One final note on the ladder theory–while I never developed my own thoughts to such a systematic extent, I have provided advice to many women (including the lovely poetess–I just love saying that word–Camille Dungy) on how to attract men, with some success:

1. Men divide women into two categories: Those that they think are attractive and want to sleep with, and those that are not attractive enough to sleep with. (Note that Dallas’ Ladder Theory adds several additional refinements, such as women that you would only sleep with while drunk, and women that you would only sleep with while drunk and would deny having slept with afterwards. These are definitely there, but not as relevant in terms of what most women want from a man.)

2. As a woman, your status with a man depends on the peak attractiveness that you achieve in his mind. This is similar to the “forward progress” rule in football. As an example, I once lived in the same dormitory complex as Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly. Jennifer often came to the dining hall fresh from a long run, covered in sweat, with her hair plastered in a fairly unattractive fashion. This did not prevent men from swarming over her, since their conception of her attractiveness was based on her performance in The Rocketeer.

3. Once you convince a man that you are a romantic possibility, it’s hard to lose that status.

4. Your attractiveness is subject to many conditional modifiers. For example, a man is more likely to find you attractive if you have engaged in strenuous and/or dangerous physical activity together. This is a well-known scientific effect, and helps explain why firemen are so popular with the ladies.

Based on these principles, my advice was simple: If you’re interested in a man, make sure that he sees you in a situation where you look your best, so that he puts you on the “romantic possibility” list. Then, arrange a situation in which several conditional modifiers apply, like running across a frozen lake, where there is danger, exertion, and a good chance of ending up horizontal on top of each other.

I’m proud to say that my pupils put this advice to good use.

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