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The One Who Can Walk, Wins: The Power of the Least Interested, Part 7

In a new relationship, and maybe even in a not-so-new one, the person less dependent on the other, less in love, perhaps–holds the power.  One way the least interested wields power is simply by refusing to become more interested.

To wit: A study I set up featuring a youngish couple I was seeing for therapy, one in a rather old-fashioned dynamic. I was getting my graduate degree at the time.

The wife, Madeline, came in saying that she felt “powerless” in her marriage. Her husband, Frank, made all the decisions, she said. He might be oblivious to this fact, she added,, and might want to believe otherwise, but their lives revolved around his desires, not hers. She felt this truth passionately, but had difficulty articulating the myriad ways in which her powerlessness was manifested—and how it diminished her. From what they ate for dinner to what they saw at the movies, she felt she had little say. Why? “Because I don’t decide how we spend the money, nor do I have access to our money.” Continue Reading →


Using The Power of The Least Interested: Part 6

Don’t you love this photo, taken by the wonderful photogapher Pam Barkentin Blackburn? It illustrates the mood of  The Power of the Least Interested in a way few other pictures do.

In a perfect dating world, you’d never have to play games. You’d meet a guy, he’d like you, you’d like him, you’d date, you’d fall in love. You’d be honest; so would he. In time, one of you would ask straight out for a commitment; the other would say, “I’m yours.”

Dream on. When it comes to love, we’re all a little perverse, and it’s clear that elusiveness increases desire; being busy earns respect; and there’s nothing like someone else’s interest in you to perk up that guy who’s taking you for granted. Men do respond to the idea that a woman has a life and could find another man in a second.

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Schools, Too, Are Like Love: The Power of the Least Interested, part 5

So if this kid doesn’t want to be in school, and the teacher wants him to be, who wins?  Welcome to The Power of The Least Interested inside the school room.

Teacher workshops, trainings and discussions often focus on how to make reluctant high school students become more interested in learning. Engaging students becomes, of course, the job of the teacher, who is struggling not only to prove to these disinterested kids that learning is interesting, but also to gain acceptance. The onus is on the teacher to pull the uninterested student into the relationship and into the world of learning—and until she accomplishes this, her less interested students have power over her (and, often, over her career!).  National programs like the Critical Friends Group, which supports and encourages teachers, are proof that the least interested—the kids—hold the power. It’s not the children who come together to figure out how to deal with the most interested, but rather, the teachers in need of the enormous support, encouragement and confidence-building necessary to tackle the powerful! And teachers often use Critical Friends Group as an opportunity to discuss successful methods for engaging students while sharing tricks of the trade. Continue Reading →


New Cars and New Love: The Power of The Least Interested, part 4

     Hard to believe how powerful the Least Interested are, not only in romantic attraction but in attraction to everything else, but if anyone knows the tricks, it’s car dealers.

Formerly hard-sell car dealers, up against the wall,  are beginning to take a different approach. They are now advised not to push so hard, in order to permit the consumer’s desire to peak before pushing her  into the new vehicle.  I spoke to the manager of the largest Volvo dealer in Connecticut about this. “I just ask questions,” he said. “I find out what my client wants. ‘What kind of car are you looking for?,’ I ask. ‘What would you like it contain?’ I just wait and wait, question after question, until the customer says, ‘So, aren’t you going to show me anything? Is THAT one there, the red one, available?’ And of course I say no, it’s been sold—just an hour ago, actually—and anyway, THAT one is really much more expensive than the one you were asking about…..”  Continue Reading →


As in Handbags, So In Love–The Power of The Least Interested — Part 3

Victoria Beckham’s pink Birkin bag–I think it’s crocodile– is just one of many of her gorgeous Birkin bags. But watch: The Power of the Least Interested applies to getting an Hermes Bag in pretty much the same way as it applies to getting  a guy.

It’s called the scarcity principle in purchasing, and Hermes is great at employing it. The Hermes Birkin bag, above,  like its sister bag, the slightly smaller “Kelly” bag, is always waitlisted because of its alleged scarcity (“They’re each handmade,” the company explains). Whether Hermes can or cannot summon the deft hands of bag-makers and crocodile-finders round the globe to work more quickly begs the question of why these bags are so hard to get.  If it were about supply and demand, they’d  simply increase supply to meet demand– but it’s not. It’s about the Power of the Least Interested. Who desires the handbag sale more–you, the potential owner, or Hermes? Hermes would like you to think it’s you. Company president Robert Chavez announced in the September 2005 issue of “W” Magazine, soon after I’d noticed the connection between love and handbags, that the wait list for Kellys and Birkins was absolutely closed at all Hermes stores across the globe.. “It may open up in a year or two,” he said then, “but there are no guarantees.”

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The Power of the Least Interested – Part 2


Rocky_170Pikturz by Pikturz

Yesterday I spoke about the “Rocky” notion that if you just fight hard enough for something,  by God you’ll get it. True in a boxing match or in a bike race, but in the match of love, the power of sheer grit comes up against another person’s desires. And oddly, the “winner” in that love match is often the one who cares the least, not the most.

Think of bargaining for a rug, or bidding for a home. The home buyer who tries not to seem too excited—too interested—is hoping to get the seller to sell low. The job applicant who seems careful, unlike the one who is too eager and seems desperate, becomes more attractive (and less alarming) to interviewers. The parent who says she has no time to read to her child at bedtime guarantees that the child will beg for a story. The baby who cries if you move in to cuddle him too quickly perks up if you’re too busy, and suddenly then he wants to be on your lap. People want to want. They want their wanting to be on their on timetable. They don’t want to get before they have expressed their wanting. Continue Reading →


The Power of the Least Interested – Part 1

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the notion of power in love. Not power as in control, but how it is that the person in a relationship who cares the least has so much of the power—at least in the early stages. A piece in Psychology Today this week features the work of three social scientists studying uncertainty in romantic attraction.  Their study counters the “reciprocity principle” of attraction, which states, in effect, that if someone is attracted to you, you’ll be more attracted to him—and vice versa.

If only. More often, uncertainty is key. Wanting is an unruly thing, and reciprocity—being wanted back—doesn’t always satisfy. Follow me on this for a couple of blogs—I think you’ll find it all as fascinating as I do. Continue Reading →


Welcome to My Blog

About DalmaFor many years I’ve written books in which women express their deepest feelings about the tricky and often paralyzing negotiation between intimacy and self; between pleasure and pleasing. This blog continues where my books leave off–looking at an evolving culture and its new choices for women; and the evolving women who are expressing a bold new vision for the place of love, marriage, accomplishment and spirituality in their lives.

– Dalma Heyn

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Trust Your Gut When Dating Online

When Angela “met” Tim online—that is, when he first responded to her profile—she got a fluttery feeling in her stomach that she wasn’t sure was excitement or warning. He liked her photo—could they go out that night? No? Why not? She was beautiful for her age, he said, and what’s more, he was handsome and fit–so hey, if she wasn’t free, why was she online? So Angela, who felt uncomfortable already, at the same time read his pushiness as healthy male interest, so she overrode her gut feeling and proceeded to the next step.

Not a good idea. If ever there were a form of introduction that required a woman to trust her gut about a guy, it’s meeting in cyberspace. Trusting your (online) gut requires a self-knowledge, though, that wasn’t expected before first impressions came to you with no real person attached. You have to really be aware of your history (have you always been excited by aggressive guys—only to wind up feeling intimidated by them? Have you always rejected less assertive men?) and clear about your wishes (Do you want a mate or a casual date?): Otherwise, in your search for Mr. Right you can end up chatting endlessly with Mr. Wrong. Here are a few tips culled from women who have been there, done that….I pass them on in the hope that they spare you the exhaustion that can come from too many hours online with too many men who aren’t truly available, men who will only sap your strength, men who are looking for something, someone, other than you. Continue Reading →