Do women really want "bad boys?"

While absent-mindedly clicking around on the Nestcape home page, I came across a little animated widget called “Why Good Girls Love Bad Guys?” Basically it’s a bunch of reasons why “good girls” are supposedly attracted to “bad boys.”

Each reason is more asinine than the next (click it and you’ll see what I mean.) If we are to believe the wisdom of this online widget, the average good girl wants a guy who pays no attention to her, wants to cheat on her with other women, isn’t interested in her well-being, is over-confident, arrogant, and poorly behaved.

I think most people would agree that’s horseshit. I mean, maybe a “bad boy” attitude can be charming sometimes, but what women who are attracted to that really want are guys who can turn it on and off. Right?

Or wrong?

Are a lot of women really into this whole “bad boy” thing? How far exactly do they want to take it? When your beloved bad boy decides to be a little too bad and maybe lay you out with a right hook, or OD on meth in your mother’s living room, or pawn your television to pay off his gambling debts, are you still going to be into this whole thing? Or will you maybe decide it’s time to give the bad guys a break and date someone more sensible?

My final verdict: women don’t really want a bad boy. Not a real bad boy. Because a real bad boy is, unfortunately, more likely to bring bad into their life than good. “Bad boys” in real life (not your Hollywood horseshit) are criminals, drug addicts, spousal abusers, and usually aren’t very attractive physically either. I don’t know what it is that this pop-culture concept of “bad boys” really should be called (naughty boys? kind-of-bad boys?) but it’s not very closely connected to real-life badness.

Anyone else care to throw in an opinion? Any bad boys? Good girls?

I think the fundamental appeal of the “bad boy” is in the woman’s dream of being able to help him overcome it. Men and women both like the romantic appeal of rescuing the one they love (at least, a lot of them do).

But whereas men may dream about slaying a dragon or beating up a bad guy in order to rescue the princess, women tend to imagine saving their prince from himself. He’s trapped in his own self-destructive ways and I will help set him free and he will love me yadda yadda yadda.

There’s probably also some truth to the surface appeal of the “bad boy’s” self-confidence and savoir-faire. But IME what really locks a woman into devotion to a “bad boy” is her belief in his underlying vulnerability and unhappiness, and his need for her to help him.

Such a woman would probably be better off investing in beachfront property in Nebraska, but she doesn’t realize that yet. She will.

I once read a theory that it confers an advantage in propagating the female’s genes. It postulates that young women (adolescent to young adult) prefer promiscuous men, whose children may also inherit a ‘promiscuity gene’, thus spreading the female’s genetic material through indiscriminate sex. It goes on to say that once she has produced one or more children with the promisicuity gene, the female abandons the “bad boy” in favor of a good provider to raise her children and give them all the benefits of a stable home. An interesting theory, if difficult to prove by anything but anecdotal evidence.

I think not. Whenever topics like this come up (we’ve had umpteen “Why do women prefer jerks to nice guys?” threads) I wonder who these women are that people are talking about. I was at a women’s college as an undergrad, have a largely pink-collar work background, and am now a grad student in a female-dominated field, so the vast majority of people I’ve known as an adult have been women. I’m hard pressed to think of a single one who has a thing for “bad boys”, unless “bad boy” is defined in the tamest, least-bad, pop-culture sense that you alluded to – guy with long hair, tattoos, and a motorcycle, etc. Nothing particularly “bad” about any of that, and no reason why a guy with those attributes couldn’t be a great boyfriend or husband.

I remember that I knew some girls in my teens who went for juvenile delinquent types because they thought they were “cool” or “tough”, but I don’t think that has much to do with the dating behavior of ordinary grown women.

Obviously some women do stay in relationships with abusive losers, but this seems to be mostly out of guilt, fear, or a feeling that they don’t deserve more/can’t do better, not because they actually want men to treat them badly.

It’s romantic horseshit. Women do not prefer “bad boys” in any sense that has any real meaning.

This discussion remidns me of the frequent discussions we have on “why is it so hard to work with women because they’re so underhanded” where a variety of anecdotal evidence is proferred, and yet if I sit back and honestly refllect on everything I’ve seen in my life, it’s obviously a load of crap. If I actually think about all the guys and girls I’ve ever known, and divvy the guys up between those who were honest, nice, kind guys and those who weren’t, the honest, nice and kind ones did at least as well and probably better in the woman department.

This silly idea comes from two sources:

  1. Romantic fiction, where the young virgin in a bustier is taken by the dashing pirate, and

  2. Bitter losers.

I hate to say it but in my experience this “why do women prefer jerks?” question is most often asked by passive and socially inept guys - nerds, geeks, losers, what have you - who are simply bitter that guys who AREN’T losers are getting dates. They’d call the nicest guy on earth a “jerk.” It’s simple jealousy.

I used to be one of those ‘nice guys’, I had plenty of female friends, some who were very close, wanted to have me around all the time, but none of them were interested in having sex with me. One evening I was coming back from a party with one of these friends and she was talking about her boyfriend, about how he was one of the worlds greatest hackers, how after he was busted for stealing millions of dollars from some bank’s network they let him go in exchange for doing work for the FBI, etc. I was tired of hearing about this pathological liar and I went off on her, telling her she was naive and self-delusional for believing those lies, how ridiculous the stories he was telling were, etc. She got upset, started crying, and for once I didn’t try to make her feel better, just kept driving. Few minutes later she asked if she could come spend the night at my apartment, and we became ‘friends with benefits’.

This boosted my confidence and changed how I treated women, and soon I was dating several women. I ended up getting married, but that didn’t work out, maybe because I didn’t maintain the arrogant and uncaring attitude with her and didn’t stay the man she married.

These days, I still sometimes fight my impulse to be too nice with women I date. The couple of times I have fallen in love since my divorce, the relationship fell apart, but the girls I don’t care about stay interested.

Hey, men all want sluts, except to marry. Why should women be any different?

Women: Have sex with a bunch of hot jerks, then marry a nice guy.
Men: Have sex with a bunch of hot sluts, then marry a nice girl.

Romantic horse excrement? That’s odd. I have an awful lot of female friends who gnash their teeth and say, “Why do I keep falling for the bad boys? I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help it!”

Yeah, it’s easy to deny that women like bad boys – just as it’s easy to say that women don’t like jerks. IMO, that’s a rather severe oversimplification.

This looks more like dueling opinions than an actual Great Debate.
Off to IMHO.

[ /Moderator Mode ]

Wrong conclusion.

I suppose I must be a “Bad Boy” because I have all of the characteristics of a “Bad Boy” as displayed in the frames of the OP’s referenced Netscape link.

However, I am not inept . I am not a nerd, a geek, a loser nor bitter.

One characteristic those frames did not say about “Bad Boys” like me is that we can pretty well control our inherited natural instincts of jealousy and greed.

Bad Boys know how not to fall in the Jealousy and Greed trap. Good Boys and Good Girls don’t know how to do that. And we bad boys put that lack of knowledge into good use, to get what we want from the relationship. You may call this “abusing a Good Girl”. I call it a win-win situation.

Another thing the Bad Boys (like me) know is that the Good Girls have a hidden agenda to ultimately get the guy under their control. We Bad Guys are very aware of this, but will never let the Good Girl know that we are well aware of what she is trying to do. We just let her try harder. And guess what: That turns her into a Hot Chick.

My 2 cents.

My opinion, FWIW.

I am a relatively “good girl”. I don’t cheat or lie to my partner; never have, never will. I also am not attracted to men who cheat, lie, or beat women.

But I am attracted to a man who will be a “bad boy” with me. Meaning, I am so irresistible to him that he can’t help but be a “bad boy” towards me. Does that make sense?

If he cheated, lied, or even hit me once, he would be out the door faster than the speed of light. If there are “good girls” that are attracted to men like this, I have no idea what is going on in their heads, unless it has something to do with their childhood and the way they were raised.

I’ve always liked bad boys, probably because I’m a bad girl. They’re fun to play with, party with, etc., but I always knew that they weren’t going to settle down and play house with me. That’s ok though, because that wasn’t what I wanted at the time. I love guys with tattoos and facial hair and long hair, musicians, artists, and of course, those who are a bit unstable.

But, like someone said above, I ended up falling for a good bad boy. He’s a musician with tattoos and facial hair, but he’s also a great guy. He holds down a good job, is an excellent father, and he’s the person I want to spend my life with. And I, myself, am a reformed bad girl. I grew out of the need to party all the time and live the wild life.

Still, in movies and on the street, my eye wanders to the bad boy. Face it, most fantasies aren’t based on vanilla. Guys fantasize about the wild girls, girls fantasize about the wild boys. I think it’s pretty simple.

Unfortunately, a lot of women make the mistake of trying to keep hold of their bad boys and ruin their own lives in the process. I tried that briefly with my daughter’s dad, and learned my lesson the hard way.

The explanation is simple: Men just can’t measure up to women’s ideal standards. In their terms, we’re all jerks. It’s just that, in some cases, it takes a few months of dating for the woman to figure it out.

Sorry, but I don’t buy that. The female friends of which I spoke weren’t just talking about decent men that didn’t measure up to their standards. No, they were dating genuine bad boys, as opposed to just-not-good-enough men.

In fact, some of them were quite clear about they types of guys that they should be seeking – stable, dependable, honest, and so forth. For whatever reason though, they found the opposite kind to be more exciting. Go fig.

All EX-boyfriends are “bad.” That’s why they’re exes.

Nope. I’ve broken up with some bad boys in my time, but there have also been some exes who were simply not a good fit, or who I just grew apart from. Just because you break up with someone, doesn’t mean they’re automatically “bad”, unless of course you’re still in the third grade.

Not to mention that some of the women in question were still dating these “bad boys.” They weren’t all ex-boyfriends.

Maybe you need to find some less messed-up female friends. None of my friends or aquaintances are like that, and I know a whole lot of women.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe I do need to find friends that are less messed-up. That’s not the issue at hand, though.

(Darn. Hit “Submit Reply” too soon.)

The issue is whether women do like bad boys or not. Several of my friends have confessed, with a measure of shame, that they are indeed attracted to this type. Some female dopers have said the same thing, in this very thread.

Do all women act this way? Certainly not. However, to say that women don’t like bad boys… well, that’s just a gross oversimplification. It’s on a par with saying “No, women don’t like jerks! There’s just no truth to that!” or somesuch nonsense.