Why Good Girls like Bad Boys


When women are asked what qualities they find important in a man they have a relationship with, they often give answers like “he has to be sensitive, kind, honest, loyal, supportive, romantic, intelligent, a good listener and not afraid to cry in front of me.” I have, however, noticed through the years that a lot of women in reality choose men who lack the qualities those women say they are looking for.

The following experience sheds some light on the underlying cause of this phenomenon.

Some years back I had a girlfriend who is a psychotherapist. We were both fascinated by the differences between men and women. We used to have lots of discussions about this matter, trying to clarify the dynamics of relationships.

During one of these conversations she explained to me that getting sexual feelings towards me was dependent on me being sweet and considerate towards her. Later on in the same conversation, she told me that if she saw a macho guy, she could feel a purely sexual attraction towards him.

I subsequently confronted her with her two contradictory statements. On the one hand she said sexual feelings are elicited by sweet and considerate behavior. On the other hand she said that macho behavior (which in itself is not sweet nor considerate) can be sexually attractive.

After contemplating this contradiction, she had the following insight:

Women have two kinds of needs: An “emotional need” and a “physical need,” as she put it.

The emotional need is the need for someone who is sensitive, kind, honest and loyal. This need has to do with being able to connect deeply with each other, like the connection women have with their best female friend.

The physical need pertains to the primitive need for survival and protection. Macho behavior is associated with an alpha male who can ‘bring home the bacon’ and fight off enemies.

Sensitivity, kindness and honesty are personality traits that generally make it less easy to compete succesfully in this harsh world.

So in the matter of partner choice, women’s physical need will often prevail over their emotional need, because survival and protection are more primal needs than the need for a deep emotional connection. That’s why, as the saying goes, “Nice guys sleep alone.”

A lot of women are less aware of the physical need, because it is more of an unconscious drive than the emotional need. Also the physical need is less favorable to how women want to perceive themselves and so they tend to be more in denial about that part of themselves. So in this matter, they often say one thing and do the other.