Him: Ohh but hell isn't that fucking complicated... there's too many layers to question everything. Happiness and comfort go to war.
Me: "Happiness and Comfort Go To War." I'm going to make that into a children's book. Start 'em early on the sad facts of life.
If there is any weakness in my game, it is my vetting process.
I have dated a lot of guys who, in retrospect, looked terrible on paper. If I'm attracted to someone, I would rather give it my best shot and find out firsthand if a relationship is going to work than put them through some sort of screening that likely won't give me nearly as much accurate information as actually dating them would. And I'm generally okay with this -- at least, I am much more okay with dating someone because I feel passionate about him than being the kind of woman who has a checklist for every potential suitor she encounters. I mean, being hit with a checklist on the first date just isn't all that seductive. Similarly, I am all too non-judgmental about a guy's history of failed relationships or string of messy breakups and trail of broken hearts, because I give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't dating a seduction coach before, and that's it's possible that his exes simply didn't know their way around a decent relationship. Theoretically this is a bad idea, because it falls under that Oh But I'll Be The One Who's Different fallacy that so many women are tempted by. But then again, I'm rarely one to shy away from something just because it's a bad idea. And maybe the truth is that I'm egotistical enough to think that I am different, and insatiably curious enough to be okay with finding out the hard way.
If there is a second weakness in my game, it is my inability to treat people poorly.
You may think I'm tooting my own horn here -- like Oh, Arden's just trying to spin her generosity as some sort of pious flaw -- but I'm not. I actually sometimes believe that I might be more likely to get what I want out of some guys if I played nasty games, manipulated them, and made them feel bad about themselves. I see other women do it all the time, and the guys inexplicably crawl back to them again and again. Even Robert Greene (author of The Art of Seduction and one of my all-time favorite writer/philosophers) agrees that it's effective to be nasty sometimes:
"The greatest mistake in seduction is being too nice. At first, perhaps, your kindness is charming, but it soon grows monotonous; you are trying too hard to please, and seem insecure. Instead of overwhelming your targets with niceness, try inflicting some pain. Lure them in with focused attention, then change direction, appearing suddenly uninterested. Make them feel guilty and insecure."
The trouble with Greene's thesis in The Art of Seduction (and mind you, I love this book, so my admitting any flaw in it is not to be taken lightly) is that he didn't write it with the intention of helping people build relationships. He dedicates roughly ten pages at the end of the book to what happens after a seduction is culminated, in a chapter titled "Beware the Aftereffects," which is not exactly the most enticing way of describing the embarkment of two people into a healthy relationship after they've succeeded in their initial seduction. Half the examples he cites in the chapter are actually about how to break up with someone after you've seduced them -- and the art of the breakup is important too, but hopefully it's not actually part of the initial goal.
I wrote in an earlier entry about the fact that I choose to call myself a seduction coach rather than a relationship coach, because my area of expertise lies in getting the guy you want, not in how to sustain the passion for years thereafter. (That's important too, but there are plenty of other relationship authors and marriage counselors out there who are probably more qualified than I am -- I mean, come on, if ANYONE in their 20s is trying to tell you how to sustain a longterm relationship, they're either talking out of their asses or regugitating something they read from someone else.) But this doesn't mean that I believe that the purpose of your best and noblest seductions will be anything other than to explore the relationship potential you have with another human being that you truly believe you may be able to love for the rest of your life. I mean, once you've caught your big fish, you don't just throw him back! You work to keep, enjoy, and savor what you've won.
So the goal for me and for my readers of The New Rules of Attraction is to set your sights on a guy you want and be able take the steps you need to be able forge a relationship with him. I wrote this book so that people could learn to be better to one another and so women could create meaningful relationships with the kind of men they desire. Certainly I make sure to teach women how to make their value known, to ensure that their guy doesn't take them for granted, and to adhere to their bottom lines when they feel their needs aren't being properly met -- I don't advocate being stepped on. But I don't see the point in going out of your way to create a relationship that makes you both miserable. So, maybe I end up being a little too nice for my own good: I would rather compliment than criticize, prefer positive reinforcement to negative, get as much joy (perhaps more) from giving as from receiving, and have no desire to have a fight when I could choose instead to have a calm and rational discussion.
I don't think these are bad qualities. But I have met guys -- many of them -- who were confused, wary, or ultimately unsatisfied by my inability to be baited into fights and my reluctance to nag and complain. It baffled me. But I watched them slip away and inexplicably return to relationship patterns that instead kept them in a state of comfortable misery. I caught them, sometimes, in the middle of a fight with some romantic partner on the street or embroiled in some Twitter drama with some love interest trash-talking them to all their followers. And all I could think was, "Well, I see why things didn't work out now." Because like Meatloaf, I will do anything for love, but I won't do that.
It's just that I am not willing to pay the price required to be in a relationship with someone who needs constant drama, who needs his flaws pointed out and his wounds continually picked open, because the price of that is who I end up becoming. I don't want to be that girl. I have said this time and time again and again but I cannot say it enough: so much of this work is about working toward your own good opinion of who you want to be when you love someone. And keeping any one guy, no matter how great he is, is not worth the price of my becoming a nagging bitch.
Is this so weird? Really, I mean, is this so bizarre? And this brings me back to what I said in the beginning about the weakness of my vetting process. My eternal optimism and adamant unwillingness to back away from a challenge may simply bring a stronger ratio of these kinds of people into my dating life than might be normal. I acknowledge that possibility.
And if there is yet another weakness in my game -- perhaps my greatest weakness -- it is that I somehow think that my partner's issues will all resolve if I just love him enough.
And that sounds so dumb when I say it out loud and even worse when I write it, but goddamn it I am fucking picky and if I love you, if I Arden Leigh fucking fall in love with you, I believe you deserve to be happy and I believe you should believe it too. It all seems so simple from where I am: if something makes you happy, do more of it; if something makes you upset, try to avoid doing it again. There: happiness explained. The trouble here is that there is this awful, insidious thing that sneaks in called comfort -- and comfort and misery can go hand in hand more often than you might think. Our brains are horribly, tragically, prohibitively, self-destructively resistant to change (remember that post I wrote about your amygdala?), and it is more likely that we will stay in a situation or pattern we are used to even if it makes us miserable than it is that we will leave it to pursue happiness in the great big scary unknown. Happiness and comfort go to war.
This shit is what really breaks my heart -- not the ends of my own relationships (I mean, come on, I'm a seduction coach, I'll get over it and date someone else), but watching people I have come to love continue to run on a hamster wheel of their own misfortune and knowing that there is no more that I can do about it than I have already done. I can't come down out of the sky and arrange someone else's puzzle pieces for them. I can give support and guidance, but ultimately they've got to do it on their own. And knowing they might never step up to that plate is by far the worst part of letting go.
This post ended up being more depressing than it should have been, considering it's the first post I've made since celebrating the release of my book (which has been awesome, by the way, and thanks to all of you who have come out to celebrate with me). Part of me thinks that for the next few months while I garner new readers here from the book's publicity I ought to just stick to cute posts about personal branding and how wearing red is scientifically proven to make men find you more sexually attractive. But I think one thing you guys like about me and the reason you would buy the book in the first place is that I've always been honest with you. And this is something I feel I need to talk about because chances are you are going to run into it at some point and it really sucks -- I mean it really, really sucks so fucking hard -- but there's not a lot you can do if like me you are unwilling to provide the emotional sadism or overall instability some people require.
I wrote on my Formspring earlier tonight a little bit about how we must not lose ourselves within the comfort of a relationship. And it's true that we must not lose ourselves in the generosity of a relationship, but we must also not lose ourselves in the selfishness of a relationship. And by that I mean that at the end of the day you must be able to look at yourself in the mirror and think "I am fucking awesome, and I did a great job at this." No one is ever worth sacrificing your own integrity. If you fail in a seduction, fail like a fucking champ. When it's all said and done, lovers may come and go, but you're stuck with you, and you had better be someone you like.