There was, for a time, hidden from my mother under my Canadian single bed, an incredibly trashy but interesting book called The Seduction Mystique by Ginny Sayles. Because this How-To-Make-Men-Like-You book was padded with How-To-Do-Stuff-in-Bed information, it was not suitable for nice Catholic girls, nice Catholic wives or even nice Catholic divorcées like me back then. However, I refrained from reading the really naughty stuff in the back and stuck to the interesting advice in the front, which suggested that women should 1) stop resenting men, 2) wear bright colours and pastels instead of brown, black, beige and grey, 3) grow our hair longer and 4) wear makeup.
The mental exercise Sayles gave for removing one's resentment for men (which a woman might very well have after umpteen years of broken hearts and no husband) was to look at men in the street and think "Bless his little heart!" I thought this sounded bonkers, but I tried it out on some unsuspecting, balding soul, and lo! My mood immediately lifted. For awhile I went around silently blessing strangers. "Bless his little heart! Bless his little heart!" I suppose the phrase kicks in my maternal feelings or something.
I became fond of Snagging-Men advice books, trashy and classy, and occasionally bought them on sale. Now that I'm married to the Perfect Man for Me, of course, my interest in such things is completely academic. Yesterday I spotted a bright pink trashy one called Superflirt in Oxfam. It is full of photographs of winking Brits chewing straws and dangling shoes from their stockinged toes. The back cover trumpets: "Make Every Man Want You/Make Every Woman Melt."
"What trash!" I yelped.
It cost me ₤2.99.
I spent the evening perusing it and reading snippets to my husband, who was reading about the Gunpowder Plot.
"It says here that a man takes 30 seconds to determine if a strange woman is his type, but it only takes woman 3 seconds to determine if a man is her type."
"That strikes me as true. Women jump to conclusions about men too fast."
"You can't rush a man in his 30 second process, I bet. You gotta let him have his 30 seconds. He looks once. Do nothing. He looks twice. Do nothing. He looks a third time. Smile, if you like him."
"Say," I said. "What made you fall in love with me?"
The husband politely closed the Gunpowder Plot over his finger and pondered.
"You were pretty, intelligent and Catholic," he decided.
"But that's your rational side speaking. There must have been something to attract your reptile brain."
"You were pretty?"
"Hmph," I said, not satisfied on the intellectual level but vastly pleased in my reptile brain, and after some chit-chat about my attractive, happy blog persona (which he met before he met the rest of me), I went back to Superflirt.
Okay, here in my own words are some tips from Superflirt. Some of them will sound very familiar.
1. Men and women are attracted to HAPPY AND CONFIDENT people. So if you are a Searching Single and you are neither happy nor confident, FAKE IT. Incidentally, I wasn't happy all the time I was writing my first Seraphic Singles blog. But I didn't think readers needed to know that. So when it was time to write, I summoned the stiff upper lip and wrote happy.
2. Faking it makes it, apparently. The book says that if you force yourself to smile, you can trick your brain into thinking you are happy. And this is certainly true for me. Writing happy makes me happy. Writing angry makes me angry.
Now at this point, many of you are saying "But I don't want to be fake" and "I gotta be who I really am". And I say, lipstick is way faker, but women wear it all the time. Shaving is also a bit of a dodge, but men shave all the time. If you can wear lipstick to pretend your lips are Toast of New York-coloured or shave so that your chin is as smooth as the sink, you can plaster on a smile. When you are going out into the world to make friends, you just can't let it all hang out. You have to be your most attractive version of you.
3. Your posture is worth a thousand words. If the world has been cruel, people will see it in your sagging shoulders, stooped back and lowered chin. And they will avoid you. If the world has been kind, you will naturally stand up straight and tall, put your shoulders back, keep your chin up and look everyone in the eye with a pleasant smile. And people will think, "Wow! Here's a confident and striking person!" And they will find you attractive. Is this fair? No. But there it is.
a) breathe to relax
b) stand tall
c) keep your shoulders back
d) keep your chin up
e) meet people's eyes when you talk to them; if you're too shy to do that, stare at the bridge of their nose
f) keep a relaxed posture: lean on your forward leg or lean on the walls or furniture. Leaning makes you look confident and relaxed. Who knew?
g) if in doubt, watch a confident-looking person and subtly do what they do.
h) wear clothes that reflect your personality but also say "I'm relaxed","I value myself" and "I am a long-term relationship kind of gal/man." Don't leave the house wearing sweatpants ever, ever, ever. And there's a fine line between modest and frumpy. Find it and remain on the side of light.
Incidentally, your eyes are very, very important in attracting people. Plucking your eyebrows makes your eyes look bigger and more noticeable. So keep your brows tidy, accentuate them cleverly if female and, if you are a rest the chin-on-the-hand kind of person, rest your chin in the L of your thumb and point to your eye with your index finger. Hey, that's what the book says.
Meanwhile, I knew a girl in high school who was a flamenco dancer. She had the best posture of anyone I knew, and I was in ballet classes for a long, long time. A tall girl, she never slumped. Her head was always up. Her movements were graceful. Her figure was good. Her clothes, which she paid for from her very good part-time candy-striper salary, were elegant. She was certainly striking. And the cutest, most spoiled, most sought after, boys in our circle followed after her like men stunned.
More unsolicited body language advice later.
Converse: How do you cope in a roomful of strangers?