This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Art of Seduction" by Robert Greene. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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How do you make someone obsessed with you? What are some psychological tactics you can use to make all their attention fixated on you alone?
According to Robert Greene, the author of The Art of Seduction, the key to making someone invested in you to the point of obsession is to create a hook. You create a hook by crafting an illusion that you’ll lure the target into.
With this in mind, here’s how to make someone obsessed with you, according to Robert Greene.
How to Make Someone Hooked
In his book The Art of Seduction, Robert Greene explains how to seduce anyone using manipulative psychological tactics. In the third of phase of Greene’s seduction process, he explains how to make someone obsessed with you:
Step 1: Create surprise and unpredictability. Most people find predictability boring, so you’ll need to come up with ways to occasionally surprise your target. Try giving them unexpected little gifts, or arrange a spontaneous trip, to keep things interesting.
Step 2: Use the power of language to create an illusion. Words can have power over people, so use them deliberately. Greene reminds us that regular people say what they really think. The seducer, however, crafts their words to direct their target’s thoughts and feelings. There are a few ways to use what Greene calls the “demonic power of words” to manipulate:
- Use flattery specifically about whatever your target feels insecure about. Compliment them on things nobody else does and feign emotionality, as if you’re truly impressed.
- Be vague and ambiguous often, so the target gets confused. For example, give the target vague promises of future adventure, without being specific. Greene asserts that this will put you in a position of power as they grapple with trying to figure you out.
- Don’t argue with your target—it’s anti-seductive. Instead, regularly repeat and affirm whatever your target says, and try to use humor when you want to lighten the mood.
(Shortform note: In The Game, Neil Strauss describes how pickup artists use neuro-linguistic programming principles to seduce women. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a method developed by psychologists to treat people with mental health problems using language to direct their thoughts toward healthier patterns. The techniques, however, have been picked up by those in the world of seduction, to be used for directing the target’s thoughts toward sexual desire. Strauss describes how he learned to use specific words and gestures in conversation with women in a way that led them to subconsciously associate his words with sexual arousal.)
Step 3: Never let them see the real you. You can’t present yourself as an ordinary person when you’re trying to seduce someone. You must be the ideal this person fantasizes about. According to Greene, this means that rather than expressing preferences of your own, you’ll want to cater to what your target likes—in the way you dress, where you take them, what you talk about, and so on.
(Shortform note: In No More Mr. Nice Guy, Robert Glover says in order to live a fulfilling life, a man must stop being overly accommodating to others, and instead be authentic. While Greene doesn’t suggest that you actually agree with your target—only act like you do—Glover says that integrity is an essential quality men should cultivate. He also argues that it’s too difficult to keep up a facade all the time.)
Step 4: Manipulate using moments of weakness. Occasionally let your target see a vulnerable side of you. Greene suggests confessing some secret to them, expressing deep emotion. Cry if you can. This disarms the target and makes them feel close to you. Wait until you’ve gotten to know them a little first, though—don’t do this too soon, and don’t overdo it.
Step 5: Alienate the target from their world and bring them into yours. Green says that your target’s friends and family will be your biggest enemy in the seduction process. They give the target comfort and security and may also try to sway them against you if they see through your tactics. This means you should try to get your target away from their friends and family as much as possible. Convince them that their friends and family are jealous of the time they spend with you or that they’re paternalistically controlling. Greene notes that this last point works particularly well with very young people who feel confined by parental control. Keeping the target from all forms of comfort creates a fear that only you can “save” them from.
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- The psychology of how to successfully entice lovers or devoted followers
- Greene's advice for choosing a seduction target based on their characteristics
- A step-by-step guide on how to seduce your chosen target