Why bad boys have an edge

Today I am practicing evolutionary biology—without a license.

Why is it that bad boys fascinate women? You know the ones. The dangerous ones. The ones who don’t play fair. The ones who aren’t especially nice. The ones who are downright awful. The ones who break the rules and betray our trust.

We know they’re bad, oh, yes indeed we do, and yet that deadly combination of good looks and rule breaking is intriguing. Hypnotizing. And, like sad little moths drawn to a flame, many of us fly too close and are doomed.

I’ve been pondering this for some time, and I think I have an answer; well, at least an answer that satisfies me. And this is largely thanks to heuristics, personal experience, and Dan Carlin, not that Dan Carlin is bad. Well, who knows, maybe he is.

So thanks to Dan, I get it. Humans have a long history of violence. This violence is part of our essence. My theory explains why we continue to be violent. It’s because we self select for violence.

In a violent world, what does the woman who wants her progeny to survive do? Has she historically sought out a nice guy? The one who lets others go first? Who clings naively to idealism? The pacifist? The one who won’t fight. Who runs away. The one who sacrifices his own desires for hers?

Or—does she go for the callous man? The gruff man. The one who is wild. Who isn’t easy. Who can’t be tamed.

Choice B. She loves Choice A, but she adores Choice B.

Why is that!?!

I think it is because humans evolved in violence. If you had a nice cave, you were likely to be attacked by strangers who wanted to take it from you. And they could wander by at any time.

Even recent history is unimaginably violent. Things that are going on in the world right now—unspeakable.

So who do you want at your side?

You want the guy who isn’t afraid to do a little blood-letting. They guy who isn’t squeamish. The hard ass. The one who is difficult—impossible to understand. He’s got a bad attitude sometimes. A stern glare. The look of him when he’s angry scares you to death. That’s the one you want. He’s the one who will successfully fight off the wandering pillagers. He’s the one who will keep you safe.

It’s instinct.

Only recently have many of us lived in a societies where the nice guy can prosper. The good guy. The honest guy. The one who always does the right thing. The uninteresting guy—because he’s unpredictable, and needy. He’s the one with the dopey smile. Who doesn’t glare. Who doesn’t scare us. The one we can overpower. And outsmart. We love him, but not with urgency. He doesn’t pull at our thoughts. Logically, we know he’s best for us. But logic isn’t on our side.

We want the bad boy. He challenges us. He captures our imagination. Makes us angry. And delighted. We have to try harder with him. He isn’t a pushover, he’s difficult, and often he isn’t pleased.

Weird. Huh.

Tragic, really, when you think about it.




3 thoughts on “Why bad boys have an edge

    1. I want to root for the good guy for the sake of humans as a species. I’m thinking large scale, grand scheme of things. So no. My advice is to select for the logical woman who knows the difference. To increase your odds of winning her, you can do a little acting, do the harsh stare bit and ignore her a little. But as far as truly becoming bad—no, I would never recommend that. You probably have enough bad genes anyway to tide you over. 🙂


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