Is it possible to make someone fall in love with you? A few months ago, Kate, a former student and keen observer of human relationship behavior, posed this question on my Facebook wall.
Here's the typical scenario- one person is attracted to another, but the feelings aren't readily reciprocated. Is it possible for that person to do something, anything, to get the other to fall in love with them?
I say it's entirely possible to get someone to fall in love with you if the process of interpersonal attraction is really understood and you're able to tailor the methodology to the individual. It's not an inevitability; no method of eliciting behaviors is going to be infallible. It should work the majority of the time, however. Think of this as a collection of very deliberate courting behaviors.
Before I tackle the list of tips, let's talk about ethics. This is a tricky topic because it flirts with the line between seduction/ courting behaviors and emotional manipulation. The rule of thumb that should be used:
If a person expresses they have no interest in you, leave them the fuck alone.
Do not assume they're merely playing hard to get or you can wear them down. Unwanted advances, once rebuked, become crazy psycho behavior. We have enough goddamned crazy psychos in this world. Don't contribute to the problem.
Okay, now that we have that cleared up, let's make up a hypothetical story about a girl named Lynne and her crush, Matt. Lynne really likes Matt and desperately wants to be in a relationship with him. What steps can she take to seduce him?
1. Understand propinquity and the mere exposure effect. The mere exposure effect explains the phenomenon of liking something more if we see it on a regular basis. Propinquity means being close. The more often Lynne interacts with Matt, the more he is going to like her. She can plan out "chance" meetings where they will run into each other in different environments. To use these two effects, Lynne should plan to "randomly" run into Matt frequently. The simple act of frequently seeing her will make Matt think positively about her.
2. Be physically attractive to take advantage of the halo effect. We like pretty things. We also attribute positive characteristics to attractive people (they're smarter, better at sex, make more money, are friendlier, are more trustworthy, etc.) Lynne can capitalize on both of these phenomena to make Matt like her more. This can be accomplished in a few ways:
- Lynne should do everything she can to highlight or create culturally-ideal standards of attractiveness. This would include appearing younger, possessing symmetrical facial features, and aim for a hip-to-waist ratio of 0.7 (or 0.9 for males), which is calculated by dividing waist size by hip size.
- Lynne has to learn Matt's particular interests. All of us have specific "fetish" characteristics that deviate from traditional beauty. Maybe Matt really likes longer hair or smaller breasts. Or his tastes could be even more specific, like dark lipstick or hairy armpits (it's a thing... really.)
- Lynne needs to surround herself with less attractive females. Attractiveness is relative. In any given situation, we'll assess attractiveness based on others in the immediate environment. If Lynne were rated as a "7", she can appear more like an "8" or "9" simply by surrounding herself with a lot of "5's."
3. Flirt. Flirting is nothing more than playful communication that hints at the possibility of sexual interest. Flirting consists of actual language and accompanying body language. The goal of flirting is to signal "I'm interested in you." Lynne should engage in mild flirting whenever possible.
4. Leverage similarity. The notion of "opposites attract" is wrong. Similarity is the foundation of interpersonal liking. The more similarities we have with another, the stronger the bond we feel with them. First, Lynne should highlight all the things she has in common with Matt. She can enhance this effect by shifting her behaviors to be more aligned with his. If Matt loves bluegrass music, Lynne could begin learning all she could about the music.
5. Build intimacy via self-disclosure. Intimacy, or the closeness we feel towards another person, is built by reciprocal self-disclosure. We reveal our inner selves to someone. They return the favor. This exchange bonds us and makes us feel closer. Lynne can utilize this by sharing details of her life or "inner self" on a regular basis. She should start small by revealing relatively minor things like the time she was embarrassed in middle school because she walked out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to her foot, then work up to more significant disclosures.
6. Build passion by playing hard to get. Humans want what they cannot have. More specifically, we value things that are rare. This particular quirk is the basis of economic theory and the idea of supply and demand. This is the reason people tend to get more interest from others when they're already in a relationship versus when they're single. Lynne can dramatically increase her desirability by making herself seem more unobtainable. She can do this by by cycling flirting behaviors with "indifferent" behaviors (where she shows no interest in Matt.) She can also use this by feigning mild interest in other people.
7. Reciprocal liking. We like people that like us, and the best way for Lynne to show this is simply say "Matt, I like you."
8. Make the relationship rewarding. We enter and stay in relationships because they fuel some need we possess. If we can figure out what any given person needs from a romantic relationship, we can then provide for said needs. We can discover other peoples' relationship needs by talking about their parents' relationship or their past relationships.
9. Build investments by starting small and building up. The investment theory of relationships is based on the idea that we're more likely to stick with relationships when we have a greater investment in said relationship. These investments could be time, mutually-purchased goods, cohabitation, pets, ids, whatever.
10. Leverage fight or flight. When we perceive danger our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and produces a set of predictable physiological reactions- sweaty palms, heightened awareness, butterflies in the stomach, insomnia, racing heart, etc. When we fall in love, the exact same thing happens physiologically. Our brains, for whatever reason, aren't especially good at attribution. If we're with another person and experience something scary, our brains often misattribute the feelings as "hey, I really like this person!" Lynne can use this concept to hep Matt fall for her by doing exciting things together. Riding a roller coaster, watching a scary movie, or riding in a cab driven by anyone unfamiliar with American traffic laws would do the trick.
11. Identify then establish common points of interest by studying "psychics." I'm a huge skeptic when it comes to supernatural phenomenon, mostly because there has yet to be a single case of a psychic demonstrating their powers in a controlled laboratory setting. That, and I actually studied the tactics of psychics (I dabble in magic, and "mentalism" was my favorite.) "Psychics" use a variety of skills to "read" people, most notably cold and warm reading (here's a good primer.) Anywho, cold reading allows you to observe specific things about a person and make fairly accurate assumptions. Those assumptions can then be utilized to make yourself appear like an ideal match. Let's assume Lynne and Matt are both in their late twenties. Lynne, based on her cold reading research, knows most men in their late twenties are unusually focused on establishing a career. That, coupled with Matt's long hours, could lead Lynne to begin giving Matt encouragement to succeed at his career while also discussing her career aspirations.
12. Win over their social circle. Matt's circle of friends tend to exert considerable influence over his actions. Lynne can leverage this by befriending his friends and subtly increase her "girlfriend" stock by doing a few things. First, she should appear as likable and friendly as possible. Second, she should avoid appearing to be possessive and be willing to give Matt space apart (A new significant other usually means the friend is going to fall off the face of the Earth for months and months.)
13. Ask them to do you a favor. Asking someone to do you a favor is a weird psychological trick that almost always increases liking behaviors. Let's say Lynne asks Matt to help her move from one apartment to another. Odds are good Matt is going to agree simply because most of us have difficulty saying no to requests for favors. Matt, in his mind, is going to try to self-rationalize why he agreed to help her move. The answer he's invariably going to come up with is "I must be doing this because I sort of like her." Sounds crazy, but it works.
14. Be funny. If there's one universal quality all of us enjoy, it's a well-developed sense of humor. We like funny people. Most of us like funny people a lot. Lynne can leverage this by actively working to become funnier AND avoid not-so-funny behaviors. I like to develop my own sense of humor by reading jokes, watching comedies, and studying comedians. I tend to take this to a dorky level by also studying the science of humor and joke-telling. The second part, avoiding unfunny behaviors, means limiting things like whining, bitching, complaining, being needy or clingy, or scowling a lot. Smile, laugh, don't take anything too seriously. If Lynne does this, she'll become much more attractive to Matt.
Well, there we go - fourteen tips to help Lynne seduce Matt. If she follows the tips, odds are really good she'll not only get a date, but probably set up a situation where Matt would be interested in a relationship. Of course, there's no guarantee the relationship will work, but who knows? They may end up living happily ever-after.
Good luck and have fun!