***TOMORROW: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Calling in The One may be the best book out there for women on love, written by my friend and colleague Katherine Woodward Thomas. On Thu 22 Jan at 5pm PT/8pm ET, she’s having a free online seminar entitled “How to Identify and Release Your Hidden Barriers to Love and Become Magnetic to Your Soulmate”. You should sign up and listen to her because she rocks, and make all kinds of sense. And FYI, I’ll be slated to be her guest speaker later in the course. I’ll be reminding you again. You can sign up here.***
At a gathering last week, I met a bunch of interesting new folks. They were smart, educated, and engaged in the world in ways that were novel and inspiring. In other words, these were my kinda people.
Being a single guy, I also noticed that some of these folks were female. And good-looking. So I talked to them, because that’s what guys do (especially this guy). And, depending on how interested I was, I talked to some of them more than others.
So far, so normal. Guys, being primates, have preferences. They will approach some females more readily than others. There’s usually a visual template that they’re attracted to which tends to be pretty consistent (unless there are psychoactive substances like ethyl alcohol involved, in which case men have been known to try to mate with a bath towel with a really nice floral pattern).
But is there some voodoo a woman can do to make a man who was not into her become, if not besotted, at least suddenly, strangely interested?
Oh yes there is. And if it can happen to me, it must happen to other guys, too. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his timeless essay Self-Reliance, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men — that is genius.” And who am I to bring you readers anything less than genius?
But enough prelude already. So what happened?
First, let me establish that this is a supremely accomplished, talented, and interesting young lady we’re talking about here. Let’s call her Agnes. She’s fun and we’ve got a good banter going on. So the fact that she’s a cool person that I get along with is already established. The missing ingredient is mostly this: strictly speaking, she’s not my type. So it’s not like she started out as the Wicked Witch of the West and then, with a wave of her wand and a puff of smoke, suddenly I’m thinking she’s tastier than a quesadilla with extra guacamole. Nosirreebob — she was already part of the way there.
Now I don’t know if she did any of this deliberately, but this is the rough sketch of what happened, which I will break down into the steps you may want to take for your own nefarious purposes:
1) Spend more time with the target.
First of all, we started spending more time together. This is probably the key ingredient: lots of casual, friendly contact. Heck, there’s even a term for it in psychology: the mere-exposure effect (or familiarity principle) says that just by seeing someone around more often, you’re going to like that person more, even if you don’t exchange a single spoken word. Crazy, huh? And yet it totally works. Add to that fun activities and stimulating conversation, and you are consistently sending interest levels upwards. At this phase, the more time you can spend, the better — there will be plenty of time to make yourself scarce later.
2) Get trust by giving trust.
And what should that stimulating conversation be about, you ask? It should involve self-disclosure and vulnerability, because that’s what brings people closer together. And in the process of sharing your secrets with another person, you’re doing the cardinal thing that establishes trust between two people: give trust first.
Once you’ve established trust, it’s easy to go from the transactional, fact-based level of conversation to more connective interactions, as enumerated by brothers Rom & Ori Brafman in their excellent book Click: The Forces Behind How We Fully Engage With People, Work, and Everything We Do. It’s in this phase that you can start making a real emotional connection to another human being. Trust is an absolute prerequisite for that.
So what did she start talking about? Her boy issues, of course (funny how that comes up around me). And other things about career, projects, family — personal, privileged information. She has now picked me as her confidante, so I am in her circle of trust. By extension, she is now in my trust circle. So now she asks me about the girls I’m interested in, my thoughts about them, etc. Crafty eh? But wait — it gets better.
3) Talk yourself up indirectly.
In the process of talking about personal matters, her relationships with men came up. There was the story of this guy trying to kiss her that she was not interested in. Then another one. And another. Before long, it seemed like there was this phalanx of men trying to get together with her, and she just couldn’t understand it because she wasn’t into any of them. Gawrsh what a chore.
See how this works? Because these men are nominally a burden on her (she’s so not into these dudes, ick!), this does not come off as bragging, which would be a turnoff. But at the same time, the meta-message that is being conveyed is straightforward: “Many guys are trying to get with me and I am selective.” At the same time, she sprinkles in hints that she is a fun, adventurous girl who is open to getting together with the guys she does like, if only they gave her the time of day.
This is the truly masterful part of the whole procedure: simultaneously signaling desirability, availability and selectivity. The last part is crucial: to create attraction with Mr or Ms XYZ, researchers say that it’s important that you convey that you are specifically choosing XYZ amongst the vast multitudes.
Ladies — this is seduction as art. It happens subtly and at an unconscious level. Seemingly, there are no sudden movements, no desperate bids, no games of hard-to-get. Everything is out in the open. And yet, before he knows it, the dude is in your thrall, thinking, “Well, am I one of those guys that she wants or not? What would it be like to get together with her? And, come to think of it, she is kinda cute in her own quirky way. Is there something wrong with me for not noticing that sooner?” Do not be surprised if you suddenly find yourself being courted in earnest by the dude in question. He may even ask you out on a real date.
And dear readers: amongst the tens of thousands of experiences you’ve had in aggregate, I’m sure many of you have pulled off exactly this kind of magic trick, only better. So please feel free to share your methods of craftiness in the comments or by writing to me directly at DrAli(at)TaoOfDating.com — would love to hear your tales.
Before I leave, a quick note: you guys do realize that I write an advice column, right? So any letter that you send me — especially if it’s a juicy one — has a chance of appearing on the blog for the whole world to see. DO NOT BE SURPRISED BY THIS, ahem. I do my best to anonymize every letter that I post on the blog, but if there’s something you don’t want the world to know, don’t put it in the letter. Simple. Change the details so the spirit of the story is the same but the data cannot be traced back to you. And: 200 words or less, make sure there’s a question in there. I might have to send a big fat prize to the first person who actually sends me a letter that adheres to those criteria…
All the best, Dr Ali
PS: I just told you about how to reel a guy in when he’s not interested. But what do you do keep him pulling away when he IS interested? Today, Wed Jan 21, I’m the featured speaker on the Why Men Pull Away series of free online lectures put on by my friend & colleague Cyndi Olin. There are some great (and funny!) speakers in the lineup, including the fabulous Arielle Ford. The series is already well under way, so sign up here to make sure you catch my talk and the other good ones. No cost to listeners.