Thursday, February 15, 2007

How to be a Casanova (without really trying)

Simple stratagems to successfully and effectively engage with the opposite sex

First, what is a Casanova: a Don Juan, ladies man, conquistador, a serial seducer of the opposite sex, or in today’s parlance, a player.

With Valentines Day having come and gone, some people’s love life paradigms have shifted sharply into focus. It’s my experience that Valentine’s Day can sometimes bring couples and strangers closer, but more often, the pressure of demonstrating affection perfectly according to someone else’s standards is usually a source of friction on Valentine’s Day. Was it? Hands up who had an argument or even just some bickering on V-Day? This article is for those, and those poor souls who wish they were in relationship to start off with.

Now I’m sure some of you are going: who are you to offer us advice? It’s a fair point. Am I qualified? As any real Casanova will tell you, discretion is one of the strongest virtues you will need. What I can tell you is a group of 30 girls on a cycling tour voted me (and not my 29 male companions) as Mr. Casanova, so let’s take it on their authority. As far as I know though, the vote was not unanimous, which may be a good thing.

So let’s get started. The most basic trait of a Casanova is this one:
- be friendly. It may sound simple, but obviously if you’re walking around cursing and muttering under your breath, it’s probably going to be tough to approach other people with an open mind, and it’s going to be tough for them to approach you. Also, friendliness begets friendliness.
- smile. Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. I’m not referring to an artificial camera-in-your-face-smile, I’m saying you need to try to wear your feelings comfortably on your face. People like people who communicate openly with their bodies, and most particularly, their facial gestures. Guy’s are especially hard to read. Guys – show your feelings on your face. If this is a tough one for you, spend time figuring something to smile about before stepping out your door each day. That’s can be a significant mental step you make each day, and it can make the world of difference
- pay attention. Notice what is going on around you. That means, if there’s sport on television, or you’re busy with something, try to find the capacity or the space to move beyond your attention’s pan, and try to pan beyond, to include other people in your viewfinder. This could be at work, on a bus, anywhere. Paying attention also means being attentive to what others might need. It means remembering people’s birthdays, remembering the details in people’s lives the same way you like the things you like done in a certain way, and remembered on your behalf. Paying attention can also mean actual giving.
- listen. Chances are, if you don’t score well with the first three, you’re a dismal listener. A good listener shuts up and listens. It’s simple, but not always easy. Don’t listen in order to comment or judge or provide feedback. Listen in order to get to know the other person better. First seek to understand. You might find you discover a great deal in a short space of time. If you listen, it’s likely they will listen to you too (but not necessarily). Listen, learn and then, especially when specifically asked, provide your response. Choose your works carefully, and speak as honestly as you can.
- make plenty of eye contact. Enough said.
- touch. Please note that the first five tips are really about spending some time getting to know the person you’re intending to seduce (or at least, getting to know), but they’re also going to allow you to get to know who are as you put yourself in a place where you’re exposing yourself to someone else’s world. Touch is where the stakes change. Touch is very personal, so use sound judgment here. Touch is about trust. Forearms and shoulders, the back of the head perhaps for starters.
- talk. In this game you first talk the talk before you walk the walk. Knowing how to talk to someone is an art, and it’s where you can tell whether someone is charming or not, whether they do it for you (beyond mere appearances) or not. The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the voice is the door to the heart, and the words you use, a path into the mind of both people in a conversation. Obviously adapt what you say depending on the person. Someone who is shy will need you to take the lead in talking and setting the pace, but they’ll be more sensitive to what you’re saying, so watch carefully for cues. Someone who is particularly garrulous will probably want someone that can stimulate them, or understand them, or both.

I think if you want to have a good experience with the opposite sex you have to be fascinated by them, curious, and interested. I am and it certainly helps, because it shows. Be as honest as possible, even about the details, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s easier to tell a big lie in the beginning. Try not to. As far as possible, be true to yourself. Deceiving others in the end is demeaning to the both of you, and you’ll end up not feeling self-congratulatory but bitter about hurting someone else. If you can be yourself and get the girl, that’s the kick you want.

Another paradigm to bear in mind is this one: No Rules. Of course it does depend on the individual. Some will make their boundaries according to a list, others according to their religion, and others according to pure appearance only or to those they envy. The fewer rules, the shorter the list of must-haves in your search for love, the easier, more enjoyable and likely happy the experience will be. Many people get stuck on appearance, and so did I once upon a time. Why? Because it’s the obvious place to start. We start by noticing someone who looks attractive. You may have noticed that I didn’t even mention appearance in the above 7 stratagems, simply because it’s overdone (but not unimportant).

Like many young bucks, I started out dating a model and so my first three girlfriends were all models. Boy can they give you a hard time! Throw away the rule book. Is someone you know, or like, divorced, or with children, or a bit short, or bit too this or a bit too that? Be a little flexible and take a step. A small step isn’t a commitment; it’s just a small step. Going through a Casanova Stage (that’s probably Cinderella for the girls) is helpful for a while, because you learn what you like and you explore your personal power and develop your ability to charm and seduce. It’s really about your internal journey towards who you are and knowing who you are. It’s when this continues for too long, where you’re in love with being in love, and you know you’re being immature and greedy, and breaking hearts left and right (and finding your own heart becoming emptier and emptier)anyway, that it becomes self defeating.

It’s my experience though that few people graduate from the Casanova/Cinderella Stage; instead they quickly marry the first or second prospect that comes along, and then the babies roll out. This is usually at a youngish age. Not good. Today, given the complexity and pace of society, we need far more time not only to find ourselves, but to find our feet. Bachelors today, for example, are expected to spend more time alone than in a relationship, and thus are investing more in bachelor pads that are not just stylish but functional and livable. Give yourself time to find your space, and your place, before you choose your Cinderella.

The idea is to treat women as human beings, not as objects. Doing so assures success (for both players). There are plenty of men who use the ‘hit and run’ method, or simply play ‘the numbers’. It’s up to the woman to accept the man's attentions or not, and obviously the more acceptably (honestly and sincerely he behaves, the better the chances of mutual fulfillment. My recommendation is to be as true to yourself and as honest as possible, that way you save everyone (including yourself), a lot of pain. It also allows for a more rapid response, because in the end ‘having a relationship’ is about interactive communication on a number of levels. To the extent that this is free flowing, it ought to also be satisfying. Treating the opposite sex as an adversary or worse, the enemy, and employing tricks and deception is counterproductive and only effective over the very short term. Word spreads quickly, and so does the karma you’re employing. Be careful to manage your image over the longer term, if you expect to be playing the field further than just today.

In the movie Dangerous Liaisons, it’s interesting to see that the Casanova Game can go wrong (or is it right), when someone comes along that is genuine, and you’re ready to be – how can I put it? Disarmed. Of course, by being genuine, by talking and listening, you (the Casanova) runs the risk of really liking someone. That’s the reward for finally learning to play the game with sincerity and with minimum contrivance.

A good place to be is The Retired Casanova. You’ve experienced enough to know what you want, and you’re ready to seize the person who next makes your heart melt, and for the right reason. If you do embark on the Casanova Stage, make sure you graduate, and do so with honor!

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