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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Why women are attracted to assholes

Illustration: the assholes get all the attention.
By Gillian Young

All the nice guys want to know. How are all their good intentions put to waste while jerks barely lift a finger and women come running? What is it about being an asshole that makes a man a sex god? For one thing, women are always complaining about the assholes. They can be heard from miles away as they whine over their non-fat lattes, “How are there no nice guys out there?” Then some guy walks in, undresses them with his eyes, flashes a sleazy smile and they melt. “Ooh he’s nice.”

There are a few things that separate assholes from other men. They are cocky, distant, proud, ignorant and sometimes rude. They are also extremely talented at picking up women. They are the men we cry over. They are the men who throw us into fits of depression and force us to spend the night with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s instead of a date.

The new best seller He’s Just Not That Into You tells women to forget him. The printing order originally set at 30,000 jumped to 410,000 in a flash. The book is addressed to women who make up excuses for their boyfriends, who in reality, just aren’t that into them. “The book is about being honest with yourself and setting your standards higher,” says co-author Greg Behrendt. This might be exactly what women need to do, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Time and time again, strong intelligent women are drawn to these dark creatures. Seduced by a standoffish attitude and a self-assured grin, the assholes always win women over.

There’s something to be said about the confidence of a typical jerk. About a smile that says “I can give you want you want”, and masculine hands that look like they know the way around a woman’s body. It’s not the abuse that keeps women coming back: it’s a man who seems to know what he’s doing. Think of Jack Nicholson, the man relies on confidence. Without that big cocky smile he could be any creepy old man. But now he’s a semi-sexy old guy who still stars in movies with younger babes.

Unfortunately, when his ego’s bigger than your credit card bills, it’s easy to brush off his bad sides. “We idealize. We see what we want to in our lover,” says Ursula Carsen, psychoanalyst. If the man thinks he’s a hero you might start to believe him. If he knows how to hold you, you can forget the stupid things he said.

Michel Champagne, 24, a student, idealized her boyfriend of many years. “The problem is some men don’t seem like assholes at first, and by then you’ve fallen in love with this amazing person you thought they were.”

Many of us are attached to the traditional idea of what a man should be. Driven by our personal fantasies about Superman, we think all men should be made of steel. “Women have an ideal image of the perfect man: macho, strong; secure,” says Carsen. She adds that being too nice won’t win a woman over. “If you come across overly nice you are not secure within yourself, you are too needy to please,” she says.

If a man calls, says he loves you, and is always on time, we tend to think “Oh my god, what personal issues does he have?”

Smart women are used to overcoming challenges. Whether it’s getting the kids to school on time or winning a court case, the job will be done. Everyday is a damn challenge if you wear stilettos to work. Challenges are invigorating and often empowering; sometimes women are drawn to challenges in their personal life as well. In Matthew Fitzgerald’s Sexploytation he says ‘Women are attracted to excitement; bad boys have a recklessness and untamed sexuality. They also represent a challenge.’

Nice guys go truth seeking at sites like, where there’s actually has a section called ‘How Jerks Date Beautiful Women’. It says that jerks have attractive qualities that make women blind to their abuse, that ‘women will rationalize and excuse the abusive behavior because they are so attracted to these other qualities.’ It goes on to list some of their attractive qualities as: unpredictable, uncontrollable, challenging and dominating.

As much as that sounds like a pain in the ass, if it’s all wrapped up in the sexy package of a man, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

A survey by Maxim magazine found that 13 per cent of girls date jerks because they think they can change them, and 36 per cent date jerks because it makes the sweet moments even sweeter.

Sheila*, 30, a phone sex operator, is used to men coming on to her, it’s part of the job description. Even with all the assholes that call in she says, “I’m just not into nice guys. I want adventure not appliances.”

Like most women, Sheila* loves a good challenge: “If you win a jerk’s heart, you feel like you’ve won something.” She also appreciates a man with confidence. “Even if all a guy has going for him is confidence, it’s sexy; it’s a power.” She adds that there’s nothing sexier than a man in a leather jacket. James Dean: you still make us weak in the knees.

Sometimes women know it’s not love, but that’s not what they’re looking for in the first place. Sometimes all a modern day woman wants is to make love, not be in love. “Our society is narcissistic; we are lonely individuals and are afraid of intimacy,” says Carsen, “We tend to thrive off sex and power and are void of love and connection.”

Nice guys are good for connection, long conversations, holding hands and having fun with, but it’s the assholes who get invited upstairs at the end of the night. In today’s day and age, being loving isn’t always enough. “Loving men often get labeled feminine or faggot,” says Carsen.

When she was younger Champagne was short on confidence. “I was an ugly duckling” she says. “I was desperate to find someone. Everybody wants to be loved,” she says. “Sometimes we crave attention from the people who won’t give it to us.”

But assholes are like most bodily pleasures, the joy they give is often short lasting. “When the asshole player types turn 40, they’re just gross, their sexiness becomes sleazy,” says Sheila. “When the nice guys turn 35 and are suddenly successful, that’s when women want them. That’s also when we want babies, a home, and a stable lifestyle.

At some point we all want to settle down and feel loved. So tell the nice guys in your life to hold on. When it’s reproduction time, they’ll be at the top of your speed dial.

As strange as it is, it is a common theory that women are attracted to men like their fathers. “Some women try and replace the father that wasn’t there emotionally or physically,” says Carsen. If you are used to certain relationships you feel the need to repeat them.

Rachel*, 36, an art dealer, settled down with an asshole in the past.
“I had a long-term relationship with an asshole. At first I thought he was different, rebellious and intellectual,” she says. Now she has had to move and change her phone number in trying to avoid him. “When he was abusive I stayed with him,” she says. “Through psychology, I realized I was drawn to assholes because of my abusive father.”

“The reality of this was an awakening,” she added. If you are able to confront this problem and face the reality of it, there is hope for you yet. Once you realize you’d never intentionally try dating a man like your father, you may think twice before trying to replace him. Even if he does have the body your father never had.

Unfortunately this isn’t a math equation and there is no well-defined answer. We can’t change whom we’re attracted to. Desire has a strong pull over every human being. Whether it’s a problem we have psychologically, or we just happen to go weak at the sight of a man with rippling biceps, we love what we love. And yes ladies and gentlemen, it does work both ways. Men don’t always fall for the girl next door. Along with He’s Just Not That Into You, Why Men Love Bitches is a worthy read for men who suffer from a similar affliction.

*Names have been changed

This was my final article before the holidays, the original picture is different.


Anonymous Pretty nice guy said...

Très bon blog ! Bravo ! J'ai tout lu :)

1:52 PM  
Blogger DD said...

Great post...I write about similar issues on my blog, Come check it out, I'd appreciate some more feminine feedback.


3:28 PM  
Blogger Eliot said...

at article, though I now feel like an asshole, even though everyone I've ever known has labeled me as a "nice guy."

12:04 AM  

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