There are a lot of “game” books out there purporting to teach men how to seduce women. Some are decent, many are horrendous. I can’t say that I’ve ever read a book on “seduction” that was truly a work of excellence…until now. Robert Greene’s The Art of Seduction is among the first modern works on the subject before the fad began to take off in the mid-2000’s with the publication of Neil Strauss’ The Game. Published in 2001, The Art of Seduction is the sequel to Greene’s famous magnum opus, The 48 Laws of Power, and it contains a lot of overlap in terms of the application of principles. However, The Art of Seduction is more concerned with everyday interactions and goes into extensive detail on them. This, conveyed with Robert Greene’s elegant and well-researched writing, is what truly makes it a gem. The Art of Seduction is without question the best “game” book I’ve ever read. My only criticism of it is that the “tactics” are so numerous that it’s hard to converge them into a simple system – you need to find what works best, and finding what working best is what makes this book so exceptional. Most “game” books focus only on tactics and not on your own personality. The Art of Seduction starts with you.
The 9 Types of Seducer
In The Art of Seduction, Robert Greene lists the nine different types of seductive personalities:
- The Siren
- The Rake
- The Ideal Lover
- The Dandy
- The Natural
- The Coquette
- The Charmer
- The Charismatic
- The Star
Finally, he lists the tenth personality, the Anti-Seducer (or rather, anti-seductive traits), and warns you to avoid whatever of those tendencies that you do have at all costs.
When going over the types, he advises:
The chapters in this section will take you inside each of the nine types. At least one of the chapters should strike a chord—you will recognize part of yourself. That chapter will be the key to developing your own powers of attraction. Let us say you have coquettish tendencies. The Coquette chapter will show you how to build upon your own self-sufficiency, alternating heat and coldness to ensnare your victims. It will show you how to take your natural qualities further, becoming a grand Coquette, the type we fight over. There is no point in being timid with a seductive quality. We are charmed by an unabashed Rake and excuse his excesses, but a halfhearted Rake gets no respect. Once you have cultivated your dominant character trait, adding some art to what nature has given you, you can then develop a second or third trait, adding depth and mystery to your persona. Finally the section’s tenth chapter, on the Anti-Seducer, will make you aware of the opposite potential within you—the power of repulsion. At all cost you must
root out any anti-seductive tendencies you may have.
Think of the nine types as shadows, silhouettes. Only by stepping into one of them and letting it grow inside you can you begin to develop the seductive character that will bring you limitless power.
The nine subsequent chapters require careful reading. I found myself taking a lot of notes with The Art of Seduction (over 100 pages). It may be a bit tough at times to “find your type.” A danger is the generalities that Greene employs. Generally when reading however, you’ll find some chapters that resonate more than others. For me, the chapter that resonated the most was the charismatic.
Today, anyone who has presence, who attracts attention when he or she enters a room, is said to possess charisma. But even these less-exalted types reveal a trace of the quality suggested by the word’s original meaning. Their charisma is mysterious and inexplicable, never obvious. They have an unusual confidence. They have a gift—often a smoothness with language— that makes them stand out from the crowd. They express a vision. We may not realize it, but in their presence we have a kind of religious experience:
we believe in these people, without having any rational evidence for doing so.
Robert Greene goes over several charismatic traits in the chapter, such as purpose, uninhibitness, magnetism, and fervency, that struck a chord with me. I wasn’t really aware I possessed any of these traits until very recently – in the last few years. My biggest weakness was my own confidence or lack of it, but I have noticed a few things about myself that I’ve played to the hilt over the past few years.
- My (once more unknown until recently) extroversion, which provides me with tremendous energy in all of my interactions. This allows me to captivate attention and be authentic and uninhibited. In the moment, I love interacting with people, and it shows. It gives me energy.
- Robert Greene says charismatics have an air of vulnerability to them. They “display a need for love and affection.” Sadly, this has often been true of me, especially so with people that earn my respect. It’s a weakness I’ve been trying to let go of, but it does fit the profile, and Robert Greene instructs on how to turn it around.
And there’s more than that. My charismatic nature shines through at its best when I approach very beautiful women. One of the reasons I don’t use the “10 scale” is because it implies you need to behave differently depending on the beauty of the woman, but I have consistently found my “game” is at its best when interacting with the women I’m most attracted to, versus ones I’m less attracted to. Robert Greene calls this “The Authentic Animal.” One incident that was telling to me was the time a couple of years ago that I saw an immensely beautiful woman (imagine the kind you usually only see once every few months) and, after some fear and hesitation, approached. I was so authentically myself, and authentically desirous of her, that my energy and magnetism took over. It was a pleasant experience, and it’s something I’ve often found myself repeating.
I still have some work to do in developing the seducer-charisma personality to its full potential, but The Art of Seduction has provided me with the guide to doing so, and it will do the same for whatever natural talents your own personality possesses.
I’ve also noticed that I have some rakish tendencies, at least when escalating, and can have some ideal lover tendencies…if I overcome my own worst anti-seductive trait, the drawback of being an extrovert charismatic – the windbag trope:
The most effective seductions are driven by looks, indirect actions, physical lures. Words have a place, but too much talk will generally break the spell, heightening surface differences and weighing things down.
People who talk a lot most often talk about themselves. They have never acquired that inner voice that wonders, Am I boring you? To be a Windbag is to have a deep-rooted selfishness. Never interrupt or argue with these types—that only fuels their windbaggery. At all costs learn to control your own tongue.
I do have a tendency to do this, which I’m trying to control.
The Art of Seduction invites the reader to know himself – the best and worst parts. But the only way to truly know is with practice, so it also indirectly invites you to do the most important thing in seduction – taking action and stopping with the useless “theories” and browsing of “game” sites. Only then can you truly understand what traits – seductive and anti-seductive, that you possess.
The Seducer’s Victims
Robert Greene next describes the 18 types of people that fall prey to the seducer.
- The Reformed Siren/Rake
- The Disappointed Dreamer
- The Pampered Royal
- The New Prude
- The Crushed Star
- The Novice
- The Conqueror
- The Exotic Fetishist
- The Drama Queen
- The Professor
- The Beauty
- The Aging Baby
- The Rescuer
- The Roue
- The Idol Worshiper
- The Sensualist
- The Lonely Leader
- The Floating Gender
Each of these types have psychological triggers that move the seduction along, and Robert Greene explains what they are in The Art of Seduction. Finding out which type you may be dealing with is the key to the first tactic of seduction that Greene lays out – choose the right victim.
The commonality that all these types of “victim” share is that they lack something (as we all do) and that this lack is the key to breaching their defenses and dominating their minds. Essentially it’s another version of sales 101. Greene explains:
Look at the people around you. Forget their social exterior, their obvious character traits; look behind all of that, focusing on the gaps, the missing pieces in their psyche. That is the raw material of any seduction. Pay close attention to their clothes, their gestures, their offhand comments, the things in their house, certain looks in their eyes; get them to talk about their past, particularly past romances. And slowly the outline of those missing pieces will come into view. Understand: people are constantly giving out signals as to what they lack. They long for completeness, whether the illusion of it or the reality, and if it has to come from another person, that person has tremendous power over them. We may call them victims of a seduction, but they are almost always willing victims.
Some types of “victim” have predilections to falling prey to certain types of seducer. Robert Greene warns you to not seduce your own type.
Disappointed Dreamers, Idol Worshipers, and Beauties, for instance, probably are more predisposed to falling for my type of personality – Charismatic with Ideal Lover or Rakish tendencies (Greene also says that the Coquette can work well here). Conquerors also fall prey to Coquettes. Professors are excellent targets for Sirens or Rakes, and so on. You may also recognize your own “victim” tendencies when reading this section of The Art of Seduction.
The key point of this part of the book though, is that you must be able to get outside yourself and into the mind of your prospective partner. If you don’t, you will be “an incomplete seducer,” to quote Robert Greene. In addition to maximizing your own strengths of personality, you must pay attention to your “victims” and leave any self-absorption behind. Extroverts, take note. This may be more difficult for you and something you need to consciously work on.
The Tactics of Seduction
Finally, we get to the largest portion of the book, the actual moves used during the dance. There are a lot of them. Some of them are more appropriate for certain personalities than others, and you need not follow them all, or follow them in a strict sequence, but Robert Greene lays out a general progression from the beginning to the end of the dance:
- Stir interest and drive
- Lead Astray by creating pleasure and confusion
- The Precipice – deepen the effect by extreme measures
- Move in for the kill
Each phase has its own separate moves for you to engage in, such as choosing the right “victim” (again) to start off with and mastering the art of the bold move to conclude with. I suggest reading through each phase, highlighting the moves you think you’ll be best at, and focusing on those, then trying to add to your skill with practice. That’s certainly one reason I’m re-reading the book at the moment (another reason is that you’ll get my free creative retelling when it’s released by signing up for The Masculine Epic’s email list).
The Art of Seduction is a complex book. If you’re new to the “game” scene, it’s not a book I would recommend. If you’re looking to start your journey in improving with women, it’s far more important for you to overcome your anxieties around them, look your best, and get over any social awkwardness you might have.
But once you’ve put some time in and your fears are manageable, The Art of Seduction will be your higher-order guide. It will cast a new interpretation on your experiences, allow you to optimize your strengths, and give you a better understanding of the type of women that you should be screening for. It’s really the only general “game” book you’ll ever need when you leave the newbie phase.