Adulation is Seduction not Love

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.

Other examples of superficial charm or glibness can be found in my books Character Disturbance and The Judas Syndrome.

3 thoughts on “Adulation is Seduction not Love

  1. Ohhhh so many examples of this type of person in my life. 2 women come to mind who if you didn’t know they had different names you’d have thought they were the same human being. They came at me admiring me, my work, my home, fawning all over me wanting to “get to know me”, blah blah blah.
    I thought wow, this is really nice, someone who values me?
    What they both were really about…(neither knew the other) get to know you for a year or two then sabotage you because of their need for power over you.
    I thought it was strange that the very person my first acquaintance couldn’t stand all of a sudden became her best friend and the 2 together my adversaries??? Hmmm?

    The next acquaintance years later had a “best friend” since they were “toddlers” (lol) 3 doors down, suddenly dumps her for me and we are now best friends doing everything together? I didn’t touch that with a 10 foot pole.
    What I did notice about my new bestie was every friend she had she and her husband talked about and belittled behind their back.
    I became very wary of her and him. I knew IT was just a matter of time. When they both showed up on my front porch to invite us to a small party at their home, I had a strong feeling this was IT.
    Guess what… IT WAS!!!
    I dropped her that night and since then 10 yrs plus, we are no longer friends. We had a light conversation at my curb one day where she told me she missed me, she claimed she didn’t know what happened as they didn’t really do anything???
    Awww I wish I was that naive!!!!

    Yes, there are people out there we should forgive and move on and then there are wolves in sheeps clothing hunting, waiting and licking their chops!

    Her friend since childhood??? Yes that friend and her husband up and moved and 2 neighbors on either side said not only did they have no word of the move but that she also hadn’t told her bestie either!!!!

    Guessing I’m not the only one who had been stalked!

  2. “The most malignant narcissists tend to exude a superficial charm or glibness that can really fool the unsuspecting.”

    “The healthy character simply reveals him/herself. It’s up to the other person to recognize the value in and appreciate what they see. ”

    If someone tries too hard to win you and to keep you, there may be more to it than a simple fear of abandonment, attention-seeking, or illusion of closeness.

    I have dismissed a seemingly-desperate behavior filled with adulation as “unstable but innocent,” and later discovered it was all along a calculated move.

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