(Guest Post by Arden Leigh)
Seduction often gets a bad rap. Even its literal definition derived from its Latin etymology, “to lead astray,” makes it seem corrupting and manipulative. At its best, it carries a reputation of being centered around one’s own self-interest, around what we are going to get from our target.
When I first began studying the art of seduction, there was no question that I was in it for my own self-interest. I was a lonely, sexually and romantically frustrated young woman just trying to gain some control over her dating life. I wanted to learn a skill set that would allow me to shake my feelings of powerlessness and finally attract the kind of men I wanted, the kind who always seemed to pass me over or lose interest in me long before my longing for them waned. A knowledge of seduction seemed to hold the key to achieving my romantic dreams, to living a life where I wouldn’t keep ending up hurt.
What I learned in reality was that the path of seduction was not nearly as much about accruing power as it was about committing to a lifestyle of service.
Seduction is, at its essence, an act of generosity, because at its core it is considering what the other person wants. Even the crudest of pickup tactics is at the very least considering how its recipient is going to respond.
Think of it this way: in order to seduce someone, the first critical step is to begin an attempt to understand them – their fears, their foibles, their needs, their cravings, their greatest points of pride and their deepest insecurities. This kind of focus is rare in our contemporary world with all its self-absorption and its infinitesimal attention spans, and when someone displays a vested interest in learning what makes you tick, it’s uncommon and a bit thrilling.
People everywhere are dying to be seen. They are dying to be more interesting than other people’s phones when they’re with them in person, and yet they also want those same people, or anyone, to notice their presence on their phones when they’re apart. We see evidence of this everywhere in our uber-connected world, most notably in people’s late-night twitter rants (oft deleted by morning), their vain selfies, their newsletters, their attempts to reach out and be noticed by sending text and photos out into the ether of social media without ever needing to confront another person directly. It’s a halfhearted, unrisky stab at intimacy, at the act of seeing and being seen.
The need for intimacy is a thing from which no one escapes. Our urge to connect with our fellow human beings is literally encoded in our genetics. It is key to our survival; without it, we’d have risked facing ostracization from our tribes back in the ages when isolation meant certain death. We are programmed to survive and to further the species, and in order to do both those things, we need to connect. We need to relate. No one is exempt from that.
And that’s precisely why it’s so scary to reach out – because the things we are built to crave are also built to terrify us. If we need something and we fail in getting it, what does that mean for us? If we ask and we receive a no, where do we go from there? Most of us just continue to hope, to stand there waiting to be noticed, too afraid to put ourselves on the line.
What the seducer does that is such an act of generosity is to offer the gift of intimacy and connection while shouldering the burden of potential rejection for his or her target. The seducer makes all the scary first moves herself, or entices her target to make them by giving a permission that emboldens him, and in doing so, creates a safety net for him to fall for her, for him to feel those deeply necessary experiences of connection, closeness, trust, passion, all within the auspices she’s created – ones that are specifically tailored to his preferences in the experience of pleasure, because she has all along been paying attention to the things he likes.
It’s been particularly remarkable in my journey as the art of seduction has become not only a skill set that I possess but also one which I purport to teach others, and as my name and persona have become more and more deeply synonymous with seduction, that I’ve seen people start shyly coming to me, telling me their secrets and desires, also longing, as everyone is, to be seen. I’ve shown up to classes on sexuality, even as a mere participant, and had other attendees ask me to listen to them, to hug them, to give them a moment of my time in order to hold space for their experiences. I’ve had people reach out to me both in person and online, strangers hoping to be healed. I can’t always promise that I’ll succeed in that (and truly, unless they’re a lover or a coaching client, I’m under no obligation to such promises), but I try to stay open and be generous. It’s how I can give back in exchange for all the effort I’ve put into selfishly getting what I want.
And in my personal life, I’ve accepted that taking the initiative has become my cross to bear. I don’t mind it so much; it’s a good trade-off when you consider that the alternative is to sit around waiting for someone else to give me what I want without being able to ask for it. I take the lead, and if all goes well, I create space for the other person to reciprocate according to my example. I give my targets the kind of care I wish to receive myself, and often that’s exactly how I get it.
So don’t let anyone taint your mind against the power of seduction. Used with ethics and integrity, it can be the greatest gift one can possibly give, because at the end of the day we all wish to feel passion and connection, and it’s a great relief to have the brunt of the work done for us by someone else.
Arden Leigh is today’s freshest voice on women’s dating and relationship strategies. Bringing together her experience in neuro-linguistic programming, brand marketing, social dynamics, pick-up artistry, and the fetish industry, she coaches women on developing a proactive approach to achieving their romantic goals. She is the founder of the Sirens Seduction Forum for Women and the author of The New Rules of Attraction: How To Get Him, Keep Him, and Make Him Beg For More (Sourcebooks, 2011). When she isn’t writing or coaching, she enjoys being a part of the nightlife scene as a personality and performer, and her band Arden and the Wolves has released two EPs available on iTunes. She writes a regular advice column for Auxiliary Magazine and maintains her seduction blog at:
www.ardenleigh.typepad.com. She has been publicly labeled a “predator” and she took it as a compliment.
B&w photo by Jeffrey Clark
Color photo by Ron Douglas