Search icon


29th May 2022

‘Hardballing’ is the new dating trend that actually seems pretty healthy


Honesty is the best policy.

Imagine you are getting ready to go on a date with someone new. You have bought a new outfit, have splashed out on a blowdry, have taken extra care with your makeup and are literally just about to head out when you get a text to say: “So sorry! Got caught up in something in work – mind if we take a rain check?”

I don’t know about you, but I have always struggled a bit with expressing when I get disappointed with something someone does, and quite often just find myself brushing it off, saying something like “Don’t worry about it, you couldn’t help it” or “It’s totally fine, don’t worry.”

Even though it isn’t totally fine.

Enter ‘hardballing’ – the dating trend Gen Z is embracing that is all about just this –  not saying you are OK with something you are not OK with.

Originally coined by Logan Ury, director of relationship science at Hinge, hardballing is a new dating term that means someone is being clear about their expectations of a relationship, whether they want a serious long-term partnership or a casual fling.

“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.”

The trend has been gaining attention on TikTok, with so many getting behind the idea, saying that life is simply to short to play games, be coy, or settle for something that isn’t quite right or in situations where you are not being treated the way you should.

So, how do I hardball?

“Hardballing” is – in short – when you tell someone all of your expectations upfront before you even go out on a first date. That way, you don’t waste your time and can weed out anyone who may not be as serious about a relationship as you are.

Speaking on the US Today Show, Susan Winter, bestselling author and relationship expert of “Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache, explains:

“Imagine the years of your life you wouldn’t have wasted hoping that somebody would eventually learn to like you enough to be into a relationship with you or dating in the hopes that once they fall in love with you, then they might want to marry you,” Winter said.

“And then once they marry you that they may want children. There are so many contingencies in place. I think it’s better to be very honest.”

According to TikTok, hardballing means being absolutely clear on what you want from a relationship.

“[Ask] yourself, what’s going on for me right now? Do I want to be in a relationship? Am I looking for something fun? Do I have the time and energy to invest in a long-term partnership?”

Really, the idea behind hardballing someone is to reach a level of commitment that works for both people (or cut your losses while you’re ahead). “It’s not a demand,” says Ury.

And don’t mistake hardballing for being rude or giving someone an ultimatum – that is not what this trend is about.

“Rather, hardballing is all about making sure they know exactly what you mean when you outline your plans for the future,” Ury says.

“A great way to do this is to use “clear cut, thoughtful, tactful and diplomatic language.”