Nice Guys and Bad Boys

Killian Jones, from Once Upon A Time

Captain Hook, from Once Upon A Time

“Nice guys finish last” and “Girls like bad boys.” You hear it all the time. It’s common knowledge, so it must be true, right? I’ve even said or thought similar things my self — “He’s a nice guy, but I just don’t find him attractive” or “I know he’s a bad guy, but there’s good in him.”

There are several psychological reasons why girls are attracted to “bad boys.” They might be looking for someone who reminds them of their father, or someone who is his complete opposite. They might enjoy the thrill of being around someone who takes risks and seeks out adventure and excitement. They might want to redeem him or enjoy the idea of being the one person he actually cares about.

I think one of the main attractions, though, — and a reason that stereotypical “nice guys” fall short — is confidence. Bad boys project an image of “I know who I am, I like who I am, and I know what I want.” That’s incredibly attractive. Even if it’s covering a vulnerable core, that self-assurance tells girls that you aren’t looking for them to complete you or mother you. You don’t have to be good to be confident, or for that confidence to be attractive.

King Arthur, from Merlin

King Arthur, from Merlin

The problem with the stereotypical “nice guy” isn’t so much the fact that they are nice, but rather that they are self-effacing and lack confidence. They project an image of “I don’t expect you to like me,Β  but it would be nice if you did anyway.” Most girls would like to be treated well, but it’s not exciting to be treated well by a guy who doesn’t like himself and doesn’t give you much reason to see him as a romantic option.

But what happens if you pair being nice and gentlemanly with confidence? suddenly you’re the most attractive man in the room. You’re King Arthur or Thor. Even if you’re not confident romantically, simply having confidence in other areas and knowing who you are, why you have value, and what you want is still very attractive. Think Captain America and Mr. Darcy.

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12 thoughts on “Nice Guys and Bad Boys

  1. the struggle is real for guys! I battle with this a lot – I was raised to be a nice guy, and often feel that in playing that part I am not attractive to gals. After reading “Wild At Heart” I longed for that wild nature in me (sometimes manifesting as confidence or just simply being passionate and proactive) but I still struggle to find the balance of compassion/caring and wildness. It irks me to see “nice guys” finish last. I’ve lived that reality. What is particularly frustrating is when the “bad boys” are insensitive jerks but the gals go for them anyway! Girls say they want a sensitive caring guy, willing to talk about emotions etc… but then those guys always remain in the friend zone! *grumble grumble*

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    • I was actually thinking about you and what you’d told me about “Wild At Heart” while I was writing the last paragraph of this post. I really want to believe that being “good” or “nice” doesn’t mean a person can’t be passionate, bold, and confident (both for girls and guys, because I struggle with confidence as well). I guess a parallel for girls would be seeing the outgoing, “fun” girls who flirt with everyone and have no interest in long-term relationships getting all the attention from guys, while the quiet girls who want to be a wife and mother and don’t share their passionate side with just anyone are consistently over looked. It’s frustrating for all of us 😦

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      • That is very true – I hadn’t made the connection that there is a very similar struggle for gals. I feel like I get sucked into the norm when I gravitate toward outgoing gals, but if you asked me what qualities I want in a wife, it would be more of the “quiet girl who wants to be a wife and mother”

        I guess guys and gals are trying to find the balance of adventure and stability. Interesting thoughts. I wonder if this is address in the “Captivating” book at all. I should probably finally start reading it. (Because I would then understand women completely! Victory awaits me!)

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  2. I recently gave this very topic a lot of thought — and even wrote a blog post about it that I am hesitant to post… but the crux of my conclusion was thus:

    Attraction to the “bad boy” in fiction and literature is often how Christian girls “act out.” Because he is no threat either to our sexual virtue or our souls, we indulge in our enjoyment of his wicked, seductive, assertive, confident evil. These things attract us, because our inherent sin nature pulls us toward evil. Remember, that is part of our curse as women — that we will desire man… not even necessarily “made in God’s image” but as a reflection of an earthly corrupting force; after all, Eve was first drawn to the serpent — to Satan, who embodies everything we find most attractive in a “bad boy,” from seductiveness to rebelliousness.

    I have absolutely no qualms about stating that I am drawn to evil, to darkness, to strong, powerful men … and I’m not sure it’s a good thing; but I also don’t want to give it up. That is yet another area of my life in which I am holding on for dear life, saying, “Lord, can’t I just have THIS? It’s only a fantasy!” and He is saying, “Fantasies are important. They change lives. Let me have them all.”

    No, not yet. Please. I … enjoy liking Sean Renard and Lex Luthor. πŸ˜›

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  3. It’s strange how reality and fiction diverge so completely for me where good boys and bad boys are concerned. In real life, give me a good boy. Give me Macgyver or Mr. Knightley or any one of a number of gentlemen that are so obviously the good boys. But in literature, I see the appeal for the bad boys. They are sexy in ways that good boys never manage to achieve. It’s probably a good thing that bad boys don’t hold much of a draw for me in the real world, although if I were to ever meet a Lex Luthor type character, who knows!

    Great post, Marissa, and you raised some interesting thoughts that have me nailing down what it is about literary bad boys that attracts me, as an individual. I might just have to do a blog post too! πŸ˜‰

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