Nature of attraction
September 8, 2005 4:11 PM   Subscribe

After reading Aceys question today in which she was asking for advice for an 18 year old, Skylar answered: "I wish that I had better understood the nature of attraction and seduction, things I am only getting to know now as I get older. When I was younger I waited for people to approach me because I didn't have the courage to do it for myself. Now I realise how a few simple rules of psychology apply in many potential romantic encounters and I have gained a lot more confidence in those situations."

My question is can you elaborate on what you think he meant since he forgot. And Skylar if you come across this then by all means let me know what you mean. Anything to get the upper hand ya know :)
posted by pwally to Human Relations (15 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Heh. Not so much an upper hand, I think. It's an essential part of human communications to understand the parts of our conversations that flow beneath the surface, and for whatever reason, the current generations don't seem to learn them until their late 20's. But yeah, I'd love to learn more about the "few rules" she mentioned.
posted by SpecialK at 4:16 PM on September 8, 2005

The Guide to Flirting
The Art of Seduction
posted by driveler at 4:20 PM on September 8, 2005

This is mostly going to be aimed at a guy because pwally appears to be a guy according to his profile.

Yeah, the Art of Seduction is a great book. Its conceit - which you may or may not agree with - is to analyse seduction by way of the tactics used by great military leaders, famous creative minds and so on. It can be quite heavy going but clues you in to some of the mindsets and games that humans play during seduction, as well as the different types of seducing characters that exist.

I would start by saying that the art of seduction isn't necessarily the same art one may want to employ to find a life partner for eternity. What's more, it's perfectly possible to meet someone without using any of the skills espoused in a book like The Art of Seduction.

But one basic tip is to think about the perverse nature of attraction. A lot of humans are more attracted to people that appear out of their grasp than to people who seem easy to acquire. I ran into this a lot in my teens, with a series of unrequited crushes. The more I longed for someone, the less interested they became... and the less interested they were, the more keen I became.

So you have to get a bit zen and be sure not to act in a predatory fashion, or come over too desperate. It's not just all in conversation by any means... body language is a crucial way of communicating this. Lean back: the other party should feel they have to work for your attention. And allow the other party to miss you... don't always call immediately after a date. Wait a few days (even though it's incredibly hard.)

Seeing as you're a guy, consider some of the characteristics which many women are attracted to. (There will always be exceptions and a great many women will deny that they find these characteristics attractive, but I can assure you that subsconsciously or consciously, they respond to them.)

Looks are not usually as important to most women as they are to most men. Instead many women prefer to find meaning in the subtexts of things. So the words you use are slightly less important than the attitude they communicate. And it's less important that you are classically good looking than you communicate a certain confidence or mystique that women find alluring. As a way of illustrating what I mean, several women have said to me that they will look at a particular detail on a man (for example his shoes) and analyse those to make a decision as to whether or not he's the kind of guy for them.

Seems insane to a guy, I know, but it's just an example of the kind of mixed messages that many women are attuned to. They often send them out but love to receive them too. I often hear women complain that they're attracted to these guys who are passionate one minute then distant the next. Another way you can exploit this is to flirt with a woman while saying that you just want to be friends. It's a routine women use quite often (see below for more on routines) but you can turn it back on them.

Many women (not all, but enough to make this interesting) are attracted to men they assume to be of a higher status. You don't need to be rich or powerful to communicate high status, because these are only two attributes that women use to judge status. A big one is confidence... if you appear to be happy in your own body and can have good fun in a woman's company, it shows status. Another is humour. You don't want to be self-deprecating in your humour: if anything you want to be the opposite. Tease the woman. It has to be funny at all times, but if you can allow her to infer that she is of a slightly lower status, often a woman will be intrigued by you.

One part of teasing is showing that you're familiar with (and tired of) a woman's tried-and-tested routines. Start looking out for routines, because many women have them and if you can spot these and head them off at the pass, you will demonstrate status to a woman and build a kind of rapport, because she may well feel that you're one of the few people to see through to the real her. What do I mean by a routine? I mean a woman who expects you to pay for everything. Or a woman who starts flirting outrageously when she wants something her way. Acts like a little baby. When you see these going on, let her know. Often women will test you. They might push to see if you're really in charge. Or might make a comment about another guy, for example criticising his lack of confidence. Don't ever display anything other than a fun, funny and confident attitude to these tests. Stay in charge.

Don't be afraid to talk about sex. In my opinion most women are more sexual than most men can possibly imagine. Just be funny about it at all times - that will prevent you from coming across as creepy or predatory.

Be a gentleman, but never suck up to a woman. Every other guy on earth is sucking up to her. The beautiful ones, especially, often feel that guys "want something" from them and only because of their beauty. So never pass comment on a woman's looks, unless you're teasing her in a funny way about them. Instead do your utmost to demonstrate interest in parts of her personality, and do so in a way that doesn't suck up. Again the mixed message of acting like a gentleman but being provocative with your words is intriguing to many women. And if you see other guys being creepy or sucking up to a woman, mock them for it, but in a funny way. Don't act insecure, just brush it off with a joke... it will show that you are confident and thus have status.

Be different. Do the different. Communicate the idea that a night out with you will be unpredictable and enjoyable. Your only thought should be what you can do to make the time fun for the woman. (Again though, you can send out mixed messages by telling her that all you care about is your own pleasure!) You don't even need to actually give the woman an adventure... one very successful male friend of mine said that he just allows the woman to believe that "something could happen, any minute" - and though it never does, that anticipation is enough for lots of women!

Finally there are some basic dating tips. Always get the woman's phone number (or failing that e-mail address) as soon as possible. Then graduate to phone calls fairly quickly and ask her on a date very quickly. It's important to keep things progressing. Don't ask a woman where she'd like to go on a date. Tell her where it will be. Many women like a guy who leads - it can be a pleasant distraction from the many responsibilities of work, parenthood or whatever for a woman to be taken out on a fun night that has already been arranged by a guy. Keep the first date brief (two hours) and do it somewhere classy but neutral like a bar or coffee shop. Don't buy things for the woman and certainly don't take her to a nightclub or out for dinner on the first date. And never, ever talk about your previous relationships. If at all possible, allow the woman to do most of the talking - about herself. Not like a job interview, but again in a flirtatious, funny way.
posted by skylar at 5:10 PM on September 8, 2005 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Great Answer.
posted by pwally at 6:16 PM on September 8, 2005

Wow, I was thinking of a good answer, and Skylar took it to the hole. Nothing to add (other than if you like the Art of Seduction, move onto the The 48 Laws of Power. I have lots of issues with both books, but NO QUESTION it will change with how you deal with people, in a way that benefits you.

I wouldnt recommend these texts to anyone who I already thought was a self-centered asshole though, no way. But if you a nice guy that seems to finish last too much, or end up in the "friend zone" too often, take these tomes fix and your game.
(They can also give a fresh perspective of office politics too!)
posted by ernie at 9:04 PM on September 8, 2005

"take these tomes and fix your game"
and your editing...
posted by ernie at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2005

so... i'm the only one who found a lot of that downright disturbing, then?

alright, then.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:00 PM on September 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

poweredbybeard, are you talking about skylar's answer? if so, no, you're not the only one. apparently my view on it isn't helpful since i'm a girl and according to skylar girls don't often know what they really want, but yecch to a lot of that, on the surface of it at the very least. i'd be very put off.
posted by ifjuly at 11:17 PM on September 8, 2005

Nope, I found it kind of disturbing too (other than the stuff about confidence and humour, which I agree with). Weird game-playing is weird game-playing, no matter who's doing it, and it's not something which often leads to healthy, solid relationships, as far as I'm concerned. The people I know who think that way and follow all kinds of stupid rules about when you're supposed to call and how to play hard to get are normally the least happy, least well-adjusted, and least attractive (pesonality-wise) people. They also seem to be the ones who have the most trouble finding good, lasting relationships. YMMV. I liked the Guide to Flirting, though.
posted by biscotti at 11:17 PM on September 8, 2005

Add me to those-games-aren't-fun list. To be fair however, I don't think that the kind of seduction being described is intended to lead to a healthy relationship at all, playing the field is the purpose.

Seduction-for-the-long-term would be a more interesting branch of the field than the how-to-pick-up-chicks-at-a-bar branch, methinks :-)

Also, what happened to old movie-style persuasive seduction? Instead of the whole playing hard to get and other games, what happened to the ideas of such a forceful charisma that it can sweep people off their feet and persuade them to act on the moment?
Did that whole thing need to get taken out back and shot as part of the "no means no" campaign? I can see it being borderline these days. Mind you, seduction by it's very nature is borderline.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:22 AM on September 9, 2005

I liked the old-fashioned gay way: Meet, establish a mutual attraction, have sex, then get aquainted. So uncomplicated. You get the important part out of the way first, so you both can relax and be more real.
posted by Goofyy at 2:46 AM on September 9, 2005 [2 favorites]

what happened to the ideas of such a forceful charisma that it can sweep people off their feet

Some people dont have the confidence to even get this far. Myself, Id never heard of these books until I was happily in a relationship (plus some of this stuff is obvious) but I remember thinking how many people could benefit by having some method of 'hacking' the B.S. of normal dating. It all sounds psycho until you see it work. Concerns of manipulating people are well founded though, and if you read the Amazon reviews of these books you can see why.
posted by ernie at 5:28 AM on September 9, 2005

Yes, some of the ideas are disturbing. Hell, I find them disturbing. I was brought up by a single mother in a feminist household and a lot of the ideas contradict everything I was brought up to believe.

But what is most disturbing is how well a lot of the tactics work. Some of the bits of advice directed at men describe behaviour that a lot of women associate (subsconsciously or not) with strong, dominant, masculine attributes. And a lot of women, regardless of political or philosophical persuasion, cannot help but find those attributes attractive. As Ernie says, these ideas can be revelatory if you're a "nice guy" who tended to find himself ending up as friends with women and not being seen as a potential love interest.

I did say up front that these tactics aren't necessarily the same ones you might want to use to find an eternal life partner, so Harlequin has hit the nail on the head. Perhaps just once or twice in my life I've met someone and instantly hit it off... there was no need for gameplaying because the attraction was simple, mutual and long-lasting. This advice is for all the other times... but it doesn't hurt to bear in mind, in one's long-term relationships, a few themes about confidence, humour and allowing the other person to miss you and not feel too crowded.
posted by skylar at 6:02 AM on September 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

I recommend David DeAngelo's advice (some of which is here.) It's highly consistent with skylar's. Previously recommended here where it was denounced by one MeFite as "pure horseshit and poison to civility and civilization."

It's also the case that about 30 seconds after I decided I was really going to try it, despite some misgivings (per my feminism, as skylar also relates, above), I got into a great relationship with a woman I married a little over a year later, and we're sickeningly happy going on two years since that.

The work of another David, David Deida, has given me insight into why this advice works.

I do, indeed, wish I'd known all this when I was 18.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2005

One addendum: an improv class is great training for acting cocky and funny; I also credit my having been doing improv for a couple of years as playing a role in the described "30 seconds later" scenario.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:53 AM on September 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

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