the art of watching two friends seduce each other + what it taught me about badass blogging
The two most seductive people I know ended up engaged to each other. One night they started arguing about who seduced whom. Jordan came to my house and said, “You know how I always had this prescient feeling about him, that we’d end up together? And I couldn’t figure out if I was being psychic or cocky?”
“Uh-huh.” Jordan is so intuitive and tuned into people that it can be downright eerie. She’s also totally cocky, at least about some things (ie: men).
“Because the first couple of times we hung out, I just felt like we had a way of connecting, you know? Which made me realize how attractive he is.”
I did know this. Adrian had broken up with someone and Jordan didn’t want to date him until he played the field a bit (or, as she put it, “slept with some models and gotten that out of his system”). For almost a year, they exchanged friendly texts, bantered, and kept each other up to date on their dating lives while keeping each other in play. (“He’s a total flirt,” Jordan had reported. “I like that. I relate to that.”) When Jordan sensed Adrian’s interest drifting too far toward another woman, she made her move. He kept warning her that he didn’t know if he’d ever be ready for a monogamous relationship. She smiled and nodded along, and then one night she stood him up at a book party and he realized he couldn’t live without her.
“I felt that way,” Jordan said, “because he made me feel that way. He’s just really good at getting a woman to open up and tell him things she wouldn’t tell anyone else, because there’s something so comfortable and trustworthy about him. It doesn’t feel like seduction. But it is.” She said, “I fell for the oldest trick in the book.”
“That’s because with him it isn’t a trick,” I pointed out. “He’s genuinely interested in what you have to say. He enjoys it, enjoys you. And he doesn’t care if it leads to anything, because he knows he has other options. So you don’t feel like he’s trying to get something from you. So you let down your guard.”
“I always liked her,” Adrian said, “I just didn’t expect to end up in a serious relationship.” When I asked him how this had happened, he thought for a minute and said, “She made me feel honored and respected. She knew when to draw close and when to back away. There were times when I felt like I was going to lose her, and I knew I had to step up. So I did.”
I refrained from pointing out that he was never in as much danger of losing her as he had probably feared. It wasn’t a trick. Jordan would wait until she sensed he was ready, then draw a line in the sand and see if he crossed it. She was prepared to walk away; she had just known that she wouldn’t have to.
By making her feel like she had a special connection to him, Adrian had reeled in a woman who made that connection manifest.
“You realize that she seduced you into ever-deeper levels of commitment,” I told him.
“It didn’t feel like seduction.”
This made me think of a quote by Voltaire, which I’m using in my novel-in-progress (which itself is about seduction): “The difference between being conquered and being seduced is: everybody wants to be seduced.”
Because the key to seduction involves getting inside the other person’s head, recognizing what he or she wants, and then giving it to them without making them feel like they’re expected to give something back in return. (As soon as someone feels unduly pressured or chased, or senses an agenda, it’s over.) It’s not about the sexy black dress or the flashy car: those are props.
Most people suck at seduction because most people suck at good listening. When you know how to tune into the other person, to make them feel like the object of your authentic and focused attention, you don’t need the perfect breasts or the big stock options (although they probably don’t hurt).
This is what I don’t think many writers (or other creatives) understand about blogging: that it’s a form of content marketing, which itself is a form of seduction.
Content marketing is content that has value in and of itself, but is also driving the reader toward some kind of future action (ie: buying something, whether it’s a service or a painting or a book or a product). Many creatives blanch when they think of marketing, because marketing is like plastic surgery: you only notice it when it’s done badly. When it’s done well, it’s a connection made through recognition of a need, and providing a solution to that need, and it leaves both people feeling good about the exchange (ie: that neither was manipulated or taken advantage of). Which inspires trust. Which leads you (if you want) into deeper relationship. There’s no pressure, because there’s no desperation; people know they have other options. There’s nothing slick or cheesy or fake, because both parties honor and respect each other.
Yet how rare that seems. How sad.
As a true creative, of course, you’re not supposed to “sell out”, as if connecting with an audience – especially a big audience – automatically means compromising your soul. But maybe, if you’re authentic from the beginning about who you are and what you have to give, it means that you’ve found the right audience (or you’ve allowed the right audience to find you). And although we need solitude in which to dream and reflect and synthesize and Do the Work, we also need relationship and connection, those intersections with each other, to spark creative thinking in the first place (and provide constructive feedback).
In other words, the artist needs a right audience as much as the right audience needs her. Good marketing is the road that enables them to find each other. Good marketing is about authenticity, connection, and relationship (whether that relationship lasts for five hours or five years).
Blogging might indeed be a form of marketing — but marketing is a form of seduction — and seduction itself is an art.
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