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

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