Seduction through Adulation
Seduction is a powerful manipulation maneuver. (See p. 130 In Sheep’s Clothing.) And it usually involves flattery or other forms of adulation. Now, most of us like being thought well of. We even like being fawned over sometimes. But that can also be because we have a poorly developed sense of self. And that’s an open invitation for a disturbed character to use seduction to their advantage.
A proper sense of self is crucial for character health. But you have to deeply know your true worth and from where it really derives. Otherwise, you become too dependent on the approval of others. And emotional dependency causes all measure of problems. That’s why I’ve written about this topic so many times before. (See, for example: Keeping a Balanced Sense of Self-Worth.)
Some folks are particularly good at being amiable and charming. And they can be really skilled in the flattery and seduction game, too. They might appear to really appreciate and value you. And they can knock you off your feet with a well-fashioned charm and adulation offensive. This is not always a sign of trouble. But these days you have to assume that behind it all, a person may very well be simply angling for something. And what they’re after might not be of noble intent. Moreover, they might not be of the character to deserve what they’re after. Sadly, too often you learn what they were really after and who they really are after they’ve had their way.
Impressions and Impression Management
Folks of noble character who truly but humbly know their worth rarely try to impress. They’re not afraid to just be and show themselves. Similarly, they rarely try to woo you through flattery or adulation. If you make a positive impression on them it’s because they’ve properly assessed your character and found it desirable. And they’re confident that if you don’t see the value in them, they’re making a mistake seeking a relationship with you.
We’re all less than perfect people. So, it’s natural for someone to put their best foot forward in the early stages of a relationship. Making a favorable impression is part of the “dance” of courtship. But the ultimate purpose of courtship is not wallow in those first, favorable impressions but to make a concerted effort to really know someone at a deeper level. That requires going beyond the charm and objectively sorting through all the dirty laundry. Before we give our hearts away, we should know who a person genuinely is in character. And if you know your own worth, you don’t need someone else’s adulation to feel it.
The most malignant narcissists tend to exude a superficial charm or glibness that can really fool the unsuspecting. They’re expert in the art of seduction. So the tactic generally goes unnoticed, even though it’s the biggest red flag for the most dangerous kind of psychopathology. (See also: Return of the Con Artist.)
Genuine Love is Different
We have to be wary of “smoothness” or social facility, especially when it’s not matched by congruent and concomitant emotion. And we have to be on guard for all types of seduction. Someone may have a very easy “way with words.” And they may know just how to make you feel special. But that doesn’t mean they have real regard for you. Love – real love – involves something much different.
Real love is showing true and positive regard for another. It’s wishing them nothing but well. And it’s freely given, without hidden expectations. Moreover, it involves not just words but consistent loving deeds. Folks who know how to really love another have necessarily come to love themselves first. And I’m not talking about the vain self-adulation of narcissism. Rather, I’m talking about genuine positive self-regard. No need to impress. And no need to seduce through flattery or adulation. The healthy character simply reveals him/herself. It’s up to the other person to recognize the value in and appreciate what they see. Then, the prospects are good for healthy mutual regard as opposed to unhealthy dependence on another for a sense of self-worth.
The Spanish Language Edition of In Sheep’s Clothing is going to press at the end of this month. Look for an announcement on its availablity soon.