The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene: Summary and Quotes


In this book, Robert Greene discusses the essence of seduction in politics, work environment, relationships, and other essential aspects of life in which force is condemned and subtle maneuvers and deceptions are welcomed since people are busy in their lives and before they know it, they are used. Seduction is a psychological game; it requires time and a detailed study of the victim’s weaknesses and voids that can be filled by seducers providing what he or she lacks. Seducers appear bigger than life; they wear different clothes; they talk differently; they walk differently; they exhibit their qualities to the audience and people get attracted to them. Seducers are masters in disguise; they act like they are the mirror image of their prey, and gradually succumb to his trap. A seductress allures her target through her appealing dressings and designed makeup when she is sure he is under her spell; she withdraws herself; she continues this cycle to ignite desires and fuel the fire of seduction. She does not give herself to him completely since she knows when she submits wholly, she will lose the charm and curiosity, and seduction will come to a halt. Therefore, she keeps him under her spell, talking him into a fantasy land far away from his boring life. Everyone can be a seducer, but it requires constant pursuit and courage; it requires boldness and patience; if you are not emotionally stable, it can hurt you. Once you enter the game of seduction, and you seduce someone, you build confidence, and your next target becomes easier than the first one. There are nine kinds of seducers that are discussed in the book. To seduce, you need to know your seductive qualities: what makes you different from others? Once you know about the qualities that set you apart from others, you need to display those qualities to your audience, and they will talk about them and make you famous. 


“Seduction is a game of psychology, not beauty, and it is within the grasp of any person to become a master at the game. All that is required is that you look at the world differently, through the eyes of a seducer.”

“One social or sexual seduction makes the next one easier, your confidence growing and making you more alluring. People are drawn to you in greater numbers as the seducer’s aura descends upon you.”

“Seducers have a warrior’s outlook on life. They see each person as a kind of walled castle to which they are laying siege. Seduction is a process of penetration: initially penetrating the target’s mind, their first point of defense.”

“Leaving things to chance is a recipe for disaster, and reveals that we do not take love and romance very seriously.”

“Falling in love is a matter not of magic but of psychology.”

“Seducers are never self-absorbed. Their gaze is directed outward, not inward.”

“Seducers see themselves as providers of pleasure, like bees that gather pollen from some flowers and deliver it to others.”

“Pleasure is a feeling of being taken past our limits, of being overwhelmed— by another person, by an experience. People are dying to be overwhelmed, to let go of their usual stubbornness. Sometimes their resistance to us is a way of saying, Please seduce me.”

“A seducer sees all of life as theater, everyone an actor. Most people feel they have constricted roles in life, which makes them unhappy. Seducers, on the other hand, can be anyone and can assume many roles. (The archetype here is the god Zeus, insatiable seducer of young maidens, whose main weapon was the ability to assume the form of whatever person or animal would most appeal to his victim.)”

“What people lack in life is not more reality but illusion, fantasy, play.”

“Seduction is a kind of theater in real life, the meeting of illusion and reality.”

“Seduction is a form of deception, but people want to be led astray, they yearn to be seduced.”

“The Art of Seduction is designed to arm you with weapons of persuasion and charm, so that those around you will slowly lose their ability to resist without knowing how or why it has happened. It is an art of war for delicate times.”

The French writer Denis Diderot once wrote, “I give my mind the liberty to follow the first wise or foolish idea that presents itself, just as in the avenue de Foy our dissolute youths follow close on the heels of some strumpet, then leave her to pursue another, attacking all of them and attaching themselves to none. My thoughts are my strumpets.”

“Most virtue is a demand for greater seduction.” —NATALIE BARNEY

“There are nine seducer types in the world. Each type has a particular character trait that comes from deep within and creates a seductive pull. Sirens have an abundance of sexual energy and know how to use it. Rakes insatiably adore the opposite sex, and their desire is infectious. Ideal Lovers have an aesthetic sensibility that they apply to romance. Dandies like to play with their image, creating a striking and androgynous allure. Naturals are spontaneous and open. Coquettes are self-sufficient, with a fascinating cool at their core. Charmers want and know how to please—they are social creatures. Charismatics have an unusual confidence in themselves. Stars are ethereal and envelop themselves in mystery.”

“A man is often secretly oppressed by the role he has to play—by always having to be responsible, in control, and rational. The Siren is the ultimate male fantasy figure because she offers a total release from the limitations of his life. In her presence, which is always heightened and sexually charged, the male feels transported to a world of pure pleasure. She is dangerous, and in pursuing her energetically the man can lose control over himself something he yearns to do. The Siren is a mirage; she lures men by cultivating a particular appearance and manner. In a world where women are often too timid to project such an image, learn to take control of the male libido by embodying his fantasy.”

According to the Roman writer Dio Cassius, “Cleopatra was in the prime of life. She had a delightful voice which could not fail to cast a spell over all who heard it. Such was the charm of her person and her speech that they drew the coldest and most determined misogynist into her toils. Caesar was spellbound as soon as he set eyes on her and she opened her mouth to speak.”

“Only one image of Cleopatra survives—a barely visible profile on a coin— but we have numerous written descriptions. She had a long thin face and a somewhat pointed nose; her dominant features were her wonderfully large eyes. Her seductive power, however, did not lie in her looks—indeed many among the women of Alexandria were considered more beautiful than she. What she did have above all other women was the ability to distract a man.”

“Her dress and makeup changed from day to day, but always gave her a heightened, goddesslike appearance.”

“Cleopatra provided constant variety—tributes, mock battles, expeditions, costumed orgies. Everything had a touch of drama and was accomplished with great energy.”

“And just when you thought you had this fluid, larger-than-life woman, she would turn distant or angry, making it clear that everything was on her terms. You never possessed Cleopatra, you worshiped her. In this way a woman who had been exiled and destined for an early death managed to turn it all around and rule Egypt for close to twenty years.”

“From Cleopatra we learn that it is not beauty that makes a Siren but rather a theatrical streak that allows a woman to embody a man’s fantasies.”

“And soon she noticed something equally startling: without her having to say or do anything, boys fell passionately in love with her. “My admirers all said the same thing in different ways,” she wrote. “It was my fault, their wanting to kiss me and hug me.”

“One day in 1949, only twenty-three at the time and her career at a standstill, Monroe met someone at a diner who told her that a producer casting a new Groucho Marx movie, Love Happy, was looking for an actress for the part of a blond bombshell who could walk by Groucho in a way that would, in his words, “arouse my elderly libido and cause smoke to issue from my ears.” “

“What separates the Sex Siren from the courtesan or whore is her touch of innocence and vulnerability. The mix is perversely satisfying: it gives the male the critical illusion that he is a protector, the father figure, although it is actually the Sex Siren who controls the dynamic.”

“While one part of you seems to scream sex, the other part is coy and naive, as if you were incapable of understanding the effect you are having. Your walk, your voice, your manner are delightfully ambiguous—you are both the experienced, desiring woman and the innocent gamine.”

“Your next encounter will be with the Sirens, who bewitch every man that approaches them. . . . For with the music of their song the Sirens cast their spell upon him, as they sit there in a meadow piled high with the moldering skeletons of men, whose withered skin still hangs upon their bones.” —CIRCE TO ODYSSEUS, THE ODYSSEY, BOOK XII

“The notion of danger, challenge, sometimes death, might seem outdated, but danger is critical in seduction.”

“Think of the victims of the great Sirens of history: Paris causes a war for the sake of Helen of Troy, Caesar risks an empire and Antony loses his power and his life for Cleopatra, Napoleon becomes a laughingstock over Josephine, DiMaggio never gets over Marilyn, and Arthur Miller can’t write for years. A man is often ruined by a Siren, yet cannot tear himself away.”

“The Siren must have an insinuating voice that hints at the erotic, more often subliminally than overtly.”

“In Praise of Makeup”: “Woman is well within her rights, and indeed she is accomplishing a kind of duty in striving to appear magical and supernatural. She must astonish and bewitch; an idol, she must adorn herself with gold in order to be adored. She must borrow from all of the arts in order to raise herself above nature, the better to subjugate hearts and stir souls.”

Below her breasts was a girdle of burnished gold, held by a magnificent jewel. “No words can convey the loveliness of her appearance,” wrote the Duchess d’Abrantes. “The very room grew brighter as she entered. The whole ensemble was so harmonious that her appearance was greeted with a buzz of admiration which continued with utter disregard of all the other women.”

“Related to this is the notion of selective disclosure, the revealing of only a part of the body—but a part that will excite and stir the imagination.”

“Symbol: Water. The song of the Siren is liquid and enticing, and the Siren herself is fluid and ungraspable. Like the sea, the Siren lures you with the promise of infinite adventure and pleasure. Forgetting past and future, men follow her far out to sea, where they drown.”

“A woman never quite feels desired and appreciated enough. She wants attention, but a man is too often distracted and unresponsive. The Rake is a great female fantasy figure—when he desires a woman, brief though that moment may be, he will go to the ends of the earth for her. He may be disloyal, dishonest, and amoral, but that only adds to his appeal. Unlike the normal, cautious male, the Rake is delightfully unrestrained, a slave to his love of women. There is the added lure of his reputation: so many women have succumbed to him, there has to be a reason. Words are a woman’s weakness, and the Rake is a master of seductive language. Stir a woman’s repressed longings by adapting the Rake’s mix of danger and pleasure.”

“In seduction there is often a dilemma: to seduce you need planning and calculation, but if your victim suspects that you have ulterior motives, she will grow defensive.”

“The Ardent Rake teaches us a simple lesson: intense desire has a distracting power on a woman, just as the Siren’s physical presence does on a man.”

“A woman is often defensive and can sense insincerity or calculation. But if she feels consumed by your attentions, and is confident you will do anything for her, she will notice nothing else about you, or will find a way to forgive your indiscretions. This is the perfect cover for a seducer. The key is to show no hesitation, to abandon all restraint, to let yourself go, to show that you cannot control yourself and are fundamentally weak.”

“Do not worry about inspiring mistrust; as long as you are the slave to her charms, she will not think of the aftermath.”

“First, he had the most magnificent voice they had ever heard—soft and low, each syllable articulated, with a flowing rhythm and inflection that was almost musical.”

“Others said his voice had a “hypnotic” effect. The words that voice spoke were interesting as well—alliterative phrases, charming locutions, poetic images, and a way of offering praise that could melt a woman’s heart.”

“The dancer Isadora Duncan, another who eventually fell under his spell, explained his magic: “Perhaps the most remarkable lover of our time is Gabriele D’Annunzio. And this notwithstanding that he is small, bald, and, except when his face lights up with enthusiasm, ugly But when he speaks to a woman he likes, his face is transfigured, so that he suddenly becomes Apollo. . . . His effect on women is remarkable. The lady he is talking to suddenly feels that her very soul and being are lifted.”

For women the weakness is language and words: as was written by one of D’Annunzio’s victims, the French actress Simone, “How can one explain his conquests except by his extraordinary verbal power, and the musical timbre of his voice, put to the service of exceptional eloquence? For my sex is susceptible to words, bewitched by them, longing to be dominated by them.”

“The Rake is as promiscuous with words as he is with women.”

“The words of the Rake are the equivalent of the bodily adornment of the Siren: a powerful sensual distraction, a narcotic. The Rake’s use of language is demonic because it is designed not to communicate or convey information but to persuade, flatter, stir emotional turmoil, much as the serpent in the Garden of Eden used words to lead Eve into temptation.”

“The less your targets focus on what you say, and the more on how it makes them feel, the more seductive your effect. Give your words a lofty, spiritual, literary flavor the better to insinuate desire in your unwitting victims.”

“But what is this force, then, by which Don Juan seduces? It is desire, the energy of sensuous desire. He desires in every woman the whole of womanhood. The reaction to this gigantic passion beautifies and develops the one desired, who flushes in enhanced beauty by his reflection. As the enthusiast’s fire with seductive splendor illumines even those who stand in a casual relation to him, so Don Juan transfigures in a far deeper sense every girl.”  —SØREN KIERKEGAARD, EITHER/OR

“What the Rake offers is what society normally does not allow women: an affair of pure pleasure, an exciting brush with danger. A woman is often deeply oppressed by the role she is expected to play She is supposed to be the tender, civilizing force in society, and to want commitment and lifelong loyalty.”

“But in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Don Juan slowly evolved from the masculine adventurer to a more feminized version: a man who lived only for women.”

“He would come in the night, give you an unforgettable moment, and then vanish. He might have conquered a thousand women before you, but that only made him more interesting; better to be abandoned than undesired by such a man.”

“The great seducers do not offer the mild pleasures that society condones. They touch a person’s unconscious, those repressed desires that cry out for liberation.”

“To play the Rake, the most obvious requirement is the ability to let yourself go, to draw a woman into the kind of purely sensual moment in which past and future lose meaning.”

“Of the hundreds of women that Pablo Picasso, consummate rake, seduced over the years, most of them had the feeling that they were the only one he truly loved.”

“Remember: if no resistances or obstacles face you, you must create them. No seduction can proceed without them.”

“Never worry about going too far: the Rake’s essence is that he goes further than anyone else.”

“Danger and taboo appeal to a repressed side in women, who are supposed to represent a civilizing, moralizing force in culture. Just as a man may fall victim to the Siren through his desire to be free of his sense of masculine responsibility, a woman may succumb to the Rake through her yearning to be free of the constraints of virtue and decency.”

“Among the Rake’s most seductive qualities is his ability to make women want to reform him.”

“You must exploit this tendency to the fullest.”

“There are several things you must be known for: your irresistible attractiveness to women; your uncontrollable devotion to pleasure (this will make you seem weak, but also exciting to be around); your disdain for convention; a rebellious streak that makes you seem dangerous. This last element can be slightly hidden; on the surface, be polite and civil, while letting it be known that behind the scenes you are incorrigible.”

“Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life’s artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.”

“Symbol: Fire. The Rake burns with a desire that enflames the woman he is seducing. It is extreme, uncontrollable, and dangerous. The Rake may end in hell, but the flames surrounding him often make him seem that much more desirable to women.”

“You cannot be a Rake by being fearful and prudent; the occasional pummeling is part of the game. Later on, in any case, at the height of Elvis’s fame, no husband would dare touch him.”

“Most people have dreams in their youth that get shattered or worn down with age. They find themselves disappointed by people, events, reality, which cannot match their youthful ideals. Ideal Lovers thrive on people’s broken dreams, which become lifelong fantasies. You long for romance? Adventure? Lofty spiritual communion? The Ideal Lover reflects your fantasy. He or she is an artist in creating the illusion you require, idealizing your portrait. In a world of disenchantment and baseness, there is limitless seductive power in following the path of the Ideal Lover.”

“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.”

“Be an oasis in the desert of the self-absorbed; few can resist the temptation of following a person who seems so attuned to their desires, to bringing to life their fantasies.”

“The cultivation of the pleasures of the senses was ever my principal aim in life. Knowing that I was personally calculated to please the fair sex, I always strove to make myself agreeable to it.” —CASANOVA

“Love brings to light a lover’s noble and hidden qualities— his rare and exceptional traits: it is thus liable to be deceptive as to his normal character.” —FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

“Or perhaps our ideal is more elevated—we want to be more creative, nobler, and kinder than we ever manage to be. Our ideal is something we feel is missing inside us.”

“The key to following the path of the Ideal Lover is the ability to observe. Ignore your targets’ words and conscious behavior; focus on the tone of their voice, a blush here, a look there—those signs that betray what their words won’t say.”

“Ideal Lovers make you feel nobler, make the sensual and sexual seem spiritual and aesthetic. Like all seducers, they play with power, but they disguise their manipulations behind the facade of an ideal. Few people see through them and their seductions last longer.”

“He would also write poems and sing beautiful songs to her, for no troubadour could succeed without some kind of aesthetic or spiritual quality to impress his lady. The key to the archetype is a sense of absolute devotion.”

“”You may not have to go to as much trouble or risk, but you will always be rewarded for actions that reveal a sense of self-sacrifice or devotion.”

“Yet nothing is more seductive than patient attentiveness. It makes the affair seem lofty, aesthetic, not really about sex.”

“The key is ambiguity—to combine the appearance of sensitivity to the pleasures of the flesh with an air of innocence, spirituality, a poetic sensibility.”

“Politicians can gain seductive power by digging into a country’s past, bringing images and ideals that have been abandoned or repressed back to the surface. They only need the symbol; they do not really have to worry about re-creating the reality behind it. The good feelings they stir up are enough to ensure a positive response.”

“Symbol: The Portrait Painter. Under his eye, all of your physical imperfections disappear. He brings out noble qualities in you, frames you in a myth, makes you godlike, immortalizes you. For his ability to create such fantasies, he is rewarded with great power.”

“Reality and long intimate exposure have a way of dulling a person’s perfection.”

“When reality intrudes, distance is often a solution.”

“Most of us feel trapped within the limited roles that the world expects us to play. We are instantly attracted to those who are more fluid, more ambiguous, than we are—those who create their own persona. Dandies excite us because they cannot be categorized, and hint at a freedom we want for ourselves. They play with masculinity and femininity; they fashion their own physical image, which is always startling; they are mysterious and elusive. They also appeal to the narcissism of each sex: to a woman they are psychologically female, to a man they are male. Dandies fascinate and seduce in large numbers. Use the power of the Dandy to create an ambiguous, alluring presence that stirs repressed desires.”

“In the 1920s, women were beginning to play with a new sexual freedom. Instead of waiting for a man to be interested in them, they wanted to be able to initiate the affair, but they still wanted the man to end up sweeping them off their feet.”

“Seduction was and will always remain the female form of power and warfare. It was originally the antidote to rape and violence.”

“I am a woman. Every artist is a woman and should have a taste for other women. Artists who are homosexual cannot be true artists because they like men, and since they themselves are women they are reverting to normality.” —PABLO PICASSO

One man wrote of Salomé, “There was something terrifying about her embrace. Looking at you with her radiant blue eyes, she would say, ‘The reception of the semen is for me the height of ecstasy.’ And she had an insatiable appetite for it. She was completely amoral .. . a vampire.” The Swedish psychotherapist Poul Bjerre, one of her later conquests, wrote, “I think Nietzsche was right when he said that Lou was a thoroughly evil woman. Evil however in the Goethean sense: evil that produces good. . . . She may have destroyed lives and marriages but her presence was exciting.”

“The two emotions that almost every male felt in the presence of Lou Andreas-Salomé were confusion and excitement—the two prerequisite feelings for any successful seduction.”

“It was confusion that kept men interested and curious: no other woman was like this.”

“The excitement stemmed from her ability to stir up repressed desires. She was a complete nonconformist, and to be involved with her was to break all kinds of taboos.”

“The seduction emanating from a person of uncertain or dissimulated sex is powerful.” —COLETTE

“We should never complain about most people’s slavish conformity, however, for it offers untold possibilities of power and seduction to those who are up for a few risks.”

“The Dandy displays a true and radical difference from other people, a difference of appearance and manner. Since most of us are secretly oppressed by our lack of freedom, we are drawn to those who are more fluid and flaunt their difference.”

“Be different in ways that are both striking and aesthetic, never vulgar; poke fun at current trends and styles, go in a novel direction, and be supremely uninterested in what anyone else is doing.”

“But a Dandy’s style cannot be obvious, for Dandies are subtle, and never try hard for attention—attention comes to them.”

“She may adopt male clothing, say, but if she does, a touch here or there will set her truly apart: no man ever dressed quite like George Sand. The overtall hat, the riding boots worn on the streets of Paris, made her a sight to behold.”

“The insolence of the Rake is tied up with his desire to conquer a woman; he cares for nothing else. The insolence of the Dandy, on the other hand, is aimed at society and its conventions.”

“Dandies are masters of the art of living. They live for pleasure, not for work; they surround themselves with beautiful objects and eat and drink with the same relish they show for their clothes.”

“The opposite sex is a strange country we can never know, and this excites us, creates the proper sexual tension. But it is also a source of annoyance and frustration.”

“Men do not understand how women think, and vice versa; each tries to make the other act more like a member of their own sex.”

“According to Freud, the human libido is essentially bisexual; most people are in some way attracted to people of their own sex, but social constraints (varying with culture and historical period) repress these impulses.”

“In Western culture for centuries, in fact, feminine beauty has been far more fetishized than male beauty, so it is understandable that a feminine-looking face like that of Montgomery Clift would have more seductive power than that of John Wayne.”

“The key to such power is ambiguity. In a society where the roles everyone plays are obvious, the refusal to conform to any standard will excite interest. Be both masculine and feminine, impudent and charming, subtle and outrageous. Let other people worry about being socially acceptable; those types are a dime a dozen, and you are after a power greater than they can imagine.”

“Symbol: The Orchid. Its shape and color oddly suggest both sexes, its odor is sweet and decadent —it is a tropical flower of evil. Delicate and highly cultivated, it is prized for its rarity; it is unlike any other flower.”

“Childhood is the golden paradise we are always consciously or unconsciously trying to re-create. The Natural embodies the longed for qualities of childhood—spontaneity, sincerity, unpretentiousness. In the presence of Naturals, we feel at ease, caught up in their playful spirit, transported back to that golden age. Naturals also make a virtue out of weakness, eliciting our sympathy for their trials, making us want to protect them and help them. As with a child, much of this is natural, but some of it is exaggerated, a conscious seductive maneuver. Adopt the pose of the Natural to neutralize people’s natural defensiveness and infect them with helpless delight.”

“Why are we seduced by children’s naturalness? First, because anything natural has an uncanny effect on us. Since the beginning of time, natural phenomena—such as lightning storms or eclipses—have instilled in human beings an awe tinged with fear.”

“Natural seducers are people who somehow avoided getting certain childish traits drummed out of them by adult experience.”

“The greatest seducers, those who seduce mass audiences, nations, the world, have a way of playing on people’s unconscious, making them react in a way they can neither understand nor control.”

“A display of “natural” weakness will make you instantly lovable, both lowering people’s defenses and making them feel delightfully superior to you.”

“The lesson is simple: it may be too late to be spoiled by a parent, but it is never too late to make other people spoil you. It is all in your attitude. People are drawn to those who expect a lot out of life, whereas they tend to disrespect those who are fearful and undemanding.”

“Remember: the role you were given in life is not the role you have to accept. You can always live out a role of your own creation, a role that fits your fantasy. Learn to play with your image, never taking it too seriously.”

“As an undefensive lover, though, you produce the opposite effect: your victim might be hesitant or worried, but confronted with someone so sure and natural, he or she will be caught up in the mood. Like dancing with someone you lead effortlessly across the dance floor, it is a skill you can learn. It is a matter of rooting out the fear and awkwardness that have built up in you over the years, of becoming more graceful with your approach, less defensive when others seem to resist.”

“Symbol: The Lamb. So soft and endearing. At two days old the lamb can gambol gracefully; within a week it is playing “Follow the Leader.” Its weakness is part of its charm. The Lamb is pure innocence, so innocent we want to possess it, even devour it.”

“A con man plays dumb to make the other person trust him and feel superior. This kind of feigned naturalness has countless applications in daily life, where nothing is more dangerous than looking smarter than the next person; the Natural pose is the perfect way to disguise your cleverness.”

“The ability to delay satisfaction is the ultimate art of seduction—while waiting, the victim is held in thrall. Coquettes are the grand masters of this game, orchestrating a back-and-forth movement between hope and frustration. They bait with the promise of reward—the hope of physical pleasure, happiness, fame by association, power—all of which, however, proves elusive; yet this only makes their targets pursue them the more. Coquettes seem totally self-sufficient: they do not need you, they seem to say, and their narcissism proves devilishly attractive. You want to conquer them but they hold the cards. The strategy of the Coquette is never to offer total satisfaction. Imitate the alternating heat and coolness of the Coquette and you will keep the seduced at your 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. Your greatest power in seduction is your ability to turn away, to make others come after you, delaying their satisfaction.”

“Remember: vanity is critical in love.”

“She who would long retain her power must use her lover ill.” —OVID

“Remember: seduction is a process of drawing people in, making them want to pursue and possess you. Seem distant and people will go mad to win your favor. Humans, like nature, hate a vacuum, and emotional distance and silence make them strain to fill up the empty space with words and heat of their own. Like Warhol, stand back and let them fight over you.”

“[Narcissistic] women have the greatest fascination for men. . . . The charm of a child lies to a great extent in his narcissism, his self-sufficiency and inaccessibility, just as does the charm of certain animals which seem not to concern themselves about us, such as cats. . . . It is as if we envied them their power of retaining a blissful state of mind—an unassailable libido-position which we ourselves have since abandoned.” —SIGMUND FREUD

“Remember: the essence of the Coquette lies not in the tease and temptation but in the subsequent step back, the emotional withdrawal. That is the key to enslaving desire.”

“To adopt the power of the Coquette, you must understand one other quality: narcissism.”

“A man is also challenged by the female Coquette’s independence—he wants to be the one to make her dependent, to burst her bubble.”

“Self-esteem is critical in seduction. (Your attitude toward yourself is read by the other person in subtle and unconscious ways.) Low self-esteem repels, confidence and self-sufficiency attract.”

“Talking endlessly about yourself is eminently anti-seductive, revealing not self-sufficiency but insecurity.”

“The Coquette must first and foremost be able to excite the target of his or her attention.”

“Remember: obvious flirting will reveal your intentions too clearly. Better to be ambiguous and even contradictory, frustrating at the same time that you stimulate.”

“Coquettes are never jealous—that would undermine their image of fundamental self-sufficiency. But they are masters at inciting jealousy: by paying attention to a third party, creating a triangle of desire, they signal to their victims that they may not be that interested.”

“It is important to realize that coquetry is extremely effective on a group, stimulating jealousy, love, and intense devotion.”

“Symbol: The Shadow. It cannot be grasped. Chase your shadow and it will flee; turn your back on it and it will follow you. It is also a person’s dark side, the thing that makes them mysterious. After they have given us pleasure, the shadow of their withdrawal makes us yearn for their return, much as clouds make us yearn for the sun.”

“Charm is seduction without sex. 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. They understand your spirit, feel your pain, adapt to your moods. In the presence of a Charmer you feel better about yourself. Charmers do not argue or fight, complain, or pester—what could be more seductive? By drawing you in with their indulgence they make you dependent on them, and their power grows. Learn to cast the Charmer’s spell by aiming at people’s primary weaknesses: vanity and self-esteem.”

“The Charmer’s solution is to fulfill the aspects of sexuality that are so alluring and addictive—the focused attention, the boosted self-esteem, the pleasurable wooing, the understanding (real or illusory)—but subtract the sex itself.”

“The word “charm” comes from the Latin carmen, a song, but also an incantation tied to the casting of a magical spell.”

“As Benjamin Disraeli said, “Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.”

“The Charmer is like a beam of light that doesn’t play directly on a target but throws a pleasantly diffused glow over it.”

“Never mistake people’s exterior characteristics for reality, for the character they show on the surface may be merely a reflection of the people with whom they have been most in contact, or a front disguising its own opposite. A gruff exterior may hide a person dying for warmth; a repressed, sober-looking type may actually be struggling to conceal uncontrollable emotions. That is the key to charm—feeding what has been repressed or denied.”

“Charmers may appear to be weaker than their targets but in the end they are the more powerful side because they have stolen the ability to resist.”

“The reason is simple: the feeling that Charmers provide is so rare as to be worth the price we pay.”

“First, they don’t talk much about themselves, which heightens their mystery and disguises their limitations. Second, they seem to be interested in us, and their interest is so delightfully focused that we relax and open up to them. Finally, Charmers are pleasant to be around.”

“The key is to make other people emotional while you remain detached.”

“An emotional person is a distracted person. Give them what they want, appeal to their self-interest, make them feel superior to you.”

“There will always be difficult people for us to face—the chronically insecure, the hopelessly stubborn, the hysterical complainers. Your ability to disarm these people will prove an invaluable skill.”

“Outwardly, be gracious. Adapt to their every mood. Enter their spirit. Inwardly, calculate and wait: your surrender is a strategy, not a way of life.”

“Your charm has prevented them from foreseeing this or growing suspicious. A whole revolution can be enacted without a single act of violence, simply by waiting for the apple to ripen and fall.”

“Symbol: The Mirror. Your spirit holds a mirror up to others. When they see you they see themselves: their values, their tastes, even their flaws. Their lifelong love affair with their own image is comfortable and hypnotic; so feed it. No one ever sees what is behind the mirror.”

“Charisma is a presence that excites us. It comes from an inner quality—self-confidence, sexual energy, sense of purpose, contentment—that most people lack and want. This quality radiates outward, permeating the gestures of Charismatics, making them seem extraordinary and superior, and making us imagine there is more to them than meets the eye: they are gods, saints, stars. Charismatics can learn to heighten their charisma with a piercing gaze, fiery oratory, an air of mystery. They can seduce on a grand scale. Learn to create the charismatic illusion by radiating intensity while remaining detached.”

“Charisma is not a mysterious quality that inhabits you outside your control; it is an illusion in the eyes of those who see you as having what they lack.”

“People are naturally drawn to those who emit happiness; maybe they can catch it from you.”

“You must learn to exploit the two great purveyors of emotion: drama and religion. Drama cuts out the useless and banal in life, focusing on moments of pity and terror; religion deals with matters of life and death.”

“The Nation preached that white people were descended from the devil and that someday Allah would liberate the black race.”

“Erotic fatigue is a threat to all Charismatics. The Charismatic often wins love by acting the savior, rescuing people from some difficult circumstance, but once they feel secure, charisma is less seductive to them.”

“Remember: charisma depends on success, and the best way to maintain success, after the initial charismatic rush, is to be practical and even cautious.”

“Daily life is harsh, and most of us constantly seek escape from it in fantasies and dreams. Stars feed on this weakness; standing out from others through a distinctive and appealing style, they make us want to watch them. At the same time, they are vague and ethereal, keeping their distance, and letting us imagine more than is there. Their dreamlike quality works on our unconscious; we are not even aware how much we imitate them. Learn to become an object of fascination by projecting the glittering but elusive presence of the Star.”

“She had such natural poise . . . such an economy of gesture, that she became as absorbing as a Modigliani. . . . She had the one essential star quality: she could be magnificent doing nothing.” —BERLIN ACTRESS LILI DARVAS ON MARLEN E DIETRIC H

“Symbol: The Idol. A piece of stone carved into the shape of a god, perhaps glittering with gold and jewels. The eyes of the worshippers fill the stone with life, imagining it to have real powers. Its shape allows them to see what they want to see—a god—but it is actually just a piece of stone. The god lives in their imaginations.”

“Seducers draw you in by the focused, individualized attention they pay to you. Anti-Seducers are the opposite: insecure, self-absorbed, and unable to grasp the psychology of another person, they literally repel. Anti-Seducers have no self-awareness, and never realize when they are pestering, imposing, talking too much. They lack the subtlety to create the promise of pleasure that seduction requires. Root out anti-seductive qualities in yourself, and recognize them in others—there is no pleasure or profit in dealing with the Anti-Seducer.”

“There is nothing more anti-seductive than feeling that someone has assumed that you are theirs, that you cannot possibly resist them. The slightest appearance of this kind of conceit is deadly to seduction; you must prove yourself, take your time, win your target’s heart.”

“The characters are based on people the author knew, but Kaoru’s type appears in every culture and period: these are men and women who seem to be searching for an ideal partner.”

“Excessive pride, without anything to justify it, is highly anti-seductive.”

“The person who is obviously angling for money or other material reward can only repel. If that is your intention, if you are looking for something other than pleasure—for money, for power—never show it. The suspicion of an ulterior motive is anti-seductive. Never let anything break the illusion.”

“Symbol: The Crab. In a harsh world, the crab survives by its hardened shell, by the threat of its pincers, and by burrowing into the sand. No one dares get too close. But the Crab cannot surprise its enemy and has little mobility. Its defensive strength is its supreme limitation.”

“Remember: seduction is a game of attention, of slowly filling the other person’s mind with your presence. Distance and inattention will create the opposite effect, and can be used as a tactic when the need arises.”

“The people around you are all potential victims of a seduction, but first you must know what type of victim you are dealing with. Victims are categorized by what they feel they are missing in life—adventure, attention, romance, a naughty experience, mental or physical stimulation, etc. Once you identify their type, you have the necessary ingredients for a seduction: you will be the one to give them what they lack and cannot get on their own. In studying potential victims, learn to see the reality behind the appearance. A timid person may yearn to play the star; a prude may long for a transgressive thrill. Never try to seduce your own type.”

“These types are ripe for the picking: all that is required is that you cross their path and offer them the opportunity to resume their rakish or siren ways. Their blood will stir and the call of their youth will overwhelm them.”

“It is critical, though, to give these types the illusion that they are the ones doing the seducing.”

“The Rake or Siren is unfaithful by nature; your ability to spark the old feeling gives you power, but then you will have to live with the consequences of their feckless ways.”

“All you need do is disguise some of your less than exalted qualities and give them a part of their dream.”

“But their ceaseless search for variety is tiring for them and comes with a price: work problems, strings of unsatisfying romances, friends scattered across the globe.”

“Do not mistake their restlessness and infidelity for reality—what the Pampered Prince or Princess is really looking for is one person, that parental figure, who will give them the spoiling they crave.”

“You will have to maintain an air of mystery, continually surprising your target with a new side to your character.”

“Unless their childhood pampering has made them too difficult and lazy, these types make excellent victims——they will be as loyal to you as they once were to mommy or daddy.”

“Prudery, however, is never just about sex; a prude is someone who is excessively concerned with appearances, with what society considers appropriate and acceptable behavior.”

“What marks the New Prude, though, as well as the old one, is that deep down they are actually excited and intrigued by guilty, transgressive pleasures.”

“The New Prude will often be most tempted by someone with a dangerous or naughty side.”

“Once you open them up and get them to let go of their correctness, they are flooded with feelings and energies.”

“They may seem to have accepted this, but the memory of having once shone is hard to get over.”

“Seducing this type is simple: just make them the center of attention. When you are with them, act as if they were stars and you were basking in their glow. Get them to talk, particularly about themselves.”

“Seducing a Novice is easy. To do it well, however, requires a bit of art. Novices are interested in people with experience, particularly people with a touch of corruption and evil.”

“Do not make your seduction ugly or seedy— everything must be romantic, even including the evil and dark side of life.”

“These are coy Novices, aware of the game they are playing—but Novices they remain. They may be less easily misled than purer Novices, but the way to seduce them is pretty much the same—mix innocence and corruption and you will fascinate them.”

“They love power, and by hook or by crook they get it.”

“In matters of romance, the worst thing you can do with them is lie down and make yourself easy prey; they may take advantage of your weakness, but they will quickly discard you and leave you the worse for wear.”

“These types are easy to recognize. They like to travel; their houses are filled with objets from faraway places; they fetishize the music or art of this or that foreign culture. They often have a strong rebellious streak. Clearly the way to seduce them is to position yourself as exotic—if you do not at least appear to come from a different background or race, or to have some alien aura, you should not even bother. But it is always possible to play up what makes you exotic, to make it a kind of theater for their amusement.”

“The greatest mistake you can make in seducing these Drama Queens is to come offering stability and security.”

“Pain is a source of pleasure for them.”

“The Beauty suffers from isolation.”

“Most important in this seduction is to validate those parts of the Beauty that no one else appreciates—her intelligence (generally higher than people imagine), her skills, her character.”

“Intellectual stimulation will work well on the Beauty, distracting her from her doubts and insecurities, and making it seem that you value that side of her personality.”

“A little coquettishness can work well here: at some point in all your worshiping, you might go a little cold, inviting her to come after you. Train her to be more active and you will have an excellent victim.”

“The Aging Baby does not want competition, but an adult figure.”

“This may seem noble, but Rescuers usually have complicated motives: they often have sensitive natures and truly want to help.”

“If you are a man, play the boy who cannot deal with this harsh world; a female Rescuer will envelop you in maternal attention, gaining for herself the added satisfaction of feeling more powerful and in control than a man.”

“You can also invite moral rescue: you are bad. You have done bad things. You need a stern yet loving hand.”

“Never give in too early, and never let your guard down—such types can be dangerous.”

“Idol Worshipers are easy to spot—they are the ones pouring their energies into some cause or religion.”

“Keep two things in mind when seducing this type. First, they tend to have overactive minds, which can make them quite suspicious. Because they often lack physical stimulation, and because physical stimulation will distract them, give them some: a mountain trek, a boat trip, or sex will do the trick. But this takes a lot of work, for their minds are always ticking. Second, they often suffer from low self-esteem.”

“And so what the Sensualist lacks is precisely enough sensual experiences to appreciate and relish.”

“Lonely Leaders can be made emotional by inflicting some pain, followed by tenderness.”

“Symbol: Big Game. Lions are dangerous—to hunt them is to know the thrill of risk. Leopards are clever and swift, offering the excitement of a difficult chase. Never rush into the hunt. Know your prey and choose it carefully. Do not waste time with small game—the rabbits that back into snares, the mink that walk into a scented trap. Challenge is pleasure.”

“To hold the attention of a broad public, to seduce them into thinking about you, you need to mix your signals. Display too much of one quality—even if it is a noble one, like knowledge or efficiency—and people will feel that you lack humanity.”

“Our desire for another person almost always involves social considerations: we are attracted to those who are attractive to other people.”

“Do not whine and moralize about people’s selfishness, but simply use it to your advantage.”

“[A person] will desire any object so long as he is convinced that it is desired by another person whom he admires.” —RENÉ GIRARD

“Desirability is a social illusion.”

“When people’s vanity is at risk, you can make them do whatever you want. According to Stendhal, if there is a woman you are interested in, pay attention to her sister. That will stir a triangular desire.”

“What distinguishes a suggestion from other kinds of psychical influence, such as a command or the giving of a piece of information or instruction, is that in the case of a suggestion an idea is aroused in another person’s brain which is not examined in regard to its origin but is accepted just as though it had arisen spontaneously in that brain.” —SIGMUND FREUD

“Consider instead the power of insinuation and suggestion. It requires some patience and art, but the results are more than worth it.”

“No seducer, no persuader, can hope to succeed without mastering the language and art of insinuation.”

“Polite banter is often the perfect front for this; people are thinking about what they will say next, or are absorbed in their own thoughts.”

“In seduction, as the French courtesan Ninon de l’Enclos advised, it is better not to talk about your love for a person. Let your target read it in your manner. Your silence on the subject will have more insinuating power than if you had addressed it directly.”

“Symbol: The Seed. The soil is carefully prepared. The seeds are planted months in advance. Once they are in the ground, no one knows what hand threw them there. They are part of the earth. Disguise your manipulations by planting seeds that take root on their own.”

“Flattery flowed from his mouth and pen. He would charm with his “sincerity” (sincerity can be feigned, and is just one stratagem among others).”

“(Women are often less offended at being found attractive than one imagines, and Sukarno was clever enough to have given each of his four wives the impression that she was his favorite.)”

“Of all the seductive tactics, entering someone’s spirit is perhaps the most devilish of all. It gives your victims the feeling that they are seducing you.”

“Women are not at their ease except with those who take chances with them, and enter into their spirit.” —NINO N D E L’ENCLO S

One of the great sources of frustration in our lives is other people’s stubbornness.”

“All of us are narcissists. When we were children our narcissism was physical: we were interested in our own image, our own body, as if it were a separate being. As we grow older, our narcissism grows more psychological: we become absorbed in our own tastes, opinions, experiences.”

“You do not have to spend days studying their minds; simply conform to their moods, adapt to their tastes, play along with whatever they send your way.”

“People truly love themselves, but what they love most of all is to see their ideas and tastes reflected in another person.”

“A woman may fear male aggression and violence; a man is often unable to enter a woman’s spirit, and so he remains strange and threatening.”

“The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, in his novel The Seducer’s Diary, recommends spending more time with the opposite sex, getting to know the “enemy” and its weaknesses, so that you can turn this knowledge to your advantage.”

“The masculine in a woman is as soothing to men as the feminine in a man is to women.”

“It is often quite seductive to a people to see an outsider adopting their ways.”

“When you mirror people, you focus intense attention on them. They will sense the effort you are making, and will find it flattering.”

“What would tempt Don Juan into desiring Cristeta again, into pursuing her, was the sense that she was already taken, that she was forbidden fruit.”

“To a man, she reasoned, the grass always seems greener somewhere else.”

“Temptation is a twofold process. First you are coquettish, flirtatious; you stimulate a desire by promising pleasure and distraction from daily life. At the same time, you make it clear to your targets that they cannot have you, at least not right away. You are establishing a barrier, some kind of tension.”

“People are perversely excited by what they cannot or should not have.”

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” —OSCAR WILDE

As a seducer, you can never mistake people’s appearance for reality.”

“What people want is not temptation; temptation happens every day. What people want is to give into temptation, to yield. That is the only way to get rid of the tension in their lives. It costs much more to resist temptation than to surrender.”

“Understand: everyone has a principal weakness, from which others stem.”

“Napoleon’s use of temptation had two elements: behind you is a grim past; ahead of you is a future of wealth and glory, if you follow me. Integral to the temptation strategy is a clear demonstration that the target has nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

“Be too specific and you will disappoint; make the promise too close at hand, and you will not be able to postpone satisfaction long enough to get what you want.”

“You are looking for some repression, some secret desire that will make your victim squirm uncomfortably if you hit upon it, but will tempt them all the more.”

“Playing the impossible woman, enticing and then frustrating him, she offered the ultimate temptation. What will often do the trick is to give the target the sense that you are a challenge, a prize to be won. In possessing you they will get what no other has had. They may even get pain; but pain is close to pleasure, and offers its own temptations.”

“Temptation is often a matter of timing, of crossing the path of the weak at the right moment, giving them the opportunity to surrender.”

“If you cannot tempt someone out of their habitual comfort, you cannot seduce them. If you satisfy the desire you have awakened, the seduction is over.”

“The artful use of soft and pleasant words will intoxicate them and stimulate fantasies.”

“You need to maintain some mystery, to keep a little distance so that in your absence your victims become obsessed with you (Poeticize your presence).”

“A well-timed display of your weakness, of how emotional you have become under their influence will help cover your tracks.”

“The moment people feel they know what to expect from you, your spell on them is broken. More: you have ceded them power. The only way to lead the seduced along and keep the upper hand is to create suspense, a calculated surprise. People love a mystery, and this is the key to luring them further into your web. Behave in a way that leaves them wondering, What are you up to? Doing something they do not expect from you will give them a delightful sense of spontaneity—they will not be able to foresee what comes next. You are always one step ahead and in control. Give the victim a thrill with a sudden change of direction.”

“In seduction, you need to create constant tension and suspense, a feeling that with you nothing is predictable. Do not think of this as a painful challenge.”

“This is always the law for the interesting. . . . If one just knows how to surprise, one always wins the game. The energy of the person involved is temporarily suspended; one makes it impossible for her to act. “


“Falling in love involves anticipation; we are about to head off in a new direction, enter a new life, where everything will be strange.”

“If you are predictable, the charm wears off; everyday life is predictable.”

“Appear somewhere unexpectedly, say or do something sudden, and people will not have time to figure out that your move was calculated.”

“Anything that happens suddenly seems natural, and anything that seems natural has a seductive charm.”

“What often seduces a person is the feeling that you have expended effort on their behalf.”

“Surprise can be unsurprising if you keep doing the same thing again and again.”

“When you change direction, make the new direction truly new.”

“The trick to making them listen is to say what they want to hear, to fill their ears with whatever is pleasant to them.”

“We think that by being persistent, by overwhelming our targets with romantic attention, we are convincing them of our affection. Instead we are convincing them of our impatience and insecurity. Aggressive attention is not flattering because it is not personalized. It is unbridled libido at work; the target sees through it.”

“And this is the ultimate seduction: to possess her mind before moving to conquer her body.”

“It is best not to begin your correspondence until at least several weeks after your initial contact.”

“When you sense that they are thinking about you, that is the time to hit them with your first letter.”

“After they have fallen under your spell, you can always take a step back, making the letters fewer—let them think you are losing interest and they will be hungry for more.”

“Never argue, never defend yourself, never accuse them of being heartless. That would ruin the spell.”

“Disordered thoughts are exciting thoughts.”

“Never lecture, never seem intellectual or superior—you will only make yourself pompous, which is deadly.”

“We rarely think before we talk. It is human nature to say the first thing that comes into our head—and usually what comes first is something about ourselves.”

“The difference between normal language and seductive language is like the difference between noise and music.”

Promises and flattery are music to anyone’s ears.”

“The secret was the flow of words in which he enveloped a woman. His voice was musical, his language poetic, and most devastating of all, he knew how to flatter.”

“Flattery is seductive language in its purest form. Its purpose is not to express a truth or a real feeling, but only to create an effect on the recipient.”

“Make your targets feel secure and alluring through your flattering words and their resistance will melt away.”

Sometimes the most pleasant thing to hear is the promise of something wonderful, a vague but rosy future that is just around the corner.”

“The most anti-seductive form of language is argument. How many silent enemies do we create by arguing? There is a superior way to get people to listen and be persuaded: humor and a light touch.”

“An emotional voice has an immediate, contagious effect on the listener.”

“It is more persuasive to appeal to people’s hearts than their heads.”

“Emotions are contagious; it is easier to make someone cry if you are crying yourself. Make your voice an instrument, and train it to communicate emotion.”

“The goal of seductive speech is often to create a kind of hypnosis: you are distracting people, lowering their defenses, making them more vulnerable to suggestion.”

“The effect is mesmerizing—ideas can be permanently implanted in people’s unconscious simply by being repeated often enough.”

“The more you make people focus on your sweet-sounding language, and on the illusions and fantasies it conjures, the more you diminish their contact with reality.”

“Often with language, less is more; the elusive, vague, ambiguous phrase leaves the listener more room for imagination than does a sentence full of bombast and self-indulgence.”

“There will be many times when silence is best.”

“If you are not eloquent, if you cannot master seductive language, at least learn to curb your tongue—use silence to cultivate an enigmatic presence.”

“It was said that her voice could literally charm birds out of trees.”

“The goal of the seduction was simple: dazzle the wives with color, spectacle, theater.”

“The key to distracting people (seduction is distraction) is to fill their eyes and ears with details, little rituals, colorful objects.”

“It is a childish weakness of ours: we prefer to focus on the pleasant little details rather than on the larger picture.”

“In his seduction of Tamakazura, Genji’s strategy was simple: he would make her realize indirectly how charming and irresistible he was by surrounding her with unspoken details.”

“Like Genji, you must attune your own senses to your targets, watching them carefully, adapting to their moods. You sense when they are defensive and retreat.”

“Therefore in my view when the courtier wishes to declare his love he should do so by his actions rather than by speech, for a man’s feelings are sometimes more clearly revealed by .. . a gesture of respect or a certain shyness than by volumes of words.” —BALDASSARE CASTIGLIONE

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