be played in moderation and winners know when to stop.