“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.”
― Euripides, Orestes
We are never as shy and gauche as we are when attempting to seduce someone we deeply like. The thought of someone this perfect coming to take an interest in us seems at once tantalizing and entirely implausible. We develop vertigo and, too often, fall.
Behind our insecurity lie two conjoined fears: that we are exceptionally awful, and that the beloved is exceptionally perfect. Both ideas are hugely destructive – and false.
On the first date with someone we like, we really want – of course – for the evening to go well. There are many, varied bits of advice in circulation: don’t do all the talking; be funny and light; ask them about themselves; don’t pry; select a small, perhaps Italian restaurant; leave a generous tip; wear nice shoes and so many other things.
We’re understandably nervous: we are trying to do something very strange and tricky- seduce another person. Not so much in the narrow and (potentially sinister) sense of trying to beguile them with carnal intents – but in a larger, more fundamental way of getting them to like us.
The question then is: what are the things that might properly show us in this light? What do we need to do to get them on board?
Well, a date is, in essence, an audition. Much more than we usually admit, we’re trying to imagine each other as prospective long-term partners.
There are two central priorities that you should be thorough with, and then the rest follows:
- The first is to show that we have a good relationship with ourselves. We shouldn’t try to reassure ourselves of our own dignity; we should grow at peace with the inevitable nature of our but also everybody else’s ridiculousness. We are idiots now, we have been idiots in the past, and we will be idiots again in the future – and that is entirely normal. There aren’t any other available versions of a human being.
- The second hugely seductive move is to signal that we view the other person with a mixture of tenderness and realism.
- Flirting matters!! Good flirting is in essence an attempt, driven by kindness and imaginative excitement, to inspire another person to believe more firmly in their own likability, psychological as much as physical. At its best, flirting can be a vital social process that generously lends us reassurance and freely redistributes confidence and self-esteem. The task is not to stop flirting, but to learn how better to practice its most honorable versions.
- Quick Tip: The good flirter isn’t making things up; they are not merely flattering or manipulating. They are offering us a view we very rarely get of ourselves as desirable.
- Seduce with confidence. Approach your date with the down-to-earth confidence of one misery-inducing human reaching out to another to start a relationship. Hold their gaze, be present, listen, lean in and connect. The eyes are the window to the soul, after all, so you can read a person deeply if you are open.”
Seduction, in its larger more important sense, means gradually persuading someone that we’re a plausible candidate with whom to be in a relationship.
Many things are in the moment exciting – but self-knowledge and perceptive generosity are the most properly seductive things in the world; because they are what make life with another person bearable. They are what indicate that we have what it would take to embark on a long, exciting, beautiful, and intermittently extremely painful journey beyond the first date.
We should, before heading out for the evening, tell ourselves that one is of course something of a cretin and an imbecile, but then so are they, and everyone else we will meet. One or two more acts of folly should, thereafter, not seem like they matter very much at all.
The art of seduction is knowing what they really want and slowly giving it to them, in a way that takes their breath away!