Dread game is a well-known and much-discussed topic in the 'sphere. It’s effective for both new conquests and longer, more serious relationships. Let me quote Roosh V to introduce this concept:
"Dread game is a technique to use in relationships where you make a girl worried that something is wrong or that you may leave her for another woman. This increases her anxiety levels to a point where she wants to alleviate the stress by trying to please you and make sure everything is okay, which prevents her from getting bored in the relationship and straying."
It's not only useful in relationships but in general it is a valid and tested game concept. Women don't want someone who is not wanted by other women. So by making it obvious that you are an attractive male wanted by others, you spike up her jealousy a little bit. This in turn can do wonders for your relationship. It can also end it if you don’t know what you are doing.
The same goes for the dating period of your "relationship". If you still haven't slept with her, spicing it up with a little dread game might be efficient... or lead to an end.
Pre-Relationship Dread Game
Dread game is usually discussed in the context of relationships. When it comes to picking up girls, people tend to use phrases like "being unavailable", "abundance mentality" or even "not giving a fuck". That is a variant of the dread game but not as effective as that used in the relationship for one simple reason - she doesn't care that much, yet.
Applying dread game too early is the classic example of "overgaming". You're supposed to give her more reasons to sleep with you, not a multitude of warning signs screaming "that guy is a player and he's going to use you".
Even if a girl is very much into you, before you sleep with each other, you're not anything serious. There's that "sex first and then (maybe) a relationship" mantra again. And even after sex, some girls don't get attached that quickly. Becoming less available or implying that you might be seeing other girls at those stages might result in her deciding she doesn't want any of that. Unless, of course, you were clear about that from the very beginning.
When you're openly dating multiple girls and you are honest about it (meaning they know that you're not exclusive), any extra dread game won't work. It will be seen as painful and pointless. She already knows you're dating or even sleeping with other girls. The dread is there, constantly.
Dread game before you are serious/monogamous is simply making sure she knows what she's getting into. That you are a sexual male and that probably you're seeing other girls and even if not, that can easily do at any time. There's your "being unavailable", "outcome independence" and all that.
Things change when you are together-together.
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Something Serious? Soft Dread
When you are in a relationship, your options are limited. You can't dump her after your first argument, as you won't ever have a long-term relationship that way. If you're living together, you can't just move out if you are going through a rough patch. Those are also reasons why most guys in the 'shpere advise against monogamy.
But most guys will try it anyway, especially if they went through a successful gaming spree and found a girl who is a bit more compatible and more fun to be around. You don't want her to be sleeping with other guys but you also can't expect that from her if you are "spinning plates". It’s a two-way street. So usually you have “The Talk” and decide on trying something more serious - a relationship, an LTR or whatever you want to call it.
Relationships need to be maintained. One of the things you absolutely have to maintain is her understanding that you are an attractive male and that you can get other girls easily but you chose not to because you are with her. Roosh V says "The reason that dread game works on women is that they prefer a baseline level of anxiety" whereas "men are different than women in that they do not seek emotional swings that come from dread."
Sounds about right.
So what do you have in your arsenal of dread games? The healthiest dread games can be labeled "you will never get anyone like me" and "I can't help that I'm attractive". First is obvious – become a high value man and truly be her best option. Get in shape, dress better, have a good job, travel with her, have great sex, etc. - be someone she doesn't want to lose. It's passive dread.
That ties nicely with "I can't help that I'm attractive." Whenever you out, there should be girls smiling at you, waitresses flirting with you and all that. She will notice the looks and the smiles and she will know that you can get other girls easily. You can even encourage things like that by smiling at attractive girls when you walk with her so that they will smile back. Your girl will focus on the competition, not you.
Going a little bit further but still staying within "soft dread" range are: going out alone/with friends, traveling and in general - being unavailable. Turn off your phone when you're at work. When you travel to another city, don't text her every 30 minutes. That's annoying and weak. Like the old PUAs saying goes, "give her the gift of missing you". If she misses you, she'll also think about things you can do without her. She will play the dread game all by herself just because you are not there or you are not answering right away.
In the category of "soft dread" we also have talking about other girls and giving vague responses to her inquiries. Don't tell her right away if she asks you with whom you are chatting on your phone or what are you doing on Facebook or "who is that girl". As long as you're not actually doing anything bad, playful teasing is great. As for the other girls - you really only have to mention that new girl at your work or the gym or some long forgotten friend of yours. Her imagination will do the rest.
I'm far from agreeing with Heartiste who wrote "Like it or not, the threat of a looming breakup, whether the facts justify it or not, will spin her into a paranoid estrogen-fueled tizzy, and she’ll spend every waking second thinking about you, thinking about the relationship, thinking about how to fix it. Her love for you will blossom under these conditions."
I don't think you have to threaten her with breakup. That's way too much and it can end up... in a breakup. If you're going nuclear, you have to be ready for the fallout. Whatever games you play, you always have to consider that she will just assume the worst and act as if it's was true. If you're using dread game in the hard form, she might think you're actually cheating on her and leave you.
Hard dread would be things like disappearing entirely along with going radio silent and ignoring her calls and messages. If you’re going for had dread then you won’t even give her any explanation. But if you always replied to her texts after a minute, then don't be surprised that she will be furious after you pull off something like that.
The same goes for seeing other girls when you've never done something like that in your current relationship, making a move on her friend, or other stuff from Heartiste's overt-the-top catalogue. Those dread games can actually end a relationship. She felt completely secure for years and suddenly she sees your SMV going up and she is terrified. Then you actually go on a date with another girl or you don't come back home until morning. That stuff is going to make her go over the edge.
Boring Alternatives To Dread Game
I can give you a much better quote of the aforementioned Heartiste: "The key for the man is to adopt a posture of blase emotional distance alternated with loving tenderness. Too much of either and she’ll run off."
Rollo Tomassi said it too, in different words and his usual, dark tone: "So yes, you should be seeking to reassure an LTR of your love and devotion, but know that due to women’s intrinsic fear of security loss, you will never achieve an ideal state of contentment of it, and certainly not by relying solely on comfort and familiarity. She want’s you to rock the boat, it’s what makes her feel alive."
The alternative of using hard dread game is not being bland and boring. It's using dread passively, so that she cannot be angry at you for being such a high value man. You can't help it that the waitress is flirting with you. You won't stop going to the gym and eating properly just because it makes you more attractive to everyone. You won't stop doing all those things that made her want you in the first place. Even if that means going out for a beer with your friends and coming home late and drunk or traveling with a friend to another country.
And yes, from time to time, if the situation requires it, you will drop a word or a sentence that makes her think "Did he met someone else?", "Am I attractive enough to keep him around?" or "I better make sure that I'm his best option." But that's enough, there is no need to go nuclear if you want a healthy relationship.
Hard dread promotes only lack of trust, silly games played by both parties and trying to top each another in caused dread.
What About Going Nuclear?
First, let's introduce the idea of a nuclear shit test, taking a quote from one and only Illimitable Man: "A nuclear shit test colloquially referred to as “going nuclear” or “the nuclear option” is when someone does something which violates conventional social boundaries in order to see how you will react."
Handling shit test, whether nuclear or not, is covered in the Shit Test And Shit Test Strategies (over three thousand words) so I won't repeat myself here.
Just a quick reminder: if someone went nuclear then the end is suddenly a very likely option. And one extra word of advice: if she goes nuclear, just end it. By definition, no girl is worth subjecting yourself to nuclear shit tests.
On the other hand, when you yourself go nuclear, you are expecting a big change in her behavior or you want to (suddenly) stand your ground. I hope that I don't have to tell you that it's usually a lost cause. You would be much better off ending it all without making a scene.
Pre-Relationship Nuclear Warheads
As it was with the dread game, before the actual relationship your nuclear arsenal is limited. It revolves around two types of girls: flakey and shy.
Flakey girls flake. That's the thing with them. They set up dates and then "forget about them" or "something comes up". They are of course "really sorry" and a lot of them even offers to reschedule only to flake again. It's annoying and you might think that a nuclear option like "you flaked and if we're to meet, you have to invite me next time" will change something. But usually it won’t.
Shy girls are those who are dating you without any issues but things are not progressing. It's nothing wrong to wait when a girl is young, shy, inexperienced or she is dating a foreigner for the first time. But you have to progress, from vanilla dates to kisses, to making out, being at your place, rolling on the bed, oral sex and finally towards sex. If you're stuck at any level for more than 2-3 dates, it's done. You can give her “the talk” about you being a sexual being but it won't change anything.
You can clearly see that in those cases, going nuclear usually means an ultimatum. "If you don't do x we won't continue with what we have." Sadly, in most cases, you don't actually have anything. She resigns and forgets about you in an instant.
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Relationship Doomsday Clock
Ultimatums are also a type of nuclear option while you're already in a relationship but your position here is much weaker. "Stop going to clubs every weekend!" Or what? What will you do? Leave her? Then do it, don't talk about it as you won't change who she is. If she's a party chick who likes to go to clubs, you won't change that. Your only options are: stop seeing her or accept it.
More common than ultimatums are nuclear fights. Maybe you're drunk or maybe she went too far while you were already angry. It doesn't matter how it started, now you're fighting and everything is permitted. All those "one times that you did something" will resurface and you will just yell at each other worse things ever. After a while one or both of you might even yell something about breaking up. "Fine?" "Fine!"
Third example of a relationship going nuclear is changing your entire self. You discover the community, you find out about self-improvement, you start going to the gym, working on yourself and all that to make yourself a better male. She's puzzled. You’ve have never done that before. Some girls can be genuinely happy for you, others will think you're about to leave them (see: soft dread game above) and there are those who will go mental and accuse you of cheating. And now we're back to the nuclear fight.
The subject of the nuclear option is usually lack of compatibility between you two. If it's a minor thing - you work it out. If it's major and you're not compatible - you pretend it doesn't exist until shit hits the fan. That's not healthy. You would be better without her.
"You have to be willing to risk total relationship implosion and be ready to walk, no looking back. Many weak-willed betas don’t have the stones for Dread Game, so they get played relentlessly until their half-committed girls tire of their supplications and execute a mercy dumping." - Heartiste
When you play hard dread game or you change your entire self you have to understand that she might not like that. And as a consequence she might decide she doesn't want you anymore and leave you.
That's the case with all types of ultimatums. Do not ever issue one if you are not willing to follow through. Walking away from an ultimatum only makes you look weak. Standing your ground makes you stronger but it also can lead to the end of the relationship. If that's the case - I hope you had a good time together, because continuing it wouldn't make any sense.
Damage that comes from nuclear options and hard dread games is usually permanent. It is much better to act before such drastic measures become reasonable options. Better yet, find a girl who is compatible with you so you don't ever go that way.
But good luck with that.