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Would you rather seduce or be seduced? The author Robert Greene shows you how to do either...or both.
Greene has a talent for looking at history and the classics to find a textbook for modern living. He has written an exhaustive book called "The Art of Seduction." It's over 450 pages long! This is only a small review of a small section of the book.
Here are the 9 Types of Seducers (incidentally, there are 18 Types of Seduction Victims too):
1. THE SIREN
The first and most ancient seducer of all is the Siren. She represents male fantasy. She is supremely confident, highly sexual, smells of danger, and is physically undeniable.
Her greatest power is the physical. There are many beautiful women in the world – but only a fraction are Sirens. It’s not just her look – it’s how she uses it. A scent, a heightened femininity evoked by clothing or makeup. She creates a sexual awareness – it bypasses the rational process.
Her beauty may not be perfect or complete. But she accentuates her positives – thus she controls your focus and distracts you analysis. The legendary beauty Marguerite de Valois pioneered the use décolletage in wardrobe – because she had the most beautiful breasts in France.
It’s not just beauty that makes a Siren, but rather a flair and style. She acts out the male fantasy. Cleopatra greeted - and seduced - Julius Caesar from the top of a pile of emeralds. Marilyn Monroe - an orphan - grew up with the deepest need to feel loved. She communicated this almost unconsciously and constantly.
A beautiful woman can bore a man; he’ll yearn for different pleasures. A Siren creates this illusion; he is conquered by it. A touch of danger adds spice and appeal. The intellectual can be the most susceptible to her, because his mental life so lacks the pure physicality of pleasure.
There are dangers for the Siren. Sirens can look easy. Cleopatra was hated in Rome as the Egyptian whore. A Siren can obviate this by looking innocent or like a victim of men’s desires. The Siren’s greatest weakness is this: past a certain age, her beauty will fade and she can’t project the fantasy anymore.
2. THE RAKE
What the physical is for the Siren, desire is for the Rake. The Rake is a great female fantasy figure. When he desires a woman – however briefly – he will go the ends of the earth for her. The Rake teaches us that intense desire has a distracting power on a woman.
The seducer’s dilemma is that he needs to plan and calculate, but if she suspects your motives, she will become defensive and fearful. But when the Rake pursues a woman, he looks like her slave. As such he inspires no fear.
To play the Rake, you must let yourself go and draw a woman into the purely sensual. Women are not the tender creatures our culture presumes. Like men, they are deeply attracted to the forbidden and dangerous. To play the Rake, you must convey a sense of risk and darkness, making her feel thrilled. Byron was a gothic poet and drank wine from a human skull. Don Juan offered pleasure for its sake, no strings attached.
The Rake’s reputation is priceless. So many women have succumbed, there has to be a reason, right? Women want what other women have. Rakes never apologize for their reputations; they embrace their bad name. Even when a Rake sins against her, she will find a way to forgive him. Women want to reform him.
Like the Siren, the Rake faces the most danger from members of his own sex. In the old days, a Rake was often an aristocrat, and no matter who he offended, he would go unpunished. Today, only stars and the wealthy can play the Rake with impunity; the rest of us need to be careful.
3. THE IDEAL LOVER
Most people have dreams in their youth that get shattered with age. Broken dreams become lifelong fantasies. The Ideal Lover reflects your fantasy.
Casanova was perhaps the most successful seducer in history; few women could resist him. His method was simple: on meeting a woman, he would study her, go along with her moods, find out what was missing in her life, and provide it. A bored wife needed adventure. Miss Pauline needed friendship. Ignazia needed suffering and challenge because her life was too easy.
The key to the Ideal Lover is observation. Ignore your target’s words and conscious behavior; focus on the tone of their voice, a blush here, a look there. Most people are so wrapped up in their own desires, so impatient, they are incapable of the Ideal Lover role today.
Madame de Pompadour saved King Louis XV from his eternal boredom. She wore different costumes every day, brought new curiosities to her room, proposed new projects like a buildings and country houses, and produced plays (she was always the star). For twenty years, Madame de Pompadour ruled both the court and the king’s heart, until her death at 43.
Most people believe themselves to be inwardly great. Ideal Lovers make us feel elevated, lofty, and destined for greater things. If another person seems to have that ideal quality, or brings it out in us, we fall in love.
The danger for the Ideal Lover is reality. Casanova usually was able to find a clever way to break off the relationship, before the woman realized the truth. When reality intrudes, distance is a good solution.
4. THE DANDY
Dandies excite us because they cannot be categorized, and hint at a freedom we want for ourselves. Men, not all women think aggressive masculinity is the sexiest. The Dandy has a much more sinister effect. He lures the woman in with exactly what she wants – graceful presence, attention to his appearance, sensitivity to detail, and a slightly cruel coquettishness.
Rudolph Valentino was a Dandy. His movements were graceful (he had been a professional dancer), his skin was smooth, and his face was pretty. His films included scenes of Valentino undressing, a kind of striptease of his trim body. He played exotic characters – sheiks and historical officers - who wore tight uniforms or jewelry. Valentino played with his physicality like a woman, but his image was masculine - chatting, flirting, but always in control.
Women can be masculine Dandies. Marlene Dietrich would dress like a man. Lou von Salome was a complete nonconformist who broke the hearts of academic Europe, including Nietzsche. She was brilliant, cold, calculating, and broke taboos. Her domineering streak could stir up masochistic yearnings.
The majority of people conform to whatever is normal for the time. The Dandy displays a true and radical difference – an insolent freedom. They never try to please. As Barbey d’Aurevilly wrote, “Dandies please women by displeasing them.”
The insolence of the Dandy is aimed at conventions. They live for pleasure, not for work. The key is to make everything an aesthetic choice. Dandies alleviate boredom.
A danger for the Dandy is the fact that insolence has its limits. Even a Dandy must measure out his impudence. Be an amusement, not a poison or a threat.
5. THE NATURAL
A child represents a world from which we have been forever exiled. And adult’s life is boring and compromised. So we have an illusion of childhood as a kind of golden age, even though it can often be a period of great confusion and pain.
Children are not as guileless as we like to imagine. They learn that if their natural innocence can persuade a parent to yield, then it is something they can use strategically.
Natural seducers are people who somehow avoided getting certain childish traits drummed out of them by adulthood. Natural seducers learn early the value of retaining an innocent quality. And a touch of innocence lowers a target’s guard.
Naturals can be impish and innocent. They are an undefensive lover. Their open-ness and freshness are a relief to us from the world’s dirty machinations. They can surprise you with their unusual energy or spontaneity.
Charlie Chaplin was a Natural; he was an adult child on the silver screen. Chaplin offered the illusion that life was once simpler and easier, and that for a moment, or for as long as the movie lasts, you can win that life back.
A childish quality can be charming but it can also be irritating. The most seductive Naturals are those who combine adult experience and wisdom with a childlike manner.
6. THE COQUETTE
The ability to delay satisfaction is the ultimate art of seduction – while waiting, the victim is held in thrall. Coquettes lead us on, alternating hot and cold, keeping us on their heels. People are inherently perverse. An easy conquest has a lower value than a difficult one; we are only really excited by what is denied us, by what we cannot possess in full. Coquettes are independent because they are narcissists.
To understand the peculiar power of the Coquette, you must first understand a critical property of love and desire: the more obviously you pursue a person, the more likely you are to chase them away. You signal a cloying neediness. Withdrawal makes us mysterious; we increase in their imaginations.
Josephine famously played the great Napoleon. He would ignore campaigns until he heard from her. When she turned cold, Napoleon would bring his rage to battle. Vanity is critical in love. Insecurity can be devastating. But after the insecurity, Coquettes return to ignite our hope and we feel desired again.
The world is full of people who try, people who impose themselves aggressively. They leave no space around themselves, and without space there can be no seduction. In a world that discourages direct confrontation, teasing and selective aloofness brilliantly disguises aggression.
Coquettes face an obvious danger: they play with volatile emotions. Every time the pendulum swings, love shifts to hate. Coquettes can overplay their hand. Once love and trust are broken, they never mend to former strength.
7. THE CHARMER
Charmers are consummate manipulators, masking their cleverness by creating a mood of pleasure and comfort. Their method is simple: they deflect attention from themselves and focus it on their target. Charmers make us feel better. Charmers do not argue, complain, or pester – what could be more seductive? By drawing you in with their indulgence they make you dependent on them.
Learn to cast the Charmer’s spell by aiming at people’s primary weaknesses: vanity and self-esteem. To be a Charmer you have to listen and observe. Let your targets talk and reveal themselves. Don’t talk about your problems. Listen to your target's complaints, but then distract them from their problems. They will fall under your spell.
Benjamin Disraeli charmed Queen Victoria. They exchanged flowery, almost romantic correspondence for years. Disraeli was not deceived by Queen Victoria’s dour exterior. Beneath it, he sensed, was a woman who yearned for a man’s affection and warmth. He consulted her frequently on policy decisions, asking for her advice. Disraeli so charmed the Queen that he was one of few men allowed to sit in her presence.
People who play on their beauty, have little power in the end. Beauty fades. Charm is ageless.
But Charmers can’t charm everyone. Cynics and confident types don’t need validation. The solution is to befriend and charm as many people as possible. Secure your power through numbers.
We often recognize Charmers; we sense their cleverness. Still, we fall under their spell. The reason is simple; the feeling that Charmers provide is so rare as to be worth the price we pay.
8. THE CHARISMATIC
Charisma is a presence that excites us. It comes from an inner quality – confidence, sense of purpose, contentment – that most people lack and want. Charismatics become a kind of screen of which others project their secret fantasies and longings. This quality radiates outward. They have a gift for oratory. They can seduce on a grand scale.
Charismatics express vision. Purposefulness is doubly charismatic in times of trouble. Since most people hesitate before taking bold action, people will believe in you through the simple force of your character. Call it the Savior Syndrome: once people imagine you can save them from chaos, they will fall in love with you.
Mystery lies at charisma’s heart, but it is a mystery expressed by contradiction. Mao could be proletarian and aristocratic, Peter the Great could be cruel and kind, Charles de Gaulle could be excitable and emotionally detached, Freud could be intimate and distant
A Charismatic relies on the power of words. Words are the quickest way to create emotional disturbance. They can uplift, elevate, stir anger, without referring to anything real.
But beware, charisma is as volatile as the emotions it stirs. Your passion, your anger, your confidence make you charismatic, but too much charisma for too long creates fatigue, and a desire for calmness and order.
9. THE STAR
Daily life is harsh, and most of us constantly seek escape from it in fantasies and dreams. Stars feed on this weakness. They are vague and ethereal. Learn to become an object of fascination by projecting the glittering presence of the Star.
Of all the parts of your body that draw this fetishistic attention, the strongest is the face; so learn to tune your face like an instrument, making it radiate a fascinating vagueness for effect.
Kennedy, during and after his campaign, did not argue with his opponents, he confronted them dramatically. He posed. He did not discuss policy details but waxed eloquent about grand mythic themes.
Seduction seeks to bypass consciousness, stirring the unconscious mind instead. The most eloquent expression of the unconscious is the dream, which is connected to myth. Dreams are filled with real situations, yet they are delightfully irrational, pushing realities to the extremes. Its fusion of the dream and reality that haunts us. This is what Freud called the “uncanny”: something that seems simultaneously strange and familiar.
First you must have such a large presence that you can fill your target’s mind the way a close-up fills the screen. Another way Stars seduce is by making us identify with them, giving us a vicarious thrill. People of your type will gravitate to you, identify with you, and share your joy or pain.
Stars must always renew their luster or face the worst possible fate: oblivion. People will turn against you if you bore them, for boredom is the ultimate social evil. Most importantly, never become obsessed with the obsessive quality of people’s interest in you.
All seduction is inherently manipulative. At its best, it's morally dubious. At its worst, it's the emotional equivalent of evil. It can taste sweet as saccharine and be just as false and toxic. So when your lover seems too good to be true, review this list. Maybe you'll find your lover there on the list. Would you still love them anyway?
Greene, Robert. The Art of Seduction. Penguin Books, 2001.
Hello! My name is Heath Shive, content manager at ScholarFox. I'll be the author of most of the blog posts. I'm a former geologist and currently a freelance writer. The world is complex and seemingly crazy. Good! Because when you love to learn, you'll never be bored.