Why Girls Like "Bad Boys"

It's an age old question. The timeless lament among boys and men as they watch the "love" of their life falling into the arms of an openly lewd scumbag. A "bad boy," who will never be able to truly appreciate her; who doesn't even care that she has "six different smiles," notice that when she rubs her right arm it's because she's feeling insecure, or that the necklace she's always wearing is special because it was her mother's.

Maybe he even puts her down in front of people and then laughs about how embarrassed she looks. Maybe he disappears without even shooting her a quick text, and she gets frantic with worrying over him.  Either way he doesn't deserve her.

But there she is, her hand is on his arm. She's laughing at his jokes, jokes you don't like that she gets; and if you even dare to say something she instantly jumps to his defense. So you're left in the dark, wondering why she never noticed you, standing, waiting, and always there for her

This post is a brief and partial explanation as to why. It isn't complete, nor is necessarily true to everyone, it's simply what I've observed and read on the matter. 

Guess which guy told Kate Bosworth that he liked her.
1) He probably asked. Not to be unkind, but did you? If not then that is probably a large part of the reason why she isn't in a relationship with you. "Bad Boys" have a lot of nerve, you probably hate that about them. They're rude, they're abrupt, and they frequently blurt things out. It's unbearable. 

Unfortunately for you, when it comes to getting into a relationship the part where you ask is imperative. While it isn't healthy, a large majority of girls will take a "bad boy" over "nobody."  Crystal Lindell wrote in a short article "I can only hope that someday I meet Mr. Right and he will be single, interested, straight, and sexy. Until then, I'll just stick it out with Mr. Wrong" If you insisted on merely dancing around the issue then she really has no reason not to accept the romantic attention of someone else. 

A bad boy will beg, pester, tease, and even taunt a girl to get her to go out with him. If the closest you've ever gotten was putting out a feeler, by very casually mentioning, quite off-handedly, that you're going to a movie and if she wants to come she can, then it is hardly surprising that she isn't in a relationship with you.

Girls like specifics. You may have observed at some point that they enjoy talking about things in great detail, and they like it when you do so too. That is why saying "ditto" is not the same as "I love you." They want you to say "date," and they want you to say why.  Even if they're interested. Even if they wonder about whether you like them. Until you say as much, in so many words, all the "waiting" and "being there" that you've done will be treated simply as friendliness. 

2) It makes them feel exceptional. I know this sounds rather mean, but it's honestly true. While a girl may find it sweet that a nice, respectable boy with good grades has a crush on her, unless you make that mean something, it hardly compares with the thrill and the smug feeling of having a "bad boy" like them. 

Because you see, "bad boys" don't like people; they're mean, they make fun of everybody, and in their book no one is good enough. So when a "bad boy" starts paying attention to a girl, to her, the feeling is comparable to if Simon Cowell likes your singing. It's a huge deal and the flattery of it has a high likelihood of covering a multitude of sins.  

Nice boys, on the other hand, are nice to everyone. You open the door for the girl you like, and you also open the door for old ladies, and old men, and three year olds, and strange looking people that are leaving the store at the same time as you. Unfortunately for gentility, at their core, girls have a deep seated desire to be "the only exception" for a guy. The idea that what you're doing for them is something you'd do for "anyone" feels unsatisfying. 

They want the way you treat them to be tangibly different from the way you treat everyone else; because if you can treat them like anyone else it's hard to believe that you really care that much. As Shaunti Feldhahn writes in her book For Men Only: a straightforward guide to the inner lives of women, "Buried inside most women -even those in great relationships- is the latent insecurity about whether their man really loves them. . . [I'm] not talking about what she knows logically, but rather about the feeling that rises up." 

3) Bad Boy's are exciting. There is a very large thrill factor in all of this. A "bad boy" might have a motorcycle or take her to a not-so-good side of town. Maybe he won't, but you can bet he's going to do something unpredictable. You nice guys go more along the lines of sweet and nice; and that is "sweet" and "nice." Unfortunately for you girls want to have a story to tell that's more interesting than "we went to a movie." 

A girl at womanspassion.com explains it saying, "Good guys float downstream. They like to order in everything. . . Bad guys just live.  A good guy will stand by your door and knock on it so timidly that you will not hear him. And he will go home then. He is polite and civilized. A bad guy will go to you anyway. If you do not open the door, he will most likely enter through the window. This is even more interesting."

Note: while climbing through windows may make
 things exciting, it may also result in being hit with a
frying pan, tied up, and having your "smolder" broken.

The excitement and nervousness produced by a "bad boy's" unpredictability also ends up doing huge favors on a psychological level that girls don't even realize. Instinct acts before emotions do, and the brain only determines the cause of a response afterward. Scientists have determined that when a frightening experience occurs in the presence of someone of the opposite gender the brain will determine that the heart was racing because of an attraction to that person.  So, if a girl experiences nervousness around a guy, her brain will assume that her heart was racing because she likes him, rather than because, say, he kept playing around with a switchblade. 

4) It's forbidden. This relates closely to the thrill factor. Forbidden is always exciting. It's secret, the emotions are high, and the tension is so thick the air practically sings. That's part of the reason why the passionate, hushed, and hurried declarations of love between Romeo and Juliet are so romantic. I read a story once, I can't remember where, in which two parents loathed the boy that their daughter was dating, but rather than forbid her from seeing him they took the opposite approach and pushed and pushed and pushed the relationship until it lost all of it's excitement. The couple parted ways.

There is no quicker way to kill a romance than to take all the thrill and excitement out of it. And no better way to turn it into a blazing inferno than to try to blow out the flame. 

Even Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the proper but imaginative Anne of Green Gables series knew of this, as she writes in Anne of Windy Poplars"I picked Jarvis Morrow out for Sibyl when they were kids. . . Then I laid out my plan of campaign. I knew the Morrows. . . the men don't want things they can get easily. And they're determined to  get a thing when they're told they can't. . .  So I forbade Jarvis to come near the place and forbade Sibyl to have a word to say to him. Talk about the charm of the uncaught! It's nothing to the charm of the uncatchable."

5) It's part of an instinctive desire for protection. "Bad boys" have a dangerous edge to them. They certainly are jerks, but they're jerks who are quite secure and well established in their jerk-hood. They picks fights, but they also win them. And no matter how loudly the feminists protest, women have an instinctive desire to find someone who is powerful enough to protect them. Whether a "bad boy" actually will do so is another matter, the point is that he acts like it.

A study in France showed that when a man touched a woman's arm lightly when asking to dance, or for her number, he was more likely to receive a positive response than a man who had simply asked. When the women were interviewed afterward they rated the men that touched them as more dominant, as well as more attractive physically.  

This is Mike, don't feel bad if he doesn't ring any bells,
I don't remember him either.
All of you bashful and unassuming boys are very cute and charming. But for a girl who wants someone that will look out for her, a domineering "bad boy" feels like the better option. The "Twilight" books demonstrated this with  Bella Swan's clear preference for pushy and overly assertive boys like Edward and Jacob over unassuming Mike Newton (if you've never even heard of Mike, then well, my point is made all the more). 

6) It feels like Beauty and the Beast. Another tendency women have is a desire to redeem people, well actually, mostly boys. As Lindsay Ellis puts it: they just love "an arrogant little [jerk] with just a hint of possible redemption. Girls love [this] because that means they get to fix him, and women love men they can fix.''  

TV Tropes explains how these "types" appeal to the strongest womanly instincts: "the stoic, silent guy is a mystery waiting to be solved; the Troubled But Cute youth with a tragic past is a woobie needing comfort; he's tough enough to be a girl's protector, but vulnerable enough to need her to redeem him as well."

You boys may scoff at this feminine weakness, but we women scoff when you all decide to flock to the clingy, emotionally needy girl. You know who I'm talking about, the one who can remember how many times she's cried in the past week and always says she "feels so alone." This is due to your similar need to "save the girl" and be a "knight in shining armor."

In conclusion.  I want to conclude this cautiously because there are a lot of wrong ways that this information could be used.  This post was not written to be a how-to for you boys.  I didn't explain the whys and wherefores so that you can go out and play "bad boy" to get the girl you like. Many of these attractions are destructive plain and simple and others can easily become destructive if not approached correctly. On the other hand, the root cause of many of these "feminine preferences" are not entirely wrong. The key is for both guys and girls to find a mature balance.

Because while I'm not advocating the 'bad boy' approach, I do appreciate that courage that is seemingly intrinsic in bad boys. Despite their faults--bad boys have one thing going for them; they're daring. And girls like that.

It really isn't asking that much for a girl to expect a guy to say upfront that he likes her and would like to take her on a date. If he doesn't have that much confidence in himself, where is he going to get the nerve to stand up for her? Girls should have the strength and self-confidence to realize that being with Mr. Wrong is not a better option than being alone, and that giving her heart to anyone who will look twice doesn't make her much of a prize to be won. 

Any guy should be capable of demonstrating that his interest in the girl he's dating is unique from his relationships with everyone else, without neglecting the rules of common courtesy. He should also be able to make their dating interesting and exciting without breaking the law or putting either of them in danger. Most girls are warned that the "courtship" phase of a relationship is when a guy is the most attentive, if a boy can't even manage to make that phase of the relationship exciting what do you think the she's going to imagine it would be like in a few years?

This is the exception.
Guys and girls should have the sense to realize that most parents want what is best for their children. Of course there are exceptions; such as say, if your mother has always kept you in a tower because you have magical hair that glows when you sing. However, in general, the disapproval of people who have a history of caring is a very clear warning.


Anonymous said...

I think your last point is the key...women have a savior's complex. It's the nurturing, mommy side of them taken to whole new extremes. However, I have some issues with the rest of the blog.

Since when did Mr. Right become a boring pushover who is too timid to knock down the door and sweep his woman off her feet? Since when did he lack the words to make her his own, to set her apart from all others, to rejoice in her beauty while still continuing to be "nice" to the rest of the world? He may open the door for everyone walking out of the store at the same time, but his eyes smile at his woman in a way that says, "You are my girl. I do this for you - all of it. I do it to show you that I am a man worthy of your affection and trust." Mr. Right can protect his woman better than some "bad boy" because he understands the intimacies and fragilities of her heart and knows how to take care of them.

If your Mr. Right is just a pushover, go find a prince, a Knight in Shining Armor. And lest you say I'm too romantic, or idealistic - I'm marrying such a man. He is every bit a Mr. Right, and he is every bit a brave Knight who sets me apart from the rest of the world while still being kind, and chivalrous. And let me tell you - he didn't stand timidly outside my door while someone else romanced me. He swept in, valuing me so much that he wanted to make sure he got me before anyone else.

That is a Mr. Right.

Furthermore, I was perhaps even more bothered by your nonchalant attitude towards women "putting up with Mr. Wrong." What happened to encouraging women to settle for nothing less, to guard their hearts until someone truly worthy came along?

I appreciate your thoughts on the mystery of girls' attraction to the bad boys. It is a very real conundrum for many. But I do want to challenge you to broaden your dreams of who Mr. Right can really be.

Anonymous said...

i like it. thank you.

RyanDE said...

When I read your article I found it rather funny. As a young single guy I can identify with a lot of your comparisons. However, while all your reasons why girls like bad boys are very true, I don't feel that you covered the outcomes of such relationships.

Probably the most dangerous thing a girl can think is that she can change or fix a guy who has major problems. If you go into a relationship with that kind of mentality, whether you're a guy or a girl, you're asking for trouble. I've seen several marriages be destroyed because of this type of attitude. While a relationship with a bad boy may seem exciting to begin with, the long-term results are anything but that.

I realize that this article was written humorously and I appreciate that. However, I'm concerned that this article doesn't take into account the long-term consequences of going with the bad boy.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post, though as a girl, the part I could most relate to was the section about guys' need to "save the girl." It's hard watching guys go for the needy girls, especially when I've always viewed neediness as a weakness. I don't get how it's attractive, other than that it makes guys feel good to be so needed. Also, I thought many of your points about the brashness and courage of bad boys applies to bad girls. I'm kind of old school, so I feel like my hands are tied as a girl. I hate watching the outspoken girls get the guy just because they had no problem being the one to tell the guy first that they're interested. I may be waiting a long time, but I believe that the right guy won't need me to tell him I like him first. Like you were saying, I want the guy to have the guts to take initiative and express interest in a me--first! I'd like to think I'm worth the risk. Anyway, thanks for the interesting post!
~Still Waiting... =)

Anonymous said...

IRT response #1. Let me start by saying that I think you need to re-read with the realization that this post is not about praising the effective methods of “bad boys” or condemning the apparent trepidation of “nice guys.“ It is nothing more than an objective observation, which I believe is made clear at the beginning. That said, there is nothing in this post saying that Mr. Right is necessarily a boring pushover. However, due to the gentle nature of many of these “nice” guys which seem to be so hard pressed to get the girl they like, there is a certain hesitation to knock down any doors. It’s not because the guy is afraid or is a pushover. It’s because in his mind, it is a way of respecting the girl and he is trying to find a balance between expressing how he feels and kicking down doors (which isn’t very balanced).

This post isn’t about finding Mr. Right. It is not about identifying a Godly/chivalrous/moral man in any way. It is simply an objective explanation of why such men are sometimes looked over and passed over for someone less deserving.

As far as being concerned with her nonchalant attitude toward girls putting up with Mr. Wrong, I also believe you are confusing observation with approval.

Anonymous said...

It seems that the underlying truth to topics like this is simply that

a lady wants a MAN. not a boy (not even a bad boy)

Unfortunately, a lot of the males of this generation are becoming less like men and the females more like men (no offense)

What is a man? Look at it this way:

Why is it that we (ladies) dream of of this 'Prince Charming' guy? Does he not come from the numerous fairy tales we've read/watched since our childhood?

Are not the men in those fairy tales presented as men of confidence, courage, strength, chivalry, humility, purity, chastity, honor, leadership, sacrifice, tenacity and more??

That is what a man is.
This is what a man should be
and what they used to be more-like.

Let's bring that back.


Anonymous said...

You forgot something. Good girls like bad guys cause the good guy will always be there for her! It happens to me in high school, I notice the beautiful, perfect good girl loves to talk to me and be with me when I was around, but she chooses the bad guys over me!?! I spoke with my father (something good guys do not do) and he innocently told me “When she comes around IGNORE HER! And if she began to talk to you, ask her for the last bad guy she was dating, then make up and excuse and leave!” I ask him are you sure I should do this? And he looked at me and said “just try it.” I say “what the hell” and I did it. The girl did not know what to do next. She broke up with the bad guy and she almost begs me to be with her. That was 25 years ago, and we been married 18. So, my advice is to be good, but not that good :).