What you are after as a seducer is the ability to move people in the direction you want them to go. But the game is perilous; the moment they suspect they are acting under your influence, they will become resentful. We are creatures who cannot stand feeling that we are obeying someone else’s will. Should your targets catch on, sooner or later they will turn against you. But what if you can make them do what you want them to without their realizing it? What if they think they are in control? That is the power of indirection and no seducer can work his or her magic without it.
The first move to master is simple: once you have chosen the right person, you must make the target come to you. If, in the opening stages, you can make your targets think that they are the ones making the first approach, you have won the game. There will be no resentment, no perverse counter-reaction, no paranoia.
To make them come to you requires giving them space. This can be accomplished in several ways. You can haunt the periphery of their existence, letting them notice you in different places but never approaching them. You will get their attention this way, and if they want to bridge the gap, they will have to come to you. You can befriend them, as Lauzun did the Grande Mademoiselle, moving steadily closer while always maintaining the distance appropriate for friends of the opposite sex. You can also play cat and mouse with them, first seeming interested, then stepping back— actively luring them to follow you into your web. Whatever you do, and whatever kind of seduction you are practicing, you must at all cost avoid the natural tendency to crowd your targets.
Do not make the mistake of thinking they will lose interest unless you apply pressure, or that they will enjoy a flood of attention. Too much attention early on will actually just suggest insecurity, and raise doubts as to your motives. Worst of all, it gives your targets no room for imagination. Take a step back; let the thoughts you are provoking come to them as if they were their own. This is doubly important if you are dealing with someone who has a deep effect on you. We can never really understand the opposite sex. They are always mysterious to us, and it is this mystery that provides the tension so delightful in seduction; but it is also a source of unease. Freud famously wondered what women really wanted; even to this most insightful of psychological thinkers, the opposite sex was a foreign land. For both men and women, there are deep-rooted feelings of fear and anxiety in relation to the opposite sex. In the initial stages of a seduction, then, you must find ways to calm any sense of mistrust that the other person may experience. (A sense of danger and fear can heighten the seduction later on, but if you stir such emotions in the first stages, you will more likely scare the target away.) Establish a neutral distance, seem harmless, and you give yourself room to move.
Casanova cultivated a slight femininity in his character—an interest in clothes, theater, domestic matters—that young girls found comforting. The Renaissance courtesan Tullia d’Aragona, developing friendships with the great thinkers and poets of her time, talked of literature and philosophy— anything but the boudoir (and anything but the money that was also her goal). Johannes, the narrator of Søren Kierkegaard’s The Seducer’s Diary, follows his target, Cordelia, from a distance; when their paths cross, he is polite and apparently shy. As Cordelia gets to know him, he doesn’t frighten her. In fact he is so innocuous she begins to wish he were less so.
Getting to your targets through other people is extremely effective; infiltrate their circle and you are no longer a stranger. Before the seventeenth century seducer Count de Grammont made a move, he would befriend his target’s chambermaid, her valet, a friend, even a lover. In this way he could gather information, finding a way to approach her in an unthreatening manner. He could also plant ideas, saying things the third party was likely to repeat, things that would intrigue the lady, particularly when they came from someone she knew.
In all arenas of life, you should never give the impression that you are angling for something—that will raise a resistance that you will never lower. Learn to approach people from the side. Mute your colors, blend in, seem unthreatening, and you will have more room to maneuver later on. The same holds true in politics, where overt ambition often frightens people. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin at first glance looked like an everyday Russian; he dressed like a worker, spoke with a peasant accent, had no air of greatness. This made the public feel comfortable and identify with him. Yet beneath this apparently bland appearance, of course, was a deeply clever man who was always maneuvering. By the time people realized this it was too late.