Our eyes first meet on a poster for his forthcoming London seminar, "Matthew Hussey's Secrets of Attraction". "WANT TO HAVE ASTONISHING RESULTS IN ATTRACTING THE RIGHT MEN?" the advert screams. "LEARN THE SECRETS OF MALE ATTRACTION THAT 99% OF WOMEN DON'T KNOW ABOUT!"
Next to this, Hussey's face grins back at me, his chiselled torso squeezed into a T-shirt so tight that one worries for those impossibly bulbous forearms, which could be in imminent danger of dropping off through lack of circulation; his glossy locks are carefully combed; one giant arm crossed against his chest, the other juts towards the camera.
I'm sure it's a spoof. And yet a quick internet search soon proves otherwise. According to Hussey's website – complete with an even more mind-boggling photo of the man "in action" – he is very much for real. "If you're reading this," the welcome note purrs, "it's likely that, like us, you realise that there is another level to where you are in life now and you're looking to find out how to get there."
Hussey's work as a "peak performance coach" has amassed him over 2,000 disciples, including directors at FTSE 100 Companies, who flock to hear his all-prevailing knowledge on how to "accelerate and guarantee their success". But it doesn't end there. Hot on the heels of the American journalist-turned-pick-up artist, Neil Strauss – whose 2005 female seduction manual The Game became an international bestseller – for the last three years Hussey has side-stepped into another growing trade, lecturing to crammed halls of British men eager for a master class on how to be lucky in love.
Now the seemingly insatiable Essex boy is turning his sights to single women, imparting his "insider tips" on how to bag Mr Right. As well as a series of live shows, he's released a helpful DVD. Get the Guy: The Man of Your Dreams is packaged with the image of a beautiful cartoon-drawn couple in front of an unbroken cityscape, hair blowing in the wind, a glowing half moon illuminating their perfectly symmetrical features. Heed my words, the unspoken message reads, and all this can be yours too. I glance across at my partner as he wrestles with his teeth and a beer cap, and hit the play button.
Within minutes of Hussey's opening, I find myself gazing past his flesh-pinching, plunged V-neck T-shirt, irresistibly drawn into his peculiar world. I find myself oohing and ahhing as he speaks. "Men adhere to the parameters you set them," he is saying. "We know what we can and cannot get away with only by your indication." Your job, as women, is to ensure you react in the right way when men fall out of line. The future of your relationship rests on you and you alone. You must reward good behaviour with pleasure, bad behaviour with pain. Hussey's entire manifesto – which can be applied at any stage of a relationship, from first date to long-term romance – rests on this simple principle.
By way of illustration, Hussey asks us to place ourselves in a hypothetical situation: you're in a bar with your partner and you notice him flirting with other women. How do you react? Do you get angry, tearful? If so then you might as well just accept the fact that you have failed; your hissy fit is only showing him further attention. This is, he says, pleasure-inducing. How can you expect him to control his wandering eye if you reward him for having a bash?
If – unlike any woman I have met – you opt for the blind-eye approach, then, Hussey continues, you are giving out entirely the wrong message. You're confusing the poor sod with your seeming obliviousness, so all he will do is play up more. Instead, you need to make him feel impotent (Hussey's word). "That is a real turn off," you must say, in a cool, calm manner, by way of emasculation.
Hussey goes on to explain the virtues of giving a person the identity you want them to have. "Feed him pleasure for everything he does right, for everything you want him to do." So: want a funny guy? Tell the guy he's funny. Want him relaxed? Tell him he's relaxed. The trick to finding the right partner is simple: just "validate people for the traits you want them to have".
In the course of his session, Hussey offers a range of advice. Tips for avoiding boring small talk include games of 21 questions, and – even more dubiously – impromptu public role plays; not revealing your insecurities at an early stage is important, too, while accepting rather than rejecting compliments and being a High Value Woman – in-demand, confident, sexy, classy, with a fantastic life that you're proud of and enjoy – is a sure-fire way to elicit a man's adoration.
Soon I hear myself clucking with approval and bemusement at the general premise of Hussey's lecture, which – reading between the lines – pronounces that men are little more advanced than a Pavlovian dog: a submissive breed which can – and must – be conditioned. If a man acts out of line, then it is because the woman hasn't chalked out the boundary strongly enough. An attractive notion in many respects, and true enough to a degree.
So all that is left is to put Hussey's approach into action. I rise from the sofa summoning a cool, confident air. At once I am calm, collected. I am an independent woman who loves her life and knows what she wants from her man. I am sexy. I am strong. And, it appears, I am entirely alone. The house is still. A tatty note lays on kitchen work surface: "You were making weird gurgling noises. Gone out – don't wait up."
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