Chapter 22: Man not bad, woman won’t bed

Faint heart never won fair lady

nán rén bù huài, nǚ rén bù ài

Inexperienced men often feel that women are inclined to hook up with lousy guys who treat them badly. They claim that these “bastards” do not deserve these ladies because they do not appreciate them enough or fail to handle them with the respect they deserve. Indeed, some girls admit being attracted to cads who, so experience or common sense teaches us, could hurt them physically or emotionally. Based on what is mentioned in other sections of the book[1], this hypothesis may sound rather counter-intuitive. After all, would it not be more logical if women invariably partnered off with males who are nice to them, care about them, make them feel safe, remain faithful, etc.? What could ever draw a female into the arms of someone who is likely to abuse her, insult her, neglect her, or cheat on her?

The objective of this chapter is to look into this phenomenon, to explain why so many chicks prefer bad boys. We will also examine the popu­larity of handsome men (who some­times are considered for sexual purposes only), although we have repeatedly been told that women mostly cared about the personality and the inner value of prospective mates, as oppo­­sed to physical appea­rance[2]. One of the lessons to be taught here is that men and women are perhaps not as diffe­rent as one may think, at least not when it comes to the selec­tion of sex partners. What is important to remember in this context, though, is that the insights shared here are not meant as a generalisation of women’s desires and preferences. Not every woman is attracted to playboys and jerks, so men should certainly not assume that they have to act like one in order to be successful with ladies.

In many classical love stories, it is not necessarily the “nice guy” who gets the girl at the end. The character who represents the kind, understanding, sensitive gentleman willing to commit, consistently seems to lose the game. No matter how hard he tries, the heroine ignores his advances or rejects him, as she discovers that she cannot genuinely love this man, at least not sexually. She may have warm feelings for him, but in her eyes, he is still just a doormat.[3] Stuck in the so-called “friend zone”, he has no chance to be promoted in her heart, thereby confirming the motto that “nice guys finish last”. Well-known examples include Ashley Wilkes (in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell), Mr. Bingley (in Pride and Pre­judice by Jane Austen), Nick Carraway (in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald), or Frédéric Moreau (in Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert). Compare these fates to the relative victories of Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind), Mr. Darcy (Pride and Pre­ju­dice), Tom Buchanan (The Great Gatsby), and Jacques Arnoux (Sentimental Edu­cation), who all get what they fight for. Although their personalities are far from perfect, they are seen as the true heroes, if not by the general audience, then at least by the females they are chasing after in the story.

Similarly to the virgin-whore dichotomy occurring in the mind of many men,[4] many con­tem­­porary females classify the world of bachelors into “wimps, geeks, and nerds on the one side, and pricks and bastards on the other”[5],[6]. The former include candidates who pro­bably meet some of the requirements (e.g., a stable employment, generosity, willingness to com­mit), but for one reason or another finally prove unfit for the job. The latter do have that little something that qualifies them as lovers but are somehow reluctant to fully devote themselves to her (either because they are immature, cannot help philandering, or simply wish to keep their freedom). So what is this little something that makes them so irresistible? Each “bad boy” has his own tricks to seduce a woman. Steve Santagati, for instance, sug­gests three strategies in his Manual – A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date and Mate: 1) Tell her that she is beautiful (or pay her compliments in a way that she feels special); 2) encourage naughtiness (in particular, let her open up about her own fantasies); 3) pick up occasional fights (in order to trigger her anger and find out how she really feels).[7] Of course, these techniques could all be rated as manipulative, but what are woma­nisers if not masters of influence and deception?



[1]    See chapters 17 “Finding a good job is nothing compared to finding a good husband” and 18 “A man of determination will surely succeed”.

[2]    See also chapter 19 “If you plant melons, you get melons; if you plant beans, you get beans”.

[3]    Townsend (1998), p. 149

[4]    See chapter 1 “Men are like mud, women are like water”.

[5]    Townsend (1998), p. 146

[6]    See chapter 26 “A sly rabbit has three burrows”.

[7]    Santagati (2007), pp. 22-23

Chapter 21: You can’t lead the life of a whore and expect a chastity monument

You can't have your cake and eat it too

jì dāng biǎo zi, yòu xiǎng lì pái fāng

“It’s a trap!” This is what not a few men think of marriage and long-term relationships. In their mind, matrimony is an invention of women to control them, to rob them of their freedom. For them, the marriage certificate represents a one-way ticket to a Groundhog Day-esque existence marked by boredom, tedium, and expectedness. “Till death us do part” is not really want they want to hear on that special day, even if they deeply love their signi­ficant other. Many of them are afraid of losing not only their independence but also their edge as an eligible bachelor. The perhaps most terrifying aspect of all in this context is the pros­pect of sleeping with the same person for the rest of one’s life.[1]

Single life presents numerous advantages – also for women. These include privacy, addi­tional free time, guiltless flirting, the avoidance of conflicts, or increased flexibility (in terms of cooking, weekend planning, holiday destinations, career choices, etc.). By not being in a relationship, a woman has the entire bed, the closet, the refrigerator, and the bath­room all to herself. She does not have to spend time with anyone else’s friends, can get up at any time she wants during the weekend, has full control over the TV remote, escapes awk­ward family dinners, can focus on herself, her own goals, and make her own big deci­sions. Furthermore, what could be more galvanising than the tingling prospect of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right when going out next time and the excitement of a first kiss? Not to men­tion the possibility of indulging in casual sex…

Considering the variety of perks of singlehood and non-committed liaisons, it is not sur­prising to hear males and females say that they do not want to be tied down and prefer to keep their options open. However, one should be aware that this attitude has the potential of causing disappointment or resentment in the other partner. For example, if a man possesses the right assets to be a long-term partner (including a good health, a well-paid job, a high socio-economic status), but fails to channel all these resources to the woman he has been with for a certain time, she will inevitably ask herself questions. She may start to doubt his sin­cerity, his integrity, or faithfulness.[2] Even worse, if she has the impression that her boy­friend or fiancé “only” wants to have sex with her without investing in her (financially, but also in terms of time, emotions, sympathy, fondness), that he hesitates to engage in the nece­s­sary next steps, or that he seeks to disperse his devotion across several females, she is likely to develop feelings of degradation or of being used. Emotional distress can emerge as soon as she perceives a discrepancy between the level of involvement she expects or desires from the man and his actual engagement.[3] Once she deems him as “commitment-phobic”[4], there is a risk that she will lose her passion, lowering her own dedi­cation to him, at which stage the quality of the relation could suffer substan­tial­ly.

The proverb giving its name to this chapter thus reminds people that one cannot have it both ways or, stated differently, that “you cannot have everything for nothing”. In the language of love, it means that someone cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of a relation­ship (for exam­ple sex, catering, support, shared costs, etc.) without bearing the legal and financial obli­ga­tions of a more formal partnership. The message here, to men in particular: Sooner or later, you have to commit, otherwise your girlfriend will leave you. Notice also that the original (Chinese) version is often used to describe situations involving falseness and hypo­crisy, respectively to expose cheaters and pretenders – just like the girl who feigns virtuous­ness and chastity, but in fact sleeps around like everyone else (for money, her own pleasure, or any other reason). It can therefore also be interpreted as a warning sign against promis­cuity and adultery, which, however, are covered in other chapters.[5]



[1] Titus / Fadal (2009), p. 15

[2]    Buss (2003), pp. 41-42

[3]    Townsend (1998), pp. 34, 39

[4]    Carter / Sokol (1987)

[5]    See chapters 26 “A sly rabbit has three burrows”, 35 “No cat can resist snatching fish”, and 36 “Looking for a horse while riding a mule”.