When I was in acting school back in college, we had an entire class for two whole semesters that was based on one exercise -- Repetition, created by Sanford Meisner. I suppose I don't have to stress how useful our teachers thought this exercise was since they made us take two semesters' worth of classes on it. The exercise itself was fairly simple: You would sit across from your partner, look them in the eyes, and say something that was true about them. They would then say something to you that was true about you (or, if they couldn't think of something to say in time to keep with the rhythm of the exercise, they could repeat back what you had said about them and you could go back and forth until someone noticed something else true about the other person). And you would both continue on in this manner.
So it sounded something a little like this:
A. You're wearing a blue shirt.
B. I'm wearing a blue shirt.
A. You dress well.
B. I dress well.
A. You dress well.
B. You're being nice.
A. You're smiling.
B. I'm smiling.
A. You're happy that I'm being nice.
B. I'm happy that you're being nice.
A. You're happy that I'm being nice.
B. You're laughing.
A. I'm laughing.
B. You think something's funny.
Someday I will hold a Repetition class for people who want to study seduction. I'm pretty sure no other exercise could be as useful as this is. Yeah, it sounds dumb when you're reading it, but bear with me.
What's great about what happens in Repetition is that since you have to keep observing the other person, not only do you notice how quickly their state changes as each moment passes, but you also learn how to evaluate the meanings behind those states. As an example, in the above exchange, "You're smiling" quickly means "You're happy." "You're laughing" quickly means "You think something's funny." Now these are very obvious conclusions, but as you keep repeating with the same partner for sometimes hours at a time, those conclusions begin to run deeper. You will notice the slightest twinge in the eyebrows and you will state it out loud and then realize the truth behind it. "You're furrowing your brow. You're deciding whether you're slightly annoyed. You didn't like what I said." Of course the moment you notice it, the moment has already passed and there's a new truth: "You're smiling now. You don't want to come off like you were annoyed. You want me to see you as friendly." Or whatever.
James has been bugging me to study the Facial Action Coding System, the thought process behind decoding people's facial expressions and the basis for the new series Lie to Me. And I probably will study it eventually, but for now I'm pretty sure that just practicing Repetition for two semesters at acting school was nearly just as useful in decoding the truths behind the sensory observations that you can make about a person. Seriously, if you have a seduction wingwoman, someone with whom can you talk about seduction strategies and philosophy, meet once a week somewhere to do some Repetition.
It's funny how when I was an actress, every so often I'd run across a man who'd say, "I'm afraid of dating actresses, because how will I ever know if they're telling the truth?" The irony of that was that acting is all about telling the truth. The truth is usually all actors ever know, and that's why they can come off so intense sometimes. The only thing that those men should have been afraid of was that my acting skills would have made me observant enough to call them out on their bullshit. Which brings me to my next point.
Learning to recognize what's true about someone will help you reach your goals with them as you will be given a constant feedback loop as to how you're affecting their state, which you can use to tailor your actions according to the state that you want them in. Recently I was out with someone and bought him a drink, and when he told me I was being a bad influence, I replied with, "It's a glass of wine, don't be such a pussy!" Me thinking, of course, that I was giving permission to access a pleasure state and therefore spiking excitement -- but all he heard was the insult. And I knew because I saw a very brief but (to me) very apparent flash of displeasure across his face. Thank you, Repetition. I quickly changed tack; in milliseconds my posture and expression became more coy and less aggressive, and after that one change, I saw him soften up once again. Had I really been keying in, I would have been on my game enough to point it out to him: "Ooh, you didn't like my saying that. I'm just joking around, don't take me so seriously." (Most of the time when you point someone's state out to them, they will become self-conscious about it, which in itself is an immediate change of state, so pointing out a negative state out loud is often a good idea as they'll switch to a neutral and then you can move on to elicit a positive.)
(Is this making sense so far? I feel like a lot of this is quite complicated to put into writing as so much of what goes into reading someone is strictly visual.)
Moreover, being able to observe and understand the truth about your target's state is crucial to knowing where your windows of opportunity lie. A while back I had been hanging out with a certain target, and one late night we went out to find a place that would still be serving food. It happened that the only place we could find was an obviously romantic dimly lit lounge with big leather sofas, and halfway through our first drink a moment passed where my target looked at me and then looked away with an awkward half-smile. It was so fleeting that most people probably would have missed it, but I didn't. "What was that?" I asked him. "What was that moment that just happened?" He replied, "Well, this is the first time we've been out in a place like this, and for the first time it kinda feels like we're on a date." "Okay," I said, "why does that make you a little uncomfortable?" He started to stammer a reply, but I cut him off. "Would you feel less uncomfortable if I did this?" I asked, and then immediately kissed him. It broke the tension he was feeling and it was a really good kiss. It also ended up being a really good date and a really good several-months-long affair. Learn to read what's true about your target and you will know when to kiss, when to shut up, when to listen, when to pump excitement, when to do whatever your target requires in whatever moment for whatever state you want to elicit in him.
Plus seriously, it feels really good to call someone out on something they thought you wouldn't notice, something maybe they didn't even notice themselves. Not out of pride or smugness, but just because nearly all of my seductions have involved a moment or two like this. For some reason I can't explain exactly why it's so important except to say that it is so rare. So often your targets' other dates are so wrapped up in themselves that they're just not paying enough attention to catch these things, and when you do, you will prove yourself a rare specimen.
Staying in the moment is so key to seduction that you simply have to make it a habit of your everyday existence. Learn to say what is true about the other person with you, in almost any situation. I had a job interview once where my potential employer was late for our meeting by almost an hour, and when he arrived in a frazzle I said to him, "You seem a little stressed out, have you been having a long day?" Weeks and months after I was hired he still reacted positively to seeing me, because in a situation where I was supposed to be nervous and self-conscious, I instead showed that I cared about how he was doing. You really just can't go wrong with observing people and saying what's true about their inner state.
And finally, learning to observe and state what is true, even if it's something really simple, will make all your approaches so much easier. James once was winging for a friend and opened a girl for him by saying to her, "How come you're having a beer instead of drinking a cosmo like your friends are? You must be the rebel of the group." It was a perfect approach because it wasn't canned -- and for the record, James's friend is still dating the girl.
So get out of your head and start looking at the person across from you. Don't go on a first date and spend the whole time looking upwards at the invisible talking points you have in your head of things you think this guy has to know about you -- look at him and observe. Sure, you can talk about yourself, it's expected on some level -- but stay keyed in to the other person and don't lose that focus. Discern his reactions. Tailor accordingly. Practice until you get the reaction you want. This is so important I can't stress it enough.
In the second semester of Repetition we added another element to the exercise. This time, instead of merely stating what was true about our partner, we could add imperative commands. So it would sound like, "You're annoyed. Don't be annoyed. Be happy. Stay present. Live it up." The imperative commands and all the nonverbal communication that went along with them were designed to get our partner to a certain goal state, which was called "getting your cap" -- once your partner was behaving exactly how you wanted them to, you had gotten your cap. If you weren't getting your cap, you knew that you had to try something else, something different, and you kept trying new tactics until you finally got your partner in the state where you wanted them. After that, all you had to do was to maintain it.
I suppose I don't have to stress how useful THAT was.