My friend Michelle is a beautiful, sophisticated and exceptionally intelligent woman of about 30 who lives in New York City. Because she’s so damn smart, she doesn’t find too many men who can go toe-to-toe with her. But every once in a while, a keeper comes along. That’s when she gets all excited, instantly loses her bearings and calls me in a state of endearing helplessness: “Ali – how do you make a man fall in love with you?”
Well, I’ve never made a man fall in love with me, so that’s not a recipe in my cookbook. However, I’ve fallen hard for women more than once. From those experiences and my forays into the scientific literature, I’ve come up with three ways that a man will fall in love with you. Straight out of The Tao of Dating, here they are:
1) The Natural Way.
Consciously or not, every man has a mental archetype of the woman he desires. Once in a blue moon, that woman waltzes into his sights. If that happens to be you, then hallelujah! Let the fireworks begin.
There isn’t much you can really do to engineer this kind of love. A man is attracted to a certain physique, face, hair, smell, cultural background, or any other number of elements of which even he himself is not fully aware. You could resemble his first girlfriend. You could be wearing that one perfume that drives him nuts (because his first girlfriend used to wear it). Whatever it is, this is the love that cannot be planned. If it happens, great. If not, read on.
2) The Devious Dastardly Way.
With enough determination, you can make any man fall in love with you, and the procedure is simpler than you think. To summarize in three words: give, withdraw, repeat.
Before I elaborate on this, you should know that it’s called the devious dastardly way because it’s, well, devious and dastardly. Emotional manipulation of people is just plain wrong. I’ve been on the receiving end of it, and it thoroughly sucked.
So why am I including this manipulative method when I don’t condone it?
I’m including it because I don’t believe any woman in her right mind would use this procedure consciously. However, through circumstance and sheer cluelessness, a woman could end up using this procedure unconsciously (also known as ‘being in your twenties’). And then she’s got a man who’s borderline stalking her, and she doesn’t understand why. Now that you know how this works, it’s more likely that you can prevent this inconvenience (which is also true for the men who are reading this).
Here’s the essence of it. You start out by giving the man attention: appear interested, give him your number, set up a date. You are giving.
Then, you cancel the date at the last minute. This is withdrawing, and it puts the man in a tizzy. He will be hurt and confused, not understanding what happened. He was so close!
This is related to what psychologists call an irregular schedule of reinforcement. The sudden withdrawal of reward paradoxically makes the subject try harder and get even more invested. In dolphins, when you suddenly stop giving them fish for a jump, they start to jump higher for their reward. (If you stop giving fish altogether, you get extinction, and they jump less.)
Okay — you just withdrew, so it’s time to give again. Now you call him and apologize profusely (which is different from flaking, where you’re not invested at all and simply vanish into Flakeville, which I’m pretty sure is in LA). Some emergency came up, it could not be avoided, you’re so sorry, can we please reschedule? You’ll make it up to him. Really.
You’re showing that you actually cared, but just couldn’t show up for reasons beyond your control. It wasn’t your fault, you swear. Usually, he’ll be pleased enough by your continued interest to accept your apology and agree to reschedule. Poor sucker.
You’ve just given, so now you must withdraw again. You have two options:
a) Cancel again, or
b) Show up, and use the withdraw procedure after you give a little during the date: be flirtatious, give him lots of compliments, touch him lots, gaze lingeringly deep into his eyes. You may even kiss him on the cheek at some point, or make out with him. You are giving. Then, when he least expects it, cut the whole thing short and leave abruptly – something came up beyond your control. You withdraw.
Once again, he will be frustrated and confused, thinking he was so close – what went wrong this time? He will think about you constantly and wait with bated breath for you to call him again. Timing here is of the essence: if you take too long, extinction will set in and he’ll forget about you. So 24-72 hrs later, you enter his life again and give a little bit more, only to withdraw it later. Three rounds of give and withdraw should reduce any man to putty – assuming putty is what you’re looking for.
The key to making this work is to give genuinely when you’re giving. You really are into him. It’s just that something unexpected comes up every time he’s on the brink of being on solid ground with you, and you withdraw completely, yanking the rug out from under him decisively – only to restore it later.
In the case of my friend Brian, a woman broke up and got back together with him three times, each restoration of the relationship accompanied with vehement protestations of undying love (and passionate make-up sex). To this day, he can’t recall being more obsessed with anyone, even though she was ten truckloads of Tennessee trouble.
By now, you see how deeply devious and manipulative this is. You may also realize that you may have unwittingly done something like this to some poor sap at some point in your life (twenties?). You were initially interested, gave him your number, went out with him once or twice. But then you got busy – exams, big project at work – and he got relegated to the back of your mind. Then you thought about him again and responded to him positively, but then withdrew for some reason. That’s when he started acting clingy and weird, and you decided to ignore him, which whetted his appetite even more, since you did such a good job of withdrawing.
So to keep from sending out the wrong signals to men, be more mindful of your actions. On the other hand, if this is how you wish to nab Mr. Right, be aware that you’re playing with fire. The result of your efforts will be infatuation, which is different from love. And without a real three-chakra connection at the head, heart and sexual center, you’ll have to keep up the game indefinitely to keep him interested.
3) The High Road.
If you are truly interested in a man and want him to grow in love, respect and admiration for you, the method is remarkably simple: bring out the best in him. Every woman has this power, but sometimes she forgets.
A man will steadily fall more and more in love with a woman who steadily helps him become more and more the man he has always wanted to be. Not only can you help nurture the vision that he has of his own greatness, but you can go one step beyond and encourage him to be even bigger than he has ever imagined himself.
When you do this, he has no choice but to feel good about himself around you. He will feel taller, stronger, more capable, more masculine. And chances are that he’s not getting anything like that anywhere else. Which means that he’s more likely to stay with you for the long run.
How do you do this? Energy flows where attention goes, so address your attention to the best part of a man’s character. These are the aspects of him you want to see flourish: strength, courage, compassion, loyalty, generativity. Want for him more than he wants for himself. By consciously directing your energy, you help him along his path of evolution. And if the man you’ve picked is indeed worthy of your attention, he will have no choice but to love you for it.
What’s worked for you? Share your stories in the comments so others can learn from you. And if you haven’t treated yourself to The Tao of Dating, the dating bible for smart women, perhaps now is a good time.