What Women Really Love About Bad Boys

April 16, 2010


BAAAAAD

One of the most common themes in any discussion of relationships is the mystique of the Bad Boy. His ability to make women feel aroused is time-tested. To name just a few who have made women stupid:

  • James Dean
  • James Bond
  • Lenny Kravitz (dated Nicole Kidman)
  • Pete Doherty (long-time heroin addicted bf of Kate Moss)
  • Usher
  • Kevin Federline
  • Tony Soprano
  • Nelly
  • Hugh Grant playing the cad in Bridget Jones
  • Colin Farrell
  • Tucker Max
  • P. Diddy
  • Chuck Bass

Much has been written about the appeal of the Bad Boy. He exudes confidence, plays by his own rules, keeps women guessing. He has an element of mystery about him and an air of the forbidden. Women really don’t intend to bring these men home to meet their parents, and if they did, it’s pretty certain his manners would be rude. He doesn’t care about making a good impression. He’s selfish, and lacks empathy.

Peter Jonason of New Mexico university conducted a study of 200 male college students to determine why narcissists, risk-seekers and liars have not been made extinct due to their undesirable traits. Of course, what he found is that women want self-obsessed, lying psychopaths. Specifically, men with these traits had more sexual partners and a greater desire for short-term hookups.

So what’s up with thug love? Why do women find this collection of unappealing traits attractive? Traditional explanations focus on several popular theories:

  • Confident men are not needy, they don’t seek approval.
  • Bad boys are spontaneous, and live in the moment.
  • Bad boys are “hard to get” in terms of commitment, so women can’t resist the temptation to try and flip them.
  • Women perceive bad boys as emotionally damaged and want to be the key that opens them up to experiencing real intimacy.
  • Bad boys have social proof – they are so good at attracting women that they get new women all the time. Female intrasexual competition is in high gear.

There is truth in all of these statements, but they don’t answer the question WHY? What is it about liars, cheaters and egomaniacs?

DOPAMINE

Dopamine is the hormone that is called the pleasure chemical. It literally makes us high, in much the same way that cocaine and amphetamines do. We get a rush from it, and once we feel that, we want more. We keep doing the same things again and again, and we get addicted. It’s true for drugs, and it’s true for men too. What triggers dopamine? Risk. One researcher said that women can’t help but crave “an erotic edge of danger,” and it’s the word danger that holds the key to understanding sexual attraction. When women (and men) take risks, they feel a rush of adrenaline, which produces lust, and a rush of dopamine, which produces attraction. This would explain why even imprisoned convicts have women writing to them, and why no girl can resist a guy in a band or on a motorcycle. Even a difficult and brooding personality implies that a guy is headed for trouble, and this produces the rush that gets translated directly as a tingle to the vagina.

All humans respond positively to an increase in dopamine. In fact, a rush of it makes you feel like a rock star. Interestingly, researchers believe it causes anticipatory desire, or “wanting,” rather than consummatory pleasure, or “liking.” This makes a lot of sense. Most young women can relate to being hung up on someone they didn’t even particularly like.

In the risk taker’s brain, researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience, there appear to be fewer dopamine-inhibiting receptors — meaning that daredevils’ brains are more saturated with the chemical, predisposing them to keep taking risks and chasing the next high: driving too fast, drinking too much, overspending or even taking drugs.


Some interesting facts about dopamine:

  1. Dopamine provides feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement. It is a reward. It’s released by food, sex, drugs and aggression.
  2. Reduced dopamine in the prefrontal cortex is associated with ADD and social anxiety.
  3. Very high dopamine is found is schizophrenics. It’s also found in the manic behavior associated with bipolar disorder, and creates hypersocial and hypersexual behavior. Often people with bipolar disorder are reluctant to take medication, because they don’t want to give up those highs, even though the lows of depression are so painful.
  4. Dopamine is thought to play an important role in creativity, because it increases general arousal and decreases latent inhibition. Imagine decreased inhibitions from alcohol, added to the natural disinhibiting effects of dopamine, and it’s no wonder women make poor choices for short-term gratification.
  5. People with antisocial personality disorders are thought to have dysfunctional dopamine reward systems, causing them to pursue the reward without regard for consequences, no matter how terrible.
  6. Both sexes are vulnerable to the effects of dopamine, which creates some unholy pairings. Men who embrace risk-seeking and novelty are rewarded by the dopamine cycle. They in turn, attract women who share the same propensity. This is especially true in adolescence.

From the article What Makes Teens Tick:

“The sex hormones are especially active in the brain’s emotional center — the limbic system. This creates a “tinderbox of emotions,” says Dr. Ronald Dahl, a psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh. Not only do feelings reach a flash point more easily, but adolescents tend to seek out situations where they can allow their emotions and passions to run wild. “Adolescents are actively looking for experiences to create intense feelings,” says Dahl. “It’s a very important hint that there is some particular hormone-brain relationship contributing to the appetite for thrills, strong sensations and excitement.”

From an article in the LA Times on Brains in Love:

“Alas, when it comes to choosing mates, smart neurons can make dumb choices. Sure, if the brain’s owner is in her 40s and has been around the block a few times, she might grab her bag and scram. If the guy has reached seasoned middle age, he might think twice about that cleavage-baring temptress. Wisdom — at least a little — does come with experience.

But if the objects of desire are in their 20s, all bets are off. A lot will depend on the influence of Mom and Dad’s marriage, the gossip and urgings of friends, and whether life experience has convinced these two brains that what they’re looking at is attractive. She just might sidle over to Mr. Wrong and bat her eyes. And he could well give in to temptation.”

Men are just as susceptible to women when it comes to feeling attraction during periods of risk or danger. Again, Brains in Love:

“Aron conducted a study in 1974 at the gorgeous but spine-chilling heights of the Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia — a 5-foot wide, 450-foot, wobbly, swaying length of wooden slats and wire cable suspended 230 feet above rocks and shallow rapids.

His research team waited as unsuspecting men, between ages 18 and 35 and unaccompanied by women, crossed over. About halfway across the bridge, each man ran into an attractive young woman claiming to be doing research on beautiful places. She asked him a few questions and gave him her phone number in case he had follow-up questions.

The experiment was repeated upriver on a bridge that was wide and sturdy and only 10 feet above a small rivulet. The same attractive coed met the men, brandishing the same questionnaire.

The result? Men crossing the scary bridge rated the woman on the Capilano bridge more attractive. And about half the men who met her called her afterward. Only two of 16 men on the stable bridge called.”


That would explain the corollary of Bad Boy susceptibility: Why do men always seem to go for psycho b*tches? Guys say they hate drama, but they always go back for more. Dopamine!

It doesn’t matter where the risk originates. A couple may feel a mutual surge of attraction after riding a roller coaster together, or running out of a burning building together. You have an experience that gets your heart thumping, you look at the person you are with, and you define that feeling as attraction. Dr. Alex Benzer, author of The Tao of Dating, says that you can create opportunities to deliberately increase dopamine:

To evoke those feelings [of attraction], you want to engage in novel, exciting, physically and emotionally arousing activities, and pepper those activities with touch and direct eye-gazing. If you try to do those all at the same time, you may feel overwhelmed and look silly to boot. Better just to know that these are the things that you should be doing, and do them regularly until they are second nature.

I really don’t think it’s necessary to go bungee jumping or skydiving. Being unpredictable and spontaneous can trigger a dopamine rush. Do something new, impulsive, edgy, maybe even something forbidden. This is why people have sex in public! So do it in the stairwell. Go skinny dipping in the apartment pool late at night. Make a meal and eat it naked in bed.

As added insurance, there are also foods that increase dopamine levels:

  • almonds
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • dairy products
  • sesame seeds

Perhaps at some point we’ll be able to pop a dopamine pill that will have us hovering nicely between depressed and schizophrenic, and we’ll be free to choose partners based on traits other than the really bad and scary ones. In the meantime, it’s reassuring to know that experience teaches valuable lessons. As young women mature, most learn via heartbreak or humiliation that the traits of narcissism, risk-seeking and deceit are not conducive to good relationships. Young men with healthy psychological profiles can either wait it out, or work to introduce an erotic edge of danger all their own.

  • grerp

    I think flipping or "taming the rake" is a pretty heady fantasy for most women. But I've definitely seen the most psycho women harvest and consume nice guys – so maybe that's a fantasy for men too?

    So much of the perceived value of adrenaline addiction depends on context too. The same man might be a heroine in a wartime context and a felon in peace time – because the behavior is rewarded in one and punished in another.

    If you are risk averse does that mean that you do not crave dopamine or that your body produces enough of its own?
    My recent post Piece of Advice #22: Listen

    • I do think it's a fantasy for both sexes – because both sexes will enjoy that dopamine rush. In general though, there are more bad boys than bad girls. Narcissism has traditionally been 75% males, psychopaths are largely male, etc. There are also more outlets in society for men to engage in risky pursuits, whereas women by and large seem to focus on taking risks in relationships.

      I think your point about context is well taken. Society has a say in who is a bad boy and who is a really bad boy. Though as I say in the post, some women will actively pursue criminals. Supposedly, serial killers receive tons of love letters on Death Row, and Charles Manson had many female followers. However, I think most women want a hint of the dark traits, not a full blown psychopath.

      Your question about risk aversion is a good one. I believe that one's attitude toward risk is a hard-wired personality trait. Also, based on what I read, maturity and wisdom play a role, which is why teens are so susceptible to making poor decisions.

      And it depends on how you define risk averse. For example, all people who experience the early infatuated stages of a relationship are on a dopamine high. They are risking the intimacy and the payoff is huge. Giving a speech might produce it, or trying something new for the first time.

      Many women can see the appeal of the bad boy from afar, but wouldn't want to be in a relationship with one. They can get their dopamine in healthier, less destructive ways. If that were not true, we would live in chaos!

    • Sue

      My thinking is I am not a risk taker. I am a survivor. Bad boys in black leather jackets riding around on big motorcycles are a turn-off to me.

      • Hi Sue, welcome! You are a smart woman. Risk-taking is highly overrated, or at least over-romanticized. Much better to find a nice, stable guy who is interesting and fun to be with. I have never craved the fear, myself.

  • I hate to be the one to say "not everyone's like that" but there are counterexamples:

    Justin Bieber
    Zac Efron
    Will Smith
    Patrick Steward
    Elijah Wood
    Mike Rowe
    Larry King (serial monogamist, but very caring and humble in interviews)
    Denzel Washington
    Orlando Bloom
    Michael Bublé

    The bridge experiment is just an example of classical conditioning. Men naturally get scared when they see an attractive woman, so they associate fear with attraction. When they find themselves scared in the prescence of a woman, they are conditioning causes them to be attracted.

    • I agree – there is definitely room for confusion. That's why two people who run out of a burning building will find each other sexy for the first time. It's common in movies where the plot revolves around danger for the man and woman in it together to fall into a very sexy and intense affair. The point about the bridge experiment is that the dopamine rush that follows the fear felt so good that the men thought they wanted to date the women.

      As for your list, not all of those guys are sex symbols. Larry King? Please. Several of them are not bad boys, but have very, very pretty faces (Efron, Denzel, Bloom). I'm not saying good guys can't be sexy – but let's face it, very few women are jonesing for Tom Hanks.

      • Larry King has his groupies:
        http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/ladies-love-larry-king-

        I'm not a woman, but I can't imagine the guys on my list are suffering from their clean-cut images. Do you really think these Zack Efrom would be more popular with females if he played asshole game? Do you think Michael Bublé (who's fans are almost entirely female) annoys women when he makes cute songs like this:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AJmKkU5POA&pl

      • Larry King has his groupies:
        http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/ladies-love-larry-king-

        I'm not a woman, but I can't imagine the guys on my list are suffering from their clean-cut images. Do you really think these Zack Efrom would be more popular with females if he played asshole game? Do you think Michael Bublé (who's fans are almost entirely female) annoys women when he makes cute songs like this:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AJmKkU5POA&pl

        • You're absolutely right. Just as some people are more likely to abuse cocaine, alcohol, or any other substance, I imagine some people are more likely to become addicted to dopamine. Obviously, the bigger risk a guy is, the more risk-seeking orientation would be required from the woman. Many women may fantasize about a rough character, but would never choose to act on that. They're born with either the wisdom or the risk aversion.

          I can tell you from personal experience that I never fell for a jerk. However, I did find one guy in a band irresistible, in all his emo glory. I have a soft spot for creative types in general. They're not bad news, necessarily, but one might assume they're less stable and predictable than your average accountant. So hanging with those guys can feel like a bit of a thrill. On the other hand, my relationship with the singer songwriter was filled with drama and angst. The passion was fully spent within six months, and so was my interest in tortured types.

          Guys who are not assholes or bad boys understandably find women's interest in these guys upsetting. It isn't fair that a bad man would get rewarded with hot babes. To them I say just remember that you are relationship material, and those guys are not. Most women will learn to avoid them, just the way most stable people avoid shooting up heroin.

        • Esau

          "Guys who are not assholes or bad boys understandably find women's interest in these guys upsetting. It isn't fair that a bad man would get rewarded"

          There's certainly truth to this, but there's another, possibly more important, point that you should also keep in mind: in my experience and that of a lot of men I've known, what's worse than unfairness is incoherence. A world that is simply unfair or unjust can be annoying or depressing, but as long as the world's rules can be understood one can at least put in positive effort. What's really crazy-making and damaging, though, is when the rules of the world are hidden, shifting, inconsistent and impossible to grasp. (I'm not an expert, but I believe there's psychological research to support this point.)

          If women, as a group, were just more honest about what they actually want, then even if the world were still unfair to decent men it would at least be less maddening; and that, I think, would in itself be a significant step up.

        • Esau, I wish it were as simple as asking women to fess up about what turns them on. I wrote this post as much for women as men – we don't know why we like these guys! We feel the impulse toward them, but our brains take note of all the red flags. We decide not to respond to them, but then we find ourselves thinking about them, concocting fantasies about them. It's a slippery slope, and when the relationship is a disaster, women understand that the experience with a bad boy was hurtful, and that they don't want to repeat it. But they may still not understand exactly where they went wrong. That's why we see women who never seem to learn. (Of course, some women are just gluttons for punishment – they're getting what they need out of these dysfunctional relationships.)

        • Esau

          Susan — There's a subtle but real distinction between being able to describe _why_ you do something, which is often obscure even to one's self, and admitting the facts of _what_ you do, which any honest person should be able to. I'm only asking for the latter, which doesn't seem insurmountable to me.

          Meanwhile, you might appreciate this comic from the invaluable Carol Lay, which is exactly on this topic:
          http://www.waylay.com/Store/OrigPages/643.html

          color versions (you'll see why) here:
          http://mobile.salon.com/comics/lay/2006/10/17/lay
          http://www.buzzle.com/articles/flagged-comic.html

          I don't know if you're a regular WayLay reader, but if not then you're in for a treat looking through the archives (and the rest of your day is shot, but don't blame me).

        • Esau, I don't think this is the first time that you've pointed me to something great online – thanks! Honestly, a couple of those comics are perfect for HUS – The Doormat, and No Thanks for the Memories. I limited myself to about 20 minutes, but will have to revisit soon.

          As for your request, women being honest about their choices – yes, totally fair and reasonable, even if it means saying, "I just can't help myself!"

  • VJ1

    Well thought out & put together Susan, but still I think most of this is seriously biologically determined too, in many senses & dimensions. Some people both need & seek more of this 'stuff' by way of inputs from several sources, endogenous or exogenous. And it feeds back upon itself, and is a self reinforcing quest too. So often the only way to 'short circuit' this perceived desire or psychological need is to yes, out grow it through 'wisdom' or to literally age out of it. And even then for the most seriously 'affected or afflicted' cases? That may be a tall order indeed.

    Sort of like turning the average guy hero into a heroine in grerp's lovely example above! (I know, we kid!) But there's plenty more biology where this comes from, and mostly it's not precisely 'inactivated' by age either. You just get somewhat older and slower and less able to achieve the same state in the same manner that you once could or likely would expect to.

    But some folks just are 'wired' differently, and indeed do not need anywhere near this level of 'stimulation' or excitement in the usual course of mating and/or courtship. And that population looks askance at the rest of the world and wonders literally daily if we've all gone quite mad. But the rest? Might make plenty of money feeding & playing off of this line & riff for all it's worth. And in the modern advertising age? It's all about perpetuating the 'tingle', but only now mostly associated not with people per se, but with various consumer goods or 'experiences' you can buy if you're wealthy or fortunate enough to be able & willing to enjoy paying for them! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

    • I agree with everything you say here, VJ. And you make an excellent point about consumption of goods. We lust after designer goods (the wanting) more than we could ever enjoy them (the liking). I found one interesting article about the role of dopamine in our spending so much time seeking interesting information online, or "chasing after flickering bits of information":
      http://www.slate.com/id/2224932/pagenum/all/#p2

      I daresay this would apply to me, you and several other regulars here at HUS!

  • kathryn

    It looks like Cabergoline is just a dopamine receptor agonist, not actual straight dopamine. As a neuroscience major, I can say that just a magic straight dopamine pill will be an extremely complicated thing to produce. Dopamine that is orally taken or even injected directly into the bloodstream does not pass the blood-brain barrier (which protects harmful chemicals from entering the brain.) It's tricky stuff because the dopamine which in many patients are missing is from a very specific place (substantia nigra of the midbrain) and is head to a specific ending place (basil ganglia of the forebrain)… so even if we do immerse the brain with dopamine it's still more complicated than that. We do have a drug called Levodopa which is a precursor to dopamine (meaning that it participates in a chemical reaction to form another compound, in this case dopamine), but even that is not the perfect answer. We've come a long way with all of this stuff, but we definitely still have a long way to go!!

    (Super fun first post, I know.)

    • Haha, kathryn, welcome! It's good to have a neuroscience major in the house! So given what you know about the topic, what do you think of this post? Does it make sense to you? Because honestly, the more I read the more I believe that we are a very complicated mix of chemicals surging and ebbing, which influences our behavior a very great deal. Perhaps bad boys are born, not made.

    • As a neuroscience major, you would know that the substance doesn't really matter so much as that substance's effect at receptor sites on cells. Straight dopamine would be nonselective, which would mean you could always do better pharmacologically since levodopa can lead to addiction.
      My recent post So I Got a Scam Phone Call…

      • kathryn

        Yes, well said synthesis! Susan, I think your post is definitely thought-provoking. I love how you challenge your readers to examine things that they might not normally think about! As far as I can tell (and I'm only a sophomore so I'm definitely not claiming to know all the answers) every time I read/hear about the nature-nurture debate it seems to turn out that all evidence supports that it really is influenced by both your environment as well as your genetic predispositions. It seems like its a mixture of both whether you're talking about mental diseases such as depression or schizophrenia, or about what creates a bad boy.

  • "what he found is that women want self-obsessed, lying psychopaths"

    Did he use those exact words? Because I would have loved to be see THAT Power Point presentation.

    Slide 1 – Picture of Freud.

    Peter Jonason: "Freud asked: 'What do Women Want? Today, we've found the answer.

    Slide 2 – Jonason clicks several times, each click bringing a famous serial killer onscreen, before bringing the presentation title swooshes into the middle of the frame in GIANT LETTERS

    Jonason: (reading the title with great triumph) Women want lying, self-obsessed psychopahs.

    Peer #1: Pete, did you run this by your wife before you brought it in?
    Peer #2: Wow. Nice Font.
    My recent post Breaking The Wheel Of Pain

    • HAHA! I think the word choice was the Independent's. Here's a quote, far less titillating:

      The dark triad of traits are the self-obsession of narcissism, the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. "We have some evidence these traits may represent a successful evolutionary strategy," Dr Jonason told New Scientist magazine.

      As I said above, Charles Manson was quite a hit with the ladies, but for most of us, just a hint of erotic danger will more than fill the bill.

  • As far as magic dopamine pills, there's Cabergoline:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabergoline

    It's supposedly enables men to have multiple orgasms. As for psycho bitches, I don't really understand the appeal. Independent, free-spirited type, sure, but if she's getting in bar fights…
    My recent post So I Got a Scam Phone Call…

    • I did read how dopamine is being used to treat Parkinson's, since that disease involves dysfunction wrt dopamine. However, it sounds like the side effects are presently pretty severe – including liver failure! It's an interesting question though – if we could get a dopamine high in some benign way, how would it change human behavior, if at all?

    • Aldonza

      Interesting. I wonder if men who are naturally able to have multiple orgasms have higher levels of dopamine? Or maybe there are some women who raise their levels naturally?

      • If there are I want a piece of whatever they've got.

  • greenfieldnews

    Great article. I feel like "risk-needing" can really help explain why women love bad boys.
    As you know, I'm friends with a whole pack of "bad-boys" who drink most nights, smoke, partake in drugs and tons of sex, and in general just look rough.
    My girl friends, on the other hand, tend to be a nice, sweet innocent bunch. I've had the two meet groups meet each other before, and oddly enough, its the more plain, sweet girls who are dealing with nothing drama producing in their lives that end up really enjoying the bad boys. THe girls who already have a lot of stress and drama in their lives tend to be fed up very easily with the boys antics. SO maybe they already have enough risk in thier lives, and their minds know they can't handle more dopamine rush?
    As for the guy end of things, they all say they want nice, sweet good girls, but they all end up dating or hooking up with the crazy ones. They even describe it as "there's never a 'spark' with good girls like you and your friends. You're pretty and awesome…i just don't feel a connection."
    This connection, maybe is just like what you said couples feel after rushing out of a burning building? The crazy girls are the only ones who have even more drama and bad behaviors than the bad boys, so they are the only ones who can get the guys heart racing? Idk. but your article was very thought provoking.

    • Thanks, that's very interesting! I wonder if we know what we should like, and it's not always the same as what we do like. Perhaps chemistry is just that – the spark is that dopamine rush, the tingle. I also wonder if this is what's behind "opposites attract." A very good girl is attracted to the forbidden bad boy. You say the bad boys you know prefer fellow troublemakers, haha, but I've also seen a classic bad boy college dropout fall hard for a "girl next door" type. For him, maybe a wholesome girl who's basically too good for him is "forbidden."

      I don't have the answers, but it's all interesting food for thought!

      • greenfieldnews

        Yeah, it really is fascinating how much of attraction is based on just something so so intangible as a spark.
        and i said that statement so matter of factly, but it is a very frustrating one, esp. in my own life.
        I know so many nice guys, but they just don't make my heart beat faster, and even when i kiss them….its just not that much fun.
        But on the other hand, I have blair, who's so bad, and such trouble, but just seeing him is like "wooosh." (if that makes sense haha) All i have with him is an attraction. he's nothing like what i want in a relationship, or even who i'd want to spend the rest of my life with.
        But he's the exact opposite. We actually had a pretty down and ugly fight about that this week. He says that "I am so attracted to your personality, your caring, your lifestyle. but i just don't feel a spark. and you need that spark." So, with him, he thinks he should like me, but doesn't. and i shouldn't like him. but i do. and it's such a mess, and i hate that sparks aren't automatically mutual things.
        Yay for food for thought? hahah

        • Oh yes, woosh makes all the sense in the world.

          Ugh, Blair. I hate that he hurt your feelings. Here's a thought – since he got hurt badly by his ex, maybe the spark he seeks is living dangerously – not getting bogged down in real feelings, real issues and the hard work of a relationship.

          I wonder if what turns us on can shift, depending on what we think we need or want at any point in time. If we've had a bad experience, is it possible that we cannot feel the spark with a similar person? Or is it inevitable? And does this vary by person? I know I've seen women who do seem addicted to cads, but I've also seen women who experience the emotional ups and downs of a mercurial lover and swear off unstable men forever without difficulty.

          Just thinking aloud here, but I needn't bother Googling this – I don't think anyone has the answers to these questions yet. Relationship Science (yes, there is such a thing!) has only been around for 10 years or so.

        • Aldonza

          Oh yes, woosh makes all the sense in the world. That's the tummy flop. There's also the twinge, which happens further south. They're precursors to good sex, IMO.

          I debate that. Research you've shared here included a study that said that most hookups are unsatisfying sex, particularly for women. The woosh may make people crave sex, but I question the conclusion that the resulting romp is ultimately more satisfying than just being with someone who cares about your pleasure.

        • Oops, my bad. I meant prerequisites, not precursors. You are so right. Hookup sex is often bad, and yeah, the stat is that women only get off 18% or so of the time. It's only 44% for guys by the way, and the male orgasm is not exactly rocket science. So yeah, hookup sex is often lame due to drunkenness or awkwardness or both. Not to mention having no emotional investment in pleasing your partner. Thanks for catching that, it makes a big difference.

  • rogue wolf1

    Time for another quick two cent deposit.

    All this talk about dopamine and other brain chemicals is all well and good, interesting, and probably true. However, human beings have this pesky thing call FREE WILL. If I get angry at someone and kill them I am going to jail. It doesn't matter that anger is a perfectly natural reaction to many situations, I am still going to jail (though I should note that it may change the degree for the crime).

    For all this talk about bad boys, I really could care less that women favor them. Really, it doesn't bother me. They have free will and are free to excercise it however they wish. But if their reply is that they can't help themselves, an uncontrollable dopamine rush is responsible for everything. I say, "Oh please."

    • greenfieldnews

      I completely agree it's a matter of free will. I took the article to be more about "WHY" a woman would find a man, so unappealing on paper with his bad traits, attractive. I know bad boys excite me, but i also know i'd never try and blame it all on my dopamine rush if i hook up with one and it fails. It is, however, interesting, to know that there are chemicals in my brain that evoke emotions that help me find bad boys attractive.
      But, yes, free will is reality, and hormones is never an excuse.

    • I'll second greenfield news here. I read somewhere that the brain chemicals that control wanting and desire have a profound but minority role in behavior, say 5-10%. That leaves a whole lot of room for free will. Sometimes we know that what we find appealing is toxic, whether it's a substance we might abuse or gambling, or starving ourselves to achieve thinness. A minority of people get caught up in all kinds of self-destructive behaviors. Rational women, especially those who have fallen for a cad before, are able to say, "No way, last time I did that it nearly did me in." Pain is useful that way.

    • I'm going to be the voice of dissent here and say that your argument is flawed. As organic creatures we do not have absolute free will. It all leads back to the argument of nature vs. nurture; neither has exclusive control over a person's action. Both factors inform a person's decision and his genetics can influence him/her significantly. Take testosterone for example. Do you remember what it was like in your early youth to have no sexual attraction? Can you see yourself returning to that state without severing the body's production of testosterone? Are we free from the need for dopamine? Is it possible that some people are naturally depressive because their bodies have more serotonin inhibitors? We're technically still programmed.

      If we had absolute free will, we would be able to control our feelings like flipping a switch. We'd be able to love someone one moment and then loathe him/her the next without any prompting from that person and be able to switch back and forth continuously.

      Your murder argument is also flawed in that it is an individual's "logic" that determines whether he'll shoot the other man. Logic is his ability to balance his understanding of social repercussion with potential emotional gratification. Logic produces the potential options that he has, from which he has the free will to choose which to enact. He'd actually have no free will if he were actively forced to obey the law. Free will is the availability of choice and nothing more. Logic is the ability to weigh different values (facts, emotions, chances ,etc) in the formation of the most appropriate choice.

      I know that my post isn't exactly on topic but I just wanted to put a reminder out there that we're really not all that much higher then beasts on the evolutionary ladder, not until we can rewrite or counter our DNA at least.

      -Wookie Wookie

      • Can I change my vote, haha? Wookie Twice, you make a good point here. It's always nature vs. nurture, and I think the balance must vary by individual. There are some who cannot escape their terrible nurture experiences, and others who reflect a stable and loving childhood. None of us, though, can escape our biology, and it seems like the more scientists study this, the more important nature seems. For example, I've read about resilience wrt victims of incest. There are some women who were raped throughout their childhoods by their fathers, and surprisingly, they are able to function normally as adults and have healthy relationships. There are other women who have been fondled once by an uncle and can never be alone with a man again. Obviously, this speaks to hard-wiring. It's a very complicated mix.

      • rogue wolf1

        Part 1

        I never said nor wish to imply that human beings have "absolute" free will. In my example for murder I even conceded that a person's emotional makeup can, and quite rightly, change how the crime is charged. I do not wish to get in a discussion as to the difference between emotions (basically) and logic as I personally do not see them as separate entities nor do I see one as "higher" than the other. For as far as I can tell various biological functions produce urges and desires which we consciously try to fulfill (for instance children preferring sugar).

        • rogue wolf1

          Part 2

          My first sentence:

          All this talk about dopamine and other brain chemicals is all well and good, interesting, and probably true.

          So in short we agree. However, my problem with these types of discussions is that it can very well be used as an excuse for bad behavior. The comment length limit causes me to try to be brief but I'll extend out my last sentence.

          If a woman comes up to me after being treated like a piece of meat for years by Bad boy scum and says that she just can't help herself, it's an uncontrollable dopamine rush that is responsible for everything. That she is completely and utterly incapable of conscious limiting her behavior (even if she is still attracted to bad boys that doesn't mean she had to act on it). I'd look at her and say, "Oh please."

          I hope we're on the same page now.

        • I totally agree with this. Personality responsibility trumps everything else. If you know you are susceptible to addiction – better stay away from that substance. We all get to make choices – either good ones or poor ones. Anyone who consistently makes poor life choices is going to have a poor life. Making the same bad decision again and again – well, even rats in mazes do better than that.

        • Aldonza

          If a woman comes up to me after being treated like a piece of meat for years by Bad boy scum and says that she just can't help herself, it's an uncontrollable dopamine rush that is responsible for everything. That she is completely and utterly incapable of conscious limiting her behavior (even if she is still attracted to bad boys that doesn't mean she had to act on it). I'd look at her and say, "Oh please."

          I feel the same about a man who routinely pumps and dumps women and cannot remain faithful to any one of them. "It's just the way I'm wired." Um…OK.

        • Absolutely. No one gets a pass on taking personal responsibility for their actions.

  • mgambale

    When men look for a mate, they primarily consider reproductive value. When women look for a mate, they primarily consider survival value. These are the instincts that have been favored by natural selection. While I don't generally put much stock in the opinions of celebrity PUAs, this theory of Mystery's is one with which I completely agree.

    Perhaps many men are attracted to bad girls because they perceive them as easy lays who will not interfere with their pursuit of other easy lays. And perhaps many women are attracted to bad boys because they appear to be hard to kill.

    • Yes, I think this is true. Bad boys are generally aggressive in nature – much more likely to get into fights, etc. They are tough. Also women seek social status in a mate, and the bad boys do have social proof going for them. It does get to be a chicken or the egg question….

  • "Perhaps at some point we’ll be able to pop a dopamine pill that will have us hovering nicely between depressed and schizophrenic"

    Try Lithium. It's not a dopamine pill, but that should have the effect you are looking for.

    For the record I realized I was totally into my wife and vice a versa when we were on a rollercoaster together.
    My recent post Sour Grapes vs Practice Makes Perfect

    • Doesn't Lithium sort of even things out? I was thinking of a more constant euphoria….

      Haha, I love the rollercoaster testimonial! I had another thought – going back to the idea of mastery and how women love that. A woman in danger with a guy who is extremely competent – it's no wonder that's a winning formula for fiction and films – whether it's running from bad guys, being stranded on a desert island, or trying to survive some huge disaster, at some point the conditions are always perfect for an incredibly hot sex scene.

  • Steve

    Hi Susan Im pleased our communication sparked this interesting piece of research!

    Its pretty interesting to hear about dopamine and its connection here – although of course we must remember that its involved in a lot more than just its suggested role here in sexual attraction…(being a Neuropharmacology grad myself)…and I would suspect that good old adrenaline (and its addictive qualities) as well as a lot of other stress hormones might be involved. So I dont think it would be entirely accurate to state Badboys = Dopamine. Although I this evidence does seem to indicate that it could be involved.
    I totally agree that these biological changes are no excuse for behaviour – at least for a balanced individual there should always be a level of conscious choice…if we are functioning correctly we should be in equilibrium with our body physical emotional responses as well as our conscious cerebral learned intelligence which has developed over the years…In a sense – its a balance between our innate emotional intelligence developed over thousands of years of evolution versus our learned intelligence over our lifetime created in our cerebral cortex. The conflict between these two systems is one of the most interesting aspect to the human condition for me…

    I was thinking as I read this – do we think that there is an inversely proportional relationship between a girl and her self esteem – and her attraction to a bad boy? IE the lower the self esteem – the more attraction to the 'badder' boy? Aside from the attraction and titillation of the dopamine/adrenaline – there can sometimes be something extreme about a girl who places herself in the service of a highly narcissistic male who effectively delivers her constant punishment through his actions (unreliable, cheating etc)…
    A poster above put forward a really interesting point where he stated that girls who have their own sense of excitement through drama become uninterested by bad boys after a certain level…I have also seen this to be true…
    What Im wondering is that I suspect the attraction of erotic danger is present in all men and women to a degree (as in part demonstrated in men by the classic Bridge study). However we have all probably seen when this process filps out of balance and becomes dysfunctional – and people put themselves through real pain by being with someone where they keep getting hurt…and I think this behaviour is driven by feelings of low self worth…
    What Im thinking is the idea of balance again. If one individual is very self obsessed – perhaps they attract a partner who is very servile and attracted to their bad boy nature. Thus there is a balance between them. However – if there is one person who is very self obsessed a person who has a strong sense of self and confidence may not be so attracted to the destructive bad boy character. There would be no balance in that encounter.
    Similarly – a bitch gets a nice guy wrapped around her finger – there is balance.

    And we come back to my theory – Life = Balance. I know its not sexy – but its all about balance!

    Stevex

    • vera44

      That's so interesting, Steve. I think you might be right about that. There might be initial interest in a "bad boy" from all "good girls" but only the low-self esteem ones will continue to date them & serve their narcissistic needs (or be in a cycle of being used by these guys).

      To think about this further, there's theories about self-esteem in the PUA community about the negging aspect of picking girls up. One camp says that girls that fall for PUA tactics more easily in general have lower self-esteem. Another camp says that if you neg a high self-esteem girl, she's more susceptible to the trick & being picked up by you than a low self-esteem girl, who will start crying or won't be able to handle it. Maybe these two are related, or maybe they're not really opposite arguments at all? Not sure — does anyone have opinions on it?

      • I hate negging, other than playful teasing, but I have no doubt that it works on women with high self-esteem. Very few of those women are challenged by men, and they respond with interest to that. Women want to earn a guy's admiration, and will happily rise to the challenge of working for it. The problem is that often it is not possible to gauge a woman's self-esteem by looking at her. Many beautiful women lack a true sense of their worth. So negging a woman will have an uncertain outcome and may cause hurt feelings.

        If a woman demonstrates that she thinks she is the sh*t, then by all means, neg away, haha.

    • Hey Steve, it's great to see you in the Comments section! This point about self-esteem strikes me as critical – I can't believe I missed it, but I think you're onto something. A woman who has a high tolerance for risky males, or even a craving for them, is probably a woman with low self-esteem. Perhaps she thinks that she is bad. Or perhaps she isn't alarmed and offended by his disrespectful treatment of her because that is what she thinks she deserves. Perhaps he treats her in the same way as the men who were in her life while she was growing up. For whatever reason, there are women and men who are masochistic and will repeatedly choose mates who punish them.

      Your theory of balance does ring true – yin and yang in relationships.

  • Jacko

    I think it works both ways. I have always been attracted to bad girls. I never had time for nice girls- too boring. But a hot chick dressed up like a stripper? Send her my way, please.

    As I got older, I reverted back to nice girls. Bad girls are still hot, and I like to look, but they are not long term relationship material.

    • vera44

      Was it more about the enticement of easy sex or the psycho drama rollercoaster? And do you think the answer to that relates to your self-esteem at all?

      • vera44

        Also, to be clear since tones are not easily read online, that is an honest question — I'm wondering what you think the correlation between high or low-self esteem and the psycho drama rollercoaster is (if any) if you have personal experience with it.

  • Jacko

    Not self-esteem but rather, self-concept. I could never be sure with the bad girls…much in the same way I think a good girl cannot be certain of a bad boy. Would she cheat on me? Leave me? Cuckold me?

    Too many uncertainties. Fun for a two year fling, but that's about all. A woman who will be the mother of your children almost always has to be a good girl.

    • That's wisdom, and a healthy insight both men and women need to attain if they wish to marry and parent together. You can always make things interesting with your good girl too – most women would enjoy a bit of role play in this way. It's a hell of a lot better than getting caught up with a deranged and dysfunctional mess of a person.

      I'm sure Sandra Bullock would turn back time if she could.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Susan

    “perhaps she isn’t alarmed and offended by his disrespectful treatment of her because that is what she thinks she deserves. Perhaps he treats her in the same way as the men who were in her life while she was growing up.”

    Thats exactly the type of thing that goes on IMO….

    Me personally – I have never found nice girls unattractive (so dont stop being nice girls) – in fact – a charming, intelligent and vibrant nice girl is utterly beguiling and a perfect match for me. A selfish over dramatic bitch I find childish, immature and vacuous. Yeah there might be a little spark if she is physically beautiful – and I might have my interest piqued if there is some ‘push-pull’ but once the character shows itself the spark is quickly extinguished. But after some experience I know whats good for me.
    Of course I do like there to be a little ‘edgyness’ to her personality – but that is different to being a bitch. Perhaps because I am a sensitive person -I dont need constant overt drama to remain interested – its just unnecessary, boring and it stresses me out…

    • Steve

      Post above is from Steve 🙂

      • ???

        • Steve

          damn the browser didnt make my post properly – I wrote a long post then forgot to add my name – clicked back – then posted above to indicate it was from me…its all lost in the ether now…

        • oh I'm sorry, I hate when that happens. I'll check around in my filters just in case.

  • Rebekah

    My friend and I were having a similar conversation recently, and she stated that she wanted "a bad boy with heart". See cited the character of Dean from the CWs Supernatural. The character is known for being a dick. He doesn't mince words, loves them and leaves, but at the heart of the matter has a devotion to family and friends and loves one woman.

    Yes, I am well aware he is a fictional character, but he was used to prove a point. Do bad-boys with heart exist? And if they do exitst are they able to be tamed to an extent??____

    Since I am single I am asked often what I am looking for. What's funny is that what I am looking for and what I am overtly attracted to are two vastly different things. What I am attracted to will get me a hot weekend in Vegas. What I am looking for is the slow burn.

    • Aldonza

      I think if you're looking for 10 chemistry with 10 compatibility, you'll likely be disappointed. We all know 10 chemistry is easy to find…with low LTR compatibility. If you go for 10 compatibility with low chemistry, that isn't going to work either, unless you're ready to marry your best bud and live a sexless life.

      Most men are not 100% cad or 100% dad. Most of them exist as some blend of the two, shifting between the extremes depending on lots of things in their life. A nice guy coming out of a bad LTR might be a cad to the first group of women he dates. A young guy wanting to play the field might also be more cad, but turn into a great dad when he's ready to settle down. A nice guy who got knocked around and learned game might go to the far extreme of cad with his first taste of success. Which one is the bad boy with heart?

    • I'll agree with Sally. I especially like the sound of a slow burn – with embers that never go out.

      I also think Aldonza is right – everyone is a mix of both strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative traits. And timing can be crucial – many of us can look back in horror at the way we treated the opposite sex at one time or another.

      I think the bad boy will always be the hot weekend in Vegas. He's just bad news all around. The key is to find a guy with heart who keeps you on your toes and doesn't let you walk all over him. A good man who knows his worth. They're out there.

      • Rebekah

        "The key is to find a guy with heart who keeps you on your toes and doesn't let you walk all over him."

        Susan I really like this!!! I love a man that keeps me guessing, and doesn't cave to my every foolish whim. In return I want a man who can take my sass.

        And Aldonza poses a good question!! It's all a matter of perspective also. My bad boy, is not going to be your bad boy, nor is my nice guy. And there is a vast difference between a man who is confident with himself, and a guy who is all swag!! Women need to be smart enough to spot the difference.

        • It gets too easy to generalize when discussing these matters. All women are _________. Guys only want ____________. The key is to find one person that complements you, and is compatible. As Steve said elsewhere in this thread, it's about balance. And it's always individual.

        • Dilithium

          "The key is to find a guy with heart who … doesn't let you walk all over him"

          Umm, why is this so almighty important? Why would you ever try to walk all over a guy in the first place? I can only see two reasons for a woman insisting on this kind of quality, and neither of them are admirable: (1) She's lazy and undisciplined, and wants/needs the man to do the work of guiding and reigning her in (like a child?); closely related is the (used to be retrograde) idea that the man should always have the lead in the family; (2) She's applying the generic shit test, x-raying the man for excessive backbone as a marker for the latent social dominance that she prizes so highly.

          " I love a man that … doesn't cave to my every foolish whim"

          Why do you have foolish whims? Why can't you keep yourself in a reasonable range of behavior, without needing the man to correct you? One of the great ideas of the feminist revolution was that women should be taken seriously, as thinking human beings who mean what they say and say what they mean; was that noble idea really just a mistake?

          Also, a practical warning to keep in mind: if you keep applying this kind of shit test, making unreasonable demands just to make sure that they get refused, then you will filter out and close yourself off to a very valuable group, and that is reflexively honest people. Reflexively honest people, as the name implies, always think to tell the truth first and require effort to try any deception; by the same token, they also assume that others are also telling the truth, unless there's a strong reason to think otherwise. If you're at the ball game and you ask your date to get you a Coke, then if he's reflexively honest he will assume that (1) you really do want a Coke, and (2) you really would like him to be chivalrous and get it for you; in short, he takes you at your word. Now, it may well be that you would get more of a tingle if, and so are secretly be hoping that, he'll tell you to go get your own Coke and bring him back some peanuts while you're at it. If that's what turns you on, then so be it! but be aware that you'll also be inviting trouble for yourself and missing out on some good material if you swing that way.

          It's easy to deride reflexively honest people as naive or boring or weak, and I wouldn't be surprised if you felt that way. Personally I think those are shallow impressions which miss very important points: reflexively honest people will take you seriously, will respect your intellect and your autonomy, and so have very good LTR/marriage potential (if you can get over finding them unattractive, that is). Think: if your husband won't even get up to get you a Coke — if you chose him _specifically_ because he _wouldn't_ get you that Coke — then will he be there when you really need him? And, if you're not honest about your needs, then how should any man know when you really need him, and when you're just expressing a "foolish whim"?

          Lastly, the flip side is also true: the man who most easily passes the shit test, who reflexively _doesn't_ cave to your foolish whims, is not the guy with heart but rather they misogynist, the one who doesn't really care what makes you happy and doesn't take you seriously as a thinking human being. If you keep making foolish whim shit tests an important and regular thing, then this is the guy you are most likely selecting for; can you see that? In short, be careful what you wish for, especially if there's a chance you might get it.

        • I'll respond to your first question, there's a bit of truth in both your guesses, but it's not that simple. "Shit tests" do happen, for the reason you state – women qualify their potential mates. This is not a conscious strategy, I believe it's part of female nature. We don't want men to reign us in because we're undisciplined. We want reassurance that we are not stronger than our men. This makes women feel safe. It doesn't have to do with social dominance, in my view, it has to do with the balance in the relationship. For what its worth, this is not limited to men – women give each other shit tests all the time. We are constantly qualifying other women for friendship by testing their loyalty. Again, it's not intentional, it's just part of the dynamic. If two women go shopping, and one asks the other, "Does this outfit make me look fat?" both women know that Yes is an unacceptable answer. But even saying "Um, it's not my favorite" can land a friend on the other side of a long pout and a ruined afternoon. Ridiculous? Yes, but you might as well complain about the color of the sky. More secure women will do less of this, and vice versa. Personally, I don't think I do it much, but if I do something that my husband thinks is out of line, e.g. interrupting him, he will call me out immediately. I respect this.

          A man who behaves in this way is just demonstrating self-respect. He knows I'm not perfect – and he also knows that if he doesn't give negative reinforcement I'm more likely to do it again. It's not misogynist, it's fair play.

          Obviously, women who constantly make ridiculous demands just to see how high a guy will jump are manipulative and sadistic. And a woman who deliberately chooses a man who makes her constantly fear that he doesn't care, or that he might cheat is herself demonstrating low self-respect, even masochism. Between these extremes is a middle ground where both men and women can reside happily, in my view.

        • Dilithium

          Susan (part 1, divided for length) —

          A statement like "Between these extremes is a middle ground where both men and women can reside happily" is hard to argue with, but it's also not very adventurous. It's sort of like saying that the best temperature to live at is somewhere between freezing and boiling: it's absolutely true, but it doesn't really tell you very much. It's always easy to set up the extreme straw-person and then argue against that. I wouldn't disagree for a moment that the extreme doormat of a person (male or female), who never expresses a preference or defends an opinion but always goes along with what others want, will be deservedly unattractive (though personally I would say so not because the person is weak as much as because they'd be boring, without discernible shape or substance). But, honestly, I've never met or known anyone like that — have you? — and so I don't see it as a relevant example. To me, the much more important case is when a man's behavior of deference that stems from respect or common courtesy gets mis-interpreted as weakness; this mis-interpretation is something that both men and women do, for different reasons but both to bad effect.

          Let's start with an example you mentioned, that of interrupting one's husband. My wife and I spend a lot of time in conversation, which we greatly enjoy. Sometimes she will interrupt me, and though it may seem rude at first glance to do so I will typically give her a lot of latitude, or show her a lot of deference, before calling her out on it. Why? Not because I'm some sort of spineless wimp, but because I trust and value her. Interrupting can be rude, but it can also be a favor: exercised judiciously, an interruption can actually improve a conversation. And I generally trust my wife to have that kind of good judgement. If she interrupts me, I assume by default that she has a good reason to do so, and that the result will be a better conversation for both of us. If in the middle of a conversation she suddenly asked me to stand up and hop on one foot, I would certainly give it a try, because she's a fun and imaginative person and I assume by default that whatever she asks me to do will result in something fun and entertaining for both of us. Do you see what I'm getting at? My deference to her is not weakness or fear on my part, it's an expression of my respect, trust and value for her. After all, I would put my life in her hands without hesitation; why wouldn't I trust her to be judicious in interrupting me? Yes, I'll give her a nudge back if I think she's really out of line, but the point is that my default posture is one of trust and deference for very good and happy reasons.

          I should add that we live on a completely two-way street, meaning that she shows the same kind of trust and deference toward me. She lets me interrupt her, she would hop on one foot if I asked her to, and for exactly the same reasons: we both trust that each has the other's best interests at heart. Neither of us can gain at the expense of the other, we rise or sink together. So I guess this is an example of "balance in the relationship," as you say; to me it's the natural result of choosing to be with someone who's considerate and trustworthy.

          Now, I don't mean to claim that my marriage is any better than, or even different from, yours or anyone else's. I just wanted a clean example of a basic principle: showing other people deference, taking them at their word, and presuming that they act in good faith, can all be signs of respect and trust, rather than indicating fear and weakness. So, why are the former so often mis-interpreted as the latter?

        • Dilithium

          Continued, part 2 —

          One side is easy to see. Many — most? — men have an inborn tendency to see every male group as a hierarchy, and then to struggle to rise within that hierarchy. [Dare I say that this is so, because it's what women reward?] This leads to a lot of regrettable outcomes, one of which is a reflex to regard any kind of deference as an act of submission, an admission that one is lower in the hierarchy. Here the act of mis-interpretation is deliberate and opportunistic: men in hierarchy struggles will seize any chance to depict another man as weaker and less fit. This explains, for example, why in such strongly hierarchical professions as business and politics there is no general presumption of trust or good faith on the part of others; while men in STEM-type fields, which are typically much less hierarchical, are more trusting and more likely assume good faith by default. [This may also be connected to why women see success in the former pursuits as much sexier than success in the latter.]

          With women judging men's behavior, I find the situation much harder to understand (and even more regrettable). The ur-typical example has three steps: (1) the woman makes some sort of demand or request that might arguably be unreasonable (an irrational whim, perhaps) early in a relationship, maybe even before the first date; (2) the man presumes good faith on her part, that anything she would ask for or suggest is intended to have good results for both of them — after all, why would you be dating someone who wouldn't try to generate fun for both of you? — and so he goes along with it; but, sadly, (3) the woman interprets the man's lack of push-back as his being a push-over, and down his stock goes with her. Women, it seems, are extremely, hair-trigger quick to interpret what looks to me like common courtesy (taking people at their word) and basic respect (presuming good faith) as proof positive of craven, supplicating weakness in a man.

          At first glance this seems like a strange reflex, and a counterproductive one: shouldn't a woman lean toward valuing signs of respect, rather than de-valuing them? Wouldn't a man who listens to what she says, and respects her enough to take her word at face value, naturally be desirable? Apparently, not. There must, then, I imagine, be a strong reason for this bias toward perceiving weakness. You describe how important it is for women to sense that a man is strong, which will make her feel safe, and maybe I can buy this in the abstract. But all the real-world examples I can think of would result in very odd uses for terms like "strong" and "safe". If, as I said above, your date declines to fetch you a Coke at the ball game, does that connote "strength" on his part? (Seems more like lazy self-centeredness to me.) Honestly, do you feel intuitively or subconsciously that the man who won't get you a Coke will, by that same token, be _more_ willing and able to protect you when the Viking raiders break down the door? The criteria women use for judging strength and safety seem pretty batty to me at times.

          To sum up, a woman's putting emphasis on a man's perceived "strength" may be understandable, if not IMO particularly admirable. But her tending to interpret deference, generosity or chivalry as weakness is a serious error, which will both injure the men of best character and hurt her own LTR prospects.

        • Dilithium, I think the trouble lies in defining where courteous respect ends and submission begins. I actually looked up the definition of deference – the first being "submission to the opinion, wishes or judgment of another," and the second being "courteous respect."

          Your relationship with your wife includes as you say, a large degree of trust. You know that she respects you, does not mean to shame you if she interrupts you. You understand that it's perfectly natural for her to ask you to bring back a Coke if you're leaving your seat. You know her character. At the beginning of a relationship, character is not fully known. Personally, if I were a man and a woman ordered me to get her a Coke on the first date, that would be a major red flag. Ditto for her interrupting me.

          (Full confession here: I do have a terrible tendency to interrupt my husband. I don't mean to be disrespectful, I just sort of get carried away sometimes. I appreciate his pointing it out, b/c I can apologize and it's over. If I did it all night long, he would become quite annoyed. You can be thankful that your wife doesn't do this – I'm fortunate that my husband puts up with my annoying, impulsive behavior.)

          Women who order men around early on really want to be "taken in hand." That is their personal need, and a man who does what she says will not last. This is why men in Game circles say "Pay attention to what a woman does, not to what she says she wants." Personally, this kind of "shit testing" betrays a certain emotional volatility and instability in my view, and I'd advise a guy to move on rather than spend all of his time trying to play Alpha for her.

          Even good women with healthy self-esteem will try to test a man to determine his strength of will, and this often gets mixed up with testing his degree of affection. In other words, women will sometimes act out to get reassurance. The classic case of this is probably being flirtatious with other guys before the two are in a committed relationship. What she wants is for the man to say, "Stop that. I noticed it, it's disrespectful, and I won't put up with it. If you want to flirt with those guys, go right ahead, I'm out." She'll even be happy with, "I noticed that you were flirting with other guys tonight and I didn't like it. What was that about?" This would fall under the courteous respect definition.

          On the other hand, a guy who reacts with alarmed jealousy will be seen as submissive. Starting a fight, saying "I hate it when you talk to other guys. Why were you flirting with so and so?" will make a man look weak and submissive.

          Of course, as I mentioned above, this will depend on the character of the two people involved to large degree, and the degree to which they complement each other. I

        • Kurt

          I was out on a first date with a girl I met on eHarmony and she appeared to be flirting with a guy when we were at a bar and I momentarily left to go to the bathroom. When I came back, she appeared to be flirting with a guy. I came really close to just leaving. I think she actually wanted to hook up with me that night afterward, but I didn’t want to because I was so turned off by her behavior. That was the most awful woman I have ever met in my entire life and I will never forget what an unbelievably self-absorbed bitch she was. She also talked about herself the entire night and mentioned all of the guys she thought screwed her over in her life. The ironic thing was that she actually mentioned that the guys she met on eHarmony were rude because they would go out with her a few times and then break off all contact. I did the same thing and she didn’t even deserve an explanation. She was 31 at the time and I was very surprised that someone her age would be so clueless.

        • Wow. Undoubtedly she will remain clueless, and alone. You were nice to stick around for the entire night, and I respect you for not hooking up with her. No one could have blamed you for taking off when it was clear how rude she was.

        • ExNewYorker

          The interesting part of all this, of women looking for men with certain qualities, is that the related question is often overlooked. And what question is that? Well, to the women out there: "What do you have to offer that would make a man of quality commit?" I have yet to see that question addressed.

          A man who is defined as being a guy with "heart who keeps you on your toes and doesn't let you walk all over him" is the the type of guy who is going to ask that question. Why should he change his current state, of enjoying his life, probably having on and off girlfriends, and having a certain type of freedom? A man with those qualities isn't going to put up with some dumb shit tests. Such a man is going to look for an agreeable woman, not one who he has to rein in like some type of unruly filly…

          Ultimately, a woman has to answer that question too: "What are you offering to make a man of quality commit?" And it has to be a good answer for us to change our enjoyable single life…

        • ENY, I love this. I'm going to write a post about this. What do you have to offer that would make a man of quality commit? Hamby Dammit has addressed this on his blog, too, in a good post. It's about women needing to add significant value, because there really aren't many incentives for men to commit, much less marry.

  • Sally

    What perfect phrasing! hot weekend vs low burn. Someone should write a book with that title.

    Out of my 12 work colleagues 9 are divorced and this issue underpins the whole thing. Lots of them were used and abused by heartthrobs until they were sick of it. Then they stumbled upon Mr Reliable and married him. Then, often in their 30's they started getting 'itchy feet'. Some cheated, some just left outright when the boredom got too much. Thank heaven the courts look sympathetically at the female persuasion these days when it comes to divorce- things didnt work out to badly for the wives.

    I've been married for 18 years and I (so far) managed to make it work because I was genuinely attracted to him and worked hard at the relationship. Too may girls try and force themselves to fancy someone- it all ends in tears. And what about the children! Its a real modern dynamic. Bottom line, no matter how lonely you are, DO NOT settle for the nice but dim guy- honestly it just doesnt work.

    • Hi Sally, first-time commenter, welcome! I wouldn't marry a man I felt no attraction for. I cannot even imagine walking down the aisle to marry a boring buddy. I would much, much rather have stayed single. So I really don't get why women make that choice. Having said that, I do wonder what some women require in the way of stimulation. Is a man boring if he's not a bit dangerous? For some women, the answer is yes, and that's a problem, but it's not his problem.

      To be honest, I wonder why it is a good thing that the courts were generous with the wives. They sound like they deserve little sympathy. Presumably, these men married women they loved, did their best to be reliable providers, and their wives got itchy feet and cheated? So the guys lose:

      wife
      children
      income
      self-esteem

      Sounds to me like the wives deserve to be the real losers. Let's hope karma's a bitch.

      • I fully agree: that's a hefty punishment for being boring, which these women presumably knew when they agreed to marry them for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. If they walk, they should get nothing materially and a full round of social condemnation.

        I really hope my husband doesn't one day find me boring and decide to kick me to the curb.
        My recent post Thoughts on Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb

      • I fully agree: that's a hefty punishment for being boring, which these women presumably knew when they agreed to marry them for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. If they walk, they should get nothing materially and a full round of social condemnation.

        I really hope my husband doesn't one day find me boring and decide to kick me to the curb.
        My recent post Thoughts on Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb

        • Seriously! When my husband tells me that he feels so fortunate to be married to me, it is a huge relief. I don't worry that I'm boring, but I do worry that I'm a pain in the tush sometimes. Based on what I'm hearing, boredom is the worst possible offense. The thing is, no one needs to be boring – everyone can be interesting as long as they are interested in something. Anything!

          In this report, I do suspect women who are just too difficult to please.

        • P.S. I think you're onto something re social condemnation, by the way. Women need to stand up for what is right rather than for each other. This is difficult – we're raised to be mutually supportive and not judge other women harshly. But fair is fair. What's unfair is to side with someone based on gender rather than actions.

        • Aldonza

          And how would you two decide which divorced women to socially condemn? I know that only after going through it myself do I understand when people use soft terms to explain why they divorced. In my experience now, the answer of "We grew apart" or "We wanted different things" really means "It's none of your damn business."

          I choose not to air my dirty laundry about my marriage and my ex despite having very valid reasons to divorce, none of which include "boredom". I know this choice has led some friends to condemn me. So be it. If they didn't know my character enough before the divorce to respect my decision now, then I really don't need them as friends.

          Social condemnation is a powerful force, one that can cause good and bad affects. Just be careful of what you wish for.

        • grerp

          We still have social condemnation – mention that girls need to be responsible for their own safety when they are out partying and drinking on any board with women readers, and see what you get.

          There are indeed innocent victims of social shaming and condemnation and always have been. But what is better – that we let everything slide – in which case no innocent person has to suffer it, but men decide to opt out of marriage in toto (as well as a host of other social problems develop or worsen) – or we start calling people again on their bad behavior?

          Consider that Ellen Tien was allowed to publish this article in Oprah magazine – and received plenty of praise for it – Honest! Courageous! – by women.
          My recent post
          Thoughts on Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb

        • I think I recall seeing you in the comments at The Spearhead re the woman who decided to stay married but get her own apartment – kind of a self-actualization pad. She had no income of her own, so her husband paid the bills. She came and went between there and home as she saw fit. He never knew where she might sleep. That was also courtesy of Oprah's site.

        • Aldonza, I was reacting very specifically to Sally's description of 9 different women cheating and divorcing out of boredom. In no way do I mean to imply that people don't have good reasons to divorce, or that women should stay in marriages that are unhealthy. We don't know the specifics of these cases – maybe being boring means weighing 400 lbs. and refusing to turn off the TV. However, there's no question that in American society, two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women, and some of those reflect female narcissism. When women talk about planning their "first wedding" or saying "As long as we both shall love" as one reader recently heard, there's something very wrong with our expectations around commitment and marriage.

        • Yeah I think what I have heard at a couple of ceremonies is more along the lines of "for so long as love shall abide between us" or something along those lines. Same basic idea, more flowery language.

          I think one way to "do" marriage, if we're sure to be stuck with the no-fault regime, would be to allow people to customize the legal/dissolution aspects of their marriages more than they can now, and have courts respect those decisions. That way people who want the "as long as we both feel like it" marriage can have that, and people who want the "till death do us part, barring bad behavior" can have that. Right now we have a one size fits all approach that also happens to be a least common denominator — and it's having a negative impact, I think, both on expectations as well as on how marriages play themselves out.

          The Tien article is no more scandalous than the Tsing-Loh article describing how she ditched her kitchen bitch husband and about how her upper-middle class middle aged married girlfriends in Pasadena were all bored with their husbands and envious of their single cougar musician friend who had scads of men in their 20s chasing her for sex. It's a wild world right now, in the institution of marriage.

        • Personally, I hate to expand on the prenup, only because it seems so cynical. On the other hand, there's good reason for cynicism, so it really might be a good way to level the playing field to some degree. And there really isn't anything more cynical than viewing a marriage as little more than a LTR – why bother? I don't really understand why any groom would go along with this nonsensical language, since he has the most to lose if it blows up.

        • I'd imagine the groom is under a good deal of pressure to be a guy who is "secure in his masculinity" and "comfortable in his skin" … which means lump it when it comes to the wording his bride wants.

          The interesting thing about marriage contracts is that they are quite common in continental European countries, with no real harm done it would seem to divorce rates (lower than in the US). I was chatting with one of my Euro colleagues a few months ago and he explained that due to his recent promotion he'd need to amend his marriage contract. He then smiled at me and said "I know you Americans find it funny, but everyone here has them, and frankly we think you're nuts for not having them". Not the only conversation I've had along those lines with a male European colleague.

          I suspect that we see them as cynical or self-fulfilling prophecies in the US because we cling to a romantic vision of marriage — something which is satisfying for us in the shorter term, but which can lead to unrealistic expectations and undermine us in the course of marriage's ups and downs. I do think it at least has something to do with our highish rate of divorce relative to other comparable countries.

        • This romantic vision of marriage, and indeed of relationships in general is wreaking havoc in the U.S., IMO. I think it comes from a number of places, but it's not working, and it's harming marriage. It's also spawning that new genre of writing known as "spinster lit."

        • grerp

          I didn't sign a prenup, but at the time neither of us had any money whatsoever, and he had a considerable amount of student loan debt. I don't really like the idea of prenups, but I'd rather sign a prenup than have children in an LTR. What exactly is an "LTR" anyway? How long term is long term? To me, a no commitment LTR seems to too easily translate as "hanging together until she loses her looks" – from a woman's point of view or "until she gets bored" – from a man's. Neither is a good POV for raising children.

          I'm in my late thirties, and I'm not getting my 22-year-old face or body back ever. I honestly don't understand why women think making their assets disposable is good for them personally or women generally. I'd rather have remained celibate than have been used and discarded under some misunderstood notion of freedom.

          My recent post Thoughts on Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb

        • I agree. I know a lot of men don't wish to marry, but I wouldn't advise any woman to sign up for a nebulous arrangement IF she wants to have children. It really is very easy for either party to walk. There were some times in my own marriage where I might have thrown in the towel if we hadn't been married, and I'm glad I didn't.

          I also wonder what these women are thinking? Do they really believe they're going to have a lot of takers after they dump their boring husbands? There are women their age who are desperate to find a nice boring guy, e.g. Lori Gottlieb, as you know!

        • Aldonza

          If what they want is sex, women always have takers. But unfortunately, the post-marital dating market is exactly like the co-ed dating market in a lot of ways.

        • grerp

          I fully agree with you, Susan.
          My recent post Thoughts on Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb

      • LesserBeta

        And that is exactly what is wrong with the concept of no-fault divorce.

        • Aldonza

          What, in your opinion, is wrong with no-fault divorce?

        • LesserBeta

          The ability of women to leave a guy and rob him when the bio-chemical high wears off, while they head out to find a higher status male.

          Did he cheat on her? No. Did he abuse her or the kids? No. It leaves many men in a vulnerable position, considering 2/3rds of divorces are initiated by women. It also cheapens the institution of marriage itself when it's so easy to find a way out and not deal with your problems (which inevitably happen) head-on.

        • Aldonza

          The ability to leave a marriage has always existed for men, who usually had the economic resources to live alone. The stereotype of the man who leaves his solid, middle-aged wife for his young secretary exists for a reason. Evo-psych backs that up.

          Further, just because women file for divorce more often does not mean that they are always the ones who are actually wanting to leave the marriage. Women spend more money and energy on books and counseling in attempts to save marriages than men do. And for every story you tell me about the woman who is living large on her child support, I can provide 10 where the support isn't even enough to cover childcare, never mind anything else. Most women are financially worse off after divorce.

          Both sides underestimate the work involved in keeping a relationship alive. Women ignore the sexual needs of men to tend to everything else first. Men ignore the emotional needs of women equally often. Strangely enough though, an emotionally tended woman is more sexual and a well-sexed man is more loving. Go figure.

        • emotionally tended woman is more sexual and a well-sexed man is more loving.

          Someone needs to blink first. It really isn't that complicated.

        • The problem is that it permits people to leave marriage on fair or even favorable terms regardless of their behavior in the marriage. That works for both men and women alike, of course, but given that most divorces are initiated by women it appears that women use the benefit of no-fault divorce more than men do.

          No fault divorce was ostensibly instituted to reduce litigation and relieve people from having to air their dirty laundry in court – save time, money, emotional aggravation and so on. But the problem is that the system as it stands allows people to misbehave in marriage without penalty. That creates very odd incentives for people in terms of how they conduct themselves in marriages. In most contractual relationships, a party who breaches the contract cannot elect to terminate the contract for no reason and exit the contract on equal or better than equal terms – the policy reason for that is that if contract law worked this way, the economic system would be in chaos because no-one could rely on contracts as being binding obligations on people – the kinds of obligations that can only be suspended under limited circumstances, and the breach of which otherwise exposes one to claims for damages. The marriage dissolution system would be more rational and fair, and involve less moral hazard, if we were to limit the grounds for divorce to the big “A”s – adultery, abuse, addiction, abandonment, alienation of affection, etc. These acts by one party should entitle the *other* party to terminate the marriage at their option, and on terms that compensate them for the loss — that is, favorable property division, in some cases ongoing support and so on. It should not, however, be the case that a spouse simply gets bored, or actually misbehaves (say, an affair) and then gets to terminate the marriage on his/her terms with equal division of assets and even financial support going to the spouse who misbehaved! That creates moral hazard in terms of the lack of a detriment to bad behaviors in marriages.

          At a minimum I would say that no fault should be reconsidered where children are involved. In many cases involving marriages with children, there will be litigation anyway about the child custody issue due to the huge financially beneficial impact of one parent winning sole custody – so the justification of using no fault to cut down on the hassle of getting divorced is much less applicable to these marriages. In addition, the state has an even stronger interest in having these marriages stay together in terms of positive outcomes for the children, again barring marriages featuring one of the big “A”s which would entitle one to a fault-based divorce in any case.

        • Nova, what if the default were joint custody, with expenses shared 50/50? This is the way it is in Europe, I believe. Then if one parent wanted less custodial responsibility, the financial value of that could be determined and awarded to the parent who has the children more. I would think that would result in fathers getting more time with their children, which is another problem here in the U.S. Sorry if this is a "duh" question – you know I'm still totally on the learning curve here.

        • Sweden has a regime like that, with the resulting support payments being based on actual cost rather than lifestyle level support as in the US, because both parents are supporting homes for the kid(s) in any case. I do think that this is a viable approach as well for marriages with children. The main obstacle I see in it is that groups like NOW pretty consistently oppose the idea of default joint custody — they say because it encourages abusive men to remain involved in the lives of their children and ex-wives (even though every proposal for joint custody has provided exceptions for cases of abuse or other clear unfitness), but in reality I think the reason is because it results in both a loss of control over the process for women, as well as a financial loss. It would be better for children, and better for society (and in an indirect way therefore for women, too), but in a "direct" way it would be a "give" for women in terms of the default setting, which currently has them in control — hence NOW's opposition to changing the status quo to favor shared parenting arrangements. The politics of family law are really quite troubling, unfortunately. There is a bill currently pending in Tennessee. Let's see where that one goes.

        • Aldonza

          Sweden also has a lot more to offer all families in socialist support programs, such as cash payments to parents, affordable, quality daycare, and paid extended maternity and paternity leave policies. I'm all for public policies that make families a priority.

          Joint physical custody is the preferred option *when parents have shown that they can work together as co-parents for the good of the children*. In cases of severe conflict, it's worse than solo custody on the children. The NY law was going to impose shared custody on the people who've shown that they are *least* likely to be able to work together: those that can't even agree on custody. It was a very King Solomon "split the baby" law.

    • "Some cheated, some just left outright when the boredom got too much. Thank heaven the courts look sympathetically at the female persuasion these days when it comes to divorce- things didnt work out to badly for the wives."

      Wow. I propose we stricken the phrase "sanctity of marriage" from our vernacular. I think I died a little inside reading that. Thank heaven that the courts were sympathetic to wives who cheated or left because they were bored?
      My recent post So I Got a Scam Phone Call…

      • Athlone McGinnis

        "Some cheated, some just left outright when the boredom got too much. Thank heaven the courts look sympathetically at the female persuasion these days when it comes to divorce- things didnt work out to badly for the wives."

        Posts like this remind me of why I so strongly consider never marrying in this country(or many others in the west with few exceptions). Women in these places may settle for you later when past their prime, but they'll annihilate you thoroughly in divorce court and(if this post is to be taken at face value) not even think twice about it.

        Imagine being the beta in a marriage like that. What do you get out of it?

        Positives: consistent sex, at least for a period of time.

        Negatives: You only got this girl as a "sloppy seconds" offering. She gave the best years of her life to guys who couldn't have cared less about her. Your reward for actually giving a damn is an older woman past her prime who, while she may still look decent, is probably not as attractive as she was right after college and has plenty of baggage left over that YOU, Mr. Nice Guy, get to lug around.

        And when she inevitably leaves you? Lose your house, say goodbye to up to half of your income, lose custody of your kids, and surrender your dignity and self esteem. Hell, you probably wont even see it coming.

        Yeah, sign me up for that!

        • Aldonza

          You need to stop reading so much of the manosphere stuff. It's terribly myopic and has a clear agenda in creating the attitudes it espouses.

          Readhttp://www.marriedmansexlife.com/. Even if you don't intend to marry, it has lots on relationship game that will benefit you more than Roissy's "cheat on her to get 'gina tingle" brand of relationship advice.

        • I'll second this. Athol Kay believes in a mix of alpha and beta traits for LTRs. He is one of the only bloggers getting this right. Game bloggers tend to focus on short-term conquests, which is fine if it meets their needs. But guys who want relationships are much better off learning about the whole range of traits women select for long-term mating.

        • Athlone McGinnis

          Well I've seen Athol comment a few times and I liked what he had to say so I'll check out the blog.

          But I still can't help but ask…why?

          Was I wrong about everything I said? If you're a beta, you will most likely(not always) end up with sloppy seconds. Betas don't attract many of their similarly aged peers when they're young. She will have went for plenty of alphas before you, and that means baggage.

          You will end up dealing with it to some extent at least and, in some cases, having to live up to it. As a natural beta with ingrained beta tendencies, it'll be pretty easy to mess this up(face it, game isn't easy to get right-i it were, we wouldn't be talking). And if you do that and you're married in the USA? You're screwed. Let's face it, the MRA crowd may be cynical(I have read the spearhead extensively) but are they ENTIRELY wrong? As far as marriage goes in the US, I'd say they might have a point.

          I mean, that whole path just seems like a pretty raw deal for a beta. You wait much longer to be able to get and potentially start an LTR with the woman since your beta traits turned girls off when you were younger. Then you have to work much harder to keep her in order to overcome your own natural tendencies and her past(her alpha exes didn't have to do that). And if you fail this monumental challenge and you're American, you lose just about everything. That kinda sucks, I'm not gonna lie.

          Now I understand why so many young betas hone in on Roissy and others like him. Why not? Athol is a good guy, but following that strategy and considering the caveats I outlined above, Roissy's darker game style seems a lot more appealing. I mean its risky and not without downsides, but you'll avoid a lot of those issues I outlined above.

          Of course, being who I am I'll probably not go down that path either(I have other solutions myself, including a few advised to me here) but is it all that hard to see why so many betas do, and later decide to opt out of marriage?
          In our modern sexual marketplace, the incentives for a LTR are shockingly low. And incentives drive behavior.
          So why bother?

        • Lisette

          Or she might have been the hypothetical quiet, pretty girl in the library discussed in one of the other threads on this page who wasn't doing a lot of partying or hooking up. Seriously. I know lots of good girls who didn't sleep their way through an entire fraternity in college. Actually, I don't know anyone who did that (or who admits to it, at least). I really don't like the story that women are ALL out nailing as many alphas as possible and planning to go "sloppy seconds" for a beta someday down the line. There's probably some truth to it, but I don't think it captures the whole picture, either.

        • Lisette

          To clarify, I was responding to this portion of AMG's post:

          Was I wrong about everything I said? If you're a beta, you will most likely(not always) end up with sloppy seconds. Betas don't attract many of their similarly aged peers when they're young. She will have went for plenty of alphas before you, and that means baggage.

          I can't speak to the marriage/divorce issue; haven't studied it at all.

        • Lisette is making a very important point here. The Gamesphere tends to line things up in black and white. There is much truth, but there is also much generalization or "maxims" that don't reflect women accurately. They will reflect some women, so they will ring true, especially for men who have been disappointed by women.

          A third of women graduate college as virgins. Of the two-thirds that don't, the average number of partners is < 2. There are women whose number is high, but there are also a high percentage who have been with only one guy. In your current environment, you are interacting with women who are likely to have sex with 10 or more people in college, and they're all gunning for Alpha.

          There are many young women who appreciate many of the traits in a man that Roissy would dismiss as beta. I'm not talking about being supplicating, weak, overeager, etc. I'm talking about men who are generous, affectionate, and emotionally astute. I would say most women do want those traits in a partner.

          However, the man must have enough confidence to weather the early stages, because it demonstrates his belief in his own worth. The lack of that self-respect is what women will sniff out in a nanosecond and it will kill sexual attraction.

          As for Roissy vs. Athol, you might as well be talking Sith and Jedi. All I can say is that you should look at the two lives these men are leading. Athol is happily married and his wife totally has the hots for him after years and two kids. He is strong but gentle. He describes himself as a sucker for oxytocin.

          Roissy is 42. He still goes out to bars, looking around the room constantly, sizing up worthy targets. And they are never older than 23. Even during times when he was dating someone long-term, he feels compelled to go out and run Game. He is on record as recommending lying as much as necessary to maximize access to poon from numerous women. He stated (in a post he has since deleted) that some of the best sex he ever had was when he was degrading women.

          Here's the bottom line though: Athol is a many who consistently expresses his satisfaction with his relationship and his life. Roissy is a man who is brilliant and funny, but also lonely and miserable. He walks around DC tossing out charming lines but he is always approaching, always alone, always looking for the next person to make him feel something.

          Be careful Athlone. Think about the real rewards – the kind of woman you want, and what you want to have with her. You are very young, but following Roissy too closely is like going down a rabbit hole. It's a dark place, and it's hard to get out again.

        • Dilithium

          I like the "how's that workin' out for you?" comparison between the real lives of Athol vs Roissy; it brings focus back to the basic question of, what kind of life do you want to have? However, speaking just personally I suspect the appeal of reading Roissy over Athol for a young man in AMG's position (and many like him) is not the lifestyles the two men achieve, but simply that Roissy provides more validation for the young man's experience and that's a very important commodity.

          Now, Susan, this comment is pretty straightforward but does have some weak points that I think are worth highlighting:

          "I'm not talking about being supplicating, weak, overeager, etc. I'm talking about men who are generous, affectionate, and emotionally astute."

          There's no absolute standard of these things, it's all in the woman's subjective judgement. What looks like generosity to one might look like supplication to another. So you shouldn't advise glibly, as though these are easy to distinguish. Remember, anyone can criticize a tightrope walker: if he falls off the left of the wire, anyone in the audience can say "You leaned too far to the left!" and the same for leaning too far to the right. But how many people in the audience can actually walk the tightrope themselves? It's easy to _say_ "just strike the right balance," but anyone who says that should acknowledge that it's hard for most, and likely impossible for many to accomplish.

          "However, the man must have enough confidence to weather the early stages, because it demonstrates his belief in his own worth."

          This doesn't scan for me. Bluntly, I think it shows more self-worth _not_ to agree to be mis-treated and de-valued again and again. Also, I think it's somewhat contradictory to say that confidence helps one weather the early stages; if things are not going your way, then what exactly are you being confident of? Remember, the people who best weather rejection are narcissists, misogynists and sociopaths; so the ability to weather rejection per se is not necessarily something to be valued by itself, if you ask me.

        • As always, Dilithium, your criticism is fair and right on. There is a question of degree, or balance, and that will vary from woman to woman. I don't mean to be glib, but I can understand how it might sound that way. You're addressing something really important here, which is the ability to read social cues. I think it's very hard for some guys to gauge what is supplication vs. generosity for a particular woman. Obsidian says watch what women do, not what they say, and that's valid, but can be very hard to get a quick read on.

          Re your second point, I didn't mean difficulty or mistreatment in the early stages, and certainly not rejection. I just mean surviving long enough to not be disqualified based on a superficial impression with one particular woman. I just mean managing to communicate confidence or self-respect during that initial nerve wracking time when you have no idea how things will go. Women are ruthless in picking up on nervousness, etc. and it never bodes well for the guy. Again, I don't mean to be glib saying "Be confident!" I know that isn't helpful. It's a tough personal development task, and it requires practice, but it's a worthy goal not just for relationships but for everything in life. Social skills are essential, there's no shortcut.

        • Aldonza

          Be careful about drinking Roissy's koolaid. "Sith Game" as Susan refers to it relies heavily on black and white thinking. A girl is either on the cock carousel, sloppy seconds or too ugly to be. A guy is either an alpha stud, getting laid every night, or he's a pathetic loser beta or omega. There is no room for anything that doesn't fit neatly into their theories.

          Evo-psych and game absolutely are real, but they are far from the only thing influencing human behavior. People are so much more complicated and fascinating than even the mighty Roissy can fully comprehend.

          If you choose to view the world only through that lens, be assured that that is all that you will see. However, I believe that you're astute enough to incorporate the things that game can teach you, but still stay open enough to be surprised and delighted by romantic love .

        • Athlone McGinnis

          Ideally i'd prefer to just find a middle ground between the two. I might not be able to pull that off here and now, but in the future I think I have a way to get there.

          I was just providing my example to try and illustrate the dilemma some guys are facing. As Dilithium said, Roissy style game can seem more appealing for several reasons. why not join the dark side?
          I try to keep an open mind though. Blogs like this do help with that.

  • Aldonza

    Men are just as susceptible to women when it comes to feeling attraction during periods of risk or danger.

    This tells me that there is a such thing as "Girl Game" and it probably uses a lot of the same principles as regular Game.

    • Yes, but only after he's attracted. An ugly woman acting psycho is going to have few takers. However, once a guy gets invested in some way, I do think he can get pulled in by drama. Also, the risk factor has got to be real. Those guys who had an adrenaline rush on the bridge may have called the women, but I wouldn't think the attraction would persist if the women were plain as vanilla on a date. That implies that a man who can't resist a truly risky woman is probably turned on by "hired guns" and other nighttime ladies.

    • LesserBeta

      There is such a thing as girl game. To increase your sexual market value, you can:

      – have a good hips to waist ratio
      – have big, well-shaped boobs
      – work out (without getting bulky)
      – shower and wear decent clothes
      – be 18-30 years old

      This is how you generate a penis tingle, just like showing social dominance generates a gina tingle.

      • Game implies strategy, but this is hardly a strategy. This is the hand women get dealt.

        HWR? Totally genetic.
        Boobs? Same. Breast enhancement looks like half grapefruits.
        Work out – yes certainly a good idea. However, at my gym there are many fit women, even instructors and trainers, who look larger than most guys would prefer.
        Shower and dress nicely – Yes, good grooming is imperative, and not a problem for most women.
        Be 18-30 years old – Self-explanatory.

        So in terms of women having tools they can use to take it up a couple of notches – no.

        • LesserBeta

          Of all the bullets on the list, I'd assign far more weight to the physical fitness aspect. And there is a hell of a lot you can do to improve on that.

          Starting off the new year, I was a little chunky at 185 pounds. I am now 168 pounds less than 5 months later and now have my strong "V" shape and muscle definition back again. In the same period of time, I don't think my "game" has changed that much. It's very difficult to change old habits and become a fundamentally different person from who you are. And if you're not meeting a whole lot of women, it's hard to get practice.

          Your body shape/figure can be measured numerically, so it's easy to see the fruits of your labour paying off. With guy game, it's easy to get caught in a cycle where you need success to gain success. Very few women would be taken off the sexual marketplace by their breasts being too small or their face being too ugly. But TONS of women take themselves off the sexual marketplace by letting themselves go…and it's a tradgedy. Obesity is a big problem in Canada, and it's an epidemic in the US.

        • LesserBeta

          Re: Fitness women: I can't speak for every guy out there, but I find a woman with a bit of muscle to be very attractive, so long as:

          a) It doesn't come with a butch demeanor and she still has a soft side.
          b) She isn't bigger than me, since I'm a fairly strong guy for my stature (I run half-marathons and bench significantly more than my weight). My outlook might be different if I was a really scrawny/weak guy.

          I think a lot of guys are scared away by (reasonably) physically strong women because they feel their manhood being threatened and need to compete with them. Same thing with guys who won't date a woman who's a couple of inches taller. But in that same light, a strong woman will usually want an extra strong man and a tall woman will want an extra tall man.

      • Aldonza

        Pfeh. Generating penis tingle is easy. Generating genuine interest in pursuing more than a booty call is where the challenge is for women. I have friends who are flat-out blessed in all of the attributes you mention. Strangely enough, they do no better in securing the kind of relationships they want than their less blessed sisters. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that for some of them, beauty is a hindrance.

        • No question, beauty is a hindrance. I wrote about this a while back – Do Pretty Girls Have it Harder?
          https://www.hookingupsmart.com/2009/09/11/hookingu

        • LesserBeta

          I know what I'm thinking…Cry me a river!

          Thing is, I'm sure those very pretty girls would only accept the top 5% of guys, so that's their problem.

        • Haha, I actually used the phrase "cry me a river" in the post. You certainly wouldn't be alone in feeling that way. The problem for them is that they know their mating value and they feel they should be able to secure commitment without being promiscuous. The men who, as you say, would have been their natural suitors two generations ago will now not be bothered with their demands for commitment. There is far easier prey to be had. I actually think there's an opportunity here for the other 95% of guys, but you will need to have excellent social skills, including confidence, to pull it off. Tough to do.

    • LesserBeta

      It really doesn't use the same principles as regular game at all. However, as far as the "bad girl" thing is concerned, it can sometimes make the girl more approachable and she may find herself having more opportunities for sex than the pretty but quiet girl sitting in the library. Taking iniatiative is good girl game (and is exceedingly rare in the field). And being fun, witty, and flirtatious can significantly increase your chance of the guy calling you back after date 1 (or for that matter, you calling him back and him accepting)…if sufficient looks-based attraction is there, your level of "fun" can knock your rating up a couple of points.

      Of course, this doesn't necessarily have to equate to mean, drama-loving psycho bitch. I can't understand why any guy finds that attractive, but I've sadly seen some of my friends fall for such women.

      • However, as far as the "bad girl" thing is concerned, it can sometimes make the girl more approachable and she may find herself having more opportunities for sex than the pretty but quiet girl sitting in the library.

        This is where it goes off the rails for a lot of women. More opportunities for sex is worth zero. In fact, it's hugely detrimental to women to be hitting all those bids. It's hard to be the pretty girl sitting in the library, but just as many betas will need more time to come into their own, these young women need more time before they will be appreciated for their self-discipline and patience.

  • Aldonza

    Yes, but only after he's attracted. An ugly woman acting psycho is going to have few takers.

    I think it's the same for an ugly/very low-status guy. There needs to be a basic level of attraction before Game can take hold. I think some men are very turned on by bitches. I've even had some of them admit it to me. Further, most of the bitchiest women I've known have had no problem attracting LTR mates. How is it that these women are called bitches, but a similar man would just "have natural game"?

    • Athlone McGinnis

      "I think it's the same for an ugly/very low-status guy."

      An ugly guy who has status(either tangible or conveyed through his confidence, assertiveness and/or use of game) will have takers.
      You are right when you say that a very low status guy would be in the same situation, but therein lies the caveat. A low status guy is not one equivalent to one without looks, its one without confidence/assertiveness/self-esteem, etc(read: Game).
      A butt ugly guy who may appear low status upon first glance can easily attain mid to high status in the sexual marketplace through use of his personality traits. Female attraction goes far past looks.

      With men the case is different. Some men may be obsessed with bitchy girls, but I'm willing to bet that these girls weren't ugly. An ugly guy can use his personality to increase his value and still get attractive women. An ugly girl cannot do the same because men are highly visceral. If she is unattractive, her bitchiness will do nothing for her. Your friends have their label because they don't need game to attract men. For a woman, decent looks will suffice(and you don't need to be a 10 either).

      Also consider the definition of the low status female. The low status girl is not one with a complete lack of confidence-its simply the girl who is unable to attract males physically. A shy good girl who looks very good is plenty high up on the sexual totem pole and, assuming she's at least a 5, will probably find plenty of suitors.
      The shy, good guy, by comparison, is at the bottom of the totem pole that is the sexual marketplace. He has a hard time finding a mate, even if he's good looking. He, unlike his female peer, cannot rely on his looks to consistently find partners, just as the unattractive female cant hope to win solely with her personality.

      For men, the root cause of attraction rests in the way a girl looks(and can only move further from there once a certain threshold is met with the girls looks). With women, status is king. The two aren't interchangeable.

      • Yes, this is my understanding as well.

      • Aldonza

        A butt ugly guy who may appear low status upon first glance can easily attain mid to high status in the sexual marketplace through use of his personality traits. Female attraction goes far past looks.

        I agree that a butt ugly guy may increase his attractiveness to women via his personality (I debate your description of "easily")…but he would still have to be amazingly high status to attract hot women, particularly for casual sex (as this seems to be the metric used to assess male status). Further, a butt ugly woman may have very low success in the casual sex/dating marketplace, but by virtue of her personality actually do OK in the LTR game.

        If she is unattractive, her bitchiness will do nothing for her.

        Oh, I dunno, I've known some damn ugly bitches in my time. LOL! But as I said above, I agree that for *both*, there has to be a minimum level of attraction before anything else matters. Fortunately for most women, that "minimum level" is probably quite a bit lower than they think.

        A shy good girl who looks very good is plenty high up on the sexual totem pole and, assuming she's at least a 5, will probably find plenty of suitors.

        I disagree. An attractive, shy girl can be written off as "stuck up" because she isn't friendly and outgoing to men who approach, particularly if she isn't the type to dress sexy and attend alcohol-laden social functions. Ask me how I know. I was a solid 7 when I was younger. I was asked out on a total of 3 dates before I married at age 25. Looking back, I certainly had lots of men interested, but I did a good job of giving off the "leave me alone" vibe. I think I was the classic Omega Girl.

        Please don't misunderstand me, I believe in evo-psych and game. I'm not at all denying that in the sexual marketplace value is defined as looks for women and status (real or socially gained) for men. But the dimensions that make up "value" for a LTR are very different. Both men and women put varying degrees of requirement on traits other than physical attractiveness and status. How a man makes me feel, how he treats his mother, how he treats service staff, shared interests and intellectual chemistry, shared life goals actually do come into play when thinking about spending your life with someone…or they should. For instance, I've turned down second dates with high status men who under-tipped.

        Frankly, as much as we coach women about not using those "alpha" attributes for trying to choose a LTR, men should be equally aware about the hazards of doing the equivalent of that with women.

        • Up above I link to my post Do Pretty Girls Have it Harder? and they most definitely do. They intimidate the guys who would like an LTR with them, and they're too much trouble for guys looking for a quick lay. Their price is too high for the young guys. They need to sit tight and stay smart about what they deserve in a relationship – they will be valued much more in a few years.

    • I don't equate the two. To me psycho bitch = total douchebag, not someone with natural Game. It's a question of character. Also, for guys, I don't think ugly and low-status are the same thing, e.g. Tony Soprano. There are lots of men that women consider "sexy ugly." Women can't get away with that, unfortunately.

      I do think that being a bitch can be a good thing, btw, as in "Don't mess with me." Women will only be treated poorly if they allow themselves to be, and if a woman who won't tolerate disrespect is a bitch, I'm on board. In this post I was talking about women who are continually in a hyperemotional state.

  • Steve

    The interesting thing is that with some girls – I am perceived as a bad boy, and with other more hardcore girls see me as a nice guy. In reality Im both. I have done some crazy things and can behave in unpredictable edgy and eccentric ways, but at my core I am a very kind sensitive person (and most people who know me attest to that). Being around different people tends to bring out different aspects of you in my experience. If someone is constantly pushing you towards the edge – you are moving in to safety. If someone is rooted in safety – you are pushing towards the edge….In relationships I prefer to be the one nudging towards the edge – because I know – I trust myself to be able to find that edge and control the limit – and I love the feeling of being able to go to that place knowing there is a 'nice girl' who has the love and resources to support me in my pursuits and I can test my limits. I know Im not a dysfunctional bad boy because my true nature is love for those I care about – not self-absorption. I think and hope that is some comfort to people who I am in relationships with. What I dont like and dont want to be associated with – is people who you cannot trust to know where the edge is – where the boundaries lie and who dont know themselves. People who cannot control themselves and end up causing hurt. I think there is excitement, and then there is actual danger. Two different things. What could be better than excitement with a knowing feeling of love and safety?

    • What could be better than excitement with a knowing feeling of love and safety?

      Nothing. That's as good as it gets.

    • I've been thinking about this and it's an interesting idea. We tailor our level of "badness" for our audience. For example, a stripper is probably going to define bad boy differently than a PhD student. It's also interesting that you look for women who provide a sort of safety net while you take risks. So you get excitement with safety, and they get safety with excitement. Sounds like a winning formula.

      • Steve

        "We tailor our level of "badness" for our audience."

        Totally! But rather than a conscious decision its more like a natural balancing – like a reflection of the person or people we are with…and it happens naturally…different people bringing out different aspects of our character…thats what it seems like to me…

  • That would explain the corollary of Bad Boy susceptibility: Why do men always seem to go for psycho b*tches? Guys say they hate drama, but they always go back for more. Dopamine!

    Wow. I was hoping you would get to this as I was reading the first part. I'm constantly cycling through different girls, but I absolutely love the psycho chicks. That emotional roller coaster is more satisfying than random sex.
    My recent post Puja – Dana Pt. 2

    • haha, there you go! OK, so can you tell us why? What draws you in? Why don't you feel like they're just a pain in the ass?

      • I'm not really sure. My emotions are normally very weak, but psycho chicks manage to make me feel strongly. Being with a psycho chick gives me the opportunity to experience emotions that I otherwise would not have.

        • If I were a therapist, I would start scribbling in my notebook right now! I'm not really sure what this means either, but I think it is extremely interesting. The emotional life of men – that's complicated and involves a whole lot of both nature and nurture, it seems to me. Great food for thought here – might be a future post!

    • Aldonza

      I'm just riffing here, but my theory is that "psycho" behavior in women could actually a social marker of her status in the dating marketplace. (And by psycho, I mean that bitchy, demanding, princess attitude, not the creepy stalker/clingy/bunny boiling psycho.)

      I still think "Game" for girls exists.

      • This is actually the best indication I've heard that it might. If guys are drawn to crazy behavior, then it stands to reason that a slightly less attractive crazy might get the guy over a prettier stable woman.

  • Aldonza

    What could be better than excitement with a knowing feeling of love and safety?

    Isn't that what most of us are really looking for?

  • Cult Her Imports

    "I love the feeling of being able to go to that place knowing there is a 'nice girl' who has the love and resources to support me in my pursuits and I can test my limits."

    Resources to support you?

    *vomits*

  • Michael

    I am surprised no one has ever thought of making synthetic dopamine and using it as a drug.

    • It’s complicated, because dopamine can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. We’re not there on the technology, but we’re bound to be at some point, and then we’ll have to decide whether we want to get a dopamine high even when we’re not doing things that produce it naturally. That could get complicated!

  • Erik

    I think the whole “bad boy” versus “nice guy” debate, is based on misconceptions and mislabeling. For instance, a “nice guy” is often described as a passive, spineless male who’ll let any female walk all over him. Conversely, a “bad boy” is said to have confidence, but that’s not always the case. Some men act cocky and sleep around because of insecurity. It’s a case of the smallest dog barking the loudest.

    I consider myself neither a typical bad boy nor a typical nice guy. I have traits that would go under both stereotypes. I’m detached, I have a strong backbone, and I can be blunt, which are stereotypical “bad boy” traits, but I’m also polite, honest, loyal and not a typical risk taker. I think that a balance between varuious traits, is where it’s at.

  • Erik, thanks for leaving a comment. I think you make a good point – we tend to rely on convenient labels, when often people are a complicated mix of traits. It sounds like you have a pretty good combination going there….

  • kofybean

    soo… women have not evolved enough to break away from cave man (cavewomen?) needs from 10,000 BC?

    And women have no ability to control themselves and have no common sense capable of fighting the all powerful Dopamine?

    That’s why they like unpredictable men… especially if he unpredicably beats the crap out of her?

    And That’s why they like rebel men who don’t conform to society… especially if he leaves her after getting her pregnant… cuz… hey! he’s a rebel!! And that’s what she wanted!

    nice.

  • @Kofybean
    I said this in the post:

    Both sexes are vulnerable to the effects of dopamine, which creates some unholy pairings. Men who embrace risk-seeking and novelty are rewarded by the dopamine cycle. They in turn, attract women who share the same propensity. This is especially true in adolescence.

    .
    Some men are players or jerks, and some women are especially vulnerable to players and jerks. It’s my view that the most promiscuous, i.e. risk and novelty seeking, people tend to find one another.

  • modernguy

    Looking for thrills is one thing. Drugs, violence, degradation, that’s different side. For example we don’t go to war and kill to get a thrill, we have sports. It is possible to have fun without doing all these negative things.