Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor


Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.

At the start of an affair, you need to heighten your presence in the eyes of the other. If you absent yourself too early, you may be forgotten. But once your lover's emotions are engaged, and the feeling of love has crystallized, absence inflames and excites.

Giving no reason for your absence excites even more: The other person assumes he or she is at fault. While you are away, the lover's imagination takes flight, and a stimulated imagination cannot help but make love grow stronger.

Conversely, when you become too present, too accessible, leaving no room for the imagination, the more you pursue, the less they love you.

What withdraws, what becomes scarce, suddenly seems to deserve our respect and honor. What stays too long, inundating us with its presence, makes us disdain it.

Take the romance of Sir Guillaume de Balaun and Madame Guillelma de Javiac. Guillaume was the perfect knight, who wrote poetry and songs to Madame Guillelma. She fell deeply in love with him, but because he wanted to feel the ultimate bliss that comes with reconciliation after a quarrel, he feigned great anger with her and left. In order for his plan to work, she would have to be upset with him, but his leaving only made her long for him more, so his plan, in essence, had backfired.

When he saw her again, he drove her away with harsh words and threatening gestures that she vowed never to see him again. He regretted what he had done so he rode to Javiac, but the lady would not receive him, and ordered her servants to chase him away. Over the next year, Sir Guillaume wrote many letters and poems to her and was miserable without her. She finally forgave him and this is when he finally experienced the joy that comes with reconciliation after a quarrel.

Absence diminishes minor passions and inflames great ones, as the wind douses a candle and fans a fire. La Rochefoucauld, 1613-1680

The 10 Games of Hide-and-Seek

1. A strong presence will draw power and attention to you.

2. Shine more brightly than those around you.

3. Too much presence creates the opposite effect:

4. The more you are seen and heard from, the more your value degrades.

5. You must learn to withdraw yourself before you are unconsciously pushed away.

6. Starve the other person of your presence.

7. Force their respect by threatening the possibility that they will lose you for good.

8. By completely withdrawing for a while, you create a kind of death before death.

9. When you come back, it will be as if you had come back from the dead.

10. An air of resurrection will cling to you, and people will be relieved at your return.

The Other Side of the Coin

This law only applies once a certain level of power has been attained. The need to withdraw only comes after you have established your presence; leave too early and you do not increase your respect, you are simply forgotten. When you are first entering onto the world's stage, create an image that is recognizable, reproducible, and is seen everywhere. Until that status is attained, absence is dangerous—instead of fanning the flames, it will extinguish them.