What kind of man do you want? When asked this question, most women will say that they want a good, family-oriented man, who is also humble, God-fearing, nice to people, hardworking, and polite. No one will say they want a reckless bad boy. It can be assumed that good men fly off the shelves like hot cakes. But this is far from truth.
Bad boys are still having a field day, and good guys are still finishing last. Why is this? It has all to do with women dismissing good men.
The allure of the bad boy has not started today. However, with years of reading bad-boys-will-break-your-heart literature, you would have thought women would be falling over for nice guys by now. But NO! While women say they want Mr Nice guy, subconsciously, they are attracted to Mr Bad boy.
A study led by Gregory Louis Carter of the University of Durham provides insights into this vexing phenomenon.
The research notes that sexual selection might be at work here. This would mean that women are responding to signals of “male quality” when it comes to reproduction. And with respect to short-term mating, women may be drawn to "bad boys," who demonstrate confidence, stubbornness, and risk-taking tendencies. Second, sexual conflict may be at play. The investigators state that “Women may be responding to bad men’s ability to ‘sell themselves’; a useful tactic in a co-evolutionary ‘arms race’ in which men convince women to pursue the former’s preferred sexual strategy.”
This then begs the question: Are good guys so good that they turn women off?
Grace Kariuki, a family therapist based in Nairobi, says bad boys portray themselves as ‘highly successful, go-getters’. Comparatively, good men will mostly try to demonstrate their concern for others, politeness or humility rather than their enterprising abilities, grit and ambition. Most tend to be shy.
“Women are attracted to men who appear successful and confident,” says John Townsend, the author of What Women Want. He says that when confronted with a humble, handsome, good guy working in a fast food company over a bad guy in jeans and designer accessories who is a doctor, women will readily choose the latter. “Bad guys are not always the most handsome, but they like to show off,” he says.
Men must cheat misconceptions
Misconceptions on what traits a potential mate should have could also be turning off women from good men. For example, a woman who has been fed on the all-men-are-players diet could find difficulties accepting a man who pledges fidelity, stability, and monogamy in a relationship.
“Her expectation will be that the man must cheat. This will create friction and distrust as she searches for clues and possible hints that he is cheating,” says psychologist Eliud Kabugi.
It’s a vicious cycle it seems. This explains why some women tolerate abuse, as they are conditioned to think that it is a sign of love.
“She expects it,” says Kabugi.
Closely linked to this, Lauren Suval says is that nice guys are perceived to be boring. The author of The Art of Nostalgia notes, “There are women who will misread grievous behaviours or unfriendly chatter and want more of this from a man.”
Good guys are also not always a thrill to be with. For example, while a bad boy will want to spend the weekends away, or arrange weekday dinner dates, a good guy will be more comfortable with leaving the office straight to home, or staying indoors the whole weekend. This means that a woman looking for adventure will find this routine quite boring.
There is hope though for the nice guy. Women may be attracted to Mr Notorious for the short-term thrill, but in real sense they prefer the altruistic man to settle down with.
“The appeal fades very quickly. Meanwhile, legitimately good guys — people that others like to spend time around — become more appealing over time. In fact, they become more attractive regardless of their physical appearance,” writes Harris O Malley of the Good Men Project.
However, for this to happen, the nice guy must make his move fast, otherwise he will be overtaken by the tainted man or he will soon be friend-zoned.
“The problem for so many nice guys is that they are afraid of rejection. They refuse to make an approach unless they are 110 per cent sure that they’ll succeed,” advises Malley.
Can a man be too good to be considered eligible?
The Saturday Magazine asked a few women if they find good men a turn off. These were their responses:
"He cannot be a turn off if he is too good. I draw from my experience. My man is so good. There is no moment when he has been a turn off. When a man is into you, you both work together on everything. That is when you know you are onto something worthy. I am convinced that a man cannot be a turn off if he is too good." — Mina Reeve, high school sciences teacher.
"Too good is boring. No man is perfect. They all make mistakes. This means that if he is too good, then he is too desperate and afraid of losing you. He hides his true feelings and behaviours instead of just being open and asking to be accepted the way he is. Personally, I consider it a red flag if a man is too good. As ladies, we tend to love more if a guy shows that he’s not afraid of losing or making mistakes." — Gladys Situma, digital strategist at Fanaka Real Estate Limited.
"A woman will be very lucky to get a good man, leave alone a man who is too good. Most men nowadays barely make it to the point of being too good. I think we should consider ourselves fortunate and loved if we get a guy who’s really great." — Inzilia SASI, blogger and author.
"I like good men. In fact, I would never a date a mean man. I like kind people and I would like one for myself. It is very important to have a man who gives you peace. The thrill of the bad guy never lasts. But a genuinely good man or a guy who’s trying to be a better man will be in it for the long run. Such a man is for keeps." — Eunice Njoki, founder Maktaba Mashinani Foundation.