Seduction as a Manipulation Tactic: Playing On Your Need to be Valued

Playing to the desire of another to be valued and liked can be a powerful manipulation tool.

I’ve been posting a series of articles on behaviors which persons with disturbed characters frequently display that not only prevent them from developing a good sense of social responsibility but also frequently serve as tactics to manipulate and impression-manage others. Some of the behaviors we’ve looked at include rationalization, blaming others, blaming and vilifying the victim, minimization, shaming and guilt-tripping, and overt and covert intimidation:

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Perhaps one of the most insidious ways to favorably manage the impression of others while simultaneously trying to get something you want from them is seduction. Now, most of us are vulnerable to seduction techniques. That’s because most of us want to be liked and valued. So, when someone shows us attention or behaves toward us in a way that invites us to feel somewhat special, we almost never think that they’re doing so because there’s something they want. Rather, we’d like to think there’s something really remarkable about us that is motivating the person to behave that way.

One of the most damaging legacies of traditional psychology is the over-weighting it gives to people’s insecurities and fears and the relatively complete inattention it gives to the myriad ways that they fight and maneuver for the things they want. Everyday life is approximately 95% fighting and 5% running. But traditional psychology is overly concerned about how and why we run, not how and why we fight. By “fight” I don’t mean physical violence. Rather, I mean the forceful goal-directed energy we all expend to get the things we want.

Responsible people assert themselves and fight for the things they want in direct, fair, restrained, and non-destructive ways. Disordered characters lie, cheat, and sometimes “shmooze” to get what they want. They don’t like to be denied, so rather than approach things directly and run the risk of not winning, they’d prefer to approach things on the sly and catch the other unaware. Playing to the desire of another to be valued and liked can be a powerful manipulation tool. Most of the time, this is not done with malicious intent or with such intensity that it does any real damage. Also, most of the time, the person on the receiving end is aware enough to know that they’re being buttered-up and will enjoy the flattery while not taking it so seriously. But sometimes, seduction can be very deliberate, calculated, and carried out in such a manner that the other person is swept away. Then they can become quite blinded about the nature of the person doing the seducing. Only after the manipulator gets what he or she wants will their true character start to show. By then, it’s often too late.

One of the most fundamental and life-empowering principles I introduced in my book In Sheep’s Clothing is that once people replace the destructive legacy of traditional psychology — i.e., that everyone is almost always struggling with fears or insecurities — with a mindset that life is far more about people maneuvering and angling for the things they want than it is about them “running,” and once they realize that there’s a class of individuals best characterized as unscrupulous and exploitive fighters who will advance their own agendas with almost complete disregard for the needs of others, they arrive at a position to avoid being taken advantage of in the future.

This post marks the end of the series on manipulation, impression-management, and responsibility resistance behaviors. Next we’ll begin a new series on the tools people need to employ not only to be impervious to such ploys but also to generally empower themselves in relationships with others and avoid victimization by disordered characters.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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