Most Women Don’t Dream of Dating Nice Guys

Most Women Don't Dream of Dating Nice Guys

I love infographics, even when they’re based on silly, not-peer-reviewed, not-statistically significant, research, especially if they prove something illuminating.

That’s why I’m sharing this infographic from a site called Dating Metrics. I’m not sure what they’re selling, so don’t worry about it. Just pay attention to the part about women preferring bad boys to nice guys. It’s amusing and a good leaping-off point for a discussion.

In short, this guy looked at lists written by women about the 53 “sexiest TV characters” and realized that:

40% of women’s “fantasy TV boyfriends” are cold blooded murderers!
21% are vampires…
And only 14% are nice guys!

Now, it seems to me that this was a question that had a very predictable answer. Because the question wasn’t about “what kind of man would you like to marry?” In fact, the question was about the “sexiest TV characters” and “fantasy TV boyfriends”. When you frame it like that, whoever says that her fantasy is to marry Jason in accounting, who is kind, stable, consistent, communicative and relationship-oriented?

It seems patently obvious that damaged, rebellious, mysterious and brooding are pretty much the OPPOSITE traits that one would look for in a life partner.

As a result, this infographic is amusing, but much ado about nothing.

To me, the real question is why we glorify the traits associated with the bad boy: damaged, romantic, manly, rebellious, mysterious, smart, brooding.

It seems patently obvious that damaged, rebellious, mysterious and brooding are pretty much the OPPOSITE traits that one would look for in a life partner, yet women still undeniably find them attractive and sexy.

I am not even friendly with anyone who is damaged, rebellious, mysterious or brooding, so I’m not the most objective judge, so let me ask you: what is it about these exciting inscrutable bad boys that continues to have a pull on you? Is being with someone “nice” really all that bad or boring? And do you know of any dark, damaged bad boys who have turned into happy, healthy, stand-up husbands?

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

Join our conversation (315 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    krishti

    Hi Evan, 
    Well my ex was every bit a bad boy and he was incredibly sexy and similarly great in bed. I knew I’d never settle down with him or take him to my parents but at 21 he is the best guy to go around with. He’s fun adventurous and unpredictable. Though I currently am dating a nice stable guy I still hook up with my ex sometimes because he’s so much more fun to be around. I think it all comes down to the fact that our brain is partial towards instant gratification rather than always thinking about the long term goals.
     

    1. 1.1
      IvyJain

      You’re cheating on your boyfriend with an ex simply because he’s more “fun”?

      If you had any integrity you would dump the boyfriend and let him find a girl who is worth his time and actually LOYAL to him. Who knows what STDs you are exposing your boyfriend to! You are being selfish and wasting his time!

      1. 1.1.1
        sandra

        I think she is enjoying herself while she can, before she settles into a life of boring sex.

        1. Tulip

          Brace yourself!  A lot of things in life are going to get boring.  That doesn’t mean you need to behave irresponsible in the mean time and hurt other people.

        2. FLIPPER66

          TO SANDRA: AS a previous poster put it she should dump her present boyfriend if she’s willing ruin her present relationship for her exbf’s  and her selfish sexual self interest in him. her actions in my opinion are unforgivable .  if she knew that the exbf wasn’t long term (he’s and ex for a reason being the type guy he was he most likely cheated on her or some other major thing) so if she’s with a nice stable guy now why is she even with him t begin with if she has the type mind set of being a cheater and thinking its ok to do so while with a person in a relationship. a relationship is between 2 people and 2 people alone… a 3rd person in the mix brings the old saying 2’s company 3’s a crowd holds true… and brings a lot of associated problems(that’s unneeded in a relationship) if she’s not looking for a stable relationship with a stable guy then she needs to admit and let this nice guy she’s been dating find someone that’s more respectful to him than she’s been .. and then find another bad boy type and reap the supposed benefits that come with it … the cheating , the overt flirting with other women , the mental and emotional and at times physical abuses that these so called bad boys  do. that she already admitted that she knows are short term prospects (for the sexual / good time or exciting time)… point is why et with some one stable if she’s not wanting stability …..

        3. Rajat

          so it’s okay to cheat on nice guy because it is going to get boring. Why not just keep fucking the bad boy and let him treat you like shit instead of breaking the nice guys heart. You are going to turn a nice guy into a bad boy by being a whore

      2. 1.1.2
        FLIPPER66

        TO IvyJain: I CAN’T AGREE WITH YOU MORE ….

      3. 1.1.3
        isayimnothere

        To Ivyjain: Makes me sad that people need this explained, but not only that it needs explained but that her view is the prevailing one… Evil people everywhere.

        1. BigT

          yeah, and you call evil people out on their bull****.  Thats the problem with the world, everyone wants to sit in their own world and not have the balls to call people out who are doing wrong.  IF everyone did that more, evil people would think twice about doing bad stuff.  Won’t stop it all, but may prevent some of it.

    2. 1.2
      jenny ravelo

      It’s true what you say about our brain, but on the other hand, if your current boyfriend isn’t fun enough, why are you with him? 

    3. 1.3
      355

      I’ve given up any hopes of ever dating again. At least you can’t hurt me. I can get a tiny drop of satisfaction from that.

      1. 1.3.1
        Karl R

        355,
        Following that same line of reasoning, someone who is jobless should give up on job-hunting. That way they can have the small satisfaction that you’ll never fire them, or lay them off, or give them a poor performance review.

        1. Jordan

          Just start your own company.  Do whatever you want, whenever you want.  No one can tell you what to do.

      2. 1.3.2
        Lyda

        I’m with you 🙁

    4. 1.4
      Jordan

      This post is the epitome of:

      Alpha lays

      Beta pays

      1. 1.4.1
        realistic

        true 100 percent 

         

         

    5. 1.5
      Bill

      You should dump the nice stable guy so he can find a girl who won’t cheat on him.  I have a feeling that you will dump him eventually so you might as well do it now. Besides he is probably boring compared to the exciting Bad Boy

    6. 1.6
      Jacquelope

      ^^^^ That right there is why you should never, ever be a nice guy. You have it spelled out for you in stone cold black and white, guys.

      1. 1.6.1
        Al

        Jacquelope: That’s total BS. Guys should feel proud to be nice, decent people and simply avoid dating insensitive, entitled liars. The problem here isn’t with the nice guy. It’s with the self-absorbed cheating girlfriend. It’s remarkably short-sighted and immature to say that when you are the victim of bad behavior you should emulate that same bad behavior.

        1. Jacquelope

          Okay then be the nice guy. When you get cheated on and you wind up being forced by courts to pay for some other man’s kid, or she brings you home a STD, remember I told you so.

    7. 1.7
      Jen

      Your boyfriend deserves better than you. You have no right to expose him to danger or to toy with him like this. I can only hope that as you mature you re-think your methods. At present you are guaranteed to leave a path of destruction in the wake of your life.

  2. 2
    Tyrion Lannister

    Evolutionary success will tend to correlate male physical attractiveness with bad boys with promiscuous tendencies (and will limit deviations accordingly).
    So, when we observe that females privilege such males, it is not that females find these traits attractive per se, but rather that they are selecting for certain desirable traits that have become correlated with negative ones – this is their dilemma.
    In fact, females will be under evolutionary pressure to accommodate such males, as male offspring will tend to share the same inherent advantages as their fathers, resulting in high-fitness male offspring for the mothers (and thus a likewise evolutionary advantage).
    Females who tend to reject such males will be at a relative disadvantage (producing less prolific offspring), and thus evolution will tend to limit the frequency of such females over time to the point of rarity.
    To summarize, there are evolutionary reasons why female choices tend in the opposite direction from ‘nice guys’(females who privilege ‘nice guys’ – by the conventional meaning of the term – incur an evolutionary disadvantage for the increased prospect of breeding fitness-handicapped sons – thus evolution will limit the frequency of such outcomes accordingly).

    1. 2.1
      josavant

      Tyrion Lannister, you wrote thoughtful comments, but I don’t think promiscuousness is the same as being bad as Evan means here (coldblooded murderers in TV, damaged and brooding). I don’t think being promiscuous makes a guy bad, and it might even take the edge off so that he is less likely to be a murderer. Just a speculation. What I don’t really get is how Evan is defining a “nice guy” though. A lot of super-attractive guys are nice. That is part of what makes them attractive.

    2. 2.2
      Marcus

      That was the most bizarre post I have ever seen.  The explanation could have been “men are biologically wired to procreate and monogamy has nothing to do with it”.  “Nice” is a requirement for most women…………until they change their mind….which is often.  make a decision

  3. 3
    LC

    The media programs men and women to tell them what’s hot and sexy.  Fake hair, fake boobs, fake nails, fake butt = sexy woman.  Jerk, vampire, werewolf, serial killer, football player = sexy man.  Very few people go against the programming, and those of us who do find it very hard to find a “nice” person of either gender to be friends or lovers with.  And a lot of guys think being “nice” means not having a backbone, and there’s nothing worse than a guy who’s a pushover.  A woman has to be able to respect a man, and kissing arse in order to get laid doesn’t inspire respect in a woman.  A woman doesn’t feel safe with a wimpy guy who lets everyone run over him.  So be kind, but do not let people walk all over you–that goes for both genders.

    1. 3.1
      jenny ravelo

      Media does NOT program people to like anything. Media sells what statistically significant portion of the population want and many people exaggerate the size of that portion. Please, tell me what propotion of female celebs have fake butts and boobs, and has fake looking hair and nails? Nicki Minaj, and tell me as well how many men actually prefer Nicki over Margot Robbie or Halle Berry. 

      Women like football players because of status and because being a sportsman is an indicator of physical health. Vamipres and jerks simply are interesting as characters. 

    2. 3.2
      huh?

      you must be kidding right?! in what realm are the women, lining up to go a round with some serial killer? most women “i know of” are freaked out by the slightest hints or evidence of men who come off as odd, in an unconventional manner. let alone full blown maniacs with blue prints for “sex slave dungeons” drawn up and laying out on the kitchen table.. 

      1. 3.2.1
        Jacquelope

        Maybe serial killers was a bit extreme. A more mundane but equally depressing reality is that drug dealers never want for girlfriends.

  4. 4
    Amy

    The other three terms on that list are romantic, manly and smart… what woman wouldn’t want those traits?  But those things can be found in many nice guys, the “nice guys with edge” that you often advocate.

  5. 5
    jeremy

    There is a world of difference between “personal value” and “sexual market value (SMV)”.
     
    My 98 year-old grandmother has enormous personal value – her experiences, her sense of humor, her wisdom, etc – all these things give her tremendous value as a human being.  But her sexual market value is zero.  Again, this does not imply that she has no value as a human being (quite the contrary), but rather that members of the opposite gender would not find her sexually desirable, because she lacks the qualities that they desire in a sexual partner at this point in her life.
     
    It is essential, when we have this type of discussion, that we distinguish between qualities that factor in to “personal value” versus “sexual market value.”  And what complicates this even further is that each gender considers different qualities as sexual.  For example, most women are attracted to men with high earning potential and education – from a female perspective these qualities contribute to the sexual market value of a man.  But from a male perspective, these qualities do NOT contribute to the sexual market value of a woman.  Thus, the fact that a man is a doctor increases his SMV, while the fact that a woman is a doctor does not.
     
    Enter the quandary of the “nice guy.”  Society tells men that women want nice guys, so most men endeavor to be so.  Further, “niceness” is a quality that men find sexually attractive in women – a woman who gives a man her undivided attention, makes him a nice meal, and does things for him – he will find her MORE attractive sexually than a woman who ignores him.  Thus, because niceness is a sexual factor from the male perspective, men mistakenly believe it is also a sexual factor from a female perspective.  And it ISN’T.  In fact, women are far more attracted to men who do not desire them overtly, who do not acquiesce to their whims, who display outcome independence.
     
    It’s not that women don’t want a nice guy – they do.  It’s just that niceness doesn’t factor into what women find sexually attractive – it is a personal quality rather than a sexual one.  In the same way as a man is expected to have a nose, he is expected to be nice.  Thus, if a man is handsome, confident, and successful – he will be considered a great catch.  And if he happens to be nice, it is the icing on the cake.  And if he isn’t nice, most women will (mistakenly) believe he is still a great catch and that they can change him.  
     
    So, Evan, this article confuses the point.  Women don’t fantasize about nice guys.  They fantasize about men who are high in sexual qualities, not personal qualities.  But hopefully most women are mature enough to realize, at least intellectually, that men who are high in sexual qualities do not often make good husbands.  And hopefully they are mature enough to appreciate the husbands they have for the qualities they have, and not go for the rich, brooding, handsome – selfish and commitment-averse men.
     

    1. 5.1
      Stacy

      Jeremy,

      Your post is absolutely priceless!! Goodness gracious, you have spoken the truth from top to bottom.  

    2. 5.2
      joe

      Great piece Jeremy. Your ending is amazing

    3. 5.3
      Karmic Equation

      Great explanation, Jeremy!

    4. 5.4
      starthrower68

      Your grandma is lucky, God bless her. Having no SMV sure does make life less dramatic. 😉

    5. 5.5
      Marcus

      If “high earning potential and education” are sexual turn ons for women then they wouldn’t consistently fall for bad boys.  As you stated “women don’t fantasize about nice guys” but they obviously want to be turned on by the bad boy!……..but they need the nice guy at home.  The sexual attraction component of your post is the most important.  

      1. 5.5.1
        Al

        How is this any different from the “Lady on the street…” fantasy of many men? The genders aren’t all that different from each other. Men just get worked up when they feel the same expectations they have for women might just apply to them as well. 

    6. 5.6
      Al

      lmao. Women aren’t so different from men generally speaking. We like physical attractiveness the same way you men do. If a nice guy is very good looking he won’t have ANY trouble finding a woman whatsoever. However, no matter how “nice” a guy is, it won’t make him better looking.  If someone set you up on a date and tells you the girl has “a nice personality”  what’s the first thought that’s going to cross your mind? This post is correct in one area, that personal value isn’t necessarily the same as sexual value but it’s wrong in stating that obnoxious traits equate to sexual value.  It’s not that women find men who treat them like crap attractive. It’s just that not treating women like crap doesn’t necessarily make you sexy either. Women, like men, value physical attractiveness.  If a man is good looking and confident women are willing to overlook his more obnoxious qualities exactly the same way that men are willing to date women who are Super hot in spite of their bad personalities or lack of intelligence.

    7. 5.7
      Renee

      I could not have said that better myself, maybe you’re secretly a single 40 year old mum lol 😊

    8. 5.8
      Jen

      Your 98-year-old-grandmother–bless her heart, she’s having a good run, isn’t she? Congratulations to you both for being in each others’ lives for so long. Now, on to your post: bra-vo! I think you should write your own blog.

       

  6. 6
    Stacy

    Ummm…no

    I do not know any woman over 30 who wants to settle down with the quintessential bad boy.  And, even if they were, they know better than to follow up.  With that being said, I rarely see women of any age (IF she is ready for a relationship) turn down a good looking, mature, ‘nice’, well to do man.  So, I don’t get this premise that this is what women primarily want.Here is the problem Evan. It’s not that we don’t like nice guys. It’s that we want nice guys with a backbone. We don’t like pushovers. We like men that are assertive, etc.  And, while there is something sexy about an elusive guy who doesn’t give a shit (just like for many men, they  might have fantasies of banging the playboy  model), we know that in reality, this is not who we want to settle down with.  

  7. 7
    Sunflower

    For me it was the thrill and the sense of mystery that comes with them.  In my younger days I was a party girl and liked to have fun.  You can have a lot of fun with a bad boy!  However now, I will take a nice guy over a bad boy any day.  We all have to grow up sometime.    

    1. 7.1
      Lin

      You are very harsh on sunflower. Why can’t she have fun as a women. Man also fool around and settle afterwards. Even worse, they become old and think they have the right to buy a girl in Thailand … I guess you live in a double standard world still …

      1. 7.1.1
        Nik

        No, you are confusing men and women dating trajectories. Men date around and generally date higher and higher quality of women with age, experience and life accomplishments.

        Dating around and “having fun” is what women do. And then get serious when the fun is running out.

        Understanding this is SO far out of the realm of an attractive young woman’s understanding. Being an attractive young woman is like having cocaine and men are drug addicts. Being a young attractive man, all other things being equal….means pretty much nothing in your ability to attract.

        This is why men dominate the world in every aspect. They have to to get laid.

  8. 8
    SK

    I love nice, introverted and kind men. I never understood the fascination with bad boys because being with them would seem like the loneliest thing ever. 
    My trouble is that nice guys aren’t into me. Either they aren’t attracted to me (which is perfectly legitimate, you can’t blame even the nice guys to go for the women who turn heads), or they have their own issues and prefer women who put them down or aren’t interested in them (so, unavailable women, maybe?), or they are creeped out by my interest in them because they possibly assume that no woman likes nice men. 
    I have no luck.  

    1. 8.1
      Ames

      I could have written this myself. I don’t know if it’s about looks either. I’ve had back luck whether I was 105 lbs or 205 lbs. Maybe it’s about needing to have more se appeal? Let me know when you figure it out. 

    2. 8.3
      [email protected]

      If you asked a counselor they would say ‘was your father a nice, kind, and gentle type of guy’? Because dating patterns start with parents apparently.

      Men in general aren’t encouraged to be very emotional with their kids, maybe these women want bad boy men who kind of mistreat them because that is the role model they had growing up?

      And if your father was loving, kind, and showed his affection for you, that could be why you like men like that.

      This is counseling 101, any counselor you see will tell you this is how it works.

      1. 8.3.1
        Nik

        THIS. Role modeling is under-addressed in evaluating this stuff.

        I always ask a girl about her father. It’s the best predictor of who she likes. There’s a sweet spot as I come from a fairly broken home, I get a little nervous if her dad is too awesome. You have to date someone within a few points of your intimacy-normalcy.

    3. 8.4
      Jacquelope

      Actually I think nice guys should spend more time looking at women who don’t turn heads. I mean, if you’re going to judge a woman by her looks why then feel bad because women are judging you by superficial nonsense? “He or she doesn’t owe you sex” is a legitimate point but after a while it becomes a silly excuse. If the men or women you’re going for aren’t into you then you need to change who you look for.

  9. 9
    Stephanie

    I recently saw a dating video by Matthew Hussey (sorry Evan, no offense) that explains this pretty well. There’s a difference between nice and kind. A nice guy is often so nice that they let anyone walk all over them. Their values and identity are blurred into “being nice” & you don’t know where they stand. Being kind on the other hand is someone who is authentic, knows who they are and where they stand, their values, stick at who they are while being kind, but not being nice and people pleasing everyone. There’s always a way to get your message across and still be kind. Not a dick or a whimp. Same can go for women as those who know who they are and those who just want to be liked so much, they try to please everyone. Not much of a backbone there. Women especially are attracted and have more respect to those who know who they are. Unfortunately, a lot of bad men display confidence as well and know what to say and how to say it to confuse and give off a different impression (as a good or decent guy). The bad women are often called nice, sluts or bitches. Take your pick. There’s a big difference between being authentic and confident in yourself and being arrogant though. Arrogance loves attention. Not one persons attention is enough. Sorry for the names and slurs. Those are often just the categories people often put them in. From a former bartender of 9 years. Some could look at it as weak and strong too. Weak is the attention seeking arrogant bad men. Strong are the authentic, kind, good men. 

    1. 9.1
      josavant

      This sounds right. I didn’t mean “nice guys” earlier, I meant kind. There is a difference between “nice” and kind. someone who tries too hard to be nice is the type who goes around trying to please everyone, and that is not attractive in guys (and probably not in girls either?) because they look like they have no strength and no confidence in their own beliefs.

      Women respect strength. It isn’t that we want vampires or bad guys, but the TV vampires always have special strengths (and the bad guys do too), and that is what we are attracted to.

      But good guys can be strong too. Just have a strong core set of values and don’t compromise them, and don’t try too hard to please everyone.

    2. 9.2
      Al

      Exactly. Desperation isn’t attractive in men or women. A lot of guys confuse being “nice” with sucking up. It’s not the same thing. I’m a very nice person. That doesn’t mean I have any patience for jerks. Being nice to others doesn’t mean pretending to be devent in order to get laid, then having a tantrum when it doesn’t happen. That’s just passive aggressive.

  10. 10
    JB

    I really do think this differs dramatically in different age ranges. Like Stacy (post#6) says women that are over a certain age might still be attracted to “edgy bad boys” but they view them quite differently depending on where they are in their lives. They might date them for fun but not seriously. When you get to be my age (early 50’s) there aren’t so many if any “bad boy” types around. They’ll take the “nice” TALL guy with the high status $$$ job title over the “bad boy” tattooed biker/aging rocker type any day. Walk through the mall and look at couples with kids. How many women are walking with “bad boy” husbands?
    No woman may dream or fantasize about 28 yr. old nice guy Jason from accounting but 20 yrs later when Jason is Senior Vice President of _________ accounting firm he WILL have a lot more value to women his age than he does at 28 believe me. Of course by then he’ll be the divorced guy with 3 kids on Match I’m competing against. 😉

    1. 10.1
      jenn

      You’re absolutely right!

    2. 10.2
      isayimnothere

      To be fair, how many of those married relationships are both happy and not adulterous with the “attractive” guy/girl on the side and would you be able to pick out a “bad boy” husband out if he only shows it when he is trying to attract women? Personal experience has shown me that most of those married couples are married for stability, not because they are attracted to each other, and usually lack loyalty.  Bad boy or not, so many of the marriages are built without attraction after enough time and that leads to someone chasing that attraction at some point, assuming they have that option. Maybe its just from my lense, but ultimately a vast majority of marriages end in infidelity/ have infidelity on the side but they work through it or don’t catch it. Usually because they aren’t attracted “anymore” or were never attracted in the sexual/excitement sense to begin with just in a stability sense. They have personal value but no sexual/excitement value.  That high value man late in life for his security IE: Jason is going to put a significantly lower value on a woman at 48 now that he is Senior Vice President. At least assuming he is smart, he wont trade that security for companionship when he could trade it for the sexual excitement he missed out at 28.  It really is counterintuitive and counterproductive.  Young women sleeping around with bad boys while young shouldn’t expect Jason to settle for them once he has built himself up. Just as Jason shouldn’t expect that the girls will find his potential sexually exciting when he is 28. He should work on his personality, approaches, body and style if he wants that attention while younger.

  11. 11
    Fiona

    It’s funny. Men are always happy to tell women what they are attracted to and why. Uh, maybe we like Jesse Pinkman not because he’s a “bad boy” but because he’s sweet and vulnerable and a great surrogate father to his girlfriend’s son. Or maybe we like Don Draper because Jon Hamm is super hot. Pacey Witter isn’t even a bad boy. He’s more of a class clown. Again, a sweet, attentive boyfriend and a charming, confident dude (especially compared to that whiner Dawson).

     In my experience, most guys who actually describe themselves as nice are selfish, passive jerks who think women owe them sex. At least womanizing Don Draper is honest about his intentions.

    1. 11.1
      Karl R

      Fiona said:
      “maybe we like Don Draper because Jon Hamm is super hot.” 

      Interesting point. So I did a comparison of two characters, lead roles in their respective series:

      Malcolm “Mal” Harris –  criminal starship captain, 2 seasons, average 4.7 million viewers, #10 on the list

      Richard Castle – mystery novelist who assists the police, 7 seasons, 9.3 million to 13.3 million viewers, not on the list

      Both roles are performed by the same actor, Nathan Fillion. As a “nice guy” he has more than twice the media exposure. (That’s not even taking into account the male/female ratio of science fiction series compared to the male/female ratio of TV drama series. Or that Castle was playing on TV at the time of the survey, while Firefly had been cancelled years earlier.)

      If it’s about the actor, Richard Castle should have outscored Malcolm Harris. But it’s not even a tie. The bad boy role won.

      1. 11.1.1
        Stacy

        Karl,

        I will encourage you to read Jeremy’s post. But to piggyback, what we fantasize about and what we really want are two different things (just like men – they may fantasize about screwing the big breasted porno with the annoying laugh but they don’t want to take her home). It’s no different.

        1. Karl R

          jeremy’s post (#5) was accurate … up to a point.

          But look at the infographic again.

          Traits that make these characters irresistable: (in order)
          1. smart
          2. romantic
          3. manly man
          4. damaged
          5. mysterious
          6. rebellious
          7. funny
          8. womanizer
          9. rich
          10. brooding

          The girl in the porno probably is damaged, but it’s not one of her attractive qualities. 

          I dated two women despite them being damaged. I have not dated any women because they were damaged.

          Stacy said:
          “just like men – they may fantasize about screwing the big breasted porno” 

          The women were not asked which character they would like to screw. They were asked which character they would like to date. As Evan has pointed out repeatedly, there’s a difference between being a man’s date and being his booty call.

          These negative qualities (damaged, rebellious, brooding, womanizer) may not be attractive to you (or Fiona) … or maybe they are. But for any woman who finds those traits attractive, it benefits them to realize that they’re attracted to really negative traits.

          It’s bad enough to overlook negative qualities (as numerous men do). It’s far worse to be drawn to those negative qualities. In either case, the solution is the same. Be aware of that tendency, and consciously choose to override it.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Thanks, Karl. Great analysis and distinction between being drawn to negative traits and putting up with negative traits. I don’t know any man who like bitchy women. I know only know men who have put up with them for short periods of time. You said this far better than I could.

        3. josavant

          Karl R, but where did those words come out of in the first place? The women being surveyed didn’t made up those words, did they? It’s not clear how they appeared in the word cloud. They sound like words that other people made up to describe the TV characters, not words that women used themselves to describe what they like.

          I don’t think, if you ask any woman straight out, she will say she wants a womanizer. If she is attracted to a womanizer, it may be because he is better at seducing women (and who doesn’t like to be seduced, let’s be honest, whether we succumb or not) and because she assumes he knows how to pleasure her effectively, which let’s face it, a lot of guys don’t. I also don’t think if you ask a woman straight out, anyone will say they want a damaged guy. But a lot of women do have this fantasy that they can heal or fix others. For sure, I don’t think anyone would make up on their own that they want a brooding guy. Who even thinks of that?

          So I would take this whole infographic with a huge grain of salt, even though it was really funny. 

      2. 11.1.2
        Karl R

        josavant asked:
        “but where did those words [in the word cloud] come out of in the first place?” 

        From the women’s own description of the characters they found sexy.

        josavant asked:
        “The women being surveyed didn’t made up those words, did they?” 
        It appears that they did.

        Quoting the infographic:
        “Why Are Women So HOT For These Guys?
        Here’s what women have to say about our three winners:”
        “#3 Eric Northman, True Blood
        He’s an emotionally twisted, sadistic, dangerous, human-hating badass. He has no qualms about asserting his strength and position. Eric also has a great sense of humor, and can lighten even the darkest moments with his wit and charm.”

        I would say the article has locked onto several threads that I’ve witnessed in real life.

        Quoting the article:
        “The perfect boyfriend is neither a bad boy or a nice guy. He’s the guy who walks the fine line between both.” 
        – and –
        “first off, girls like projects. They see damaged, untamed, womanising psychopaths as a project that needs to be fixed. And they want to be the one to fix them.
        It’s both a challenge and an ego boost for a woman to ‘fix’ a bad boy and make him their ideal boyfriend.”

        josavant said:
        “I also don’t think if you ask a woman straight out, anyone will say they want a damaged guy. But a lot of women do have this fantasy that they can heal or fix others.” 

        We at least agree that they have a fantasy about healing/fixing their boyfriends.

        Do you think these women are so clueless as to believe they could/should heal someone who isn’t damaged? 

        If you want to fix your own car, what do you do? You might buy one that requires fixing. Or you could buy a new car and break it, then fix it up again. Or you could buy a new car, then be disappointed that there’s nothing to fix.

        Give women some credit for intelligence. If they want to heal/fix others, they at least know which men to target.

        Similarly, women don’t really want a man who cheats on them. They want a man who can have every woman he wants (and did have any woman he wanted) but who has decided that she is enough woman to be better than all of the others. 

        There’s a fatal flaw with that fantasy.
        Men don’t want to be “fixed”.

        Either accept your boyfriend the way he is, or find a different boyfriend. Any attempts to fix or heal him will just end badly.

        josavant asked:
        “I don’t think anyone would make up on their own that they want a brooding guy. Who even thinks of that?”

        Follow this link. If you’re short on time, you can stop after you read the title to the article. 

        Or this one.
        http://historicaltapestry.blogspot.com/2012/12/why-i-love-brooding-men-by-phillipa.html

        1. jeremy

          @karl R

          i guess both genders harbor some fantasy of rescuing the other.  How many men fantasize about coming to the rescue of a woman and thereby winning her affection?

          The female version is rescuing an emotionally damaged man.  He was emotionally unavailable – cold, hard, individualistic – and only the love of a good woman can bring out the warmth in him – and often only for her.

          The difference between the fantasies is that women often WANT to be rescued by men.  They often fantasize about that as well.  So if a woman wants/needs rescuing and a man rescues her, they have a shot at making it work.

          But almost no emotionally damaged man wants to be rescued by a woman in the way she hopes.  Her efforts will almost never work, and will almost always end in heartbreak.  That’s why this fantasy is so harmful. 

        2. Clare

          Jeremy,
           
          Thanks for making this distinction. You’re right, many women (myself included) have, at one time or another, fantasised about taking an emotionally damaged man and drawing him out of his shell/healing him/showing him everything that he is missing out on, whatever.
           
          But hopefully she comes down to earth soon and realizes:
           
          a) such men do not want to be “rescued”;
          b) it is not possible for her to rescue him. He needs to heal himself, of his own initiative and desire, in his own time, in his own way, if it’s going to happen at all.
           
          c) It is the man’s job to pursue the woman, to come close to her, to win her and thereby gain access to this emotional richness and closeness. If she tries to reverse the roles by chasing him, it will never work.

      3. 11.1.3
        Juliet

        Karl, this is a really excellent observation. But I’d argue it’s not the bad per se, it’s the confidence (which leads some men to be leaders, some to be bad boys). In the same vein, take a look at Burn Notice.  The lead actor Jeffrey Donovan in a still photo is about average on the scale of handsome, kinda scrawny too.  But he plays a confident dominant mind of his own smart character with serious fighting skills and comes across as really hot. A few times in the show he assumes a disguise of a weak incapable man and I was shocked, and very interested, to see myself suddenly repelled by the same guy 5 minutes ago I thought was hot.

        So interesting how women are much more sensitive to perceived qualities of confidence,leadership than they are looks.  

      4. 11.1.4
        Al

        As someone who loves Nathan Fillion in general, and as a woman, I have to tell you that you’re off base with this one. Captain Mal is portrayed as more of an anti hero, a dashing space pilot with a heart of gold when it really counts and, admittedly some issues, but he is in no way shown as a villain or a “bad boy.” And Castle is kind of an annoying chatterbox. It’s not a good boy/bad boy thing with those two characters. It’s a cool guy/goof ball thing.

        I think there ARE some characters that might support what you are saying, but it’s about sex appeal. Men often fantasize about the dark, sultry seductress as well. Let’s face it, Brad Pitt did choose Angelina Jolie over Jennifer Anisten and probably isn’t the only guy who would. 
         

    2. 11.2
      NASHWC

      Wrong Fiona. Men are not telling women what women are attracted to. Men are expressing what they observe women are attracted to. Sooner or later, every man eventually learns to focus less on what a women says and focus more on what she does and what she chases after. Big difference. 

      1. 11.2.1
        Karmic Equation

        Half right NASHWC.
         
        Men are expressing what they observe HOT women are attracted to.
         
        If men focused on what the “average” or “above average” but not quite “hot” women are attracted to, both men and women would be happier.
         
        Hot women can get whatever guy she wants (for at least a short while) and hot men can get whatever gal he wants on his terms.
         
        So if you’re not a hot guy, no matter what you learn from hot guys, you ain’t gonna get what hot guys get…unless you have money. Then you can get a lot of hot chicks, at least for a short while…or until your money runs out.
         
        God has a sense of humor 🙂

        1. NASHWC

          Incorrect, even when re-scoped to the small subset of people you re-framed your response around. A woman’s ‘hotness’ (real or self-imagined) has little bearing on observed behavior as it is primarily driven by biological imperatives. Same for men. And your comment that everyone would be happier “if men focused on ‘average’ or ‘above average’ women” is laughable at best. No its not all up to men (is this your thinly veiled “man up!” reference?) as this still wouldn’t alter the behaviors consistently observed from women.
          Besides, by latest Western standards ‘average’ equals borderline obese (typically coupled with a distinct hint of self-centered narcissism). The current ‘fat acceptance’ movement (promoted in most all major social blogs/networks) wont change what men are attracted to any more than promoting ‘nice guy acceptance’ (non-existent as a social meme, and rightfully so) would change what women are attracted to.
          My original comment stands. Fiona is still wrong.          

        2. starthrower68

          NASHWC, you never fail to make me grateful that I have no SMV. 😉

        3. Karmic Equation

           

          NASHWC,
          I agree that Fiona is wrong in that men are not telling women what they are attracted to. But what men are observing is a smokescreen. She’s NOT having sex with him because he was “confident.”
           
          Let’s put it bluntly
           
          Most women tend to bang hot guys, aka bad boys, without commitment, hoping to get commitment eventually (if she bangs him more than once). Easy to do, because of that biological imperative you’re talking about.
           
          Most women will hold out on sex with a not-hot guy until she’s in a relationship with him. Easy to do because of the same biological imperative. Good partners and providers don’t tend to be “hot”. They tend to be in-betweeners.
           
          So I stand by my words.
           
          A hot guy can easily get what not-hot guys cannot: sex without commitment — I hope we agree that this is what most men want — with both hot and not-hot women alike. 
           
          So if he’s a not-hot guy, he’s not getting that sex-without-commitment UNLESS he dates beneath his league. A 5 guy might be an 8 to a 3 girl. And an 8 guy would her 10.
           
          So no matter how much men observe and express and emulate what hot men do, if he’s not hot TO HER to begin with, he’s gotta hunt below his league to get sex-without-commitment. And the REASON would be the same: 
           
          Because he was hot…to HER. NOT because he was <insert quality here.>.

           

        4. Marcus

          Karmic is right 100% but to clarify the “hot girl” point, it should be clear that money and success solve any and all issues for most “hot girls”. “Hot guys” are models that work for guys that date their female co-workers.

  12. 12
    Rebecca

    Every time this thing about women preferring “bad boys” comes up, I am just mystified.  Evan likes to say that one person’s contrary experience doesn’t disprove the trend, so maybe I’m just a oddball, but the men I lust after are vulnerable, honest, considerate, and (the one Evan says I shouldn’t value so much) 3-sigma intellects.  
    I’ve had exactly one not-emotionally-involved fling with a man who was simply exciting and eye-candy, and the singular thing that stands out about him was he helped me make some repairs to my car one weekend, and he didn’t take over.  The expertise and the physical strength to back me up if I needed it were definitely sexy, but his patience to teach me instead of doing it for me was the sexiest thing ever. 
    Here’s the thing about that evolutionary advantage argument:  my feminist over-thinker side would like to claim that I don’t value the “safety” of being with a powerful, strong man, and yet I love NOTHING more than that possessive/ protective feel of my SO guiding me through a crowd with his hand on my lower back – that’s just hot.  But I’m not letting the serial killer touch me if I can help it; the man I want in my corner is more like a firefighter who will put his brains and brawn on the line in service of others.  If he has a full head of salt-and-pepper hair and smells amazing, all the better.

    1. 12.1
      Traveller

      @Rebecca:

      Rebecca, you are one in a million. Unfortunately.

      Most women’s “Must Have” list starts off; Tall, Good looking, Well-built, Young, Rich…

      An IQ comes in at about #14. Most are perfectly happy if he can walk and chew gum at the same time. Being brilliant doesn’t even show up on the radar.

      Think about it. If intelligence was a turn-on, Albert Einstein would be a sex symbol.

      1. 12.1.1
        SparklingEmerald

        Make that two in a million. Or maybe just get over this STEREOTYPE that ALL women (or one million minus one women) want at tall, handsome, bad boy.

        Maybe I just run in different circles than everyone else here, but height and income aren’t even on my radar nor that of my girlfriends. None of us have a husband or boyfriend who is 6 feet or taller. Or a millionaire. I must admit, all of our hubbies, SO’s, boyfriends are cute, attractive, etc in some way, but none of them will be on the cover of GQ. I DO have to feel a certain degree of physical attraction to consider a relationship with a guy, but I have been physically attracted to many different types of men looks-wise. I have stated on this board many times, that I just wanted a man that I was attracted to and treated me well. (which is what I have now) I have stated many times that height isn’t a factor, I don’t mind a little bit of a pot belly, bald doesn’t bother me, and all I want is a man who won’t be a financial drain on me, but he doesn’t have to be rich. Also, I have married 2 men who were about 5 foot 6 or 7 inches.

        But male posters on this board have accused me (yes me personally, not a general comment on women) of holding out for a 6 foot tall, rich, rock-star, even though there isn’t one thing that I have posted that would indicate this, in fact quite to the contrary.

        So why do men PERSIST in this stereotype ? Me thinks that perhaps THEY are going after the tall gorgeous model types, the beauty queens, the cheerleaders. And of course women in THAT category are more likely to hold out for a tall, wealthy rock star. So you have average men, rejecting average women while they chase after Miss America, and then THEY complain that beauty queens who are rejecting them are shallow, but somehow, the fact that THEY refuse to pursue a nice, girl next door type has NOTHING to do with their un-coupled status.

        In the big argument about how awful women are for not dating short men, I or someone else pointed out that sometimes men reject women for being TALLER than them, that the man taller, woman shorter dynamic is sometimes a male choice. One male poster said that men rejecting women for being taller than them was irrelevant to the debate. Never did understand how one side of the equation could be irrelevant, since in a free country, coupleship happens by MUTUAL consent, not one person choosing, and the other having no say in the matter.

        One male poster complained that “average” looking men have no chance getting top quality women. So is that the fault of top quality women for turning down “average” men, or does the fault lie in average men, who refuse to consider a girl who is cute, but not drop dead gorgeous, with an average figure, who is kind and loving ?

        The OKC study that so many men like to point to as proof that all women are bitches, also showed that men might be “fair” in how they rate women on a scale of 1-10, but the still by pass the girls who are 7 or 8 to pursue girls who are 9’s or 10s.

        So if a man is a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 -10, maybe he should stop complaining when he gets rejected by a Victoria’s Secret runway model, and see if could possibly fall in love with a women within his league. And stop blaming the beautiful women for doing EXACTLY what he is doing.

        1. Traveller

          @SparklingEmerald:

          Look, I wasn’t trying to insult anyone. And I’m sorry, but you are wrong. Most women (not all, but a huge majority) DO prefer good looking guys. Calling that a “stereotype” falsely implies that it’s incorrect.

          If you are an exception to the rule, fine. More power to you, I wish more women were like that. But it doesn’t do any good to close one’s eyes to the obvious.

          I’ve had literally hundreds of women turn me down for not being tall enough, good looking enough, or rich enough – and come right out and say so. Sure, not everyone wants all (or even any) of those things, but a vast majority DO. I find that frustrating, but I’m not calling anyone a “bitch” for wanting that. Hell, if I was female, I’d want it, too.

          I *have* noticed that a lot of people (both sexes) are heavily in denial about what they are REALLY looking for, which is why I am very skeptical when someone claims to be immune to looks. In my experience, MOST (not all) women who claim that they don’t care about appearance are usually just fooling themselves. If you look at what they DO, rather than what they SAY, it’s readily apparent that the men they go for quite clearly tend to be conventionally attractive, despite the denial about this.

          All that this means is that actions speak louder than words, and I have learned to watch what people do, rather than listen to what they say. If you don’t follow the crowd, fine. But that doesn’t change the fact that most still do.

          As for me, I’m not accusing you (or anyone else) of anything. I have just observed that most people don’t do what they say they do.

          As to height – it’s kind of a funny thing; I’ve noticed that generally speaking, short women are even pickier about this than tall ones are. The girl I dated in high school (who was 6’2″ herself) explained this by pointing out that tall girls quickly figure out that they have few options, so they learn to be less picky early on. Whereas shorter women feel that they have lots of choices, so they can afford to be picky. I don’t know if that’s actually the reason, but it seemed at least to be a plausible explanation. And yes there are men who are jerks about this, too. Which doesn’t change anything.

          Personally, looks-wise, I think I’m about a ‘5’, (average) and most of the women I try to approach are between a 4 and 6 (which, by the way, covers at least 75% of the human race) but the majority of them seem to be holding out for guys who are 8’s and up. They certainly have the right to do that if they wish, but considering that there just aren’t enough of those to go around, they are eventually going to be disappointed.

          My problem is not that, as an average looking man, I can’t get “top quality women” (what does that mean, anyway?) but rather that I can’t get most women to even talk to me. Online, they take one glance at the picture and hit “delete”; in person, they turn and walk away before I can get close enough to say Hi.

          It’s very tough out there. People are very visual, and everyone is trying to optimize their results, and while, yes, there are a few women who honestly are willing to give average-looking men a chance, the majority are not willing to (as they see it) waste their time on a guy whom they consider to be below them. That’s just the way it is.

          I’m sure that it’s the same way with men. The only difference that I see there is that most of them don’t bother to deny their emphasis on looks. (shrug) Not that that helps.

          As for me, the last three women I dated seriously were all heavily overweight and anywhere from average to homely in looks. I don’t think I’ve ever dated anyone that I could honestly say was conventionally attractive. (What I liked about them was that they were all very smart.) So please don’t accuse me of running after models.

      2. 12.1.2
        Rebecca

        Loved Sparkling Emerald’s comments on height. I’m 5’9″, which is the median height for a man in the U.S., and I’ve never dated a man who was shorter than I am, so maybe I have an unconscious bias. That said, the guy I’m dating now is 5’11” or 6′ and I’d say that’s pretty much the sexiest possible height a man could be. The guy I fell for before him was my height, and then 5’9″ was about as sexy as a man could get. I really just don’t care. But I’ve dated men who insisted that I not wear heels because that would make me taller; and the guy of the fling I described was 5’9″ but insisted on being 5’10” when he figured out I was 5’9″. For the record, the 5’9″ guy who never felt the need to comment on our relative heights was a far more attractive 5’9″ than the “don’t wear heels” guy.

        As for good looking, I don’t define this the same way as the folks hiring Hollister models (current bf has a beer gut and not so much hair left and he’s HOT) but it’s definitely important to me what a guy looks like. Sexual attraction is the biggest difference between men who are friends and men I fall in love with.

        Einstein’s intellect IS a turn-on, just not enough to counteract the fact I prefer men closer to me in age. But if it’s true (I don’t really believe it) that most women aren’t interested in nerdy men, I’m okay with that – less competition for me.

        1. Traveller

          @Rebecca:

          Let me be more specific. I am not saying that a man’s intelligence is a BAD thing, I am simply saying that, for most women, it is not the #1 MOST IMPORTANT thing. A lot of women DO want smart guys. However, they ALSO usually want them to be tall & good looking, and consider those to be the more important characteristics. Smart-but-short & ugly usually won’t cut it.

          And, as always, I know that there are some exceptions to this. I just wish there were more.

      3. 12.1.3
        Lin

        Intelligence IS an turn on, bc with intelligence comes power and power means money….A Lot of women are drawn to this. Powerful men equals sexscandals. Albert Einstein is more than intelligent he is a genius more like a geek, not so sexy

  13. 13
    Shepherd

    I’ve never found bad boys appealing. In fact, the reason I was initially attracted to my first boyfriend is because I saw him flossing his teeth as I was chilling with his roommate. In time, I  found out that he went to bed very early, exercised moderately,  didn’t drink or smoke, and was vegetarian. Not common for 20-year-old! I was super stoked about getting to know him. I guess I’ve always been very health conscious and reliable. When I think of ” bad boys” I think of harmful habits and lack of kindness and awareness which are huge turn offs for me. My current boyfriend was smoking cigarettes when we first met but he was lovely and amazing so I didn’t say anything about it because initially it was not necessarily my business. Luckily he picked up on my healthy vibe and announced one day that be was quitting. I was very happy! Now he’s a perfect nice guy! 

  14. 14
    Julie McGauley

    For me, when I got the guy that was “too cool “then I conquered something internally. It was an insecurity cycle that unconsciously ruled my love life until EMK came alongand cut that life source and now I’m with a nice guy who makes my life super happy and very “nice ”
    go with the nice guys ladies, it’s a much happier choice. 
    PS after this realization, every “too cool”/selfish egotistical a-hole makes me wanna SpiT! 😀

  15. 15
    ScottH

    I would bet that the majority of these sexy characters have bad traits for the same reason that most of the local news shows are filled with totally inconsequential bad/negative news.  People aren’t interested in watching good, drama free things.  They want to watch drama to complement their lives, but that doesn’t mean that they want to live the drama and be the bad news story.  Just my $0.02

    1. 15.1
      Joe

      Schadenfreude?

    2. 15.2
      starthrower68

      Speak for yourself Scott. I have a 13 year old daughter. That’s more drama than I can take. 😉

  16. 16
    Rachel

    The article is more informative than the infographic. The primary takeaway is that men should derive their self-worth and their happiness from their commitment to their own values and principles instead of seeking validation from women. That’s where nice guys (as opposed to kind men) go wrong. If you need my approval and attention to feel good about yourself–if I’m the best thing in your life–then what could you possibly have to offer me?
    I have never liked bad boys, but I do like a man who has his own life and standards that he won’t compromise for me. I like having to put in a reasonable effort to earn his respect and trust. 
    The article goes off the rails in a few places (e.g. advocating that guys hang up mid-conversation just to seem unattainable, which is sadistic and stupid), but makes several sound points that should be heeded by both sexes. 

  17. 17
    Karl S

    Bad boys definitely have the edge in the short term, but I take solace in the fact that Hugh Jackman has also been voted one of the sexiest men alive and he’s the epitome of “nice guy”.

    What us non-bad boy’s need to take from this is that we can be sexy too if we take all the positive qualities that these TV characters have, like being driven and passionate and unafraid to take risks to get what we want in life. Also, to do more pushups!

  18. 18
    Morris

    Reminds me of the studies done(okcupid?) where it turns out women prefer men showing off their abs in online dating profiles. Women SAY they don’t like it but stats say otherwise. Gotta love those stats!

    You’ll continue to see abs in online dating profiles because they work. And I have a feeling you’ll continue to see the bad boy mentality flourish because it works.

    The only fix would be to stop rewarding bad behavior.

    1. 18.1
      Stacy

      Morris,

      Interestingly enough, this is one of the biggest turnoffs and I have never come across a woman who said this was sexy…ughhh…If women usually say they DONT like it, where did OKCupid get the stats that back up that they DO like it? There goes the contradiction. I am always wary about stats. Also, we don’t know the size of this so called study.  

        1. Stacy

          Morris,
           
          I can see why this is true. I am in my mid 30s now and a 35 year old man still putting up ab shots will be a huge turnoff for me regardless of how hot said abs are. Also, I must admit that the men who look away and don’t smile thingy can be appealing as long as he doesn’t look angry (in a profile online).  However (and this may be a weird quirk of mine), if I see a man approaching me in real life without a happy smile plastered on his face, it will be less appealing. However, I guarantee you that any man, smiling or not, that is attractive will get attention.
           

  19. 19
    Adelaide

    Evan, I think the answer to the riddle is the combined egoism/lack of self esteem that women sometimes indulge in, that leaves us thinking, “But maybe I AM THE ONE for whom he will bring out his inner beauty/devotion/fidelity!!” Which is obviously craz-y.   

  20. 20
    Noquay

    Ironically, I dumped a guy a few months back precisely because he WAS damaged.  Now it’s OK to have experienced trauma, we all do at some point in life; not OK to not fully deal with it and blame others or remain in denial.  I find psychos, broodies, etc something to avoid, regardless of looks. What I think women are attracted to are the dudes looks and indications of success and overlooking the problems. These TV dudes, I assume, are hot. No one would take on a “bad boy” who wasn’t. Like others stated, it’s a lot about genetic hard wiring. Evolutionarily, we are still hunter-gatherers

    where men took down big game, made war, and women pretty much did everything else. Unlike men, many of us chix cannot have sex with someone we are not attracted to and yep, are almost instinctively repelled by guys that are barely supporting themselves and/or are obviously unhealthy. From a strictly biological standpoint, huge liabilities.  As for nice; that term has a multiplicity of meanings from someone who has manners, is polite, caring to someone who is basically a loser, a doormat, incredibly clueless socially or horribly boring. Most of us chix love a guy with manners, articulate and with some degree of social skill. However, the guy living a small life, not involved in anything outside work and TV when he gets home, the socially inept, the crude, the unkempt, will always be passed over in favor of someone more alive, dynamic.

  21. 21
    Sasha

    This issue really speaks to me as I find myself currently hung up on a guy I have ‘great chemistry’ with, but he actually showed very little interest in me when we wne tout on a few dates. Reading Evan’s blog really helped me do the basic arithmetics on this one: ok, so he’s charming and witty and you have that great vibe when you spend time together, but does he give you the feeling that you really matter to him? Does he call you and show interest in what you do? Does he make an effort to make you feel comfortable? The reality is that he doesn’t do any of those things. The reality is, in fact, that I spend more time waiting for him to ask me out and anxiously deciphering his ambivalent cues, than I do enjoying this ‘great vibe’. At the same time  I have also met a man who is the typical ‘nice guy’. Although I don’t have that sense of ‘high’ when I’m with him, he is actually sweet, reliable, and a genuinly good person. And although he is introverted and does not have the kind of charisma that just captivates you immediately, he is actually really interesting and fun when you get to know him.
    I think women (I can only speak for women, because I am one, but men probably do this too) tend to confuse excitement with love. And yes: the mysterious, charismatic, dominant type brings more excitement. But the flipside of that excitement is the anxiety that comes from not being truly appreciated. Further, it’s one thing to be entertaining on dates, but being a loving partner is a completely different ball game.
    A big thanks to Evan for helping me see this difference. I hope you continue your writing about relationships as nice guys can surely use a little more campaigning on their behalf!

    1. 21.1
      Karl S

      I remember reading somewhere that the neurotransmitters involving in wanting/needing something are actually different to those that give the pleasure high, which is why so many drug/gambling/other kinds of addicts stop enjoying the activity but still feel compelled to continue doing it and suffer the withdrawals of avoiding it. I think the same effect happens when we get attached to people who give mixed signals because we’re constantly trying to recapture the original high we got when we first met them and they seem to hint at it being possible, but in reality they’re always just out of reach, leaving you anxious and frustrated but still driven to keep trying.

      1. 21.1.1
        Me

        Yes, yes, and yes!!!

        So much of what we do is based on how it makes us feel. I once asked my alcoholic father why he continued to drink if he ‘logically’ knew that there was nothing good that could come from it. He said he was chasing his first high.

        I’ve never made that addiction connection to romantic relationships, but it does make sense! When I’ve been attracted to men who are just out of reach, I hung on to the relationship much longer than I should have, hoping to get back that first high. Leaving those relationships (physically and mentally) has always been more difficult than it logically should have been. Those men (and their just out of reach/mixed signal qualities is not what I want), but (unfortunately) must be to what I am ‘attracted.’

        I’m not sure which came first, the fairy tale/romance novel (neither of which I have ever been a fan) or the feelings they invoke, but it is certain that what we ‘want’ and that to which we are ‘attracted’ are very different things.

        I believe this is true of both men and women (though men are not the fairy tale/romance novel demographic). When men list qualities they don’t ‘want’ in a partner (they don’t really want those qualities), but those are the qualities to which they are ‘attracted.’

        *I am speaking in general terms. I know that this does not apply to all people.

        1. m

          There have been experiments that replicate what you’re talking about.

          There is, I believe, dopamine and partial reinforcement involved. And rats.

          🙂

    2. 21.2
      355

      There’s no need to. I’ve given up for good. I can’t compete with the more charming guys who create that excitement.

  22. 22
    Alena

    would be fun if guys just applied that knowledge to reality and showed up in a vampire or werewolf costume with fangs at their next date. I would marry that guy even if he was short and poor just because of the high entertainment factor he´d bring into the realtionship. 😉
     

  23. 23
    Lia

    I have to admit, I don’t get the bad boy attraction. I never found the “bad boys” attractive. Brooding, mysterious, dark and damaged is BORING! It is self-indulgent and seems childish, all I can think is “get over yourself!” That being said, I have been drawn to men who turned out to be unavailable in one way or another. 
     
    I am in a relationship now with a man who is kind, loving, and easy to be with. He is very intelligent but does not need to show everyone how smart he is. He is funny but not in the “life of the party” way, we can laugh about almost anything and we laugh often. He is educated and financially successful, yet he likes a lifestyle that is simple, he does not feel the need to have all the material things that he can easily afford. He is one of the good guys and he makes our relationship a priority. I find that very attractive.

    1. 23.1
      josavant

      Totally agree with this Lia: “Brooding, mysterious, dark and damaged is BORING! It is self-indulgent and seems childish, all I can think is “get over yourself!” ”

      You will never see a generous and selfless guy act brooding, mysterious, dark, even if they have been damaged in some way. And haven’t we all been damaged in some way? It’s just that some of us get over it and don’t use it as an excuse to be self-centered, and that is the type of partner one should want.

  24. 24
    Kj

    It’s not so much the damaged and brooding qualities that women find attractive in these men but it’s the confidence and charisma they have! A strong leading man, vampire or otherwise, are what makes these types of men sexy. Confidence is always the sexiest quality in a person, IMHO. 

  25. 25
    Karmic Equation

     
     
    I think that women are attracted to bad boys because they free us to be bad girls. There’s a reason why there are so many movies with theme of wrong-side-of-the-tracks boy dating the preacher’s daughter.
     
    Women “dream of” marrying the stand up citizen, good provider, faithful man. The guy who inspires us to be better human beings and role models for our children.
     
    Women “fantasize” about the guy who makes us forget our responsibilities. Bad boys do that.
     
    I dated nice guys and married one.
     
    After I divorced, I lived with my reformed bad-boy bf for 6 years before being forced to call it quits. He couldn’t conquer his demons. He was sensitive and thoughtful. Something you wouldn’t expect a reformed bad boy to be.
     
    After him, I dated a definite bad boy and a bad boy wanna be, for about a year each.
     
    The bad boys remind you how to be young at heart. I needed that. And I also needed to NOT be emotionally invested as I healed from the demise of my 6-yr relationship.
     
    Dating bad boys when you’re older reaps benefits that dating bad boys when you’re young doesn’t. The former reminds us how to be young at heart. The latter embitters you towards men.
     
    If you’re divorced and have had children, date a bad boy or two, without expectations of commitment. There is something extraordinarily liberating about that. Give yourself permission to “be bad”. You won’t regret it. Just do NOT allow yourself to fall in love with said bad boy nor hope for a committed relationship with him. Live in the moment. Enjoy the freedom of being a bad girl. Don’t stop dating “nice guys” when you’re dating your bad boy. That’s part of what makes you “a bad girl”. 
     
    And just to be clear, I’m not advocating cheating. If said bad boy asks you to be his gf, say no. No matter how high the chemistry. Stay a free agent. If said nice guy asks you to be his gf, well, that’s up to you. Don’t cheat on him if he asks. But if you want to continue to see the bad boy, then you have to say no to the good guy. You’re in the driver’s seat. Do what you want. You’re not beholden to either man if YOU don’t commit to them. That’s also part of being a “bad girl.”

     
     

  26. 26
    Paula

    As a woman, the men I like are men like Jon Stewart because he’s funny. My #1 crush now is Ed Snowden. After watching citizenfour, he came across as incredible intelligent, thoughtful and has nice teeth. He is also good looking. Not all women have the same type of crush but for me, if a man is attractive and funny, I will crush but the men that are the bad boys have never been my type. I liked Snowden because he’s a man with courage. I’m Canadian so please don’t bash me as a traitor because lots of us feel he did what’s best for the people

  27. 27
    Stacy

    Karl,
    Any hint of being damaged and I run as fast as my 6 inch heels would allow. Yes, I get the hell out of dodge. And again, the fact that these characteristics in the bad boys are deemed ‘irresistible’ according to this study, does not mean that a woman will want to settle down with said bad boy (EVEN if she wants to date him temporarily). Also, we don’t know the size of the study or the age group(s) asked – which can be a factor.
    I would be so bold to say that women aren’t generally attracted to damaged men. However, by the time she realizes he is damaged, she may have fallen in love and may in turn choose to stay hoping that Mr. Damage may change because he may have the other positive characteristics you mentioned. But, it’s not different than a man sticking around because the girl is hot! I dont think one gender outweighs the other in this. The majority of women that I come across do not like damaged men and especially over 30 when ready to settle down. We may want to screw him (although I personally have no interest in doing that), but just like men, we would rather settle down with someone far different! So they say that’s who they would like to date…again, we dont know the demographic so the study is lacking. Additionally, many men also date women they know they dont want to marry. I don’t see the difference between the two genders.
     

    1. 27.1
      Karl R

      Stacy,
      Perhaps you and your friends avoid “bad boy” traits like they’re some form of communicable disease. There are certainly women who do. If you’re one of them, it seems reasonable that you would have surrounded yourself with like-minded women.

      But there are no shortage of women who are drawn to those traits. The techniques that pick-up artists use depend on women being drawn to those traits. Evan and I both agree that “nice guys with an edge” are the most successful at dating.

      I deliberately cultivated “an edge” by exhibiting several of the negative traits on that list … in moderation.

      Even with mature, secure, stable women, this has never counted against me. And in most cases, it has worked in my favor. (With some women, I wasn’t sure.)

      Stacy said:
      “Additionally, many men also date women they know they dont want to marry. I don’t see the difference between the two genders.” 

      With men, that decision usually boils down to two things:
      1. She’s hot.
      2. The sex is great.

      It’s really that simple. We don’t consider mysterious, brooding, or a dark and troubled past to be some sort of romantic / fantasy bonus.

  28. 28
    Mickey

    Looks like niceness/goodness is just one more disability and one more strike if you’re a guy. Deep sigh…

    1. 28.1
      Clare

      If you read what everyone is saying you will realize that girls DO dream of settling down with and marrying the nice guy. Women DO want men who are nice. BUT they want them to have backbone and confidence, not be pushovers.

      1. 28.1.1
        jeremy

        @Clare
         
        I think the problem that you and Mickey are having regarding this point is that you are each using the same word, “nice” to mean different things – and thus are talking past each other IMHO.
         
        When a man is told that he should be nice in order to attract women, he considers the way he hopes a woman would be “nice” in order to be attractive to him.  And what he figures he must do in order to be “nice” is to put the woman’s needs before his own.  He must anticipate her feelings, her desires, her needs.  In cognitive psychology (or personality theory), we would call this using the function Fe (extroverted Feeling).  People whose personalities are dominant in Fe typically put the needs/wishes of others before their own – even to their own detriment.
         
        Men consider that this is what would make them seem “nice” to women, because it is what makes women seem “nice” to men.  A woman who puts a man’s needs before her own is very very attractive to most men.
         
        Problem is, such a man is not generally attractive to most women.  Most women are attracted to men whose personalities are dominant in Fi (introverted Feeling).  This means that they primarily consider their OWN wants before the wants of others.  Men whose personalities are dominant in Fi are confident, they have backbone, they know what they want and go after it.  But they do NOT put the needs of others before their own.  In fact, personalities dominant in Fi abhor Fe, and only use it when it confers them some tangible advantage (in other words, they will be “nice” when it gets them something in return).
         
        When a woman says she wants a “nice guy with balls” she does not use the word “nice” to mean what men think.  She does not mean that she wants a man who will put her needs before his own – that would make him a push-over in her eyes.  It would make a woman attractive to a man, but not a man attractive to a woman.  In the expression “a nice guy with balls”, it is the “balls” part that is attractive, not the “nice” part. 
         
        What this means, in cognitive psych terms, is that women want a man whose personality is dominant in Fi, but who occasionally uses Fe regarding his girlfriend/wife.  They don’t realize that this is an inherent contradiction – these are 2 different men.  The bad-boy (Fi-dominant) and the nice-guy (Fe-dominant) are 2 different men.  The “nice guy with balls” is Bigfoot.  He doesn’t exist.  One cannot be dominant in both Fi and Fe.  If one is Fi-dominant, he may demonstrate “niceness” as long as it is in his interest to do so, but it will not be his nature to be giving.  If one is Fe-dominant, his nature will be to be giving, but women will not perceive him as having “balls”.  He may learn what women expect and demonstrate it on occasion, but it will not be his nature.
         
        Nice guys can learn to “up the alpha” and act more dominant, but it will never be their true nature.  Alpha men will never learn to “up the beta” and act nicer – they have no motivation to do so.
        One type of man objectively makes the best husband and father.  The other type of man is the one that women objectively find more attractive.  They are 2 different men.  I wish that people would stop the “where are all the nice guys with balls” stuff.  Realize that this is a contradiction in terms.
         

        1. Karmic Equation

          I agree, Jeremy. Women want the two types of men in one body 🙂
           
          But I disagree that she wants the guy to NOT be a pushover for her.
           
          In fact, I would say the opposite. Most women want a guy to do whatever SHE wants him to do (don’t look at other women, don’t use porn, don’t be friends with his ex, don’t fart too much, yada yada) but stand up for himself with OTHERs. Have balls when talking to his boss. Have balls to stand up to his mother.
           
          And this man doesn’t exist. If he’s the kind of guy who’ll stand up to his mom, he’ll also be the guy who says “I’m going to watch porn because I like it”. So women have to pick. You want a guy who has balls? Which means she’s NOT going to be able to “control” him. Or does she want the guy she can control? Which means others can also easily control him.
           
          As Evan says, men don’t go both ways.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Close, but still a little binary, KE. You can be a guy with balls who is still sensitive to others’ needs. That’s what I try to be, and I consistently make the small sacrifices to be a good husband and father, rather than asserting my will all the time.

        3. Clare

          Sorry Jeremy, but I cannot agree with you.
           
          Your theory seems to state that people who are kind, generous and loving cannot also be assertive and have boundaries. This is blatantly untrue. I am such a person. Being kind and loving and being capable of being selfless does not equal putting others’ desires ahead of your own in 100% of cases. This is such a vast generalization you are making that it boggles my mind that someone so clearly intelligent as you cannot see it. I am capable of putting my boyfriend’s needs ahead of my own if he wants us to go and visit his family and I would rather stay home and ride my horse. In this case, I am making a conscious decision to give up what I would rather do in order to make him happy.
           
          This same principle will not apply however if we have plans for our anniversary and he would rather stay home and play video games. Me capitulating to his wishes in this scenario would signify that I am a “pushover”.
           
          Two very different scenarios. People who are kind and loving with relationship skills, yet who are ALSO not pushovers, can tell when it is appropriate to assert boundaries and firmness, and it does not make them any less kind or loving.
           
          This is a long way of saying that I think your example of a pure Fe person (someone who would put other people’s needs ahead of his own 100% of the time) is a figment of some psychologist’s imagination.

        4. Stacy

          How I define ‘nice’: Kind, considerate, giving, not a player, respectful
          How I define ‘guy with balls’: assertive, confident, not a yes man.
          I do not want a jerk who only thinks of his own needs before mine.  I think both of these men can exist in one man. I have met a few of them and my best friend (who is married) is one. I think when we are talking of two extremes, that theory is true but I don’t believe most women think of a guy who has balls as one has to have this overwhelmingly dominant personality.

      2. 28.1.2
        jeremy

        @Clare, you make a valid point and I realize that my post was a bit unclear.  The problem is that I am trying to describe something complicated in a limited space, so perhaps I’m not doing a good job of it (or perhaps you legitimately disagree).  Nevertheless…..
         
        Your post describes a very typical Fe-dominant viewpoint (not a bad thing, BTW).  Fe-dominant personalities rely very heavily on their perceptions of “roles.”  What is my role, and what is your role….based on the opinions and values of the society we live in or the groups in which we want to be accepted?
         
        A woman may perceive her role as a girlfriend/wife as involving visiting her man’s family.  She may perceive her man’s role as attending an anniversary dinner.  She expects herself to adhere to her role, and she expects her man to do the same – and in adhering to these roles, they demonstrate “niceness”.  Hence your examples – of course an Fe-dominant woman would choose to go to her boyfriend’s family over staying home to ride her horse.  If she stayed home to ride her horse, she would have no choice but to view herself as selfish through her Fe-lens.
         
        Similarly, of course the Fe-dominant woman would expect her boyfriend to go to the anniversary dinner with her and not stay home and play video games.  If he stayed home, she would have no choice but to view him as not adhering to his role and acting selfish, thereby showing disrespect to her through her Fe-lens.
         
        The Fe-dom asserts her boundaries while trying to stay kind, but both of those things – the boundaries and the kindness – are defined by her  Fe-based values rather than her own internal emotions.  She acts the way she believes it is PROPER to act.
         
        To contrast, what an Fi-dominant man wants when he says he wants a nice woman, is a woman who puts his needs first regardless of what her “role” may be.  If she wants to go to church on Sunday morning and he wants to stay in bed and have sex, he wants her to want to stay with him, not to adhere to her role.  His perception of what makes her “nice” as an Fi-dom is different from an Fe-dom’s perception of what makes a person “nice”.  The Fe-dom expects niceness as an adherence to roles.  The Fi-dom expects niceness as being giving in SPITE of roles.
         
        Women want a man who has boundaries, who does not put up with nonsense (including her nonsense).  A man who has confidence, who knows what he wants and goes after it.  Thus far, we are describing an Fi-dominant man.  Yet they also hope for a man who understands his ROLE and adheres to it, and by adhering to it he demonstrates his “niceness.”  That describes an Fe-dominant man. 
        The confident man, the man that women are attracted to, will demonstrate kindness when his own emotions dictate he should do so, not when his role dictates.  And Fe-dominant women may well not perceive that as the kind of “niceness” they hope for. And similarly, when an Fi-dominant man is trying to demonstrate his own niceness to attract a woman, if he does so by violating his ROLE as a man (in acting needy), she will not perceive that as being nice, but rather as a role violation.  Unattractive.
         

        1. Clare

          Ok Jeremy, I understand what you are saying.
           
          I dated such a man, an Fi-dominant man as you describe him, and it lasted as long as it did mostly because I did not mind him asserting his wishes and demonstrating his niceness when he wanted to, and I mostly did not hold him to a traditional role as my boyfriend. These things were possible because I am very independent and I probably don’t have the same extensive needs that some women have.
           
          HOWEVER, this will only take you so far. There comes a point in every relationship when you have to be able to put the needs of the relationship or your spouse above your own. In this case, sticking purely to your own version of what your feelings or wants dictate you should do, as you described the Fi-dominant man, really comes across as and boils down to selfishness which jeopardises the relationship. To take an example from my relationship which I described above, the father was extremely ill with cancer in intensive care. I was distressed and wanted my boyfriend to come with me to visit him (not necessarily every time, but once or twice for moral support would have meant the world to me). He refused because he had never met my father before and thought it would be awkward. Any attempt on my part to appeal to his sense of support and compassion just made him dig in his heels further.
           
          This one incident demonstrated many things to me. But for the purposes of our discussion, a man who is Fi-dominant who is incapable of EVER being selfless is either going to leave a string of failed relationships in his wake, or will have a very unhappy marriage/relationship.
           
          So basically, yes, many of the qualities that an Fi-dominant man possesses may be attractive in the short term, but if he is incapable of ever tempering them with selflessness under any circumstances, his relationship success is likely to be very limited.

        2. jeremy

          @Clare,
          I agree with you 100%.  That is why I wrote that, objectively, Fe-dominant men make better husbands and fathers – their dependable propensity for giving makes them so.
           
          But to clarify, it is not that an Fi-dominant man can not be giving or appear selfless.  Rather, such a man will generally only do so when he perceives some benefit to himself in doing so.  That benefit may be benign – it may be the benefit of preserving a relationship that matters to him.  But his motivations matter, because when the motivations no longer exist, the behavior will no longer exist.
           

        3. Clare

          Yes, I see what you are saying.
           
          Going back to my boyfriend above, he was certainly capable of being generous and caring, but only as you say when there was some benefit for himself – whether it was that he got pleasure out of giving in a certain way, or whether he feared losing me and momentarily capitulated to my wishes. He could be kind and nice, and yet he was very different from another ex of mine who would do things purely to make me happy (yet was also not a pushover).
           
          It is interesting because it would seem that for such a man, the Fi-dominant man as you describe him, for a relationship to work he must really value the relationship or person very highly indeed.

        4. jeremy

          Clare, you wrote: “It is interesting because it would seem that for such a man, the Fi-dominant man as you describe him, for a relationship to work he must really value the relationship or person very highly indeed.”
           
          Not necessarily.  He would just need the relationship to satisfy his needs. For as long as it does, he will hang around and prioriitze it.
           
          So often what happens is that a young Fe-dominant woman and Fi-dominant man get together.  She is attracted to him because he is a confident go-getter.  He is attracted to her because she puts his needs first.  She does so because her ROLE, at that stage of the game, is the role of the good girlfriend who wants a steady boyfriend and husband.  She will see it as her role to prioritize his needs, and will do so.  And he will enjoy that very much and become accustomed to it.  Hence the often-heard comment by men “I married her because she put my needs first.”
           
          What is often missed is that the role of the Fe-dominant woman will change at different stages of her life, and she will see it as natural that her priorities should change as well.  The wife has a different role than the girlfriend.  The new mother has a different role than the wife.  The mother of older kids has a different role still.  And with each new role, priorities change – he will no longer be priority #1 – and she will see that as the natural state of “growing up.”
           
          He will not see it so.  His personality does not change with roles, but rather is based on his feelings.  So as long as his feelings have not changed, he will remain the same guy he always was.  He will wonder what happened to the woman he married, and not understand that she expected her priorities to change with her role, and thus no longer puts his needs as priority #1.  She will wonder when he will “grow up” like she did.  He never will.  He was fully grown when they first met.
           
          Hence the most common joke about marriage – men marry and hope their wives never change….and they do.  Women marry and hope their husbands will change….and they don’t.

      3. 28.1.3
        Mickey

        Clare:

        So they say…

  29. 29
    Ames

    That is not me at all. I grew up with an alcoholic, sometimes angry dad and I’ve always dreamed of being in a quiet, stable relationship with a man who is also a best friend. I’d take something a bit boring over crazy any day. I haven’t found that guy yet, and sadly I seem to be pursued mostly by men who are troubled or married, and planning to stay that way. Walter White and Gus Fring have their sexy character personas but at the end of the day I want the Dan Connor to my Roseanne. 

  30. 30
    KM

    Super interesting question. This very much applied to me until a broken engagement a couple of years ago forced me to grow up, so I wanted to ponder this one out for my own benefit. 

    I used to like characters like Tristan from Legends of the Fall or Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind. My favourite was the poor boy who no one’s family approved of but love overcame. I was reading books and watching movies before I had an interest in boys and I think it skewed my perception of how love might look.

    I think I liked the idea that they might not possess a lot of qualities that the stereotypically alpha (and mainstream) guy might have: materialism, preoccupation with image and status and most importantly, a sense of entitlement where women are concerned.  You actually think they wouldn’t womanise on you because they’re lucky to have you and they are more likely to know it.  There’s also a lot of freedom in the idea of being with a bad boy: that they’d be more likely to let you be who you want to be because they know from personal experience how wrong society’s judgment is. 

    Yup, it’s pretty immature and it’s clearly rooted in a certain amount of vanity but that’s the stuff that used to be in my head.  

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