Attraction is a Reflex

By Charisma Arts

Feeling physically attracted to someone is a reflex. It's like when the doctor taps your leg under the kneecap and your shin kicks out.

There's no reason to suppress your reflexes.

Just the other day we met an Australian girl. "You're very pretty," we said. "We're charmed by you. We're under your spell."

She blushed.

We were not hitting on her. We were expressing our attraction.

Hitting on someone is the act of trying to make something happen. People usually think of showing attraction as the equivalent of hitting on someone. But we are free to separate them if we want.

"By the way. We're not hitting on you. We wouldn't do that unless we knew your situation."

"What would you want to know?" she'll ask.

"The works. If you were in a happy relationship we'd suggest something different than if you were completely single or just broken up last weekend."

"Oh. How would you hit on someone in a happy relationship?"

"We would go for the friend close. 'We think it would be excellent if we were to be friends'. That's what we would say."

"But that is after you have hit on me."

"No. It's before. Showing attraction isn't the same as hitting on you. We haven't hit on you because we don't know yet how to hit on you."

"I see. And if I were single?"

"This must be tailored of course. Everyone's version of single is different."

"Yes. But what sort of thing would you say to hit on me?"

"We may suggest making our way back to our flat and spending the night making love."

"All of us?"

"Oui."

"And does this work?"

"Work? What do you mean? When we say it, it is the right thing for the right person at the right time. There can be nothing better. We know this so we can put our soul behind it. We can go 'all in'."

"And is this always accepted?"

"It's pondered very well."

"And now what?"

"We find you beautiful, but what of your life? Where are you at? Who has your loyalty?"

"I'm loyal to myself and no other. I'm free to travel, seek adventure."

"Then let us be about adventure. Going somewhere and pretending we are characters and perhaps end up at our place with a glass of wine. You are single and life is short. We want to give you pleasant memories to look back on when you are one day not so free."

"This sounds inviting."

"It's mutually beneficial, given your situation."

"You make a good case."

"Take our hand then and let's see what can be done."

"I feel nervous."

"That's normal when you face your desire."

"Okay. I'm ready. Let's make some memories."

The search for papacito

By Wayne Elise

When Erika and I were last visiting Mexico we would walk down a street and often hear men call out, "Mamacita!”

On more than one occasion, I'd whip my head around looking for the culprit, but there was never anyone - just the street and alleys and people going about their business.

Finally Erika shook her head, "Why do you bother? There's nothing you can do about it."

I put my hands on my hips. I'm not trying to stop them. I'm fascinated. Who are these guys? What do they get out of it? And how do they disappear like ghosts?"

"They're just little men. I've heard it since I was fourteen."

"Really? Do girls in Mexico mature faster than girls in America?"

"Probably. I had a friend in school. She was twelve when she started dating a guy who was nineteen."

"Wow. That would get you arrested nowadays."

"They were kinda cute together."

In some ways Mexico is like America but in other ways it's like nowhere else.

I took my wife by the shoulders and looked deeply into her eyes. "I want to tell you something. This may shock you." I took a breath. "My goal is to get a Mexican girl to call out papacito at me."

She blinked.

"You know," I said, "to balance the equation a bit."

"Okay. Papacito."

"You don't count."

"What? I don't count?"

"You know what I mean. Your wife saying you're a papcito is like your mom saying it. I want some girl I don't know to call out papacito at me. Preferably a hot one."

She burst with laughter.

"Come on. It could happen."

"Ha. You don't know Mexico."

Everyday from then on, I didn't leave my mother-in-laws house unless my boots were polished, my shirt tucked, and my hair slicked-back like Mauricio Garcés.

I posed outside the empanada stand. I sipped horchata in the park where the old women went to exercise. I helped college girls carry their books. I hung out by the gleaming silver water tower filled with Cajeta (Mexican carmel) and asked locals to take my picture.

I didn't hear one 'papacito'. Everyone seemed to be doing their best to ignore me though I was the tallest, palest guy in town. That made me itchy. I'd whip around suddenly and everyone would be staring at their shoes or looking up into the sky.

On the last day of our trip I threw up my hands. "Fuck it. It's not going to happen."

I left the house with my hair ungreased. I rinsed off the fake tan. I left my piteado belt and guitar at the hacienda. I went back to wearing my Primark skinny jeans, which are pretty fucking British.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. People are timid outside the framework of social expectation. Mexican guys are expected to call mamacita - so they do. While Mexican girls are expected to walk in groups with their friends and keep to themselves. So that's what they do. There are things in cultures you can not work against.

"Or maybe you're just a dufus-looking gringo," said my friend Mike over G-chat.

That evening Erika and I stood facing each other in the town square in front of the water tower filled with Cajeta. The fairy lights flickered in the trees around us. A mariachi band struck up a lullaby.

"I feel like a failure," I said.

She handed me a daisy. "It's okay. You made a good try. But don't worry. You're my husband and I love you."

But then a crowd of people pushed past us. We were briefly separated. Someone bumped up against me. My foot got stepped on.

"Pappacito!" a voice called out.

I spun around. "Who said that?"

But there was no one. The crowd pushed further down the street seemingly unaware of us. It was an ordinary Mexican Saturday evening. Vendors sold paletas de leche. Children chased each other around the fig tree. Women sat on the benches and talked while old men played checkers. Lovers walked hand in hand. A cat stalked a pigeon. The Mariachi band added in an electric guitar and played Stairway to Heaven.

"My god," I said to Erika. "Did you hear that Pappacito?"

She stepped closer. "I did. Congratulations."

I played it back in my mind. There was a glitch. "Did that papacito sound ironic to you? Do you think she, who ever she was, was joking? Was it a pity papacito?"

"Of course not. You look great."

I fingered my old Coke t-shirt and looked down at my dusty shoes. I looked up and squinted my eyes at her. "I don't know. It feels like a setup."

"Don't look at me. Come on. Let's go buy some empanadas."

On the way there, she got like ten mamacitas.

****

People are more likely to reveal their attraction when they have a feeling of security. That feeling can come via many ways. Sometimes by writing it down in a note passed through a friend. Or by drinking three beers. Or by leveraging social expectation. Or by hiding behind a tree.

Unfortunately that matters little to the person receiving the attention. They care about their own feelings of security.

A woman can feel scared when getting cat-called on the street. She can feel alone and out-numbered. She can feel intimidated when a guy walks up to her in a club, leers over her and tells her she's hot. She can feel panic at the thought of someone showing interest in her on the subway. She can feel trapped if her date uses momentum to escalate physically.

In rare circumstances men can also feel a perception of power imbalance that makes a show of attraction unwanted.

One of the foundational principles I teach is the idea that showing attraction is okay, sometimes helpful, so long as the person receiving that attention feels they are in a position of power.

Towards that end I teach all manner of Jedi tricks to give the other person a feeling of empowerment. Sometimes we use distance by moving our body backward, sometimes we slide down in our seat so our eyes are lower than hers. Sometimes we make it explicit that though we may find a girl attractive, we are NOT hitting on her. "I wouldn't do that without knowing your relationship situation and frankly how to hit on you. Everyone is different. Everyone has different needs and turn-ons. You might be in a committed relationships. You might be recently broken-up. You might be into bondage or threesomes or none of the above. We might be better off as lovers or friends or perhaps I should introduce you to my amazing friend Jack. Hitting on someone is trying to make something happen and I can't do that until we have enough trust that you can tell me your story.  Otherwise hitting on you would be an insult - like trying to cram a square peg into a round hole."

You can probably guess how most people respond to this. They're stunned. The truth and candor of it all hits them hard. They are only left to nod their heads. Try it for yourself. Take on this idea. Play with the combination of sexual expression and empowerment. Fuck your own feelings of security. See it from the other person's point of view. Make them feel safe and powerful and then hit on them. Put a dagger in their hands aimed at your heart and then say you want to take them back to your place and spend the rest of the night making love. "And if you feel uncomfortable while you're there or change your mind, it's easy to get a cab from my flat. I would be okay with that. But I think it would be hot spending the night together figuring out how to make each other feel a maximum of pleasure."

Looking back to Mexico it now makes sense to me. I was actually more likely to get my papacito when I didn't look important or slick or powerful in any way. When I looked a little grungy a girl, some girl, felt empowered enough to respond. At least that's the narrative I have in my head.

****

Back in LA.

We were riding my Vespa down Western Avenue towards Echo Park with Erika behind me when all this again popped into my mind.

We stopped at a red light and I turned my head. "When we were in Mexico did you, or did you not, pay one of your friends to call out papacito at me?"

She pushed her helmet into the back of mine. "I'm not saying either way. But you ARE gullible."

"What? Me? No way. I've been around this world more times than I care to remember. I'm not easily fooled babe."

"Ha. You believed that the water tower was filled with Cajeta."

"It's not?"

"That's just what we tell tourists."

"Oh. Rats."

As always thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Pacing your conversation

By Wayne Elise

Imagine a coil of rope lies at your feet. Think of this rope as your personality, your history - the DNA of your life. Everything about you is imprinted on this rope.

Reach down and take hold of the end of this rope. This end is coded with the initial stuff people learn about you when you first meet. If your name is Chuck, you could tape a sign to this end that reads: To know Chuck, begin here.

At the beginning of your rope are usually 'safe' things such as smiles, comments, the initiations of feedback loops. But as you move down this rope, further away from the end, you find increasingly personal ideas and details.

Imagine a stranger next to you. They reach out and take the end of your rope from you. They begin reeling it into their arms. So long as you allow it, the rope passes from the floor around your feet, through your hands and collects in the arms of this other person.

This is the beginning of someone getting to know you. The details they learn about you in the first few minutes may be give-aways such as your taste in high-fidelity stereo speakers and the fact that your mouth goes crooked when you smile. But soon they could be exposed to a slice of your dead-kitten sense of humor. Then later it could be your feeling toward relationships. Eventually it could be your sexual preferences. And on and on.

Through this process of information transfer, you stop feeling like a stranger to the other person. You begin to feel like a friend or potential lover.

I think that's a helpful metaphor for thinking of the process of someone getting to know you.

So let's encourage people to pull out our life-ropes.

"Whoa. Slow down there cowboy."

"What?"

"You're missing important information Wayne. Life is never that easy."

"Sure it is. You just…"

"No, you don't just."

"But…"

"Shush."

"Wait a second. Who are you?"

"I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past."

"What? What are you doing here? It's mid-July."

"This is my summer job. I get paid to fact-check. I also work at Starbucks but that's not here or there."

"Are you sure you're qualified for this fact-checking thing?"

"Absolutely. I took a night course."

"Oh. Okay. Go ahead then. Check away."

"Thank you. I think in your rush to espouse your life-rope metaphor thingy you've forgotten something."

"What's that?"

"Tension."

"Oh yes, tension. That's right. Thank you. Good day."

"I can explain further if you'd like."

"No thank you. Good day."

"What? You want me to go away? I don't think you understand. I'm the Ghost of Christmas past. This is a super-natural event."

"Yes. All that's fine. But good day. See you in December."

"Okay. But when I return, I'm coming for your soul."

"It's already mortgaged."

"Ha. I bought that paper up for pennies on the dollar from the Chinese. Here it is. I own your soul."

"Oh shit."

"Yep. See you later Juggler. Muahahahahaha…"

Ahem. Sorry about that readers. Yes, there is a caveat. People won't appreciate learning about your life-details if you just give them up. That would make you sort of a life-detail slut. Nothing wrong with that of course - so long as you dig that sort of thing.

"Hey," he says. "Look at me! I'm fabulous. I worked with Ted Danson once."

"I'm sorry?" She says.

"I ride a fixie. Want to see my fixie porn?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about. Look. I didn't ask to know anything about you. Perhaps you can hold some thoughts back."

"I could. But I'm not going to. I'm an all out there kinda guy. I'm going to this fab party later. If you're lucky I might invite you."

"No thanks."

"Aww. You're playing hard to get. That's so cute."

"Whatever."

"I hear an accent. Where are you from?"

"Nowhere."

"Ha. Nowhere. That's funny. Can I buy you a drink?"

"Yes. I'll take a piña colada but don't even think about dropping a roofie in there. I'm not going to hook up with you."

"Whoever said anything about hooking up? You're more of the kinda girl I see as a friend."

"Good."

"Good. So what's your name?"

"Look, it's simple. I find you physically attractive but I want to be a participant in my seduction. I'm your best ally here if you'd be more patient. But you're pushing and pushing and not allowing me to want anything from you. You're not building desire. See my eyes? No sparkle for you. See my hair? Yeah, it's kinda messy. I don't care. You don't make me the good sort of nervous. You make me want to press the brake, not the gas. You're not doing this right."

"Says you. No girl has ever said anything like that to me before. I have always broken up. Never been broken up on. I'm in demand. No one has ever called me anything other than amazing."

"They didn't want to hurt your feelings and probably didn't want to increase an already embarrassing situation."

"Okay. It looks as if we're just going to have to disagree about that. Let me show you my high-five routine. You'll love this."

"Sheesh. Were you listening to me?"

"Yes. Okay, no, not really."

"That's fine. I got a game we can play." She leans in close. "Close your eyes."

"Sure okay. They're closed. This is exciting. What's going to happen? I can't wait. Uh… you've walked out the door haven't you? Shit."

People appreciate hearing the amazing things you have to say more if they desire them first. Don't push. Instead, counterintuitively, you should resist.

Returning to our metaphor. You want to keep your conversational partner in a state of wanting more - pulling on your rope, sort of speak. While, at the same time, YOU want to be in a state of resistance - keeping the length of rope between the two of you taunt. This tension gives you control over the transfer of your life-details.

Pacing is the rate at which you chose to dole out your life-details and the rate that your interaction moves towards a more personal outcome.

People may not consciously be aware of pacing but they respond to it.

Pacing that's too fast deflates the tension out of an interaction. Imagine throwing all your rope into someone's arms. There's no more for them to want or seek.

But pacing that's too slow makes people feel bored and as if the interaction isn't going anywhere.

Finding the proper pacing for the situation is a fun challenge. Sometimes we get this right and sometimes we get it wrong. But it's always an adventure.

At an 80's night.

"I noticed you're wearing a lot of black."

"Yeah. I love the whole thing. I borrowed this from my sister."

"And wore spangles and topped it with a headband. Well, I think it looks… good. You rock the 80's. I thought my outfit was the 80's but it turns out I'm 1978. Perhaps it's the wooden tennis racket. It's a John McEnroe autographed edition."

She looks blank.

"That was a famous tennis player," he adds. "He - got - mad - at - people. Probably before your time. I was just trying to guess your age."

"How old do you think?"

"I'm afraid I can't answer that question."

"Why can't you answer that question?"

"Because if I do then all the tension will leave the conversation. As it stands, you want to know my guess and if I give that up I'll lose your interest."

"I promise you won't lose my interest."

"Fine. But first, let's sit down and make ourselves a bit more comfortable, if that's alright. Then I'll tell you all about yourself. I've been told I have an intuitive nature."

They sit down on the couch nearby.

"Where are your friends? Perhaps they should join us."

"Don't worry about them. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."

"I bet you can. Okay, I think you're twenty eight."

She hits him in the shoulder.

"Okay. Twenty six?"

"You're really bad at this."

"I know. My credentials might have been over-stated."

"How about you? How old are you?"

"Older than you. Let's just put it this way. I'm your real father. I remember your mom. She was hot back in the 80's."

"She still's hot."

"I'm sure she is. People of any age can be sexy. But personally I end up dating girls who are uh..."

"What?"

"Younger, mostly."

"Why do you do that?"

"Well, there's a long answer to that question and a short answer."

"What's the short answer?"

"They're hotter."

"Okay, what's the long answer."

"I can't really tell you. I'd have to show you."

"Is that some sort of ploy?"

"Maybe it is. Nice use of the word 'ploy' by the way. That's an archaic one. I bet you're educated."

"Not formally."

"Well, now I'm fascinated."

"I grew up in Belarus. My mother was an economist. But she made some enemies in the government. We spent my teens traveling from country to country. I was educated in libraries around Europe and by experiencing things. I didn't read about the Yugoslav Wars. We went there."

"I bet you met a lot of interesting people."

"Oh yes. Heaps. You have no idea."

"I'm sure I don't."

"How about you? What do you do?"

"Thanks for asking. I like that you're curious. But it's not that interesting to most people and takes several minutes to make anyone understand."

"I got time."

"And a Powerpoint presentation… I'm kidding of course. Okay, if you really want to know."

"I do."

"I'm an orgy planner. Ha. Just kidding. You should have seen your face. I'm not saying I haven't thrown together an occasional orgy but it's not my main gig. Which reminds me of why I like younger women."

"Do tell."

"Well, first do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

"Um, sure."

"What sort of guy or girl do you find attractive?"

"I like a person who's fun. Who can laugh at themselves and not take everything too seriously. I've had enough of serious people to last a lifetime. I like guys with tattoos."

"You know, almost every girl I've dated in the last few years has tattoos. But I'm not that into them."

"What are you into?"

"Well, I look for specific things."

"Yes?"

"I don't share this with everyone but since you asked. I like a girl who's tall but not taller than me. I like a girl who has read Hemingway but thinks it's garbage. She loves Death Cab for Cutie but realizes that music is sentimental crack. She's blonde with green eyes. She's not Chinese but she's excited about the idea of having a threesome with me and a Chinese girl. She likes dive bars and can cook a mean quiche."

"That's very specific."

"Yes."

"Why are you talking to me? I'm not blonde with green eyes."

"Growing up in Eastern Europe I think you'd understand that in life compromises have to be made."

"You're a bastard."

"I know. I was thinking it would be fun to get out of here together."

"And do what?"

"Cab back to my place and spend the night making love to each other. I know exactly where I want to start with you."

"And where is that?"

"On the kitchen table. Duh."

"Hmmm… Let me think about it."

"Sure. Take all the time you want."

"Can I give you my number instead?"

"I don't take numbers."

"Give me yours then."

"I'm not that big on the whole numbers thing. I always think that if it's meant to be we'll run into each other."

"God."

"We'll start slow. You'll be in control. You can use the accelerator and I'll use the brake. You pull me into the bedroom and I'll resist."

"You're a weird one."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

"Are you inviting your Chinese friend?"

"I don't have anyone specific in mind but we can find a girl later together. That can be an adventure."

"I like adventures. The unknown. I'm a bit addicted."

He smiles.

Stay in touch. Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Wayne_Elise