How And Why You Should Keep A Guy “Off-Balance”

This is article #55 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

(Photo: James Jordan)

Enter Stephen

I recently read a question from one of our readers that asked:

“How do I keep a guy off-balance? You said once that this was the key that makes a woman attractive. Do you have any techniques?”

I want to take this on, since this idea is something women tend to struggle with.

What does it mean to keep him ‘off-balance’?

Here is the wrong way to take it…

1. You are hot and cold – one minute you’re a sweet, loving angel and then your telling him what a dork he is and making fun of his clothes. This makes him unsure if you actually like him or whether you see him as a buddy.

2. You hover between being super-needy and then totally unattainable – this schizophrenic style of attraction just makes him constantly confused and he’ll soon see you as an annoying game-player.

3. You have sex with him once, then for no reason you stop having sex for two weeks. Then you start having it again – Guys take the physical side of things pretty seriously. When you suddenly hit reverse after being physical he’ll feel resentful and be baffled by your sudden change of heart.

These three strategies are what leads a guy to brand you “that weird girl” he tells his friends about, regaling them with stories about your bizarre behaviour while his friends shake their heads and say: “She’s a freak, dude. Complete drama queen. Ditch her now!”

Not quite the result you were looking for.

We clearly need a better definition of “off-balance” then. I’ve boiled this idea down to three key behaviours:

1. Unpredictability about your life

Anyone whose life and personality seems too clean-cut, too guessable, lacking in surprise, will soon lose their attractiveness.

The world strives to understand people who have a touch of mystery about them. Keeping a guy ‘off-balance’ means having personality traits that don’t typically go together: like being the librarian who also is also trained in the deadly art of Krav Maga, or being the sporty woman who also likes to dress up in lingerie.

Being unpredictable doesn’t mean acting incongruently: it means having a personality that can’t be pigeon-holed and that always makes him feel like there is more to be discovered.

2. Openness about the future together

No-one wants the territory all mapped out. Just because you’re moving forward with a guy, doesn’t mean he wants to know up front where you’re both going.

This doesn’t mean you proceed without standards: If you want a relationship/marriage, you eventually will need to bring it up.

But he wants to feel a sense of progression. Not a sense that the plans are made and you’re just waiting idly until he says “yes”. He wants to earn a yes. Not feel like you’re waiting to be asked.

3. A sense of ‘scoping him out’

Rising to your challenge can be huge fun for a guy, so don’t let him miss out on this stage.

Men like to fight for you to fall in love with them.

He wants to feel like he is in a romantic quest to slay dragons and win your heart. Keeping him off-balance means being the woman who expects the best from him. (If you don’t know how to show him that, you better read this.)

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Keeping a guy off-balance follows the pattern of an addictive novel.

He wants to keep reading, but he doesn’t want to know everything that’s going to happen. He wants to keep discovering, to be surprised and feel like things get more and more exciting as he moves through the story (with a few unexpected turns along the way!)

Do that and you create a narrative that he’ll always want to be a part of.

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27 Replies to “How And Why You Should Keep A Guy “Off-Balance””

  • These are some good points but I would like some clarification for the first.
    I do believe guys enjoy some unpredictability in women as long as it doesn’t get eccentric. A manic pixie dream girl who is not a lunatic. I think this is where being spontaneous earns big points. Like an impromptu run in the rain or willingness to go on an adventure.

    But I am not so sure about having traits that don’t go together. While I agree that a multifaceted personality makes a person more interesting, adds depth and mystique, people tend to pigeonhole and you will be categorized as type no matter what. And this is how people identify their “type”. Also, having very different traits might attract very different kinds of guys–none of whom will be fulfilling for the woman. He might like one side of her but not the other. See, it gets tricky.

    This is especially important in the early stages of dating where being a certain type of person actually helps. Having opposite traits simply confuses guys–who aren’t all that complicated themselves– and then they can’t figure you out. This may make someone appear exciting but I think it prevents long term bonding. I believe it also unsettles people if they are not similarly inclined. Some people DO want clear cut personalities.

    In my experience, whenever I have shown my multiple sides to people they just get completely confused and have trouble understanding/accepting my different sides. Whenever I have seen guys show opposing traits, admittedly it unsettles me a little. I once had a crush on this guy who was a very hardworking, responsible type but was a poker player and even attended tournaments. Rather than finding that interesting–I couldn’t quite classify him and it ended up making ME feel off-balance–not in a good way. Somehow that poker stuff made him look frivolous. He was a bit of a flirt–women loved him, he was very friendly and got along with everybody and was actually a nice, responsible, family oriented person who also had an introverted side. He never gave me a reason to feel jealous but his popularity, sociability and flirty behavior (which never crossed the line) actually made me feel insecure because I couldn’t figure out what was really going on with him. And so I ended up distancing myself from him and turned him down. His different sides clashed. Also, had he been one kind or another, I could have dealt with it more easily.
    Somehow a sense of security is required when it comes to long term relationships and developing intimacy. Keeping a person off-balance doesn’t always work because it is a *delicate* balance to maintain.

    You have to be just intriguing enough, not more, not less. Just enough mystery without creating mistrust.

    I think what does help is being an interesting person and have many sides to your personality that are not shown all upfront and do not clash. Then he has something to discover which is pleasant. It works best if the other sides are revealed more slowly. E.g. I don’t like sentimental guys at all, especially upfront but if a normally manly man writes me a sentimental poem or gifts me something that shows his sentimentality–it shoots the attraction through the roof. Then that quality becomes more attractive because it is off-set by something else in a good way.

    1. Awesome Post, you totally nailed it. It has to be Combination that doesn’t Clash in a way that kills Trust and Faith in your Future.

  • Hi Stephen!

    From my dating experiences I noticed that the guys with whom I almost never spoke about my hard upbringing/ life challenges find me deeply enigmatic and desirable than the guys I was honest with about my life. Though I always loved my life a lot, I recently discovered the least I share about my past the more people are interested in me.

    Thanks for the tips on “off-balance” :) !!


  • We ourselves might be off_balance in the first place…most of them i guess…how many of us discover ourselves first…

  • Talking about addictive novels, very soon to be released as a film, is very topical. Isn’t that the premise for the story. Little Miss English graduate (student?!) looking all nerdy and prim in buttoned up floral blouses of the type last seen in Laura Ashley years ago, avec nerdy cardigan is actually up for the type of sexual shenanigans gripping a lot of the nation and beyond. Is that what you mean by off balance?
    Great article as ever Stephen and it’s so nice to see you responding to our requests. Well I haven’t actually asked anything myself. Matt’s parody is brilliant and I’m a bit obsessed with Ellie Goulding’s song. Is this film on your list?
    Kathryn x

  • Hi Steve,

    Your recommendation to follow the pattern of an addictive novel reminded me of the book “One Thousand and One Nights”. We all can learn from Scheherazade.

    Thank you,

  • Great article Stephen! I love the addictive novel analogy! It reminds me of the saying ” it’s the journey, not the destination” ( although the destination is pretty awesome too! :) ).
    However keeping a guy off balanced is easier to achieve if you allow yourself to be multi- faceted and allow different parts of your persona to be nurtured. I think it’s the same with women, they don’t enjoy being with someone one dimensional either. I think the most attractive guys have ” unique pairings ” – a brilliant phrase I read in a book somewhere. ;)
    It is funny you mention the openness about their relationship. I had conversations with 2 male friends within the past 6 weeks who had mentioned this exact reason why their recent relationships didn’t work. One said his ex had their future planned out a week into their dating, and the other felt their conversations ( steered by her) were very surface level and would shy away from going into more depth. Needless to say, both lost interest quickly!

    Thanks again for a great article, Steve!
    Kindest regards,
    Shev XX

  • Wow, that is a bit confusing. But I just take it as I have to be patient. As attractive as it is for ME to be able to show someone who I really am, they can’t handle it too early.

    Dunno what to do when I’m not feeling attracted, though. :-/ It’s like the showing the very things that make a guy think I’m needy are the things that make me want him the most. I like feeling accepted for who I really am.

    I can be aloof and ‘that girl’ and well, whatever men find non-needy and attractive. It works. But it doesn’t make me want them. So it doesn’t work for me.

    1. Yeah I would say just use these more as Guidelines than anything, it’s not good to do it if it splashes Cold Water in the Fire for you. You might just be one of those Super Intense Alpha Types that likes to run on High Effectiveness and Efficiency so that’s why a lot of people can’t handle your Raw Momentum. Just keep being you though and let the Universe know what you want, and they’ll Beat Match your Perfect Equal for you eventually

  • I also wanted to say there are people who say when a guy really wants you and is sensitive and calls you and seems needy that it’s a turn-off.

    Not for me! I LOVE that stuff. I don’t see it as needy at all. I think of it as sweet, enduring and a total turn-on.

    I’m kind of glad other women find it a turn-off ’cause then I get the sweet ones. ;-) It is confusing to me that men find that same behavior needy but different strokes, I guess.

    1. Yeah I used to hate it when Guys would go out of their way NOT to give Affection too and call me needy for actually Nurturing our Relationship Properly like a True Fucking Adult. It’s not abnormal to ¨Need to feel wanted and want to feel needed¨ because that’s what a healthy Interdependent Relationship is all about. Not just in Romance, but in Friendships and Work Relationships too.

      Good for you for staying True to your Values and Principles, I respect that about you

      1. Thanks, Lisa! It’s not easy to stay true to one’s self and figure out the ‘guidelines’ of popular dating advice, especially when dating someone you care about.

        But I will figure it out! Thanks for the support.

  • Awesome Post Stephen!! I totally agree, I think this is what made Anastasia so appealing to Christian in 50 Shades of Grey (the Movie Version). I liked that she kept him on his Toes and Vice Versa, and that she didn’t give into his Contract right way and decided to ¨Scope it out¨ first :0)

    The Male Version of the Schizo Head and Heartache Package totally Exists too, it’s hard to build Trust and Respect like that when Assholes Abuse this Principle the wrong Way so I’m glad you took the time to Clarify this

  • My situation is the one to go against all logic (I say this with a shrug). I am a 43-yr-old woman. Many people put me at mid to late 30s. I look similar to Katherine Heigl apparently. But looks don’t necessari play into the equation. I am very smart and have a good job in pharma. I have a great life with friends, family, activities. My man, my unicorn, I have known for 12+ years. We hooked up way back when and have since (since summer 2014) reunited. He is a blue collar worker with no higher education. Smart as a whip. But has insecurities with being with a woman who is so established. I have been with plenty of men to know that this man has what I really have cherished…integrity, sense of self, intelligence in his way. Trust. We have a real friendship and even tho ‘hooking up’ was our past, we seem to be experiencing sometjing more now. But he is 2 clicks away from running away from me ( even tho he says he’s here) and I’m 2 clicks away from thinking that I am not what he wants physically (I haven’t worked out in a while and this man is HOT according to everyone). But we still talk. We still keep or going with no energy but positive involved. But he doesn’t want to chat/text during thecweek, given his other priorities….and I wonder if I’m just appeasing myself. We get together on weekends. Usually with little notice. He says he loves me and doesn’t want robe without me. I tend to take the strict rule of WTF you need to plan, but i”m more lenient with him although plenty of times I’ve bern doing my own thing, out of touch. This is complicated. So much more than on this blog, but somehow o would love to get your take on it.

  • Hi Matt,

    I have stuffed up big time….I had been divorced 12 years, I did your “How to get the guy” course, completed it, and it is all such amazing stuff…. But then I went overseas on volunteer work / missionary work for 2 years, came back to my home town and started living “normal life” again, working etc. Now I have been divorced 15 years, but still follow your posts and videos and am so inspired by them….

    On an evening out with one of my girlfriends, last year, I met a man who was mature, like me, he had a great sense of humour and we just seemed to be on the same “wave length”. He asked me for coffee at his place, but I said it was late and I was going to go home. I was very attracted to him and wanted to go, but thought I would just hold off for a day or so….

    He called me a few days later and asked me if I wanted to come around to his place for coffee and I did. Well, there was an attraction when he kissed me and as I hadn’t been kissed or touched for over 2 years, I just flowed with it and we ended up having sex. It was wonderful. I felt appreciated physically and I felt really good about myself and the evening. I did feel like I had “given myself away too easily”, although I really wanted him sexually especially because I hadn’t had sex or been touched or kissed in such a long time. He enjoyed me too, and he would go and see his children every weekend, and three months later, I went back to doing my missionary work again, overseas. I feel like a hypocrite, having sex and yet being a missionary.

    When I returned to my home town last month, we saw each other a week after I returned to my home town, and the first time we saw each other, we went straight to where we left off and made love again, and the next time and the next time, every week while I was home, even after not seeing each other for a year.

    Now I am really in a dilemma, because I am battling with the fact that “I behaved so out of my character by just sleeping with him on our first official date” (way back a year ago) and then repeating this when I came home last month, every time I saw him….
    My dilemma is that I feel like he probably thinks this is the type of girl I am, loosely giving myself and yet I am definitely not. I have not done this with anyone else and I am struggling with the fact that I think about him every week, virtually every day. As a missionary, I don’t mix much with other single men, but he still is the only man I think of and actually if I had a choice, I would be with him every day….. but I don’t know whether he would want that and that is why I haven’t even asked him…… He did say before I left, that he has some things to sort out in his life, and he doesn’t know whether he will be in the same town when I get back, because of his job and children…. “but who knows”…

    I left to continue my missionary work and he did know that I was going back, yet I feel stupid, like perhaps he just does see me as a loose girl and yet I wish I could be with him.

    Why this is a dilemma, is that I am not sure (because of the way I jumped into sex with him so quickly), whether he would even consider having me as a girlfriend. He is not the greatest communicator and has sent me one email since I have been back overseas (3 weeks), but he did say I should please keep in touch.

    So I feel like I may just be annoying him by making contact. Perhaps he sees me as just a “fling” when I am in town and yet the connection and contact we share, I don’t believe he is the type of person who is sleeping around….. what concerns me is that he may believe that I just view him as a “fling” because I don’t speak about an “us” because I don’t want to put him under pressure because I am always away doing volunteer work, 11 months at a time.

    Quite complicated, I know…. But my question really is….. how do I share my heart with him, that I am not a “fling” type girl and I really do like him a lot, without scaring him away?

    “Genuine, real Missionary girl with desires”,

    1. There’s a sex position named after your day job. Get over it.

      Next. If he sends you one email in 3 weeks, why bother?

      So many fish in the sea, and you had sex so obviously being a woman you are going through the biological attachments associated with the bonding hormone oxytocin. Look it up, if you’d like.

      Find someone else to flirt/focus on.

      Don’t behave yourself too much.


      Also don’t think too much. Shrug and move on. Cherish the memories. I am 99.9 (with a bar above the .9) percent certain he’s gone and it’s a Complete wote- waste of time & energy

    2. Maybe you’ll find someone who will travel with you. Traveling 11 months at a time is hard. Be creative. Find a plan. Figure out what you want. Make some action items. Do them, and don’t worry.

  • Dear Steve,
    I really need your help. You’ve mentioned ‘making fun of his clothes’. I’ve never done that and I’m not planning to do it. But I wanna know how can I change a guy way of dressing without hurting his feelings, making him feel uncomfortable, looking superficial or putting pressure on him in any way. I really like this guy. He treats me nice, we have a lot to talk about and laugh about, we have the same level of education (which after some experiences is in my top 3 criteria), we come from similar cultures and we both love sport. I have to say it coz I’m really proud of him, he did the iron-man :-) But I’d like him to let the sport clothes rest a bit when we go out. I’m sure he looks great dressed up, I guess I have seen a picture of him in a suit, but he hates shopping, so it’s hard to carry him through the shops. (I’ve seen Matthew’s video when he mentions his girlfriend telling him how hot he is when he tries on clothes. I’ve saved the idea :-)) But how I get to that stage? How I bring it up that we have to find him a winter coat for example, because the sport jacket is not appropriate for going out.
    Thanks a million,

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