Chapter 24: You can’t catch a cub without entering the tiger’s den – Part 3

Discretion and style are also expected when it comes to sexuality. What was said just about self-confidence just above also holds for sexual assertiveness. Women like it. In fact, they require it. Not all of them may have the desire (or the heart) to go for a bad boy as des­cribed previously.[1] Nonetheless, sensual confidence is considered as a major turn-on by females, because it tells them that the guy knows what to do in order to please them and that they can, therefore, expect a good time with him.[2] Since a healthy attitude towards ero­ticism contri­butes to positioning a man as a promising boyfriend or husband, it is better for him not to hide his amorousness. No matter the topic – the weather, business, politics, lite­rature, nipple clamps, pap smears, etc. – a perfectly poised gent discusses each of these topics with the same composure and level of interest. This does not mean that he should start the conversation with explicit demands or statements about his state of arousal. Instead, his job is to simply hint that he is a sexual creature. He accepts his raciness as a part of life, she should do the same. There should be no room left for doubt about his virility and potency. He is a man. Like many of his fellows, he is crazy about sex. So what? There is no reason whatsoever to be ashamed of or to apologise for his lustfulness, given that it is in his animal nature to pursue bodily gratification.[3],[4]

By prudently announcing to women that they should get ready for some naughty action, the flirter states his intentions and his determination to consummate the passion for his dulcinea in the future: “I love my woman and I am willing to prove it to her”. This allows him, by the same token, to differentiate himself from other, more restrained, rivals who might prefer to conceal their lecherousness or feel guilty about it. All he needs to make sure is not to go too far in violating the social norms applicable. Notice also that devil-may-care irreverence towards prudish values (as advocated here) is not to be equated to miso­gynistic dis­respect­fulness, which, by all mean, remains unacceptable and should be avoided at all cost.

So far, the argumentation followed the scenario of a man soliciting a woman, which also corresponds to the traditional way of the world, namely that males seduce and females are seduced.[5] The predetermination of the man’s position in the human seduction process seems to be directly translated from his ancestors’ role in the past. As nature assigned him the duty of the family hunter, his drive to pursue is merely a reflection of the instinct he inhe­­rited from his forefathers. It certainly sounds rather unfair, sexist and degrading to systematically see women as the prey, but looking at the issue from a different angle, one could also say that they are the ones who finally get to make the decision. This privilege of the “chooser”, in turn, grants a lot of power to females, an idea that some men may not like or resist.[6] On any account, this division of labour is consistent with Darwin’s observation that in all species, males are made for chasing females, whereas the latter typically pick the winner among all their admirers.[7]

In these terms, evolution theory provides a realistic explanation why women still savour the moment when a suitor assumes the risk to move on her. Instead of waiting for her to gamble and do something to impress him, he should be the one to call the shots. Nowadays, many modern women are independent, self-confident, successful at work, enjoying a high socio-economic status. Nevertheless, even and perhaps especially these ladies want a partner who takes the reins, not only in courtship but also in everyday life. With such a man by their side, they can sit back and enjoy their womanhood. Such ladies are often forced to empha­sise their “male” sides (in particular in the context of business) and long for times in which they can relax and unfold their female side again. For the suitor (or husband, or boy­friend), it does not take too much to help her in this endeavour. Just be a man, that’s enough. Some­one who has ideas, plans, and who is willing to execute them. Someone to whom she can hand over part of her burdens and responsibilities, and who has the ability to make good choi­ces for both of them.[8]

The ideas put forward here should not prevent women from taking the initiative if they wish to. In fact, dating manuals and female magazines educate their readers that it is perfectly acceptable to ask men out. For good reasons, they claim that there are enough chaps who are delighted when a woman steps forward and get in touch with them by her. The reasons for their entrancement in such situations are straightforward: By being the first one to become active, she fools men into thinking that she is sexually available. With the expectation to have a much better chance of scoring, they become more confident and opti­mistic, and thus willing to enter into a proper conversation.[9] In that case, it also does not matter whether or not both of them finish the day in bed together. As long as they talk with each other, the exercise can already be considered a success. What happens next is writ­ten in another story.

Based on these premises, it is highly advisable for women to actively contribute to the exchange. They can do so by smoothly enticing male attention and prudently expressing their interest through a series of signals, which, for the rest, should not stay too elusive. After that, it is fine to wait for the man to take a leap of faith and to ask the lady for a date. The key advantage of this “soft leading” approach is that it allows to incite selected male targets only, while making them believe that they are the ones occupying the driver’s seat[10] – which, in the end, complies with the rules of tradition and at the same time reminds us of the unshakeable truth that “men control the world, but women control the men.”[11]


Related proverbs and citations:


wàn shì qǐ tóu nán

The first step in a thousand different matters is always difficult. The first step is always the hardest.

Starting a new endeavour is the hardest part of it.



yīn yè fèi shí

One cannot refuse to eat just because of the risk of choking.

You cannot avoid doing what is necessary just because there is a chance you could fail.



yī nián zāo shé yǎo, shí nián pà jǐng shéng

Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all his life at the mere sight of a rope.

Once bitten, twice shy. Decries those who are discouraged by their first failure and are afraid of trying again.



yī cháo bèi shé yăo, shí nián pà jǐng shéng

Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all his life at the mere sight of a rope (alternative version of the previous proverb).


男追女隔座山, 女追男隔层纱

nán zhuī nǚ gé zuò shān, nǚ zhuī nán gé céng shā

A man chasing after a woman is like overcoming a mountain; a woman chasing after a man is like cutting through gauze.

This proverb encourages women to be proactive and to take the initiative in flirting as it is much easier for them to catch a man than vice versa.



shǒu zhū dài tù

Guarding the tree awaiting a rabbit. Waiting for the rabbit to die in order to catch it.

Don’t live on hope. One must act instead of waiting to get things done.



yǎn lèi jiù bù liǎo huǒ

Tears cannot put out a fire.

Weakness will lead to nowhere.



qiān lǐ zhī xíng shǐ yú zú xià

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

The highest eminence is to be gained step by step. Success does not come from nothing; instead, it comes from concrete hard work.



kōng tán shāo bù hǎo fàn cài

Talk does not cook rice.

All talk and no action. All bark and no bite. All foam, no beer. All icing, no cake.

Speaking, promising, or boasting much, but doing little.



[1]    See chapter 22 “Man not bad, woman won’t bed”.

[2]    Gray (1995), p. 46

[3]    See chapters 3 “Men like, women love” and 4 “Beauty is the troubled water that brings disasters”.

[4]    Satana (2007), pp. 19-21

[5]    Ridley (1993), p. 135

[6]    Buss (2003), p. 3

[7]    Brizendine (2006), p. 59

[8]    Fischer (2008), pp. 85-86

[9]    Fox (2014)

[10]  Fox (2004), p. 10

[11]  Argov (2002), p. 88

Chapter 24: You can’t catch a cub without entering the tiger’s den – Part 2

It is therefore not surprising to see a man become tongue-tied when facing a woman he nur­tures special feelings or hopes for. Yet this does not necessarily have to constitute a handi­cap. On the contrary, women are used to males not knowing what to say in their presence and interpret this as a sign that he is interested. They may feel flattered to find out that someone is willing to take a risk and to conquer his timidity. Not only does it let him look cute or charming, it also indicates how much he cares about her. This is a great compliment he can make to a lady, bearing in mind that they would never have spoken before. It means that he must be genuinely curious and that he wishes to learn more about her.[1] What fema­les appreciate and expect in a man is that he is brave enough to break the ice. As a wise man might have said: Fear of a dame increases fear of the fling itself. Yet there is no room for fear in courtship, nor in mating. If a man does not have the guts to accost a woman although she can sense that he wants to, she will inevitably think of him as a wimp and walk away. No second chance. Likewise, employing a delaying tactic is seldom workable, as women generally have an aversion for cunctators (mind the spel­ling!). Postponing one’s move for too long can cause them to lose their patience and to nip their passion in the bud. Inversely, sending them the right signal at the right time can trigger in them feelings of physical attraction. In the words of John Gray, “many of the traditional dating rituals bet­ween men and women are really just opportunities for a woman to assess her feelings for a man.”[2] This is usually all she needs. No one says that he has to enter into a long con­versation, take her out, or invite her for dinner right after the first contact in order to be a real man. Little things such as addressing her, opening the door for her, praising her, slightly touching her, etc. are enough to raise her attention and pave the way for future interaction.

Regardless of a man’s shyness or clumsiness in front of her, she will still accept him as a potential mate as long as he is confident enough. In the words of French revolutionary Georges Danton, “we need audacity, and yet more audacity, and always audacity!”[3]. Although he probably had war and politics in mind when he summoned his fellows to be more daring, the advice is nonetheless applicable in the context of dalliance and seduction. If a man is daring enough to speak to a woman, he probably also has the courage and assu­rance to tackle the other challenges in life. As women are pulled to men with high socio-economic status and charisma[4], it seems natural that they also prefer individuals who are bold yet cool, i.e., those who shows clear signs of domi­nance.[5] Hence, the best way to stand out is to look confident – not confident in the sense of “so confident, it can’t be real”, but positive about his own strengths, appearance, person­ality, objectives, orientations, etc. In this connection, a carefree stance and the display of bravado can be helpful, if it is employed in a moderate fashion. What gentleman and sophisticated lady’s man should abstain from is any form of self-praise. A truly dominant, confident, masculine man does not need to brag in order to be seen as a potential lover or mate. Such showing-off signifies nothing else but inse­­curity and disappointment about one’s own (inferior) position in the group. More often than not, such behaviour is induced by an unconscious psychological mechanism meant to compensate for a self-perceived inferiority.[6] Further­more, since the strategy to fake confi­dence has been used and overused in the past, most human beings, especially women, are now able to easily identify pretenders.[7] Another problem with overly aggressive boasting, ostentation, or conceit is that this type of behaviour is associated with the wooing of casual sex partners rather than wives.[8] In other words, if a bachelor is seeking a permanent mate, he should better be discreet about his own achievements and status. Ultimately, his sex appeal emerges from how others see him, not from what he says about himself.



[1]    Gray (2009), p. 201

[2]    Ibid., pp. 160-161

[3]    Original: “De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace” (sometimes also translated as “We must dare, dare again, always dare!”)

[4]    See chapters 17 “Finding a good job is nothing compared to finding a good husband” and 18 “A man of determination will surely succeed”.

[5]    Fisher (2010), p. 150

[6]    Satana (2007), p. 23

[7]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 220

[8]    Buss (2003), p. 107

Chapter 24: You can’t catch a cub without entering the tiger’s den

Nothing venture, nothing have

bù rù hǔ xué yān dé hǔ zǐ

The previous section introduced the importance of smiles and eye contact in the flirting pro­cess.[1] At this, it only covers the very first visual touch between two people, one showing interest in the other and waiting for a positive response. What the chapter does not mention, however, is what should happen once a mutual personal appeal has been effectively confir­med. Of course, the two actors could continue to smile and wink back at each other, but such superficial exchange might not be enough to substantially develop the relationship. Dee­per interaction becomes necessary at this stage, which is where things become com­plicated for many men and women. Indeed, people tend to be intimidated by the idea of moving onto the next steps once the initial contact has been established. “What shall I say?”, “What opening line does not sound too cheesy?”, “How is he going to react if I invite her to a coffee?”, “Is it all right if I rub my arm against his now?”, etc. are the types of ques­tions that may cross the mind of someone facing the situation of how to prepare for the next step. Such moves can be daunting as they do not always turn out well. Every first chance could also be the last one.

At the same time, the unpredictability of the results can be extremely exciting and stimu­lating. The fizzy anticipation of the other party’s reaction, the hope, the butterflies, the unknown, etc., all of these factors contribute to making coquetry a thrilling, sometimes addic­­tive, pursuit (one, by the way, that many couples miss once they are happily settled). In this regard, the proverb presented here invites people to take risks when attempting to get closer to a man or women they are drawn to. “Nothing ventured, noth­ing gained”[2] is the credo. Uncertain as the outcome may be, there is no way you can succeed and “get” the girl (or the guy) if you are afraid of making decisions.

In spite of all motivation and encouragements, procrastination in the course of approaching a romantic interest is both normal and understandable. The stakes are high (happiness vs. sadness, triumph vs. failure, pride vs. humiliation), and many people remain wary of this undertaking, which requires them to put their mood, reputation, or dignity on the line. Who has never been snubbed by a friend, classmate or colleague we had a crush on? This kind of experience hurts and can have traumatic consequences, preventing the victim from repeating the venture too soon. After suffering a blow, men and women need time to digest the defeat, recover their self-esteem and feel good about him or herself again. Once they feel secure about their own attractiveness to others, they are ready to take action again.

Biology itself offers explanations for dating nervousness and the embarrassing flirting bloo­pers that accompany such discomposure. Similar to what was mentioned in the section des­cri­bing the consequences of infatuation[3], the human brain is exposed (respectively pro­duces) all kinds of chemicals when we are in the presence of someone we like or find appealing. The effect is surprisingly analogous to what happens when we are high on drugs. The cocktail made of neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine (adrenalin), etc. then launches a head trip that can ultimately lead to the impediment of our judgement or ability to make rational decisions.[4] Moreover, a Dutch study revealed that the mere infor­mation that a female would observe him while he carries out a relatively simple task was enough to affect a man’s performance negatively, leaving his cognitive functioning impai­red.[5] Inversely, a 1974 experiment established a connection between anxiety and sexual attrac­tion, showing that men were inclined to undergo higher levels of sexual stimu­lation when exposed to fear-arousing situations.[6]



[1]See chapter 23 “A smile will gain you ten more years of life”.

[2] The originator of the Chinese saying presented in this chapter is known to be bān Chāo, a general, explorer and diplomat of the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD). His words are quoted in the Book of the Later Han, Biographies of Ban, Liang (Volume 47, 后汉书 班梁列传hòu hàn shū, bān liáng liè zhuàn). The proverb is prominently featured in chapter 117 of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, (三国演义, sān guó yǎn yì), one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature (see also chapter 1 “Men are like mud, women are like water”). Attributed to early Ming dynasty writer Luó Guànzhōng (罗贯中), the story belongs to the most widely read historical novels in late imperial and modern China, remaining a beloved work of literature across East Asia.

[3]    See chapter 11 “A lover’s eye only sees his love’s beauty”.

[4]    See chapter 11 “A lover’s eye only sees his love’s beauty”.

[5]    Karremans / Verwijmeren / Pronk / Reitsma (2009)

[6]    Dutton / Aron (1974)