20 May 2005

The Art of Seduction

1 — Choose the Right Victim
Everything depends on the target of your seduction. Study your prey thoroughly, and choose only those who will prove susceptible to your charms. The right victims are those for whom you can fill a void, who see in you something exotic. They are often isolated or at least somewhat unhappy (perhaps because of recent adverse circumstances), or can easily be made so—for the completely contented person is almost impossible to seduce. The perfect victim has some natural quality that attracts you. The strong emotions this quality inspires will help make your seductive manoeuvres seem more natural and dynamic. The perfect victim allows for the perfect chase.

2 — Create a False Sense of Security — Approach Indirectly
If you are too direct early on, you risk stirring up a resistance that will never be lowered. At first there must be nothing of the seducer in your manner. The seduction should begin at an angle, indirectly, so that the target only gradually becomes aware of you. Haunt the periphery of your target’s life—approach through a third party, or seem to cultivate a relatively neutral relationship, moving gradually from friend to lover. Arrange an occasional “chance” encounter, as if you and your target were destined to become acquainted—nothing is more seductive than a sense of destiny. Lull the target into feeling secure, then strike.

3 — Send Mixed Signals
Once people are aware of your presence, and perhaps vaguely intrigued, you need to stir their interest before it settles on someone else. What is obvious and striking may attract their attention at first, but that attention is often short-lived; in the long run, ambiguity is much more potent. Most of us are much too obvious—instead, be hard to figure out. Send mixed signals: both tough and tender, both spiritual and earth, both innocent and cunning. A mix of qualities suggests depth, which fascinates even as it confuses. An elusive, enigmatic aura will make people want to know more, drawing them into your circle. Create such a power by hinting at something contradictory within you.

4 — Appear to be an Object of Desire — Create Triangles
Few are drawn to the person whom others avoid or neglect; people gather around those who have already attracted interest. We want what other people want. To draw your victims closer and make them hungry to possess you, you must create an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for them to be the preferred object of your attention, to win you away from a crowd of admirers. Manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding yourself with members of the opposite sex—friends, former lovers, present suitors. Create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise your value. Build a reputation that precedes you: if many have succumbed to your charms, there must be a reason.

5 — Create a Need — Stir Anxiety and Discontent
A perfectly satisfied person cannot be seduced. Tension and disharmony must be instilled in your targets’ minds. Stir within them feelings of discontent, and unhappiness with their circumstances and with themselves: their life lacks adventure, they have strayed from the ideals of their youth, they have become boring. The feelings of inadequacy that you create will give you space to insinuate yourself, to make them see you as the answer to their problems. Pain and anxiety are the proper precursors to pleasure. Learn to manufacture the need that you can fill.

6 — Master the Art of Insinuation
Making your targets feel dissatisfied and in need of your attention is essential, but if you are too obvious, they will see right through you and grow defensive. There is no known defense, however, against insinuation—the art of planting ideas in people’s minds by dropping elusive hints that take root days later, even appearing to them as their own idea. Insinuation is the supreme means to influencing people. Create a sublanguage—bold statements followed by retraction and apology, ambiguous comments, banal talk combined with alluring glances—that enters the target’s unconscious to convey your real meaning. Make everything suggestive.

7 — Enter Their Spirit
Most people are locked in their own worlds, making them stubborn and hard to persuade. The way to lure them out of their shell and set up your seduction is to enter their spirit. Play by their rules, enjoy what they enjoy, adapt yourself to their moods. In doing so you will stroke their deep-rooted narcissism and lower their defenses. Hypnotised by the mirror image you present, they will open up, becoming vlberable to your subtle influence. Soon you can shift the dynamic: once you have entered their spirit you can make then enter yours, at a point when it is too late to turn back. Indulge your targets’ every mood and whim, giving them nothing to react against or resist.

8 — Create Temptation
Lure the target deep into your seduction by creating the proper temptation: a glimpse of the pleasures to come. As the serpent tempted Eve with the promise of forbidden knowledge, you must awaken a desire in your targets that they cannot control. Find that weakness of theirs, that fantasy that has yet to be realised, and hint that you can lead them toward it. It could be wealth, it could be adventure, it could be forbidden and guilty pleasures; the key is to keep it vague. Dangle the prize before their eyes, postponing satisfaction, and let their minds do the rest. The future seems ripe with possibility. Stimulate a curiosity stronger than the doubts and anxieties that go with it, and they will follow you.

9 — Keep Them in Suspense — What Comes Next?
The moment people feel they know what to expect from you, your spell on them is broken. More: you have ceded them power. The only way to lead the seduced along and keep the upper hand is to create suspense, a calculated surprise. People love a mystery, and this is the key to luring them further into your web. Behave in a way that leaves them wondering, What are you up to? Doing something they do not expect from you will give them a delightful sense of spontaneity—they will not be able to foresee what comes next. You are always one step ahead and in control. Give the victim a thrill with a sudden change of direction.

10 — Use the Demonic Power of Words to Sow Confusion
It is hard to make people listen; they are consumed with their own thoughts and desires, and have little time for yours. The trick to making them listen is to say what they want to hear, to fill their ears with whatever is pleasant to them. This is the essence of seductive language. Inflame people’s emotions with loaded phrases, flatter them, comfort their insecurities, envelop them in fantasies, sweet words, and promises, and not only will they listen to you, they will lose their will to resist you. Keep your language vague, letting them read into it what they want. Use writing to stir up fantasies and to create an idealised portrait of yourself.

11 — Pay Attention to Detail
Lofty words and grand gestures can be suspicious: why are you trying so hard to please? The details of a seduction—the subtle gestures, the offhand things you do—are often more charming and revealing. You must learn to distract your victims with a myriad of pleasant little rituals—thoughtful gifts tailored just for them, clothes and adornments designed to please them, gestures that show them the time and attention you are paying them. All of their senses are engaged in the details you orchestrate. Create spectacles to dazzle their eyes; mesmerised by what they see, they will not notice what you are really up to. Learn to suggest the proper feelings and moods through details.

12 — Poeticise Your Presence
Important things happen when your targets are alone: the slightest feeling of relief that you are not there, and it is all over. Familiarity and overexposure will cause this reaction. Remain elusive, then, so that when you are away, they will yearn to see you again, and will associate you only with pleasant thoughts. Occupy their minds by alternating an exciting presence with a cool distance, exuberant moments followed by calculated absences. Associate yourself with poetic images and objects, so that when they think of you, they begin to see you through an idealised halo. The more you figure in their minds, the more they will envelop you in seductive fantasies. Feed these fantasies by subtle inconsistencies and changes in your behaviour.

13 — Disarm Through Strategic Weakness and Vulnerability
Too much manoeuvring on your part may raise suspicion. The best way to cover your tracks is to make the other person feel superior and stronger. If you seem to be weak, vulnerable, enthralled by the other person, and unable to control yourself, you will make your actions look more natural, less calculated. Physical weakness—tears, bashfulness, paleness—will help create the effect. To further win trust, exchange honesty for virtue: establish your “sincerity” by confessing some sin of your part—it doesn’t have to be real. Sincerity is more important than goodness. Play the victim, then transform your target’s sympathy into love.

14 — Confuse Desire and Reality — The Perfect Illusion
To compensate for the difficulties in their lives, people spend a lot of their time daydreaming, imaging a future full of adventure, success, and romance. If you can create the illusion that through you they can live out their dreams, you will have them at your mercy. It is important to start slowly, gaining their trust, and gradually constructing the fantasy that matches their desires. Aim at secret wishes that have been thwarted or repressed, stirring up uncontrollable emotions, clouding their powers of reason. The perfect illusion is one that does not depart too much from reality, but has a touch of the unreal to it, like a waking dream. Lead the seduced to a point of confusion in which they can no longer tell the difference between illusion and reality.

15 — Isolate the Victim
An isolated person is weak. By slowly isolating your victims, you make them more vulnerable to your influence. Their isolation may be psychological: by filling their field of vision through the pleasurable attention you pay them, you crowd out everything else in their mind. They see and thing only of you. The isolation may also be physical: you take them away from their normal milieu, friends, family, home. Give them the sense of being marginalised, in limbo—they are leaving one world behind and entering another. Once isolated like this, they have no outside support, and in their confusion they are easily led astray. Lure the seduced into your lair, where nothing is familiar.

16 — Prove Yourself
Most people want to be seduced. If they resist your efforts, it is probably because you have not gone far enough to allay their doubts—about your motives, the depth of your feelings, and so on. One well-timed action that shows how far you are willing to go to win them over will dispel their doubts. Do not worry about looking foolish or making a mistake—any kind of deed that is self-sacrificing and for your targets’ sake will so overwhelm their emotions, they won’t notice anything else. Never appear discouraged by people’s resistance, or complain. Instead, meet the challenge by doing something extreme or chivalrous. Conversely, spur others to prove themselves by making yourself had to reach, unattainable, worth fighting over.

17 — Effect a Regression
People who have experienced a certain kind of pleasure in the past will try to repeat or relive it. The deepest-rooted and most pleasurable memories are usually those from earliest childhood, and are often unconsciously associated with a parental figure. Bring your targets back to that point by placing yourself in the oedipal triangle and positioning them as the needy child. Unaware of the cause of their emotional response, they will fall in love with you. Alternately, you too can regress, letting them play the role of the protecting, nursing parent. In either case you are offering the ultimate fantasy: the chance to have an intimate relationship with mommy or daddy, son or daughter.

18 — Stir Up the Transgressive and Taboo
There are always social limits on what one can do. Some of these, the most elemental taboos, go back centuries; others are more superficial, simply defining polite and acceptable behaviour. Making your targets feel that you are leading them past either kind of limit is immensely seductive. People yearn to explore their dark side. Not everything in romantic love is supposed to be tender and soft; hint that you have a cruel, even sadistic streak. You do not respect age differences, marriage vows, family ties. Once the desire to transgress draws your targets to you, it will be hard for them to stop. Take them further than they imagined—the shared feeling of guilt and complicity will create a powerful bond.

19 — Use Spiritual Lures
Everyone has doubts and insecurities—about their body, their self-worth, their sexuality. If your seduction appeals exclusively to the physical, you will stir up these doubts and make your targets self-conscious. Instead, lure them out of the insecurities by making them focus on something sublime and spiritual: a religious experience, a lofty work of art, the occult. Play up your divine qualities; affect an air of discontent with worldly things; speak of the stars, destiny, the hidden threads that unite you and the object of the seduction. Lost in a spiritual mist, the target will feel light and uninhibited. Deepen the effect of your seduction by making its sexual culmination seem like the spiritual union of two souls.

20 — Mix Pleasure with Pain
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. Even instigate a break-up, subjecting them to an emptiness and pain that will give you room to manoeuvre—now a rapprochement, an apology, a return to your earlier kindness, will turn them weak at the knees. The lower the lows you create, the greater the highs. To heighten the erotic charge, create the excitement of fear.

21 — Give Them Space to Fall — The Pursuer Is Pursued
If your targets become too used to you as the aggressor, they will give less of their own energy, and the tension will slacken. You need to wake them up, turn the tables. Once they are under your spell, take a step back and they will start to come after you. Begin with a touch of aloofness, an unexpected non-appearance, a hint that you are growing bored. Stir the pot by seeming interested in someone else. Make none of this explicit; let them only sense it and their imagination will do the rest, creating the doubt you desire. Soon they will want to possess you physically, and restraint will go out the window. The goal is to have them fall into your arms of their own will. Create the illusion that the seducer is being seduced.

22 — Use Physical Lures
Targets with active minds are dangerous: if they see through your manipulations, they may suddenly develop doubts. Put their minds gently to rest, and waken their dormant senses, by combining a non-defensive attitude with a charged sexual presence. While your cool nonchalant air is calming their minds and lowering their inhibitions, your glances, voice, and bearing—oozing sex and desire—are getting under their skin, agitating their senses and raising their temperature. Never force the physical; instead infect your targets with heat, lure them into lust. Lead them into the moment—an intensified present in which the morality, judgement, and concern for the future all melt away and the body succumbs to pleasure.

23 — Master the Art of the Bold Move
A moment has arrived: your victim clearly desires you, but is not ready to admit it openly, let alone act on it. This is the time to throw aside chivalry, kindness, and coquetry and to overwhelm with a bold move. Don’t give the victim time to consider the consequences; create conflict, stir up tension, so that the bold move comes as a great release. Showing hesitation or awkwardness means you are thinking yourself, as opposed to being overwhelmed by the victim’s charms. Never hold back or meet the target halfway, under the belief that you are being correct and considerate; you must be seductive now, not political. One person must go on the offensive, and it is you.

24 — Beware the After-effects
Danger follows in the aftermath of a successful seduction. After emotions have reached a pitch, they often swing in the opposite direction—toward lassitude, distrust, disappointment. Beware of the long, drawn-out goodbye; insecure, the victim will cling and claw, and both sides will suffer. If you are to part, make the sacrifice swift and sudden. If necessary, deliberately break the spell you have created. If you are to stay in a relationship, beware a flagging of energy, a creeping familiarity that will spoil the fantasy. If the game is to go on, a second seduction is required. Never let the other person take you for granted—use absence, create pain and conflict, to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.

from Robert Greene's Art of Seduction

EDIT — Just watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (Jan 2007), the character Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) spends the whole episode ragging on Greene's first book, The 48 Laws of Power. He calls it "a guide to accumulating power for people that have never heard of Machiavelli." From Wikipedia:
Among the 48 are laws such as "Law 3: Conceal your intentions" and "Law 15: Crush your enemy totally." His next book The Art of Seduction is similar to 48 Laws in organization and tone but goes more in-depth regarding soft persuasion. It draws on historical characters such as Casanova and Lord Byron and analyzes the methods of seduction. The 33 Strategies of War is a kind of modern version of Sun Tzu's classic treatise on war, with some of Greene's original additions, relevant in the world of warfare today.

Robert Greene is currently working on a book with 50 Cent, entitled 50 Laws of Power.

I'm getting the feeling that Greene is something of a cheeseball and not exactly relevant in today's information economy.

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