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Book Summaries Psychology

Part 2: Poeticize Your Presence (The Art of Seduction)

Familiarity destroys seduction. This happens after your target has gotten to know you, and has discovered that you were not who they thought you were. You should not disappear completely, this will shift your target’s attention away from you, but being too available will make you seem all too human. You cannot be idealized if you are too familiar.

What I need is a woman who is something, anything; either very beautiful or very kind or in the last resort very wicked; very witty or very stupid, but something.

—ALFRED DE MUSSET

We like to flatter ourselves. We think we are more generous, intelligent, selfless than we are. It is hard to for us to be honest about our own limitations – we need to idealize ourselves.

As the writer Angela Carter remarks, we would rather align ourselves with angels than with the higher primates from which we are actually descended.

In our romantic entanglements, we need to idealize our partner because we see them as a reflection of ourselves. We resist the idea of having fallen for someone is tacky or tasteless or cheap – we fear what it may say about us.

People are dying for the opportunity to fantasize about you, don’t spoil it by overexposing yourself.

If you are easily had, you cannot be worth that much. It is hard to wax poetic about a person who comes so cheaply. If, after the initial interest, you make it clear that you cannot be taken for granted, if you stir a bit of doubt, the target will imagine there is something special, lofty, and unattainable about you.

Cleopatra knew that she wasn’t different from any other woman and her face was not so beautiful. But she knew that men tend to overvalue women, and all she needed to do was hint that there was something different about you. She made Caesar aware of her connection to great kings and queens of the past and told Antony that she descended from Aphrodite herself.

Being completely honest about your faults and virtues is the reverse tactic and it may work if you are interesting. This type of intimacy can be very seductive, and your target may idealize your vices. But what cannot be idealized under any circumstances is mediocrity – there is nothing seductive about mediocrity.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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