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Question: What’s an effective “opening move” for a would-be seducer?

Robert Greene: Oh boy. It really depends on what you’re after and where you are. You know, if you’re in a bar you can ask certain things that might work for a one night stand that if you tried in a library would earn you like a book hit over your head, so it really depends on where you are. You know the thing is in seduction… I’m kind of avoiding your question, but I’m not. The thing in seduction is everybody that you’re dealing with is an individual and your problem is you’re bringing with you your baggage, your past, your stereotypes about who a man is or what a woman is like. The other sex is almost, Freud said, is like another country. You know you don’t really understand them in any way, so you bring with you all of these stereotypes, the preconceptions and you just throw them on that person, and then you also have these lines that you learn from Robert Greene’s book, all right, the Game or some other stupid thing like that, and then you know it’s like you’re not dealing with that person as who they are, and they know it and they feel it and it feels empty and mechanical, and so I preach it in The Art of Seduction is knowing that person, gathering intelligence on them. I hate to put it that way. Figuring out what makes them tick, who they are, what they’re needs are, what they’re missing in life, what they want, then when you reach that point and you know who they are then you can make something a little bolder. Sometimes being bold in that first time you meet somebody can work very well because it shows that you have a level of confidence, that you’re not nervous and it can kind of infect the other person, but it depends on the woman you’re trying to seduce. Your boldness can seem arrogant. It can seem cocky. It can seem like you’re just thinking about yourself. If you’re able to make that person feel like an individual and that they are wanted and desired for who they are then you’re going to seduce them whether your try boldness or whatever it is. So it’s more like individualizing the people you’re trying to seduce or reach in life.

Question: Can a would-be seducer gain power by appearing to yield it?

Robert Greene: Very much so, in fact, that is the better way to go than the boldness initially. In fact, my book is filled with that because I believe that is the best thing to do because what you want in life is you want that other person to come to you. You want to do it… be so clever and such a brilliant seducer that they are the ones that actually do the bold move, not realizing that you’re the magician who completely set it up. And so the initial chapters in The Art of Seduction I have the first part, which is about the character types and how to be a more kind of natural seducer, which sounds like a contradiction, but you have to read the book. The second half is this kind of process of moving through a seduction and in the initial ones I have a whole thing about being indirect. The person doesn’t even know that you’re pursuing them. You become their friend. It’s something called friend-to-lover strategy where you become their friend and there seems to be nothing sexual about it, and you develop this rapport and these ties, but at the same time you’re learning so much about the other person and you can then move to this other position. There's the chapter about weakness and appearing vulnerable, as if you’re almost kind of too emotional or sad or even pathetic and then the woman wants to take care of you. In Dangerous Liaisons, my favorite book, the one I use a lot in The Art of Seduction, the great rake Valmont who can seduce a beetle if he needed to, he was so good, is trying to seduce the one woman that’s impossible to do it because she is a prude. She is so religious. And he does. He seduces her by appearing to be so weak and vulnerable and he can’t control himself, and he is crying and he is so in love with her. The problem is he ends up… In the book he really is feeling weak. He really is in love with her and it turns against him, but he is able to seduce her by being weak, which is a typical thing that a man can use on a woman. So to answer your question, the indirect, the stepping back, the using weakness particularly for a man is by far the better strategy in life.

Recorded on December 14, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen

More from the Big Idea for Monday, December 06 2010


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