Of the 24 Rules, these 5 matter the most in your relationships
Robert Greene’s books never fail to spark a bit of controversy with masterpieces such as his debut book The 48 Laws of Power being dubbed “the sociopath’s bible” followed by The Art of Seduction that is christened to be both a “handbook on the most subtle and effective form of power” and “an indispensable primer on how to take what you want from whomever you want” that’ll leave you walking away feeling like a creep with its goal to play on people’s deepest desires — completely fair if you were to follow these rules to a T.
Despite what you might think, the rules presented in The Art of Seduction are brutally tried and true methods proved to be successful throughout history and if taken piecemeal can prove to be very useful in relationships.
I found most of his rules to be very harsh and manipulative in nature, but by looking at each rule objectively you can find ways to apply such maneuvers subtly to spice things up in your relationships and reinvigorate intensely positive feelings and interests you’ve shared with your partner throughout the knolls of your relationship.
When pursuing and maintaining a long and interesting relationship, it is crucial that you understand the dynamics of human nature and what truly gets someone to feel that what they are a part of is special. Of the 24 rules of seduction, these 5 rules in particular are ones that you’ll always want to be employed in your relationships.
Rule 7: “Enter Their Spirit”
Women are not at their ease except with those who take chances with them, and enter into their spirit. — Ninon de L’enclos
Instead of being so stubborn with the way you perceive things and so isolated in your own world, open yourself up to really understanding the way your partner sees the world.
To make them feel like you really “get” them and have them open up to be completely comfortable around you, you need to enter into their world. Mirror their personality and lure them out of their shell by adapting to their moods, learning to enjoy what they enjoy, matching your goals with theirs, and making an effort to really understand what they like and don’t like by simply trying to fit yourself into their shoes.
So many arguments spark from a place of stubbornness and misunderstanding. Therefore, once you get to the point where you can genuinely see the way they see things and accustom your lifestyle to theirs, you can then open up your vulnerabilities and your nature to them so that they can then be more open to understanding the air of mystery surrounding you.
This doesn’t mean fake who you really are, you want to maintain authenticity. What this means is that you should just make an effort to understand the nature of your partner so that they are later more willing to understand your own nature thus creating a fluid dynamic.
Takeaway: Open up barriers to understanding your partner by fitting yourself into their shoes.
Rule 11: “Pay Attention to Detail”
Therefore in my view when the courtier wishes to declare his love he should do so by his actions rather than by speech, for a man’s feelings are sometimes more clearly revealed by . . . a gesture of respect or a certain shyness than by volumes of words. — Baldassare Castiglione
Maybe words organized in the right sequence would at first dilate the pupils of the person’s interest you’re trying to capture, but once you’re deeper into a relationship your words become more . . . meaningless.
Of course, we love being serenaded with affection through affirming words regularly but if you want to really show that you love someone do subtle gestures for them that really show that you care. Maybe give them a thoughtful gift tailored just for them, ornaments of affection designed to please them, or tiny gestures that really show the time and attention that you’re paying them like cooking dinner or giving them a massage.
I know that when my partner does these things for me, I gain an increased appreciation and gratitude for simply being with her because it tells me that she has made a real effort to listen to my needs and wants. It’s that gesture, those little details she pays attention to, that makes her affection all the more real to me — it strikes that chord.
Takeaway: It’s what you do not what you say that matters the most in a relationship.
Rule 12: “Poeticize Your Presence”
We would rather align ourselves with angels than with the higher primates from which we are actually descended. — Angel Carter
I’m sure you don’t want your partner to see you in the light of mediocrity by becoming much too familiar in their presence. If you make yourself much too available and deeply embedded in the ritual of their daily routine, it paradoxically makes you appear less valuable and interesting. At that point, you’re just another part of their day with a hardly alluring presence.
You want to feel wanted as much as they want to feel wanted, but in order to do that, you’ll have to make yourself absent enough to create that sense of desire and longing. Give them a chance to be able to imagine and associate you with a feeling of comfort and pleasure by allowing them to think about you when you’re not present.
As the saying goes: “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
Takeaway: Make yourself more desirable and valuable by making yourself a little less available.
Rule 16: “Prove Yourself”
The heat of seduction is raised by such challenges — show me that you really love me. When one person (of either sex) rises to the occasion, often the other person is now expected to do the same, and the seduction heightens. — Robert Greene
Every now and then we find ourselves floating along the spectrum of routine and comfort in our relationships and there comes a time where some grand gesture is in order to spice up things in your relationship to elevate yourself away from the association of boredom — the opportunity to show your partner you still love and care about them.
There are two ways to fulfill this need:
- The Spontaneous Action: These are the situations you can’t expect. The times where your partner is struggling with something and needs a problem solved, a favor fulfilled, or simply needs help. Fulfill this by going further than necessary and sacrificing more than you’re initially willing to by providing more time, money, and effort than expected.
- The Planned Deed: This is that grand gesture that you thoughtfully put together in advance and execute on your own. A few examples can be planning an entire day with your partner filled with activities that’ll allow you to bond in a better way, constructing an extravagant gift that you built with your own hands in secrecy, or planning your next vacation accompanied with an itinerary and plane tickets that you can surprise your partner with.
Remember though, don’t do this every time or else you’ll be risking your partner expecting you to always go over the top which changes such gestures from elements of surprise and extravagance to a simple expectation. What matters is that you rise to the occasion.
Takeaway: It’s not only what you do that matters, but how you do it.
Rule 20: “Mix Pleasure with Pain”
“That’s one of the problems with nice guys. If they can’t stand up for themselves then they won’t be able to stand up for you either.”― Paula Stokes, Stronger Than Words
Kindness can be charming and it’s a great quality to have but being too nice can grow monotonous and make it seem like you’re trying too hard to please, that you’re insecure and that you’re inauthentic.
You can’t always be agreeable. You should stand up for your own views and be able to provide constructive criticism to your partner openly no matter how much it hurts — it just has to come from a place of love. Doing so might create an aura of conflict and may even seem cruel at times, but it’s in that tension that you find the most therapeutic aspects of a relationship. It allows you and your partner to create deeper connections thus opening up the avenues to really understanding and elevating one another.
As the saying goes: “Pressure makes diamonds” and you must not be afraid to create and work through that pressure. Doing this alone establishes the roots of a healthy and growing relationship.
Takeaway: Avoid being too nice. Mix complimentary language with blunt, straightforward insight.
Robert Greene’s The Art of Seduction is definitely not for the faint of heart and shouldn’t be taken too literally. But its historical and contemporary lessons provide deep insight into the psychology of human nature and innate desire that we all have to which I believe is beneficial for everyone to understand in order to have flourishing relationships with their partners and beyond. Therefore, take these lessons, apply them to your own relationships, and see how it’ll transform your relationship for the better.