Are Women Really Attracted to "Bad Boys?"


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"People like to do it when they're drunk," seems to be the thesis of a long-winded academic paper from Belgium's Ghent University.

Well... duh.

People are just more comfortable being drunk when doing something awkward, especially when nudity is involved. But the Ghent University team takes it all so seriously, and labels having sex while drunk a "short term mating strategy." What's more, they define "bad" boys as (specifically) guys who smoke and drink. But what about men who lie, steal, cheat, and beat up their wives and children? No matter. The Ghent team imagines that they are offering scientific evidence that women prefer "bad" boys. What is not wrong with this study? Common sense would suggest that we all want our partners to have pleasant attributes. 

In terms of dating and relationships, do nice guys really finish last? Not necessarily. Maybe that's just something losers say when they finish last.

Another study by another team of bored to death researchers showed that what women like in men is niceness and attractiveness. Niceness is more important for long term relationships, and attractiveness is more desirable in the short term. But again, doesn't this just make sense? And what about other qualities, like health? Or wealth? Or intelligence? Or humor? Has nobody measured those?

According to another study (Who pays for all these studies anyway?), women prefer men who are sensitive and kind, as opposed to aggressive and demanding.

Who knew?

We think these researchers need to get relationships. But seriously, the power of being nice cannot be underestimated. If you are kind and don't insult people, you are already doing your part. Best of all, being nice can actually change the way other people see you. Being nice can make you appear more physically attractive. Physical attractiveness is, after all, a very subjective sort of thing. From an evolutionary standpoint, beauty is an assessment of fitness value.

And yet, sometimes we find bad people attractive. These bad people we find attractive are called narcissists. They are very well groomed and care a lot about their looks. 

And sometimes, we do not even know why we find a person attractive. Sheer physical attractiveness is based on things like hip to waist ratio and bilateral symmetry. An experiment in which women view strangers might show strong evidence for this effect. However, in known partners, the effect is subtler, more personal, especially for women. The fitness value of a social partner is determined by both physical and non physical traits.

What's more, hypothetical men are not the same thing as real men. Asking women who they would like to date is not exactly very scientific, and not necessarily who she will date. On a separate note, women don't necessarily prefer the person they spend the most time with. No one hopes to marry an alcoholic. But sometimes, for whatever reason, a person may end up with one.

As for men, a (straight) man will generally get with whoever is the most physically attractive woman willing to have sex with him, whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

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