Christian Singles & Dating

He Said-She Said: Why Do Women Go for the "Bad Boys"?

  • Cliff Young & Laura MacCorkle Contributing Writer & Senior Editor
  • Updated Jan 09, 2009
He Said-She Said:  Why Do Women Go for the "Bad Boys"?

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a reader with responses from a male and female point of view.  If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please CLICK HERE to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION:  I am 44 years old and have never been married.  From my high school years and on, I've noticed one thing happening that I don't understand:  Why do women today prefer the "bad boys" they know will mistreat them over the "good men" they know will treat them right?

HE SAID:  By “bad boy” I am assuming you are referring to an overtly masculine, self-centered, arrogant male who generally forms relationships to purely satisfy his own physical needs.  The type of guy other men hate, yet the ones some women seem to love?  Is this close to what you are alluding to?

I have wondered this myself since I am never “bad” enough for those women, but “good” enough to listen as they struggle through their relationships with guys having these traits.

Every woman has her own specific wants, desires and needs.  These differences lead to a number of reasons why some women prefer to date guys with an edgier side to them.

  • She may see a Good Man as a friend, but a Bad Boy as real, exciting and confident.
  • She may see an opportunity to utilize her natural desire to nurture or to fix a guy.
  • She may be charmed (or manipulated) by his salesman-like skills.
  • She may feel safer or more protected as he is less likely to be messed with.
  • She may lack self-confidence and want to be controlled.
  • She may want to experience someone less conservative and predictable.
  • She may not be ready for a commitment (a Good Man sometimes represents).

Regardless of a woman’s ultimate motive (or motives) in choosing a “Bad Boy” over a “Good Man,” there is not much we, as “good” men or possible suitors, can do.  We can sit back and wonder why, evaluate her for doing so, or try to understand her rationale; however, none of this is useful or productive. 

Then again, if we are a friend or a close brother in Christ, we should encourage her to walk with God and seek godly relationships, not for our best interest, but for hers.

Preach the Word … correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2).

I may not know the reason for or understand the actions of others.  Likewise, I don’t know how God is going to use a situation in someone’s life in order to bring them closer to Him. 

In some incidences, helping others out of trouble or giving them advice actually prolongs their circumstances by stunting their spiritual and personal growth.  At other times, not being forthright with a person and not assisting a person through a situation allows the person to fall further away from God.

As a follower of Christ, my role is to always be in prayer for myself and for others so I can discern how and when I may be used in their life.

Whatever the case may be with the women you know, I understand the frustration in seeing them seek someone other than who you (and seemingly God) would want for them. 

There is a passage in the Bible that helps me in quandaries like this.

When I thought deeply in order to understand this, it was painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God (Psalm 73:16-17).

If we have a relationship with Christ, we need to be spending our time loving God and loving others as ourselves.  We shouldn’t desire to try to change who we are in order to win the heart of someone we are interested in. 

I am doing my best to be who God created and called me to be.  He has made me unique, special, precious and “good.”  A person who is seeking a “Bad Boy” is probably not the one God has chosen for me or for you.

Take heart, and trust He who is God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

SHE SAID:  Who knows?  And I mean that with all sincerity.

Really and truly, why do men and women, bad boys and good girls, good boys and bad girls, do anything that we do when it comes to relating to the opposite sex?  There are just some things in life that will never be explained.  And a whole lot that is just not worth the time spent trying to decipher.

You can make yourself crazy if you try to figure out why someone likes one person and not another.  Don’t try to make a pro’s and con’s list.  Don’t try to reconstruct every conversation you’ve had with a certain individual who’s struck your fancy and is not interested in you.  And don’t try to analyze all of this person’s moves and motives or get clues or information from their friends.

You cannot fully understand someone’s thoughts (unless they share them with you, and even then they still may not make sense).  You won’t be able to understand what attracts him or her to one person and not to another.  And if he or she is not interested, there’s not a whole lot you can do to change his or her mind anyway.

So, just know that in most cases, you’ll never understand.  It’s best to just move on, accept it for what it is and tell yourself:  This person is not interested in me, and I don’t know why.  AND THAT’S OKAY.  This person must not be God’s best for me.  I choose to believe that there is someone else who is perfect for me and will see the value in me, and I won’t have to do backflips or tap dance to make something happen or garner interest.

In college, I remember trying to figure out why it seemed many of the cuter guys only asked out the plainer girls.  I couldn’t decode the mystery.  What did the plain-country-janes have that we duded-up city girls did not?  After all, we had “cutting edge” outfits from Express and killer wits about us, and they only had long skirts, pullover sweaters and “boring” personalities (or so we assumed). 

These young ladies definitely had a certain je ne sais quoi.  And by that I mean, I really don’t know what in tarnation they had that we didn’t.  Perhaps they had sweeter and gentler spirits.  Possibly they were more at ease with themselves and not so focused on trying to impress.  Or maybe they had a special talent for baking irresistible gingerbread.  Who knows?

My friends and I weren’t setting out to be cruel in our thoughts regarding our female competition.  We just wanted some explanations as to why the cute boys wouldn’t ask us out.  What in the world did they see in these “plain” young ladies and not in us? 

It’s the same line of questioning as your inquiry regarding women preferring “bad boys.”  What do they have that the "good men" do not?  It’s puzzling.  And I don’t have a firm answer for you, because there might not be one. 

However, when discussing your question with a friend of mine, she did suggest to me that perhaps a woman might go after a “bad boy” because she feels like she doesn’t deserve any better.  Maybe she has a poor self-image and doesn’t think she could ever attract or hold the interest of a “good guy.”  I think this rationale is definitely possible and could be part of the equation in many cases.

Also, what is considered a “bad boy”?  Is he someone who many wrongly call a “player” just because he dates a lot and has a social outing lined up for every weekend?  Is he someone who is comfortable in his skin, knows how to approach women and never seems ill at ease around the ladies? 

Or … is he someone who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing?  Does he act one way in front of his church friends and then carries on with a rougher crowd at other times?  Is he a commitment-phobe who chases women until they’re hooked and then drops them like hot potatoes?  Or is he someone who has a history of not treating women like ladies and getting them to compromise their standards? 

Whichever he is, forget trying to define the “bad boy.”  I think the real heart of the matter is that you’re trying to figure out why certain women are attracted to certain men, and maybe why certain women who you are interested in are not interested in you

My heart-to-heart advice?  Focus on being the best man you can be (be a Boaz!).  Choose to always do what is right and honorable.  Love and serve the Lord.  Also, be kind and help others.  That’s all you can do. 

God knows what he’s doing in your life.  His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and so that means we won’t always (actually, most of the time we won’t!) understand what he is doing.  Just keep that in mind and know that he knows far better what is best for us and our lives.

I highly doubt you have gone unnoticed all of these years by members of the opposite sex.  While it’s possible you may have felt overlooked in years past by certain women you were attracted to, maybe it’s possible that you have looked over some wonderful young ladies who could have been or would be great matches for you (and were attracted to you!).  Do a little personal inventory and think about that.  It might yield a light-bulb moment.

It’s clichéd, but I believe there is someone for everyone.  And one of these days, the right woman will come along for you, and it will just work.  I don’t know how or when.  But hang in there, don’t give up and please don’t cross over to the dark side and become a “bad boy”—however you interpret one to be.  Among other things, your character as a “good man” will surely be what attracts the one who is meant for you.


HE is … Cliff Young, a contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades.  He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.

SHE is … Laura MacCorkle,’s Senior Entertainment Editor.  She loves God, her family and and her friends.  Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who’s counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.

DISCLAIMER:  We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals.  We’re just average folk who understand what it’s like to live the solo life in the 21st century.  We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life’s questions, and it’s where we’ll go for guidance when responding to your questions.

GOT A QUESTION?  If you’ve got a question about anything related to living the single life, PLEASE SUBMIT HERE (selected questions will be posted anonymously).  While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.

**This column first published on December 4, 2008.