It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in proximity to a gorgeous woman must be in want of a dazzling pick-up strategy. It’s no trouble for glamorous alpha males, who have always trailed smitten odalisques like rose petals. But we are mostly charmless in comparison; we view the art of enticing a lady out of her zone of indifference and into an agreeable tete-a-tete with the grim suspicion normally reserved for leg-spin bowling.
And sure, the seduction business preys on every man’s insecurity about approaching women by hyping what it calls “game” into a dark art. Go online and pay men with names like “Style”, “Mystery” and “Tyler Durden” (I’m not making this up, I promise) their fees, and they’ll teach you how to “game” a woman, not necessarily into your arms, but certainly into bed. In determined hands, their techniques are said to be scarily successful, even though lots of smart women are on to such pick-up artistry. But they cross enough ethical boundaries, so that you’ll want to think twice before sending Mr Mystery your money.
In any case, all this only works when roughly comparable numbers of single men and women are meeting. This essentially rules out most of India, outside Delhi and Bombay. As a single Indian guy, you’re usually facing terrible odds, as for each single woman you have to get past nine other men. And that’s when the going’s good. In smaller cities with limited options, I’ve actually seen men coordinate across town by SMS to identify the one nightclub likely to have a woman (yes, even just one) in it. The odds are more like 200 to 1, and no game will ever work there.
So what’s a willing lad to do? There are four things to remember. First, looks aren’t paramount. After all, several crore Indian women cohabit contentedly with tubby little mustachioed men—even a doting mother will admit that this is not the most Adonis-like of looks. And there is the entire South Indian film industry to prove that ugly men can inhabit female fantasies. You’ll make a much more positive impression by being clean and well-groomed.
The second is to forget that old cliche: “Just be yourself”. No. Being yourself is great for making friends, but quite useless for seducing a woman against Indian odds. Most men will be too diffident and she won’t even notice them. Amp your assertiveness levels up several notches. It’s your only hope of even entering the holding pattern on her radar screen. Women are way better than men at spotting fakes in this game, so to avoid ignominy, rehearse enough to make sure your presentation of the confident new you is pitch-perfect. Be sparkling and curious about her interests rather than clever and proud of your own, for instance.
Three, never knock what you’re bringing to the table. Just by going up to her, you’re paying her the biggest compliment she’s ever got from you. If you’re successful, there’ll be time for going all post-modern and scorning your approaches. Right now you are giving her the gift of your undivided attention. It’s special and one of your biggest weapons.
And last, learn well from man’s best friend. Pack up your ego and be a dog. A dog is entirely without anything approximating human notions of shame in his single-minded pursuit of what he wants, whether it’s food, sex or the warm spot on your bed. Even against the stronger suits of bigger dogs, he will fancy his chances with the frostiest bitch. And if he’s denied once, he’ll just simply shrug it off and gather himself to move in fast at the next opportunity.
The greatest players I have ever known are men who have mastered extraordinarily difficult pitches like college students (despite the raging hormones, resistant to seduction because of inexperience and self-doubt), successful women under 30 (a trifecta of looks, sexuality and confidence that spells doom for even a remotely inadequate man), and small towns (you have beat off a hundred equally eager men, even to talk). None was particularly good-looking and only one was seriously rich at the time. But each presented himself with a bubbly confidence that was equal parts soap and humour. And not one ever let a “No” derail his approaches.
So there; the ultimate seduction secret: Be a charming, well-scrubbed and focused hound.
The author is a freelance journalist.