Archive for the ‘Relationships’

January 15th, 2008

Serial seducers

We have many names for them—lady-killer, philanderer, femme fatale, gold-digger, love rat, womanizer, Casanova, Don Juan, playboy, gigolo, ladies’ man, wolf, stud, pick-up artist, heartbreakers. Whatever we call them, their modus operandi is the same—they love the hunt, they sweep you off your feet in a whirlwind of admiration, charm, attention and flattery until they get what they want or they get bored and then they drop you and move onto their next target.

You meet him or her at a party say. They seem to find you instantly irresistible, entertaining, riveting. They focus their attention on you with laser-beam intensity. They flatter, flirt, compliment. You feel an instant intimacy and rapport. You have so much in common. This looks like being the start of something big. Maybe it is, or maybe it’s something else entirely. You might have just met a serial seducer.

If we haven’t experienced it ourselves, we all know of people who have been wooed and romanced by someone charming, charismatic, and believable only to have things turn out badly, only to find that the charmer was more concerned with getting than giving, with being loved than with loving, with themselves than anyone else.

The word seduction sounds enticing but it can actually be quite sinister. To seduce means to lead astray, to tempt, to persuade into surrender, to win over, attract or lure through some appealing quality. It means getting someone to do what they otherwise would not. It means making use of another for your own ends. It implies ulterior motives, cunning, trickery, deceptiveness and exploitation.

Almost everyone longs to be the most important person in the world to someone. But the seducer’s implied or promised intention to fulfil that wish is the bait for a trap.

Genuine love has a deep concern for the welfare of the loved one but when the seducer says ‘I love you’, what he or she actually means is ‘you are the one I have chosen to supply me with what I want’ (whatever that may be - sex, money, adoration, or ego boosting, are all possibilities). The seducer’s love, after the initial wooing, feels nothing like love. They actually have very shallow emotions and lack any real attachment or connection to others.

Some of the tactics used to win over a partner in the beginning can bear a strong resemblance to those used by cult recruiters. The seducer often uses deception and manipulation to make their target bond with them and become emotionally dependent on them. They get the target involved, entangled, and committed so that they are more likely to give, to serve and to be obedient.

Not all charming people are seducers but charm is the seducer’s favoured tactic. It comes easily to him or her. He/she knows all the right things to say, knows how to zero in on their target with an instant intimacy and seeming unconditional admiration for everything about them. He swamps her with attention, flattery, compliments, touches her in just the right way, goes out of his way to please, seeks her out, and does things for her so that she feels indebted to him. In the beginning, he can look like Prince Charming.

The intensity of this affection, interest and understanding amounts to what is often termed ‘love bombing’, a process intended to overwhelm, win trust and wear down resistance. Many women especially, are so often ignored, dismissed, or patronized by the men they come into contact with that one who listens and pays attention can easily turn their heads.

At first the seducer is all sweetness and light, friendly, compassionate, trustworthy. But like a canny salesman he only shows the good qualities of his product in order to make a sale. His honeyed words are so convincing, and his illusion of love so credible. He seems so good and makes his target feel so good that she experiences an emotional high that limits clear thinking and weakens defences. She is distracted by all the attention so that she never questions that the interest is too intense too soon. He knows his target’s needs for affection, attention and appreciation so he’ll tell her he has never met anyone like her before, never felt so intensely for anyone else, that she is different from all other women, she is special and the best thing that ever happened to him.

He often has a talent for sniffing out what she wants and likes and pretends to be her perfect partner. He knows she wants romance, love and a long term fulfilling relationship and leads her to believe he will satisfy her dreams. He might pretend to be a ‘sensitive new age guy’ if that is what she wants, or a romantic, or a hero, a high achiever, or he might pretend interests in art, the environment, or whatever else interests her. He pretends to share her standards, values, and aims to disarm her by pretending he is the same sort of person that she is and that he feels about things the same way she does.

He pretends to be too straightforward, too nice and too harmless to ever be capable of deceiving or causing pain. He seems completely normal, even better than normal. He makes her feel special and adored and only later, once she comes to depend on and trust him will she realize his philosophy is ‘treat em mean to keep em keen’. For the moment, he appears to be a man capable of love, tenderness, and compassion but his target falls in love with a skilfully projected image not a real person.

Few seducers though can keep up this ‘honeymoon’ style for long, so they often sweep their target off her feet in a whirlwind romance that gives her no time to think or get to know him too well. He chases her only until he sees that he has convinced her, then he backs off so that she has to pursue him. He seems to understand the process of falling in love very well (the intense preoccupation, the lack of judgement) and uses it to his advantage, carefully hiding his true self until after his target is hooked.

Only when he feels safe, and sure that he’s ‘got her’, will he dare let Mr Hyde loose. But when the real man emerges, he bears little resemblance to the blissful Mr Wonderful who wooed her so that the target is naturally confused and doubts or blames herself. Like a Trojan horse, his wonderful exterior gains him access but once he is let in, he wreaks havoc.

Not all seducers use the same approach. If he is short on any other appeal he might play on sympathy to win a lover by spinning sad stories of an unhappy childhood, a bitch ex-wife who won’t let him see his children or who bled him dry, financially and emotionally, or some other sob story of hardship or injustice, so that his hard-done-by image hides his potential menace.

Many serial seducers have many of the traits of psychopaths and/or narcissists.

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