How to negotiate the age-old power dynamics of romance, from flirtation through the “stable phase” of a relationship.
Question: Do men and women seek different kinds of power in relationships?
Robert Greene: Well, yes and no. I mean if you are coming from another planet, an extraterrestrial, and you arrived on the planet Earth and you saw these humans moving around you wouldn’t see much difference between men and women as opposed to fish or dogs or whatever. We have an essential human relationship to power that we want. Seduction, we have a certain relationship to the need to have love and things in our life and the psychology of seducing a person I maintain is pretty much the same whether you’re a man or you’re a woman, you’re gay, you’re transgendered. I don’t care. Of course there are differences and it’s the weird thing is you’ll find men who respond to things like sex more like a woman and you’ll find woman who are more like a man. It’s all mixed up. Everybody is different and is individual, but of course there are things that a woman has different biologically and psychologically. I just think people focus too much on the differences and what fascinates me in the world is what the human animal and what unites them, what makes a black guy from the hood like 50 just like me in some elemental way, but you know you have to understand if you’re trying to seduce a woman for instance, taking the man’s point of view that they are obviously different and the main problem that a man would have in a seductive situation is he is too impatient. The only thing he is thinking about is sex. He is not willing to spend two months courting a woman knowing that in the end the sex will be a million times better if he just calms himself down. He can go home and take care of himself on his own if he needs to. Just spend those couple months, whatever is needed to court her, to make her feel like she is an individual, like she is worth it, and you know it’s going to pay off. On the other side a lot of times a woman all she thinks about is the relationship. Is this going to…? My boyfriend, you know, is he going to be committed? They’re thinking about that after one week and it frightens the man away. The woman has to calm down. The woman has to be more patient. She has to let the man trust her more and not feel like she is coming at this with this need for a relationship right away. Both sides have to learn patience, but for different reasons.
Question: How can understanding power dynamics help people in long-term relationships?
Robert Greene: Well you have to be careful on the one hand because if you get kind of excited by seducing, you’re going to want to move onto the next person in line and you’re going to get bored. So if it’s somebody that you really love and you want to have a relationship with you have to, first of all, kind of calm down a bit your seductive desires for new meat or however you want to put it and realize that you… The worst thing that can happen is you’re a great seducer and then you have a relationship and then suddenly you stop trying. You know you no longer dress like you used to. You just wear your pajamas and your T-shirts. You don’t take here… I’m taking the man’s point of view, but you can turn it around. You don’t take her to a nice restaurant anymore. You just want to eat in all the time. No more movies. No more travel. No more flowers or whatever the… I hate to be so cliché, but whatever it is that is… that worked in the first place you stop trying and everything… You start taking the other person for granted and everything becomes familiar and the whole spark and the mystery is gone and then forget it. So you want to keep some of that seduction still going, but not too much of it because a relationship after all is a degree of stability. You don’t want too much drama, but you still want some drama. You still want some mystery. You don’t want the other person to know everything about you. You still want to keep trying. You still want to do the things that you did before, but maybe a little bit differently. That’s the way to keep seducing the same person and believe me I’ve dealt with hundreds of people coming to me with the same problem. I tell them the same thing. You’ve stopped trying. It’s not their fault necessarily. Maybe it’s both of your faults, but you have to keep that enchantment thing going.
Recorded on December 14, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen