Do Part III Attract or How to Communicate With Women
This chapter will be devoted to discussing the things you should be doing in your interactions with women - and some of the things you should definitely not be doing. The overarching theme of all the recommended behaviors is leading; that for the avoidable behaviors is following. In the metaphorical dance between male and female, as in real dancing, there is no point at which it is appropriate for the man to follow. He is always leading. Know that, accept it, internalize it, and make no excuses for it - it is your job.
Your overall goal when in the presence of a woman is to create attraction between the two of you. Attraction is a feeling. Therefore, in order to create attraction, you must make a woman feel. As obvious as this may sound, many a man (including myself) has attempted to make a woman like him by talking about the weather, his job, the news, and other utterly dull topics that stimulate no emotion at all - and we wondered why the woman didn't want to make out or go on a second date. So let me repeat that: if you want a woman to be attracted to you, you have to make her feel. And making her feel is different from making her think.
To do this correctly, it is important that you feel something yourself as well. It is possible to use the following techniques to make a given woman for whom you feel little attraction to start liking you. But the techniques are orders of magnitude more effective when you feel attraction for the woman as well. Using techniques to attract a woman that you don't actually like is irresponsible and not consonant with enlightened self-interest.
The obvious next question is this: what should I make her feel, and how do I go about doing it? The answer is simple: be compelling. When you are compelling, people are compelled to react in response to you, almost without choice. Witty people are compelling because they make people laugh. Deep, philosophical people are compelling because people have to think in response to their questions. Poets and orators are compelling because they move people. Mysterious people are compelling because people want to ask questions and find out more. People who describe their hometown and boring 9-5 jobs are generally not compelling, because they do not evoke in their interlocutors a response other than "Uh-huh" or "That's nice."
Exercise 16. Use compelling role models to make yourself compelling
Think of five people you know who are compelling. What is it about them that makes them compelling? Are there any aspects of them that you can emulate? Now think of five people who are not compelling. What do they do? What are some non-compelling things about their behavior that you can avoid?
There are effective ways of being compelling, and then there are more effective ones. But before I discuss specific strategies, I want to talk about the one overarching strategy that most men overlook in their interactions with women that even precedes being compelling: frame-setting.
Frame-setting: The Undercurrent of Attraction
In any interaction between two people who know each other, there is an invisible frame that we subconsciously accept and follow: boss-employee, parent-child, friend-friend, buyer-seller. We are socially conditioned to recognize these frames and follow their scripts. We are particularly sensitive to the notion of whether the interaction is with a dominant, subordinate or equal individual. But what about interactions between strangers? In these cases, participants assume a position and allow the remainder of the interaction to carry on accordingly; rarely do the positions change once the interaction has begun.
He who controls the frame controls the interaction.
This brings us to a very important insight: in the beginning of every interaction with a stranger, there is an opportunity to assume the most favorable social stance - the dominant one. We tend to be attracted to people higher on the social gradient than us. You don't seek out women whom you perceive as less attractive or interesting than yourself; women behave the same way towards men. We're usually looking for someone cooler than we are (but not so cool as to seem out of reach). So simply assume that you are cooler. No one is likely to come along and challenge you with a Cool-o-Meter. If you simply maintain the stance, then it's as good as true.
Now that you have assumed the dominant social stance, you must also convey it effectively. You do this through a technique I call conversational scaling. Women are generally not attracted to men they can dominate. So demonstrate that you have the upper hand in conversation by keeping her challenged while remaining calm. The ultimate hallmark of dominance is imperturbability. So while maintaining utter calm, practice these three excellent techniques: the picky buyer stance, playful teasing, and active challenging. Let's discuss each of these techniques in turn.
Use conversational scaling to establish and maintain dominance.
First off, you want to always establish yourself as the buyer, as we discussed in Chapter 5. You are here to evaluate her, not the other way around. Is she good-looking enough for you? Fun enough? Cool and adventurous enough? When you're doing this, the last thing on your mind is her approval. If you're at a car dealership, do you worry about what the salesman thinks of you? Do you worry what the car thinks of you? People clearly aren't cars, but the point is this: if you're too busy evaluating something, you won't have time to worry about being evaluated. Also remember that evaluation is a dispassionate, somewhat detached activity, which is not the same as judgment. Evaluate carefully while avoiding judgment.
There's a philosophical reason why assuming the buyer stance works so well. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, no problem can be solved at the same logical level at which it was generated. When you assume the buyer's stance, you are at a meta-position to whatever she is doing - observing her and evaluating her actions (versus responding to them). This increases your chances of success in solving the problem of creating attraction, as compared to responding to her at her level, or even worse, trying to win her over. Another useful way to think about this is that you are helping her discover her attraction to you (assuming that it exists). You can't help from the same position as the person who's being helped, so assume that meta-position of guide/helper.
Teasing a woman immediately implies that you are coming from a higher social position than her. Tease her about everything - her clothes, her job, the fact that she's single, her hair, her make-up. Always do this playfully, never maliciously. If done in a playful and humorous enough manner, you can pretty much make fun of anything about her. If her jaw drops, she says something like "I can't believe you said that!" or she punches you in the arm, it means you're on the right track - carry on, mate. Whatever you do, don't back down. Done correctly, this can regress you both to a playful and childlike mood, which is an excellent position to be in. Childlike play is the gateway to adult play.
Here are some examples of teasing lines to illustrate the point and get you started. Remarks you make up right on the spot, in response to what's happening at the moment, are even better. If they're not working, that means you're being too serious - lighten up and have fun with them:
• "Are you single?" (she answers yes) "Why, is there something wrong with you?"
• If her hair is obviously dyed and the roots are showing: "Wow, it must take incredible skill just to dye just the roots of your hair."
• If you've been talking for a few minutes but not exchanged names: "Do you realize you haven't even introduced yourself yet? You call these manners?"
• If she's having more than one drink: "Does your AA sponsor know about this?"
• If she's wearing unusually tight or low-cut clothing: "Did you shrink the clothes in the dryer again?"
• If she's a lawyer, investment banker or some other corporate type: "So I guess Mother Teresa was your role model when you grew up, huh?"
Challenging a woman immediately establishes you as the evaluator, placing you higher on the social gradient. Disagree with her actively. "No" is a great line to practice early and often. A good structure to use is "Are you_enough?" Fill in the blank with all the qualities you expect from a companion: funny, spontaneous, adventurous, sexual, wealthy. Again, levity makes it all go down easier. Another useful structure is
"What is the_est thing you've done?" Expect this one to come right back at you, so be prepared with your own answer.
You can also prime the pump for attraction by asking for small favors. Psychologists have observed that one of the most reliable ways of making someone like you is not to do things for her, but to have her do things for you. As counterintuitive as this may sound, there is sound (albeit twisted) logic behind it. People try to avoid cognitive dissonance as much as possible. When someone does you a favor, unconsciously they're thinking, "Well, if I did that for him, it must mean I like him, otherwise I would not have done it." (See Chapter 2 of Cialdini's Influence). Action precedes and creates the feeling. There are myriad opportunities for doing this:
• At a beach or cafe: "Would you mind keeping an eye on my double bass?"
• At a concert or book reading: "Could you be kind enough to hold this seat for me?"
• At a bar or party: "Do you think you could pass me a napkin?" or "Could you hold this drink for me for a second while I adjust my turban?"
• At a supermarket: "Would you know how to pick a good kumquat?"
• On the street: "Do you know where I can find Krusty's Klown Kollege?"
• Anywhere else: "Do you have the time?"
Once you have asked for a small favor, it's a little-known but well-documented aspect of human behavior that now you have opened the door to asking even bigger favors. Psychological research has shown that people are up to 70% more likely to comply with a big request after having complied with a much smaller one (Freedman and Fraser, 1966). And of course, complying with the bigger request (e.g. buying you a drink after she has agreed to hold your drink) will activate her unconscious mechanisms to make her like you even more.
The other useful aspect of this technique is that it opens up the flow of positive energy between you. Once she has done you a small favor, it is perfectly OK for you to reciprocate without her thinking that you have ulterior motives. When you do something for a stranger out of the blue, you usually evoke distrust, especially if the stranger is a woman. For better or for worse, people are conditioned to believe that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and so immediately assume that you want something from them.
This is one of the reasons why "Can I buy you a drink?" is a terrible opening line and should be avoided always. Henceforth, you will never offer to buy drinks for women you do not know (unless you've got money to burn and it's something you already do for fun). But I digress: the point here is that once she has done a small favor for you, it's all right for you to do nice little things for her, because you're now doing it as friends. You are no longer trying to buy into her favor or impress her - you're merely being friendly. As a rule, it's best that you let her do more favors for you than you do for her - a 2:1 ratio is a good general guideline. And, whatever you do, don't take the reciprocal kindness as an excuse to turn into a wimpy, needy pleaser.
Notice how the same behavior can have completely different meanings and resultant effects just because of the way it is framed. Become more and more aware of frames of interaction and use them to your advantage.
Attraction-reducing behavior: five to avoid
In addition to knowing which behaviors to engage in to engender and enhance attraction, it is also useful to recognize prior patterns of behavior that have hampered your progress. Instead of obsessively avoiding the following behaviors at all cost, causing you to behave in newly weird and unattractive ways, simply become more aware of their occurrence in your everyday life and gradually phase them out, allowing them to be replaced by more effective behaviors. The following technique will help you get rid of these and other behaviors with remarkable efficiency.
Exercise 17. Use the rubber band technique to modify behaviors rapidly
To dispatch any negative behavior that you're simply through with, use this technique which gives near-miraculous results. Wear a relatively wide rubber band that fits loosely around your wrist. Now every time you engage in an undesirable thought or behavior for any reason, simply pull on the rubber band and give yourself a good snap. Make sure that you snap yourself during or immediately after the occurrence of the negative thought or behavior. Even if it's just 15 seconds later, it won't work, so let it pass and wait for the next occurrence. Never snap yourself frivolously; just do it when you've actually earned it. What will happen is that initially, you'll be snapping yourself left and right - 10-20 times a day even. But very quickly, the frequency of the snapping decreases and at the end of 2 weeks, you'll hardly ever snap yourself. This is the fastest, most effective self-improvement technique I have ever encountered.
And now, the behaviors to avoid:
Compliance. Every act of compliance on your part shifts the attraction gradient in your disfavor, because when you comply you are following, not leading. Notice all the little ways that women ask you to comply, and graciously sidestep most of them or ask the woman to earn the favor. One of my techniques is to ask playfully, "What's the magic word?" or "I don't know, have you been a good girl today?" whenever a woman asks for something, even it's as trivial as the time of day or wanting to pass. The most pervasive act of compliance is answering questions. The way to avoid that (without sounding like a complete psychopath) is to be humorously evasive most of the time - especially when it comes to hackneyed small-talk questions like "What do you do?" and "How old are you?" A good non-linear response makes her laugh and piques her curiosity even further, tilting the attraction gradient in your favor. Have an arsenal of non-standard responses handy -the more outrageous the better. Be a rivet designer, stunt double, mattress tester, retired stripper, undercover reporter or spelunker - anything but what you actually do for a living (unless your job is already sufficiently outlandish). Every once in a while, switch to earnest mode and actually give a straight answer when you see she's suffered enough, but only when you feel like it and she's earned it.
Neediness. Another form of following. This doesn't require too much explanation - it's the opposite of self-sufficiency. Run it through your own neurology, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about here: needy people can be spotted from miles away and are simply not attractive. When in doubt, being wanted is much more attractive than being needed.
Clinginess and possessiveness. Again, the antithesis of self-sufficiency, and a covert way of following. It unequivocally broadcasts inner weakness. Avoid always, especially when you feel you might be losing a woman. Spend time with another woman, your buddies, or even alone to avoid this plague.
Pleaser behavior. Remember that you are evaluating her, so if anything, she should be trying to please you, not the other way around. Doing things to make her like you is tantamount to an abdication of your personal power. If you feel like doing something nice for her, by all means go ahead - generosity of spirit is always commendable. But remember the motivation: you do it because it feels good to you, not because you're hoping that she'll like you for it.
Demonstrating more interest than her. By definition, the gradient of attraction only exists in your favor when she remains slightly more interested in you than you in her. Be attentive and interested, but never overwhelmingly so. If you must make a positive comment, "You're all right" or "You're kind of a cool girl" are orders of magnitude better than "You're really wonderful" or "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever been out with." Never gush, even though you may feel the urge to do so sometimes. Not only is it self-indulgent and weak, but it evinces a lack of discipline. And it's an example of following, not leading.
Most of these avoidable behaviors arise when we're not sure where we stand with a woman we like. The behaviors are particularly pervasive when we fear that we are about to lose her. In that sense, they are all fear-based responses, which are not constructive. You can't really help feeling fear every once in a while, so that's OK. Never demonize the feeling. What you can control, however, is whether or not you choose to do something silly while you're experiencing the fear. Better to sit still and do nothing than to do something that will only aggravate whatever problem you think you're having.
Never do anything out of fear - the result will be counterproductive. Wait for the fear to subside, take stock, and take effective action from a position of calm strength.
If all that we have discussed so far seems a bit counterintuitive, that's okay. The wisdom of the Tao is often counterintuitive and paradoxical, and so is the Tao of social interaction. Just remember to keep an open mind and try everything out to see how well it works for you - without a priori judgment as to how things should work.
When a superior man hears of the Tao, He immediately begins to embody it. When an average man hears of the Tao, He half believes it, half doubts it. When a foolish man hears of the Tao, He laughs out loud. If he didn't laugh, It wouldn't be the Tao.
Thus it is said:
The path into the light seems dark,
The path forward seems to go back,
The direct path seems long,
True power seems weak,
True purity seems tarnished,
True steadfastness seems changeable,
True clarity seems obscure,
The greatest art seems unsophisticated,
The greatest love seems indifferent,
The greatest wisdom seems childish.
The Tao is nowhere to be found.
Yet it nourishes and completes all things.
-- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 41 (transl. Stephen Mitchell)
In this particular case, the counterintuitive wisdom is that a mildly antagonistic stance can lead to familiarity much faster than a blandly pleasant stance. The scientific explanation behind it is that mild antagonism causes the secretion of adrenaline, which mediates arousal and rapid attraction (Fisher, 2004). I don't necessarily advocate starting a fistfight when you first meet a woman (if you do, feel free to report back on its effectiveness), but it's a safe bet that a challenging attitude will evoke more emotion in her than simply being nice.
How to be compelling, continued: The five methods
Let's get back to the discussion of how to be compelling. There are as many ways of being compelling as there are people on this planet. When you are being compelling, you are rapidly differentiating yourself from the masses and creating a spark of interest. Here I will describe five different strategies for being compelling - five ways in which you can evoke curiosity, wonder, awe, excitement, intrigue and other emotions that create energy flow, drawing people towards you.
Mystery. Mystery is simply missing information. Most men tend to talk about themselves endlessly, throwing around facts and knowledge and telling their interlocutor everything they want to know about him and then some: work, house, car, education, pet names, etc. Not only is this poor conversational manners, but it is also patently ineffective (unless you're some showoff rich or famous guy, in which case you wouldn't need this book in the first place). What actually draws people to you is missing information. So refuse to give out standard facts like what you do or how old you are. Then tell stories that hint at an exciting life and a breadth of interests, and wait for the woman to draw you out instead of just reciting your resume unbidden. Telling a story that begins "The other day I was flying my Cessna to Napa Valley" is much more effective than saying "I know how to fly and like wine - please like me." The more you can maintain the suspense of missing information, the better. Do not relent if the woman seems to get mad or impatient - this is actually part of the attraction process. Recognize it, enjoy it, and don't give in.
Another simple, incredibly effective way to evoke an aura of mystery is by doing magic tricks. There are dozens of incredibly simple tricks that you can learn in a matter of minutes; your local bookstore will have several books to help you with that, or you can just find some online. The key is not to do it as an entertainer clamoring for her attention and approval, but rather in a casual, matter-of-fact "hey, want to see something cool" manner. You are entertaining yourself first, everyone else second. All you need is three good tricks (never repeat one), and you have set the stage for greatly amplified attraction.
Outlandishness. For the most part, people lead boring lives, and so any kind of outlandishness will create a spark of interest. The easiest way to do this is by having an unusual item of clothing. Women are incredibly quick to pick up on these things. I have a big red ring that I wear every so often. Girls will spot it from across the room and come over to inspect it, or use it as an excuse to start a conversation. Networking experts call these items 'whatsits' - things that compel people to come over and ask. Funky hats, jewelry, unusual shoes, interesting pants - these are all good starts. You need not get a massive tattoo of Mickey Mouse on your forehead or put a railroad bolt through your nose to get attention - just a little $2 ring from a costume shop can be enough. For the truly daring, try the technique proposed in a men's magazine a few years ago and show up to a bar or social event in pajamas. Have a good story ready, because you are guaranteed to be the center of attention.
Outlandishness and outrageousness can also be conveyed through personality, speech and writing, but that's the topic for a different course. If you wish to make that your angle of approach, I suggest studying the comedy of George Carlin.
Also take note of what outlandishness is not. If you go too overboard, you'll just be seen as a curiosity and a freak, not someone worth connecting with. The extreme manifestation of any trait turns into its opposite. Looking like all the other rebels is the same as being ordinary. All things in moderation is the way of the Tao.
Excellence. Any kind of excellence is a great prelude to attraction. In the movie The Tao of Steve, the protagonist Dex had the protocol 'Be excellent, be detached, be gone' in his dealings with women. He demonstrated excellence through his wit, erudition, cooking and musical ability. If you have a talent, by all means grasp the opportunity to display it. Quote poetry as part of your conversation, or even better, write your own and recite it. Invite your date to your musical performance or a showing of your paintings. If you believe you are utterly devoid of talent, think harder - everybody has some talent. Or even better, develop one. Even Mozart had to learn how to play the piano and compose; he wasn't born with it.
Research has shown that women across all cultures respond very strongly to male displays of talent. There seems to be a strong evolutionary reason for this drive. In fact, in his book The Mating Mind, Geoffrey Miller argues persuasively that the incredible complexity of the human brain evolved not for surviving on the savannah (which chimps manage just fine with a much simpler brain), but rather for wooing potential mates. It is no coincidence that great musicians, writers, singers, orators and statesmen have also tended to be highly successful with women. Make no mistake: excellence requires effort, and almost everything that The Tao of Dating asks you to do requires taking action. But excellence also has unmistakable rewards.
Intenselyfocussed attention. One of the most powerfully seductive things you can do with a woman is to give her your full attention. You'd be surprised and shocked at how rarely men do it. Frank Sinatra's laserlike attention reputedly made women swoon (he was also a rich, famous and good-looking singer, but the technique's still a good one). This means you are completely focussed on her, listening to every word she says, asking her questions and following up on what she just said. It does not mean saying "What?" every two minutes, craning your neck or shifting your gaze to check out the waitress walking behind your date. Women are very finely attuned to where your attention is and notice immediately when it's not on the one in front of you. There is a time and place for being a little aloof, but every once in a while, bestow your full attention on her.
There are tools for facilitating this. A wise man once said, "A bad conversationalist talks about himself. A good conversationalist lets you talk. A great conversationalist talks about you." Little pop-psychology personality games provide a nice conversation-in-a-can and help you pay full attention to her, especially if you're the distractable type - and they're all about her. The one I recommend is a game called The Cube. The book describing it is out of print, but can be bought online: The Secrets of the Cube, by Annie Gottlieb and Slobodan Pesic. You may also be able to find most of its contents online. I like to shorten the game to three questions in the interest of time: the cube, the ladder and the horse, representing her self, friends and mate, respectively. It does the job without taking too long. I've found the Cube to be highly accurate, while things like palm-reading tend to be more fun and entertaining. Other good pop-psychology games:
• Animal, color, water: Ask her for three ways in which she would describe her favorite animal, favorite color, and water. Respectively, they are supposed to represent her ideal companion, her self, and her attitude towards sex. Opens up the conversation to a whole new realm of possibilities.
• The Forest and the Bear: Ask her to imagine that she's in a forest. Ask her to describe the forest. Now she encounters a bear. What happens and how does she get past? As she gets to the edge of the forest, there is a body of water. How does she describe it and how does she cross it? On the other side of the body of water, there is a home. Describe the home. The forest is how she sees life in general; the bear represents challenges and difficulties; the body of water represents her attitude and behavior towards sex; and the home represents her future self.
• Strawberry Fields: This game cuts directly to sex without other superfluous distractions like bears, cubes and forests. First question: there is a strawberry field in the distance. How does she feel about it? This is supposed to reflect her attitude towards sex. Now you say that there is a barrier between her and the field - what's the barrier, and how does she get past it? This is supposed to reflect her internal barriers to sexual experience. Now she is in the field - how much does she partake of the strawberries? This is, shockingly enough, supposed to reflect the size of her sexual appetite. Now you say that the strawberry field belongs to a farmer - how would that change her behavior? This reflects her attitudes towards sexual boundaries and restrictions. Very fun, very revealing game.
Fun. People tend to move towards pleasure and move away from pain. This simple model can explain 99+% of all human behavior. If you are a source of pleasure and amusement, people will naturally gravitate towards you. There are some people who are just the life of the party, and they create an aura of attraction around themselves. Not everyone is that type, but you can certainly make a conscious choice to be more oriented towards fun and less towards seriousness. Funny stories to tell and an open, friendly attitude towards all are good starting points. Once again, all in moderation: the life of the party is attractive, while the clown of the party is less so.
Moderation is the key to making all of these techniques work and is one of the overarching themes of Eastern philosophy. The extreme manifestation of any trait has the opposite effect than that intended (and is often just plain creepy). The rule to follow so you never go overboard is simple: always leave her wanting more. We already mentioned this in an earlier chapter, and it deserves repetition. If she's wanting more, great - you've reached a good waystation. We'll elaborate even more on this rule in the section on take-aways.
Always leave her wanting more.
The fail-safe technique for being compelling
We've gone through a fair amount of material here, and frankly it's a lot to remember. And maybe none of these ideas for being compelling fit well with your personality. You're just not the extrovert, the showman, the enigma. Or maybe you are, but for some reason you're having an off night, or you're tired. Is there another way of still being compelling? Luckily, there is. And this technique of last resort may actually be the most potent of the lot. It is also the most counterintuitive and the most obvious. It's called listening. That's right - just letting her talk and listening to what she has to say.
A few times in my life someone has told me in the course of a conversation, "You are the most interesting person I have ever met." All of these encounters had one thing in common: I was hardly saying a word. It's safe to say that of 30 minutes of conversation, I had at most a minute of airtime. I had learned all kinds of things about their lives, and they hardly knew a thing about me. And yet they said I was the most interesting person they had ever met. Why? Because the most interesting person to you in the world is yourself. When you look at a group snapshot, what's the first thing you look for? People's brains are tuned to WII-FM - What's In It For Me radio, 24 hours a day. And if you tune in to that station, too, they have no choice but to find you utterly fascinating.
There is a bit of an art to this. It's helpful to repeat verbatim part of what your interlocutor is saying to you. Don't paraphrase - repeat verbatim. Continue doing the rest of the rapport techniques as well, which we are about to go over. It also helps if you have genuine interest in what she's talking about and ask for more in-depth information. The best question I have come across is what's important to you about that? That way, each time you ask the question, you're getting higher and higher level information about the true motivations behind a person's inclinations and actions. It is also less harsh and confrontational than repeatedly asking why, as in why did you do that.
Asking "what's important to you" has many magical effects, amongst which is making you quite interesting to the person you're asking questions from. A good follow-up question to that is how does that make you feel. For example, let's say she says she likes to go to the Caribbean because she enjoys scuba diving. A good question to ask now is, "Wow, scuba - how does it make you feel when you're scuba diving?" This opens up the door to more feelings-related questions, which is what you should be talking about in the first place.
The foolproof internal guide for your actions
There are so ways to behave in response to women. How to know when you're doing the right thing? I am now going to give you a foolproof tool for testing every possible action you could take in your interactions with a woman to see whether or not it is creating attraction. It's called running it through your own neurology. You're wondering whether you should send her a particular email? Send it to yourself first and see how it makes you feel. You want to ask her out the day after you've met her? Imagine her asking you out, and notice how it makes you feel. You're wondering whether it's the right time to kiss her? Imagine her making a move on you at that moment, and use that as a gauge for your action. Or even better, imagine that you are the girl, and notice how you'd feel if a guy tried (or didn't try) to kiss you at that moment. Generally, if you run a particular scenario through your own neurology and it feels in any way needy, boring, desperate, wimpy or non-compelling, it probably is. You're better off doing something else or nothing at all.
When you're unsure of whether or not to take a particular course of action, do an internal check by running it through your own neurology.
The physiology of attraction
On a fundamental level, feelings are created by neurotransmitters. In her book Why We Love, Helen Fisher divides love feelings into three categories: lust, romance, and long-term attachment. Romance can trigger lust; lust can also trigger romance, but to a lesser extent. Attachment is a byproduct of lust and romance over the long term. The hormone primarily responsible for lust is testosterone; adrenaline is also involved in mediating lust and short-term attraction. Romance (a.k.a 'being in love') is mediated by dopamine and norepinephrine. Attachment is mediated by oxytocin in women and vasopressin in men. The table below summarizes the various hormones and neurotransmitters involved in love feelings and how each one is evoked. Don't worry too much about which action evokes which substance; just know that all of the substances in the end increase attraction in some way.
can increase testosterone levels
thought to mediate love at first sight
oxytocin (in women)
nipple & genital stimulation, orgasm, touch
creates long-term bonding
vasopressin (in men)
genital stimulation, touch, dehydration
mediates rapid attraction
Phenylethanolamine (PEA) is a particularly interesting chemical stimulated by looking directly into the eyes of another person. One study showed that looking directly into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex for just two minutes engendered passionate feelings in both people (Kellerman et al., 1989).
Without getting into too much scientific detail (for that I highly recommend Helen Fisher's books), just by looking at the table above we can reach some powerful conclusions. Dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine, oxytocin and PEA mediate attraction-related feelings. So to evoke those feelings, you want to engage in novel, exciting, physically and emotionally arousing activities, and pepper those activities with touch and direct eye-gazing. If you try to do those all at the same time, you may feel overwhelmed and look silly to boot. Better just to know that these are the things that you should be doing, and do them regularly until they are second nature.
One of my hypnosis teachers once said about personal interactions, "Inside of rapport, anything is possible; outside, nothing is possible." In sales, persuasion, relationships, or any kind of human transaction, rapport is the key to effective communication. If you learn nothing from this book except for how to establish and maintain rapport, you will be miles ahead of the rest of the pack.
Everyone knows what rapport is but finds it difficult to describe. I think of it as that familiar feeling of standing next to someone looking out at the rest of the world together, versus sitting facing one another, each with your own point of view. When you are in rapport, you become like the other person, and people tend to like people who are like themselves. Entire books have been written on this subject alone, but the essence of them can be conveyed in a small space. In this section, I will give you a triple treat: the traditional tools for rapport (which you should use regularly), the three secret techniques for rapport, and one counterintuitive method.
The key techniques of nonverbal rapport are mirroring and matching. If you watch two people in deep conversation, you may notice something eerie: their body postures tend to become very similar to one another. The image to keep in mind is that of the tête-à-tête: two people hunched over at a table at the same angle, talking in conspiratorial tones. Basically, you are mimicking the body language of your interlocutor as closely as possible, either by being the mirror-image (i.e. mirroring) or matching the motion body part for body part (e.g. she moves her left hand, you move your left hand). You want to do this as closely as possible. Hardly anyone ever notices when she is being mirrored or matched, because almost all body language is unconscious, which by definition is what we are not consciously aware of.
Which movements of the body are more important? Where to start? The proper technique is to match from the macro to the micro. Start with general body posture, the position of limbs in space, and then move on to motion of hands, feet, fingers, neck angle and facial muscles. Once you've mastered that, you can start to mirror vocal tone, volume and tempo as well. And finally, for achieving ultra-deep rapport, you want to mirror diction by repeating verbatim what the person just said. This is not active listening - this is word-for-word repetition of what you just heard.
One of the reasons why these techniques are so useful is that in order to do them right, you must pay complete attention to your companion. This in itself is enough to engender attraction. And now here comes the really powerful part: when you start out mirroring and matching, you first follow your interlocutor's behaviors. This is called pacing. What truly deepens rapport is to shift subtly from pacing to leading: you start doing things and see if she follows you. Some people understand and use mirroring, matching, pacing and leading almost instantly. Others may take more time. Just doing the pacing part is a big step forward, so focus on that first.
Ideally, the nonverbal rapport protocol becomes a habit so ingrained that you use it unconsciously and all the time. In any case, you should still use the following three secret techniques for creating and enhancing rapport, especially in interactions with less time to establish pacing and leading:
1) Assume rapport. Imagine that the person you're speaking to is an old friend that you've known for at least three years. The attitude is more along the lines of "Hey, good to see you again, buddy" than "How do you do, ma'am."
2) Go into the emotional state of the bond. What would it feel like if right now you were to bump into your long-lost buddy that you haven't seen in three years? How thrilled would you be? How eager would you be to talk to him? Summon that same feeling and bring it to the interaction at hand.
3) Share a secret. Preface your statement with "Can I tell you a secret?," then go ahead and share. It need not be something earth-shattering or embarrassing; it need not even be about you: "I just really appreciate your style" works, as does "I just can't stand mosquitoes." The fact that you prefaced it as being a secret is enough.
To really grasp rapport, think of your best friend and how you interact with him. How do you greet each other? What sort of things do you talk about? How do you bring up a topic of conversation? In deep rapport, you're not afraid of losing your audience - you've been friends for years, for example - and so you are more willing to antagonize each other, tease one another or be slightly rude. This brings us to the covert technique which I call the rapport of anti-rapport. If right from the outset of an interaction you start playfully teasing someone, the implication is that rapport is already so deep as to permit this. Paradoxically, this creates rapport. Two caveats: first, it's important to do this playfully and not too seriously. Do it wrong, and you'll come off as a presumptuous jerk. Second, follow up the anti-rapport with the usual rapport techniques, using it as the spice rather than the main course. Every time you do something to deliberately break rapport without actually breaking it, you strengthen rapport.
How to create passion
Obstacles are the key to creating passion. That which is gained with little effort is lost without much regret - easy come, easy go. Passion is like water building up behind a dam: the more it builds up, the more urgent it becomes to break through and express itself. You don't get that kind of intensity, the rush of water rolling over things wild and uncontrolled, unless the dam had held it back first. So in order to create passion, you must do two things: plant the seed, then create obstacles, even if they don't really exist. Planting the seed means giving her something to think about. Ideally you want it to be something that runs in her head over and over again while you're not around. A poem or well-placed compliment is good for that. Then create obstacles. Play up the distance between you. Set up dates two weeks to a month in advance while building up anticipation for them in the interim. Or, if you feel particularly daring and dastardly, do all of the above - then postpone the date at the last minute for an extra day or two (more than that and the date may never happen). Which would you prefer - a mediocre date tonight, or one next month that's guaranteed to go extremely well? Think of the great love stories of history. The idea of star-crossed lovers is as old as time, and it is precisely because of the seemingly insurmountable barriers between the lovers that the passion intensifies.
To create passion, plant the seed and create obstacles.
Success and integrity
These and other techniques may seem calculated, and to a certain extent they are. In the mating game, all the parties involved are doing what they can to improve their chances of success: makeup and clothing to enhance the appearance. Fancy restaurants to create the ambience. As much as we may dislike playing games, we have little choice in the matter. So instead of fighting the game, why not play to win. Most people do not play to win. Rather, they play to remain in their comfort zone while maintaining moral superiority. They will disparage Bill Gates as a filthy rich jerk and Hugh Hefner as a lecherous old man while being happy to switch places with them given the opportunity. Do not be one of those hypocrites. Play to win. As long as you're not intentionally hurting anyone (including yourself) in the process, it's the right thing to do.
To have these techniques work optimally, you have to find your own comfort level with them. If you know your intentions are good and there is a win for both parties, then by all means forge ahead. Also, ask yourself this: if being slightly more deliberate and disciplined than usual in dating means that both you and your date get to have a rockin'
good time and a memorable experience, who loses? The idea is not to resort exclusively to manipulative tactics to get what you want, but rather to recognize the structure of human interactions and the effective steps required to achieve a certain outcome. The Tao merely shows you the way the world works, without strict judgment about right or wrong. However, when you are aligned with your own inner feeling and integrity, you tend to become much more effective, and that is what I recommend. Enlightened self-interest is the way of the Tao.
Getting contact information from women: theory and practice
Sometimes it happens that you meet a fabulous woman, you have an engaging conversation together and for some reason you part without being able to get in touch again. This section is devoted to capturing the value you have created in your interaction. You've created attraction, she's into you, you're into her; now make sure you can follow up. The first rule is simple: do all the things already mentioned in this chapter. Make getting the contact information a foregone conclusion. If you've been teasing her, making her laugh and making her feel close to you, she'll be more worried about you taking her number than the other way around. The Tao Te Ching has something to say about this:
If you want to shrink something, You must first allow it to expand. If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish. If you want to take something, You must first allow it to be given. This is called the subtle perception Of the way things are.
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 36 (transl. Stephen Mitchell)
Before you can take something, you must allow it to be given. Before you can get her number, you must allow it to be given to you by creating the circumstances that make her willing to see you again. Not coincidentally, this is true of every phase of the relationship, so keep these words in mind.
When to get the contact information
Most people wait until departure time to exchange information. There are several pitfalls to this. First, you're not taking the lead. Half the time she will be the one leaving first, and you'll be the one chasing her down. This diminishes attraction. Second, you never know what might happen at the last minute - you could be in a rush to catch a ride, she could be in a hurry, and there may be no practical, elegant way of exchanging information. Don't let circumstance get in the way of a potentially good connection - take matters into your own hands. Third, there is an ebb and flow to any interaction, and by the end you may be at an ebb, when she's less enthusiastic about the exchange. Capture the value of the interaction at the peak of interest.
What I recommend is to get contact information in the middle of your interaction, and as early as possible. There are many good reasons for this. As I just mentioned, there will be peaks and valleys of interest, and when rapport is deep and interest is high, it just follows naturally that you will want to exchange contact information. At these times, a simple "Hey, do you have a card?" (followed up by, "Well, here's mine; why don't you write down your information" if she doesn't have one) is all it takes to make sure that the avenue for future contact is open. You can also create a pseudo-departure by saying, "Hey, I've got to get back to my friends now - why don't we exchange info before I forget," thus creating a natural juncture at which you can exchange contact information. The great thing about getting the information early is that, having done that, she has taken action indicating interest in you (and complied with your request for a small favor - see above), thereby increasing attraction and rapport at an unconscious level. In a way, you two are now in the next phase of the relationship. You are also ahead of every other guy in the room.
Keep in mind is that your goal is not getting a phone number, but rather spending time with a person you find interesting. This may seem trivial, but I cannot emphasize it enough: you're looking for company, not digits. Too often men get caught up in getting phone numbers and forgetting the person right in front of them. Women know this, recognize this and are annoyed by it. Give your full attention to a woman that you're interested in, and she will likely reciprocate. If there's more than one woman in the room that interests you, by all means speak to them all, but give each your full attention when you do so. They are also there to meet new people and know the score; it's okay to talk to several people in a social gathering. They also know that your initial interaction is a microcosm of your future relationship, and if you're rubbernecking the first time you speak to her, she knows exactly what to expect further down the road.
How to get the contact information
One of the time-honored techniques in hypnosis is to arrange circumstances such that your intended outcome emerges naturally and effortlessly. This is also the way of the Tao. The best way to get contact information from a woman you're with is to make a date with her right there on the spot. That way, the contact information is a foregone conclusion; after all, you'll need a way to get in touch with each other.
There are two principles at work here. One is that by setting your goal far beyond (e.g. date or make-out session) of what you're actually willing to settle for (e.g. getting contact information), you're much more likely to achieve that proximate goal. This embodies the Italian saying, "Shoot for the moon and settle for the stars." Do this all the time with your interactions with women, and you will get some surprising results. One fun mental gambit I like is to imagine running off with her to Las Vegas to get married at the end of the night. That way, everything up to that point is completely presupposed in my mind and therefore much more likely to happen.
The second principle at work is the power of because, or what I call the copy machine effect. Ellen Langer, a social psychologist at Harvard, performed a now-classic experiment involving cutting in line to make copies. When the researcher approached the line and said, "I have five sheets. Can I cut in front of you?" he got a 50-60% compliance rate. However, when he changed the request to "I have five sheets. Can I cut in front of you because I'm late for an important job interview?" the compliance rate jumped to 94%. But wait - it gets better. When the researcher asked "Can I cut in front of you because I need to make some copies?" the compliance rate was 93% - statistically identical to the preceding scenario, even though the reason was completely meaningless. This means that you are almost twice as likely to get compliance from an interaction when you offer a reason - any reason. So give the woman a reason why she is giving you her email and phone number, and she is much more likely to give it to you in the first place and then follow through with the date.
Use the persuasive power of because whenever making a request.
The way to have reasons is to be prepared, as discussed earlier. Have a mental list of interesting events around town. Ideally, you'd have a regular one for every day of the week. That way, if it comes up in conversation that you both like to dance, you say, "By the way, what are you doing next Monday? I know this great little salsa place which has the best live band and great Cuban food." If this is too much effort, then master the art of the obvious reason, as in the Langer copy machine experiment. Here are three examples, from neutral to funny to ballsy. Pick a template that you're comfortable with, then make your own variations on that theme:
• I'd like to continue this conversation later.
• What are you doing on Wednesday? If you're free, I thought we could elope to
• Let's get together sometime, since you seem to appreciate the company of fine men.
Preface with or add the request "Why don't you write down your information (because)." A few points about this formulation: it's phrased as a command, which is much stronger and more effective than a simple request (e.g. "Can I have your number pleeease?"). It softens the command with the phrase why don't you, so it doesn't sound too harsh. It avoids the words give me your number, which she may associate with any number of unsavory yahoos who have hit on her in the past, thus avoiding having you thrown in that bin as well.
Striking while the iron is hot: when to call or write
Here's something very important to remember: men and women are different from each other. And one way in which they differ is in the way they feel. Women tend to cycle through feelings more rapidly and more intensely than men. That means that if she feels great about you right now, there is no guarantee that she will feel that way tomorrow, or the day after. Men are often surprised that they can have a massively positive experience with a woman one day, and a few days later have her seem cold and uncommunicative. Because men don't operate this way, it's hard for them to understand this, but you don't have to understand it - you just have to accept it, and make allowances for it. That's the way of the Tao. Most of the time, it's not about you, so never take it personally. It's not a bug; it's a feature.
Since both men and women tend to make decisions based on feelings and then justify them later rationally, capitalize on the good feeling you have created with a woman immediately. Don't wait too long to ask her out after you first meet her - do it the next day, or at the very latest the day after that. More than one woman has told me that she will not call a man back if he takes more than a day to call her for the first time, because this means that he's not really that interested. Remember that. Call or write the next day, or the day after next. Never take more than three days if you're interested in her.
Strike while the iron is hot. Write or call a woman you're interested in within 24-72
hours of first meeting her.
Redundancy and quality control
I recommend that you get both the phone number and the email address when getting contact information and that you verify them. These are the principles of redundancy and quality control, borrowed from good business practice. Redundancy means that if the phone number is illegible, you have the email as backup (and vice versa). Quality control means that you look at the information handed to you and make sure you can decipher it. Ask her to read back the number and email, or read them back to her and ask her to correct you. The best way to verify a cell phone number is to enter it into your cell phone and call it right away - ostensibly so she has your phone number via caller ID, and also to make sure you got it right. The foolproof way is to call your own number from her phone and have her number appear on your caller ID. You can even use this opportunity to get a chuckle by having a lighthearted phone conversation right as you're standing in front of her (and also getting her used to the idea that talking to you on the phone is a natural thing). If she's passing a fake number to you, you'll know immediately. Cut your losses and move on, since that's not exactly the harbinger to fulfilling companionship. The only flakes you need in your life should be in a cereal bowl.
Between phone number and email address, I find the latter to be the more important piece of information. Email is asynchronous and discretionary: you can read and respond when you want to, if you want to. This is more convenient for you and her, especially if she's had bad experiences with undesirable men abusing her phone number. Think of email as a filter and a test for your benefit as well. Remember who's the prize here. Does she respond in a timely, enthusiastic manner? Can she write coherently? Is she interesting and humorous in her letters? If not, then perhaps your time and energy is better spent elsewhere.
For whatever reason, the correspondence between words and actions seems to be in decline in the Western world. And often a woman who is not tremendously interested in you, just to be polite, will not only give you her contact information but also go along and make a date with you. However, when the appointed hour arrives, she'll cancel at the last minute or just not show up. The best way to prevent this from happening in the first place is to do all the things you've read about up to this point: be so compelling such that it's equal parts her idea (or more) to see you again as it is yours. Have such deep rapport that you're now acting as a team, not two people at contrary purposes to one another. Without the deep rapport, you're just asking her for something, as opposed to having her give it to you. Just put yourself in her position and imagine: how enthusiastic would you feel about keeping a date for a woman who's showing interest in you whom you're not attracted to very much? Create the attraction first, and create so much of it that you can spot it from across town: before you can take something, you must wait for it to be given. But still, on occasion you just don't have enough time to create the attraction and you want to do it at a later date. For these situations, do a little due diligence: a five-minute phone call the night before can save you much time and disappointment. When you call her, commend her on her ability to pick you up and get a date with you. Also commend her excellent taste in men. Having established the lighthearted tone, now say something along these lines: "Listen, I just wanted to let you know that if you're so into me that you may be too shy to actually see me, that's totally cool, but I'd rather know now than tomorrow night after waiting in the cold rain for two hours with a wilted rose in my hand. So you think you can handle it and show up?" If you get anything but laughter and an overwhelmingly positive response, consider rescheduling or cancelling altogether. I'm sure you can do better than those exact words, but the concept is this: you're being funny; you're turning the tables on her; you're being a gentleman by taking her feelings and doubts into consideration; and at the same time, you're making sure that you don't waste your time.
Technique vs. non-action: The principle of wu wu-wei
We have gotten into a lot of detailed technique here, right down to the proper phrasing of your requests, and we'll be getting into some more of that. What you have to keep in mind that it is always a good idea to practice proper technique. Maintain that discipline. You should use proper technique especially when you think a certain woman is 'different' or 'not like the rest of them.' Never cut corners. Over time, the technique dissolves and becomes a part of you. It is no longer something that you do, but rather who you are. You will find that as you internalize the principles of the preceding chapters more and more and become the archetype of the attractive man, you will worry less and less about technique and find that things flow their own way. Remember that the best way to create attraction is to be attractive, and that is what will occur. This is the way of the Tao:
In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can't be gained by interfering.
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 48 (transl. Stephen Mitchell)
The Taoists call this wu-wei -- not doing. Or more accurately, wu wu-wei - doing not doing. Recall the time when you were first learning to ride a bicycle. There was a lot of struggle and doing involved. But now that you know how to ride a bike, it seems effortless to you. It doesn't feel like you're doing anything - you're just being a bike rider. Likewise, many of the concepts and techniques of The Tao of Dating may seem foreign to you at first. There seem to be a lot of little things to remember to do, phrases to get right. Isn't the Tao the path of simplicity? It is - and after you use the techniques for a while, you will recognize the source that they must come from. And when you become the source, you no longer have to worry about the right actions, because they will flow from you and be who you are. You won't be doing something. You will be someone - someone who is ultimately successful in life and with women. All the action will ultimately lead to non-action, until you're getting results feeling as if you're doing nothing at all.
Continue reading here: Do Part IV Romance or Advanced Techniques for Attraction
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