The Hardballing Dating Trend Lets You Be The Boss Of Your Love Life

Say what you want about dating in 2023 — at least the scene is interesting! While finding love was once much more predictable and straightforward, nowadays the climate is dictated by a range of different trends. Many of these have been shaped by crucial events that have taken place over the last 30 years, from the popularization of social media to the COVID-19 pandemic. As these changes have affected the way we socialize, learn, do business, and live life, so too have they left a mark on the way we date.


Some dating trends make things easier for those in the dating pool (like date stacking, for people who don't want to put all their eggs in one basket), while others are annoying or counterproductive to finding a long-term partner (thanks, OnlyPlans). Then there are those that work for some singletons and are less ideal for others, like hardballing: the controversial new trend that has split opinions everywhere.

The hardballing dating trend

The dating scene in 2023 is harsh in many ways, and it's about to get harsher. Enter the Gen Z-approved trend known as "hardballing," which is causing a divide between those who find it impressive, and those who think it's brutal. As Indy 100 explains, the trend involves voicing what you expect from a relationship from day one, and rejecting anyone who doesn't meet your expectations.


"A lot of what hardballing is, is being upfront about what you want, and then asking the other person what they want, and hoping that you want the same thing ... when two people actually say what they need to say it's so much more powerful than making assumptions," Hinge relationship science director Logan Ury tells PureWow.

The website posits that this trend may have stemmed, like so many things, from the COVID-19 pandemic that sentenced millions of 20-somethings to extended periods of lockdown. All that wasted time not spent looking for the one, plus the confirmation that the world can basically end at any minute, has led to singletons just wanting to cut to the chase. And really, who could blame them?


Those who are used to a softer dating approach or who are more comfortable with subtlety may think that hardballing sucks all the romance out of the search for a partner. But there is still space for romance, mistakes, and awkward moments. Hardballing just applies a stronger filter to the people you will experience those things with.

How to hardball effectively

At its core, hardballing involves being blunt about what you need and want from a relationship. This trend really involves three steps, and the first is getting clear on what those wants and needs are.


Start by making a list of all the things you would like in an ideal partner. To begin with, you can be as extra as you want. Include everything that springs to mind, from "makes me laugh" to "has a good job." Then go back over your list and think about every want carefully. Nobody is perfect, so ask yourself what you could live without if you had to, and what is absolutely non-negotiable for you. You might start off by putting "taller than me" on your list, but as you really think through every want, you may find that some things are not as important as you thought. Try not to judge yourself as you make these calls. The heart wants what it wants!

The next step is making these non-negotiables clear to your date. However, the best approach might not be pulling out your list over glasses of wine. Get your requirements clear in your mind before the date, and find ways to weave them into the conversation. You can do this naturally but firmly. Hardballing is about being honest, so there should be no "kind of" or "maybe" talk.


Finally, the last (and perhaps most brutal) part of hardballing involves cutting off anyone who doesn't meet your expectations.

Who should hardball?

Because you'll be rejecting anyone who doesn't meet your expectations, hardballing is quite a drastic dating trend that can lead to significant changes in your dating life. For that reason, people who are best-suited to this trend are those who know exactly what they want. Often, that will include people who have had a lot of experience with dating or relationships.


On the other hand, if you don't know what you're looking for but you think you do (no judgment here!), you could turn away people who are actually pretty great for you because they don't meet expectations that aren't right for you anyway. So this may not be the best trend for those who are still exploring and figuring things out.

Keep in mind that you can hardball on things that you are sure of, even if you aren't sure of the rest. For example, if you know that you don't want children, you can make that clear on the first date to weed out anyone who isn't compatible with you. You can do this even if you haven't worked out your other non-negotiables yet.

Hardballing is also an ideal trend for people who are sick of wasting time on relationships that go nowhere, or feel like they can never seem to attract the kind of person that they want.


Should you give hardballing a try?

Just because you know exactly what you want doesn't mean you should definitely try hardballing. As this is such an intense dating trend, it's best to think through the pros and cons carefully before adopting it in your own dating life.


The most obvious limitation is that some suitors out there will only tell you what you want to hear. The trend gives you control of your dating life in the sense that you're actively seeking and rejecting certain types, but you'll never be able to control the behavior of other people. 

Some daters don't like hardballing because it can lead to eliminating suitors with potential before you've even given them an opportunity. Hardballing requires quite a black-and-white view of the dating world, and there's always a risk that you'll make an incorrect judgment and reject someone who may have been right for you. Keep in mind that many people feel extremely nervous on a first date, so they may not give answers that actually reflect the truth (via Headspace).


That all said, hardballing majorly reduces the risk that you'll waste your time with people who ultimately don't want the same things as you, or don't have the capacity to enhance your life. It helps you to stay focused on what you do want, and if you pepper some of your expectations into your dating app profile, it can help you to attract people who are better-suited to you (and weed out the rest).

Other ways to be the boss of your own love life

If you decide that hardballing isn't for you after all, there are still other ways to take control of your own love life. When you're single, you can start by imposing limits on how and when you date (if you want to date at all). Set your boundaries with only your own needs in mind. Maybe you've decided you don't want to use apps anymore, and you want to start going out more to try and meet someone naturally. Or perhaps you want to take one day a week off thinking and talking about dating to give yourself a break. You can create your own rules because you're the boss.


It can be especially empowering to fall in love with yourself and dedicate time to self-care as a means of owning your love life. This will show you how amazing you are and remind you that you don't need to settle for anything less than you want to — the ultimate boss move!

When you do start dating or do get into a relationship, you can similarly remain in control by setting boundaries. Decide what your limits are, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and don't allow anyone to cross them. Don't put up with less than you deserve. And remember that while relationships are a team effort, you will always be the one to call the shots in your own life.