Sprezzatura, Effort, and Investing
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Question from a reader named Sam yesterday:
Just wanted to say thanks for all the great advice and content you post here. Some of this stuff is pure gold because I have had a few "ah ha" moments, especially about the interchangeability of value and good feelings, and this I think will take my game to a better level. More importantly though, it has greatly increased my understanding of relationships, not because you didn't know this, but you "just couldn't put it into words".
Another thing I learned here was that I was making the mistake of investment, but from what I have read here, there are a few things to fix here and there on this part. Can you please write up a comprehensive post on investment? (haven't come across one here yet) And some of the dos and don'ts of it. You did mention in one of your posts (chase framing post) your would write about "comprehensive investment / compliance post".
You probably hear a lot of praise, but I'm just putting it out there that this is indeed great stuff. I honestly do wish I had come across your site earlier. All in all, you now have a regular reader.
Investment's a great topic. It's one of those things that boggled the heck out of me early on, but it pays such incredible dividends in the end. Once you really get down a strong, solid gameplan for investment and you know what you're doing with it and you have your strategy for approaching investment in whatever situation, your interactions with women run so much more smoothly.
Of course... getting there, well, that's the challenging part.
What I want to focus on in this post is specifically answering Sam's question: how much should you be investing with women? Let's have a look at some of the dos, don'ts, and precisely why those dos and don'ts are dos and don'ts when it comes to a concept called sprezzatura, a close cousin of our Law of Least Effort.
It's a bit much to get your head around, but once you've got the concept you're going to start seeing social interactions in an entirely different way.
Sprezzatura, Investment, and the Law of Least Effort
Since I haven't talked about investment much in a while, let's have a quick refresher before diving in.
Investment is the amount of time and effort you spend on a girl. It's any kind of time and effort, really: everything from doing things for her physically, to spending time thinking about her and pining over her.
The way investment works is, the more you invest in someone (or something) else, the more invested you become, and the more your emotions tell you this someone or something else is important to you and needs to be held onto and retained.
The implications for doing well with women are, of course, twofold:
- The more invested in you a woman is, the more attached to you she'll become, and the more likely she is to go along with what you want to do, and
- The more invested in a woman you become, the more attached to her you'll become, and the more you're going to capitulate to what she asks you to do and work to not lose her.
Now, one of these is very good for succeeding with women. The other is rather detrimental to it.
The more invested in you women become, the more they want to be with you, and the more they're willing to do for you to maintain what they have with you. On the other hand, the more invested in a woman you become, the more you're going to shy away from taking bold action with her, the less aggressively you'll push things forward with her, and the more likely you are to do what she asks or tells you to do.
Women don't like pushovers. In fact, as discussed in yesterday's post "The Secret to Hooking Up with Friends," the more time and effort you've spent on a woman without sleeping together with her, the less likely you are to bed her (contrary to what you'll hear just about everywhere else).
Thus comes the Law of Least Effort, which states that the more you can achieve while appearing to put in less effort, the more attractive, powerful, and "cool" you are perceived as.
In other words, what the Law of Least Effort is saying is, the more investment you get while giving as little investment as possible, the more desirable you seem to women and the stronger you seem to men.
The Law of Least Effort is why kings sit on the throne while everyone else comes to them and stands and kneels. The Law of Least Effort is why women chase after rock stars and the band members have someone else pick out the prettiest ones and bring them to their rooms. The Law of Least Effort is why the male lion takes a nap all day and the females go out to hunt and bring him food and come to him to mate.
The weak man flails his arms about wildly and rushes from place to place and accomplishes little. The strong man waves a hand and his will is done.
Women like strong men. Check that – women love strong men. But without a solid understanding of the dynamics of investment and effort, most men's efforts to be perceived as strong are shots in the dark.
That's why you see so many guys trying to be strong by tooling others. They do okay, until they run into a guy who understands investment and effort, and he obliterates them. When a guy makes a dumb comment or tries to belittle you, and you glance at him casually and skeptically and a slight smile spreads slowly across your lips as if he's just said something cute like what a little boy might say, then you turn your head casually back to resume doing or saying whatever you were doing or saying before his attempt to put you down, you've just... blown him out of the water.
Because he invested a great deal to put you on the defensive, but his efforts fell flat. He's on the suboptimal part of the effort diagram: he's invested much, but gained little in return.
Actually, I whipped up a chart just for this post. Here it is:
Makes sense when you think about it, doesn't it?
But how often have you ever thought about this before?
This is one of those core, core aspects of human socializing and fundamentals that no one knows, and no one ever talks about. The man I mentored under early on in my studies of the social arts discusses a similar concept called sprezzatura, defined as "studied carelessness."
I call it the Law of Least Effort.
Whatever name you prefer, the end result is the same: if you're visibly expending a lot of effort while getting little in return, you're a bit of a joker to people; no one takes you seriously.
If on the other hand you're putting out very little visible effort, but getting a lot of returns, people stare at you in awe and call you cool, awesome, powerful, sexy. Charming. Amazing.
The other two are the guys who don't do anything – the unknowns – and the guys who work hard and get returns – the peasants.
That's the main thrust behind the Law of Least Effort. Most guys out there are jesters. We want you to be a king.
But how, exactly, do you get there?
Notice that when we talk about sprezzatura, and when we talk about the Law of Least Effort, what we're actually talking about is putting in less visible effort. In other words, it's all about the appearance of being effortless.
To get to that point, you may very well have to work yourself to the bone, though.
Cultivating an appearance of studied carelessness – of effortlessness – is no small feat. It entails an understanding of social dynamics that few people ever come to possess. And it entails mastering the ability to get people to do what you want without having to expend much effort.
That's two things right there that are essential to it. They are:
- Learning to understand people very well, and
- Learning how to compel people to do what you want them to do very well.
Both, for obvious reasons, are essential to being a talented seducer and ladies man, so you're going to end up working hard to master both of those anyway. But you should also be seeking, as you learn them better and better, to incorporate their lessons into your presence and presentation; you should seek to minimize the visible effort you put in while maximizing your returns.
Let's take this out of abstraction and look at an example so you can start seeing what I mean.
Example Part 1
A man sees a woman across the room. He locks eyes with her, turns to face her fully, and strides across the room directly toward her. When he reaches her, he faces her fully and introduces himself.
Example Part 2
A man sees a woman across the room. He feigns not noticing her, then talks to someone nearby him. Several minutes later, he strikes off, taking a circuitous route around the room, until he comes nearby to her. He acts as if he's just noticed her, and casually nudges her arm, getting her attention. She looks at him first; he turns to face her a bit and locks eyes with her, and introduces himself.
Of those two men, which would you say the woman felt more attraction to?
Well, she probably thought the first guy was quite bold. But consider this: now that she has this expectation of him being this incredibly bold man, for walking across the room zeroed in on her, if he's anything less than incredibly bold and direct, do you think it'll work?
Well... not really, it won't, no. He needs to be on fire, or be so accustomed to incredible boldness that it's simply the way he always is. There are a few men who can do that consistently – but most men can't. And reaching that level of consistent boldness, while a noble goal, is incredibly difficult. You can do it, but there are faster and easier paths to success with women.
The second man in our example, everything seems so casual and natural and effortless. The woman isn't going to expect him to be incredibly bold. But if he is, she'll be still more impressed. And if he isn't, if he's still cool and in-control, she's going to be attracted. Because, from her perspective, he's put in very little effort to get to know her, but he does a good job of it anyway.
That first guy put a lot of effort in, so he's going to be held to a much higher standard for results. If his results don't go above his already large outlay of effort, he's going to look tryhard.
The second guy is held to a lesser standard for results since he put less effort in. That means that even if he doesn't get quite the results the bold guy does, comparatively he's going to appear more attractive, and women will be more willing to do something with him.
This isn't speculation. This is rigorously tested. I've done the "walk across the room and boldly open" thing a number of times. You get strong reactions out of it; women either really dig it, or they're very dismissive. The ones that dig it though, if you don't move incredibly strongly and boldly with them right away, you lose them fast.
Needless to say, I usually go the sprezzatura route and go for effortlessness. It means that even if I'm a little off, I still have a decent shot of moving things forward. You don't have to be perfect when you're visibly expending little effort.
The funny thing is, the guy who navigates around the room to casually open a girl, when you think about it, he's actually expending more actual effort than the guy who just straight-lines it for the girl. But it isn't about actual effort – it's about the appearance of effort.
The king may be crunching inordinate amounts of numbers in his head and stressing like crazy over how to get the population what they want and not incite rebellion and how to manage the drama going on between his wife and his head concubine, and he may be putting in late nights planning and strategizing and figuring it all out.
But when people come before him on the throne, he only sits there calmly and gives them orders.
He's the hardest working man in the kingdom. But he creates the appearance of achieving all the results he achieves on the expenditure of little effort, and it makes him seem all the more powerful.
Finding the Right Balance
Before you go thinking you want to invest nothing, keep this in mind: you must invest at least a little to achieve results.
The king still has to open his mouth and speak for his will to be done.
The challenge to sprezzatura is finding the right line to walk to generate the results you want to generate without putting in too much visible effort.
- Keep correspondence with women short, direct, and to-the-point; use it primarily to arrange face-to-face meetings.
- Master the arts of deep diving and conversation to get women talking a great deal while speaking sparingly yourself.
- Learn to move slowly and regally; powerful men don't jerk around or move much. Strong men have abundant levels of stillness.
- Learn the right voice tone for giving commands. You'll often want to raise your voice at the end of a command, as if it were a question, without actually making it a question. This raises buy-in substantially and eliminates much of the chance a woman resents you for giving her a command (more common with Western women).
- Learn to respond to jokes or insults with subtle facial expressions instead of verbal responses. In fact, learn to respond to many things that don't necessarily need a verbal contribution with expressions instead.
- Talk slowly and use lots of pauses. Powerful men don't speed through their conversation; they take their time to make a point.
Once you have those down fairly well, you'll notice you start getting greater and greater returns on lower and lower amounts of visible effort. You may still be expending a greater degree of actual effort, processing everything and learning new behavioral patterns. But the cool part about it is, once you've learned it, it becomes second nature – then, socializing does become truly effortless.
When it reaches the point where it's easy and natural and it just flows, and all you have to do is start talking to girls and things just work and they somehow just end up in your bed... that's when you know you've made it.
Sprezzatura. Just remember you want to be the king – leave being the jester to all the other guys out there.
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