Cultural historian Betsy Prioleau combines history, science, culture, and colorful contemporary research as she paints a portrait of the successful seducer. Her book, “Swoon” challenges every preconceived idea about great lovers and answers one of history’s oldest questions: what do women want? Here are a few of her fun facts:
Nerds Get the Number 10s.
Smart is sexy. The brain is the biggest sex organ and women’s second (maybe first) most loved part of the male anatomy. Pick-up guru David DeAngelo claims “very intelligent men fail with women,” but he’s wrong.
A 2008 New Scientist study found that women looking for both one-night stands and long-term relationships chose intellectuals over dumb jocks. In another recent poll, 8 in 10 women ages 18-34 (81%) say intelligence matters most; only 14% cited looks, and 5%, money. Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller thinks bigger brains evolved the same way penises did; they reached inside women’s pleasure system. Men with the most cerebral bells and whistles captured the top women; brainiacs also predicted greater economic and social success. The mind is the sexiest muscle a man can develop.
A great ladies’ man doesn’t need looks or a fat wallet.
Many women-charmers are neither rich nor handsome. The celebrated darling of women, twentieth-century British statesman, Duff Cooper, was plump, plain, and saucer-faced. When he won the beautiful Lady Diana Manners he was a lowly civil servant, without pedigree or prospects, and he was besieged by women throughout their thirty-five year marriage.
A University of Michigan study found that the brighter the woman the less swayed she was by wealth; and another, that 3/4th of women would chose a teacher over a surgeon with eight times his salary. The vast majority of women are satisfied with the looks of the man they love, regardless of their ideals. As the heroine of the old film Juliet of the Spirits says, “The powers of seduction are all inside.”
No ladies’ man ever scored without this turbocharged, yet neglected turn-on.
Conversation is, hands down, the strongest aphrodisiac in the pack. But it’s the most ignored and misunderstood love charm. A man can literally talk a woman into love with him. “Verbal courtship,” say anthropologists, “is the heart of sexual seduction.”
Women are hard-wired to love men who give good dialogue—listen, engage, and interest them. They have a larger communication center than men’s, possess faster verbal circuits, and process language more emotionally. Master lovers are gifted conversationalists who soothe, amuse, entertain, inform, and poetically enchant. But they also know how to choreograph talk for two, show a woman to her best advantage, and create an erotic verbal pas de deux.
Among the world-class practitioners was Giacomo Casanova, known as the most brilliant and entertaining conversationalist of eighteenth-century Europe. He could not sleep with a woman unless he could talk to her, and was as renowned for his delightful courtship give-and-take as his pillow talk, which could continue all night on an infinite range of topics. “Seduction,” writes author Marina Warner, “lies in talk, and the tongue is seduction’s tool.”
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