It's all about going against expectations.
Don Quixote’s mixture of madness and sound sense couldn’t fail to delight everybody – Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote de la Mancha.
In The Game by Neil Strauss, Neil outlines his story from an “AFC—average frustrated chump” to one fo the world’s top pick-up artists. The book is a great representation of the Hero’s Journey,
For those unfamiliar with Neil, he’s a phenomenal writer, a brilliant thinker, and a badass guy. But, you wouldn’t know any of those things by looking at him.
He’s bald, skinny, not particularly tall, and has a high, sharp voice.
But he’s one of the greatest seducers on the planet.
In The Game, Neil talks about adopting a pick-up technique known as cocky-funny.
When this nerdy looking guy approaches you and says something cocky, it completely goes against your expectations. It’s surprising, it’s dichotomous, and it captures your attention.
Part of Neil’s success as a seducer is because of this apparent paradox.
If you’re a jacked dude with tattoos, many people are going to assume you’re an asshole. If you used the same “cocky-funny” lines as Neil, it won’t work. If you’re carrying around a blender bottle, they may assume there’s nothing in your brain besides macronutrient information.
But if you’re a jacked dude, and you show you’re a caring guy who likes books, and dungeons and dragons, and Harry Potter, that’s surprising. It goes against expectations.
Imagine reading the first paragraph of a book and feeling like you already know it? That’s (among many other literary faults) why books like Twilight are so terrible. In comparison, the great literary works are great partially because we can’t predict what’s going to happen, and that draws us in.
Confirmation of what they expect is not.
In The Art of Seduction Robert Greene calls this sending mixed signals. He explains, “Most of us are much too obvious. Instead, be hard to figure out… A bright surface may have a decorative charm, but what draws your eye into a painting is a depth of field, an inexpressible ambiguity, a surreal complexity.”
This is true in seduction, it’s true in business, it’s true in every scenario and interaction wehave: we’re drawn by depth, what we don’t expect, where we think there’s an undiscovered adventure. If you’re able to, in every interaction, create intrigue, you’ll have more success in all realms, from personal relationships to professional settings.
(It’s especially important for places like dating apps where you can only make a limited impression.)
You don’t need to be the most interesting person on the planet to make this work. We all have unique aspects to us. The problem is it’s our natural tendency to suppress these aspects to conform to the group, to want to agree with those in our group—to do what they do, talk how they talk, agree with them. The now-famous Asch Conformity experiments showed when members of a group gave an answer to a question out loud, people we more likely to agree with those answers than if they didn’t hear group responses. We tend to agree with our groups. On some level, this happens subconsciously.
Yet, yielding to group thinking prevents us from showcasing what makes us different, what goes against typical expectations. From the type of music we listen to, to our style, to our quirks and hobbies, all of these likely portray some sort of dichotomy.
My entire life, I’ve loved emo music. Since sixth grade, A Day to Remember has been my favorite band. Yet, my entire adolescence I moved through my conversations scared I’d be asked what my favorite type of music was. When girls asked me to send my favorite songs, I feared the thundering power chords and screams would scare them away. I refused to take over the aux cord, petrified my music taste would isolate people. “I like everything,” I’d say, lying in order to please and conform to group expectations.
I refused to talk about exactly the things that would intrigue people, that would go against their expectations. Although I had a dichotomous aspect to myself, I avoided talking about it.
In reality, nobody would have cared or ostracized me from the group for listening to different music. Psychology research on this shows we’re so egocentrically biased, nobody really gives a fuck what we do as long as it doesn’t have a dramatic impact on them. This is known as the Spotlight Effect.
First, stop caring what other people think. Once you’re over that, there are myriad methods. Here are a few categories to explore.
My fashion repertoire includes a “Ravenclaw Quidditch” t-shirt, an array of emo bands t-shirts (State Champs, ADTR, Neck Deep, and The Story So Far), and even a shirt with a reference to The Settlers of Catan (the greatest board game ever and I’m ready to fight about this). Each shirt represents a different side to me I can portray in my outward appearance, sides that show a dichotomy from a white hockey bro.
Because I wear what’s dichotomous about me, it often leads to questions and conversations that show different sides of me.
And if fashion is one of the things interesting and dichotomous about you, then take every liberty to showcase all the sides to yourself in the way you dress.
You can showcase this through your body art—tattoos—in your apartment’s decor, in every little thing that’s a part of your life, you can showcase all the different sides of you.
A man with tattoos is not inherently attractive. A man who volunteers at homeless shelters isn’t either. A man with tattoos who volunteers at homeless shelters shows an unexpected side to them, and the combination is intriguing because it’s a dichotomy.
We all know a ton of shit. Have you read all 1200 pages of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace? Talk about that. Do you have an absurd knowledge of the Star War universe? What do you know, study, read, watch that goes against expectations? Allow yourself to talk about those things when they come up.
Now, I’m sure you understand the concept of dichotomy, and why it’s so important. But, if you don’t act on it, it won’t move you forward at all. For now, brainstorm everything that’s a part of you, from music to your favorite sports teams, to your affinity for shoes. They don’t even have to portray a dichotomy, although they’re more powerful the more it seems to go against who you are.
Once you’ve listed out everything, brainstorm ten ways you can showcase each. Like any brainstorm, lower the stakes on the quality of the ideas, and focus on just getting every option out of your brain.
Next, take the one or two specific ideas that stand out. It could be buying a certain t-shirt, or changing your social media bios, or getting a new tattoo. Most importantly, however, you have to shift your mindset from being ashamed to talk about your quirks, to embracing them. That will show your depth, show that you’re not like everybody else, and open the doors for all kinds of exciting life opportunities.