What's Wrong With Nice Guys?

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Why Do We Love Bad Boys?

The going (and rather creepy) theory -- usually advanced by nice guys complaining about the "jerks" who get their girls -- is that women must simply like to be mistreated. That's not a very nice thing to say, is it? There's actually much more to this seemingly paradoxical pull, such as:

  • Low self-esteem. True, some women do think, on some level: "I don't deserve someone better." (It comes in other versions, too, such as: "You're right, drugs are more interesting than I am," etc.)
  • Dear old dad. It's an Oedipal thing. That is, we have the sense that our fellas should not be like our fathers. As single New Yorker Janet, 30, puts it: "If a guy treats me well he reminds me of my father. I don't want to date my father."
  • Not so dear old dad. There's also the opposite scenario. "Did Dad abandon us through divorce? Was he emotionally unavailable? Abusive? Having an affair?"asks Dr. Lieberman. "Those kinds of scenarios drive us to prove we are loveable by making a hard-to-get bad boy love us."
  • Homme Improvement. "Women love projects," says Janet. "Bad boys suggest that alterations can be made."
  • Feeling special. "I used to think that dating someone who snubbed the rest of the population but nuzzled with me was quite a victory," says single woman Melissa, 25, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Challenge, danger, adventure. We want them; bad boys offer them. (Who says we're the weaker sex?)

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