"The main obstacle to becoming a seducer is this foolish prejudice we have of seeing love and romance as some kind of sacred, magical realm where things just fall into place, if they are meant to. This might seem romantic and quaint, but it is really just a cover for our laziness. What will seduce a person is the effort we expend on their behalf, showing how much we care, how much they are worth. Leaving things to chance is a recipe for disaster, and reveals that we do not take love and romance very seriously."
-- Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction.
I'd like to welcome A Weapon of Mass Seduction's first guest blogger, Helena von Salome, who has contributed a post on a subject I begged and pleaded her to write about since she has been able to articulate it so far better than I. She is amazing, smart, and gorgeous, and is a welcome addition to the evil genius hub that is Sirens. Of course, her writing speaks of her far better than I ever could, so I'll get out of the way and simply post her essay. :)
And while you're at it, follow her on twitter @helenavonsalome! (Follow me too if you're not already -- @ardensirens.)
I recently dated a man who claims not to believe in seduction. “I don’t understand,” he says, “why we need all these games. I’m just upfront about my feelings. If I want to call a woman, I’ll call her. If I want to see her, I ask her out.”
His argument is the one most frequently leveled against seduction: Seduction is a game, games are dishonest and inefficient, and therefore seduction is basically unnecessary and unkind. If we just told people how we felt we’d all be happier and less confused.
People who make this argument are at least partially correct. Yes, seduction is dishonest. Seduction is manipulative too, and artificial, and calculating, and deceptive. But is precisely the artifice, the calculation, the manipulation and the games of seduction that make it an essentially generous action, and that teach generosity to the seducer. Seduction, at its most basic level is the act of considering what someone else wants. Even the tactics considered in the most crass of pick-up technique are undeniably based on thinking about how a woman will react.
The flaw in that “I just call her when I want to call her” statement is in my opinion glaringly apparent: You call her when you want to call her. The only person’s desires or feelings considered are yours. You--the person calling—are the only one who wants anything. None of the verbs belong to the person being pursued. She does nothing, desires nothing, contributes nothing. When you think of her you think of your desires and not hers. So no matter how much honesty, how much integrity you feel there is in your just calling when you want to call, it is undeniably a selfish action. Sure, you’re happy with calling her, but you haven’t considered whether calling her at that moment, in that way, is what will make her feel most wanted, whether that particular action is what will cause the best reaction in her. So, not only are you damaging your own chances with her, you are also refusing to take action to make her happy.
An ex of mine always accused me of wanting him to be a mind-reader. This accusation is a fairly common one in relationships. (It also may not have been entirely unfair. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the best at communicating my own desires to my lovers or even to myself). But on the other hand, I think in our relationships we should strive to be mind-readers. It isn’t some impossible magic power. It’s simply about paying attention. Even the most guarded person will constantly give you clues to what they want and how they want to be approached. There are clues in what they say to you, what they say to others, what they tell you about others, what stories they choose to tell and the way they choose to tell them. More importantly, there are clues in the stories and details, words and phrases that they choose to repeat (everyone repeats themselves, and everyone communicates in patterns). There are clues in what they wear, what they order at a bar, what clichés they employ or imitate and what they post about themselves on the internet. There is no action anyone takes that isn’t a clue; clues are flying out like spray-paint at every moment you are in someone else’s presence. When you’re really lucky the clues are intentional; when you’re really, really lucky, your partner will be self-aware, clear-eyed and brave enough to actually communicate their needs. However, unless you’re lucky enough to date one of the five most self-aware people on earth, what they say about their needs will probably be less accurate than the clues they drop by accident. Even with an incredibly communicative partner, it is still paramount to pay attention to and model your actions on their unconscious communication. Any interaction with someone, if you are willing to transfer your focus to them, should give you enough information to at least approach them with more specificity than just calling when you feel like it.
The experience of falling in love or infatuation is at once the sense that someone knows us better than they have any right to, and that someone sprung to life and walked into the world out of our own fantasies. Very few of us have fantasies about someone calling us when they feel like calling us. Fantasy is personal and specific, and to seduce someone you have to get inside their fantasies, and to do that you have to pay attention and take your cues from them.
Arden posted a blog a few months ago ["A Guy's Guide to Seducing Arden Leigh"] detailing how to seduce her. Soon afterwards she went on a date with someone who told her “I found your blog, and I saw the post on how to seduce you, but I made a decision not to read it.” Basically he felt that it would be dishonest, a kind of cheating, to know that information from the outset.
I understand that the thought behind well, if I want to call her I call her is not a consciously selfish one, and that the decision not to read Arden’s blog was a decision made with honorable intentions. In both cases, the men attempt to send an admirable message: My feelings align with my actions. I make no attempt to deceive you. There is a basic sense of integrity here, a seeming refusal to use underhanded methods: I won’t use information from the internet to figure out how to seduce you. I won’t manipulate your emotions by not calling you even though I want to call. Integrity and honesty are, of course, admirable.
But they become far less admirable when implanted in a context where they are not just useless but in fact prohibitive. The first thing one should be considering in any seduction is how to make your target feel good, how to make them want you and feel wanted. Arden posted that blog because she wants to be seduced in exactly that way: She outlined exactly what she wants, and this person chose to ignore it. These are some of the most possible enjoyable feelings available to us, and at their peak they are rare and addictive and glorious. If you are able to give that kind of giddy ideal experience to another person and decide not to do so because you feel that using the most effective tactics wouldn’t be fair, then there’s no way to say you aren’t being selfish. You deny another person pleasure and joy by your refusal to use the tools at your disposal. Integrity means absolutely nothing when it isn’t being implemented in order to prevent something negative. And in this case, this misguided sense of integrity in fact prevents something positive, and is nothing except ungenerous.
The real reason that we stop ourselves from paying attention, from making choices based on the details we’ve noticed, from engaging in conscious and deliberate manipulation, is not integrity but fear and laziness. There should be some sort of word that means fearlaziness because fear and laziness are basically the same thing. Being lazy, being unwilling to try something difficult, to put in effort at something which might end in failure, is a function of fear. Failure is scary; it’s easier not to try. Even—or maybe especially—when we are extremely attracted to someone, it’s difficult not to let fear become more important than our goal. We get an idea of what might be the most effective way to seduce this person, but then we look at that course of action and say “Oh, no, that’s too hard. I might fail. Better not to embarrass myself, better not to try.” But it is impossible to be compelling without taking risk. One is always rewarded for courage, and courage is the opposite of laziness. Paying attention to detail and reading clues is difficult, you can’t do it and be lazy. Using those clues that you’ve gathered and making a bold, specific choice about how to act toward a woman is frightening, you can’t do it and be cowardly. But if you are unwilling to overcome laziness and fear in order to pursue someone, there is once again no arguing that your actions aren’t basically selfish.
When I was in college, my best friend and I once said that all people should be made to wear a white t-shirt stating their sexual or romantic intentions in one simple declarative sentence. In theory, this is fantastic, as fantastic as knowing that one of the men I’m dating will always call me when he wants to call me, and ask me over when he wants to see me.
Except there’s no romance, no adventure, to knowing what someone wants by reading a simple sentence on a white t-shirt. I’m obsessed with travel, for instance. I often jokingly bemoan the world’s lack of instant transport machines, but if someone actually offered me one, I wouldn’t want it. I want the irresistible romance of the difficulties and their negotiation. I want the airport, the airplane, the seats that are too small for my legs, the waiting around in hard chairs in in-between places, the awkward food and coffee from kiosk stands, the hurried collection of heavy suitcases, the obnoxious and meaningful decision between taxi and bus, the long hours on trains and the panicked dash from one train to another while trying to read explanatory signs in a language I don’t speak. Whether in travel or in seduction, I want the games. It would be easier to have instant transport machines, it would be easier if people just stated their needs in a simple declarative sentence, and it would be easier if the best way to make someone happy was just to call them when you want to call them. But we don’t necessarily want easy. It isn’t about the simplest route from point a to point b, because seduction, romance, sex, relationships are about pleasure, and pleasure is an experience, not a result.
For instance, there is another man with whom I’ve been engaged in some sort of flirtation for months now. We’re extremely attracted to each other, and could easily have slept together the night we met. In terms of point A to point B basic logical utility, there’s no argument as to why we shouldn’t have done so. When I want to call a woman, I call her. You’re attracted to each other and you want to have sex, so have sex at the earliest possible opportunity. Although I very much want to sleep with this person, I don’t for a minute wish we’d just slept together a few hours after we met. The slow and picked-out long-form game of guessing how to twist and bend each other’s reactions is at least interesting as sex, and a lot harder to come by. More importantly, it makes the actual sex far more meaningful and interesting when it does happen. I’m not saying that sex needs to be emotionally connected to be good—I’ve certainly never found that those two things had any causal relationship—but sex should always be compelling. It should be more than simply a need fulfilled or a good feeling—these utilities are why we masturbate. If all we wanted were the simplest possible way to experience sexual fulfillment, we’d just stay home with our doors locked. We want to be manipulated; we want to be frustrated; we want to pursue, we want to be pursued, we want to experience resistance and strategize past it, we want to attempt resistance and fail. We want someone to create a fantasy for us, whether they do so in a five minute pick-up or a year-long courtship.Don’t call me when you want to call me. Call me when I want you to call me. Stop being frightened, lazy, or selfish, all of which are in the end the same thing, and figure it out. Pay close attention, consider the signals the other person sends, and base your decision as best you can on what you observe. If you like your own desires, you call a woman when you want to call her. If you like a woman, you’ll call her when she wants you to call her. And that’s when she’s likely to actually pick up the phone.