You’ve heard the expression “nice guys finish last.” A surprising number of women find themselves falling for men who are emotionally unavailable, refuse to commit, fail to make them a priority, don’t return their calls, or texts in a timely manner, and the list goes on. We have a number of labels for these types of men…players, bad boys, f*ckboys and pricks. Regardless of what we call them, the real question is why do women find themselves attracted to this type of man? Science finally has a few answers to help us understand what drives our responsiveness to jerks.
Nice Guys don’t finish last in the long run
Researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Rochester, explain the complexities of attraction. When conducting three studies to gain insight into the subject, they found that what sparks our initial attraction to each other isn’t necessarily what keeps a relationship going in the long run.
What makes a relationship last, say the authors, is our responsiveness to our partner’s needs. Intimacy and long-term sexual attraction thrive on supporting each other’s needs and goals. This means that men who are attentive, generally have more satisfying relationships over the long-term. Unfortunately the same isn’t true for initial attraction, according to the study.
Nice Guys don’t necessarily create that initial spark
Scientists discovered that men and women react differently when it comes to their initial sexual interest in a person and ‘niceness’ (here meaning: someone who is considerate and attentive). While men in the study reported that they perceived responsiveness of women as feminine and sexually attractive, the same wasn’t true for how women perceived responsive men during initial interactions. Researchers found that some women may perceive a man as less masculine if he is attentive and responsive during those initial first dates, or she may become suspicious and question his motives.
Perceived Masculinity and Femininity
The findings of a separate study imply that men who are labeled as jerks, hence less responsive, are considered by some women to be more masculine. In turn, this perceived masculinity heightens their sexual attraction. While men perceive responsive women as more feminine and this perception stimulates their sexual arousal for attentive women. Perhaps this is why attentive women often find themselves attracted to jerks.
It’s important to note that not all women responded the same. Some women felt neutral when it came to the responsiveness of a man during an initial encounter, while others reported being more attracted to men who were more responsive to their needs in the early stages of a relationship.
Other Factors That Stimulate Attractiveness to Jerks
Psychiatrist Richard Friedman wrote a New York Times article weighing in on why some individuals are attracted to less attentive partners and explained that some people find it more exciting. According to Friedman, the unpredictability of so called jerks, may stimulate a reward center in our brains. When it comes to pleasure, humans naturally find predictability less rewarding, says Friedman.