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Do Nice Guys Lose & Bad Boys Win?

May 26, 2011 | Danelle

A recent study published by the American Psychological Association on Tuesday found that women are more attracted to men who look shameful, brooding or prideful and that men who smile are actually seen as less attractive:

Women find happy men less sexually attractive than those with expressions that show pride or hint that they have done wrong and know it, according to Canadian researchers….In a man, a big smile may make him appear too feminine or more desperate for sex.

Although the reasons for why this is true are disputed, one thing can be sure: many women are attracted to bad boys. Further, this is not a new phenomenon.  Going all the way back to nineteenth century literature, we can find examples of bad boys getting the girl. Lord Byron introduced the “Byronic Hero,” who has all the qualities the study mentions, and authors like Charlotte Bronte along with her sister, Emily, popularized the “attractive bad boy” in their fiction. Take Mr. Rochester from C. Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.  Rochester is moody, demanding, has a big secret, and he is not  even the most handsome guy. He is brooding, passionate, and tortured. He is a beast, yet Jane Eyre falls madly for him and tries to tame his beastly nature. The same goes for Heathcliff in E. Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. He has a tortured past as an orphan, a predominant cruel streak, and is a loner, but is desperately in love with Catherine, the main character. Though the ending has a sad and unexpected twist, it is clear that Catherine loves Heathcliff despite his beastly behavior.

If you think about it, the thought of taming a beastly man is enchanting, and pop culture took that thought and ran with it. I could go on and on about the bad boys of today: James Dean, Edward Cullen from Twilight, Bender from The Breakfast Club, Danny from Grease, Spike from Buffy, and Fonzie from Happy Days are just a few of the many examples of beastly/tortured/bad boy/brooding men that attract women. (Also see: “Dude Watching with the Brontes”)

Nice guys, are you still reading this? I am sure all this talk of “bad boys” is a bit demoralizing, but I have an important piece of information for you:

Women may be attracted to bad boys, but women fall in love with men who smile, joke, are nice, well-mannered, and treat them well. Those are the relationships that last long term, says the study, and many women will attest to that from experience. No matter how enticing the bad boy is, the nice guy will get the girl in the real world.

See? Nice guys do win.

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