Kate’s Dates: Why we can’t resist an asshole

By Kate Richlin-Zack

If I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it. My friends and I stumbled into a crowded bar for some after-dinner drinks one night and, within thirty minutes, my friend Aaron had the waitress’ phone number. Not that surprising since Aaron is a tall, good looking guy who always seems to have a harem; but his technique was unorthodox to say the least. He stood in her way whenever the waitress walked past us. He would interrupt her while she was taking orders from other customers. He sent his drink back three times, citing something absurd each time — “not enough gin…  not enough tonic…  I asked for a martini…  I’m just a pain in the ass.” If I were her, I would have sent another server to our table but she GAVE him her phone number and he didn’t even ASK for it.

What the…? Yeah, I’m not really sure either.

But come to think of it, I’m not much better than that waitress. I’ve had boyfriends who were “perfect.” They were loving, sensitive, doting. They made me breakfast in bed every morning, they scraped the ice off my car windshield when it snowed, they bought me every handbag and piece of jewelry I noticed. They were Aaron’s polar opposite. But I dumped them anyway.

Why?

Testosterone.

Apparently the male sex hormone accounts for our inexplicable attraction to assholes.

From an evolutionary standpoint, testosterone reigns supreme—so scientifically speaking, it’s not our fault that we’re attracted to testosterone laden Bad Boys. But what does testosterone have to do with the qualities that we find attractive?

Back in the caveman days, being an asshole was necessary for survival.  Just think about the mindset it takes to hunt and kill a wild animal. A caveman had to be aggressive. He had to stay focused. He had to compete with other cavemen who were also hunting for food. He had to be confident that he could take down an animal three times his size … or he had absolutely no concept of consequences or failure. If he were sitting around talking with his caveman buddies about how they feel about the situation and how the animal feels about its imminent death and Oh my god we could be mauled by a tiger! Maybe we should just be vegetarians, he’s going to die and so are you and your little cavebabies. Thanks to natural selection, we’re genetically predisposed to be attracted to men who are aggressive, competitive risk takers with no fear of failure. To put it simply, we like assholes.

Now fast forward to present day. The scenario isn’t all that far from what I just described.  That aggressive, risky, and competitive behavior has been channeled into more mainstream behavior as, ladies, that caveman is now a go-getter. A man with ambition. A man who will focus on the goal, and pursue it with reckless abandon until he achieves it. In short, they’re highly successful due largely to high testosterone levels.

We can also thank testosterone for those sexy physical attributes we can’t resist. Square jaw line, broad shoulders, muscular physique, deep voice … think lumberjacks, firemen, Brad Pitt, Sean Connery, the guy from the Old Spice commercials (who actually appears in a Google image search for “manly men”). They’re hot. Who wouldn’t find these guys attractive?

And if that wasn’t enough, testosterone is also responsible for that thing we like to call “chemistry.” It’s that inexplicable attraction you have with someone. You can actually feel it when they enter the room and whether you are consciously aware of it or not, your body is on high alert and will delude you into thinking that this is husband material. There are studies showing that when women ovulate, they actually think that men with greater testosterone levels will be better fathers. That pesky male hormone  and our stupid ovulation goggles are responsible for lots of bad decisions.

My relationship with the King of Inappropriate Comments is a perfect example. I had such a hard time breaking up with him because of the chemistry. He was a big bear of a guy and even though he was about my height, he had a massive physique thanks to heavy weight lifting. He loved whiskey and steak. He was also incredible in the bedroom; so incredible, that for months I overlooked our numerous incompatibilities and his tendency to say the most downright offensive things pretty much all the time. I knew we weren’t right for each other and we had nothing in common except for sex. Amazing sex. He was uninhibited. He took charge. He thoroughly enjoyed himself every single time without fail. It made me feel incredibly sexy and comfortable enough to abandon my conservative buttoned up good-girl ways and simply enjoy myself every single time too.

The problem with testosterone is that eventually reality sets in and you realize that all you have is an asshole. So is it worth it? Can we be happy with a Bad Boy? Or are we better off with a Nice Guy? It all depends on your expectations and the breadth of his character.

If you find yourself unable to resist a Bad Boy, just enjoy the ride. They can be lots of fun. They’ll convince you to go skinny-dipping in your neighbor’s pool and have sex in crazy places and stay out until all hours of the night looking for after-hours clubs that are impossible to get into. He’s fun and the experience is totally worth it so long as you recognize it for what it is. Unless he’s one of those rare gems that exhibits all of these behaviors AND has the inclination to settle down at some point, don’t delude yourself into thinking that this is a lasting relationship. Don’t assume that you can change him. If he’s not thinking about putting an end to his bad boy ways, neither should you. There are plenty of Nice Guys out there who are successful and good looking and have sufficient chemistry to keep you interested.

[PsycNet]

[Shine]

Kate’s Dates is a column that runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who fully admits to majoring in engineering to meet guys. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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10 thoughts on “Kate’s Dates: Why we can’t resist an asshole

  1. Kate S. says:

    This still leaves us with a dilemma. Is there any fighting the chemistry? Doesn’t this mean that the majority of us who can’t seem to reign in the pheromones and listen to our rational logical voices (ha!) will wind up desperately unhappy with the assholes of our unfortunate chemically-driven choosing??

    • Kate R-Z says:

      It depends how you make important decisions. You can’t fight chemistry. It will always be there. Whether you choose to let it dictate your love life and ultimately, your marriage, is entirely up to you.

  2. katetorg says:

    I have always found myself very lucky in this regard, as I am generally repulsed by Bad Boys. Very few times in my life have I found myself attracted to one. Nice guys have always finished first for me. Though I know this is not the case for everyone.

  3. [...] were too “metro” – Remember when I explained Why We Can’t Resist an A-hole? This falls into the same category.  If you’re more “high maintenance” than I am, we have a [...]

  4. Zarathustra says:

    A ludicrous and completely wrong-headed misappropriation of evolutionary and social psychology. The human animal is a social one, we are ‘pack hunters’, and an individual most certainly did not “…compete with other cavemen who were also hunting for food”. In a primative society where the survival of each individual is so deeply invested in the success of the group as a whole, the narcissistic qualities you profess to admire would most certainly have been shunned. In fact, we observe this in the customs and mores of small tribal groups to this very day. However, it is true that higher levels of testosterone do tend to induce physical attributes more appealing to females, attributes that your friend Aaron seems to possess. What is interesting is that too much testosterone is equally as harmful, as such people are prone to take stupid risks through thier ‘lack of fear’, and that faces considered most attractive by females exhibit a preference for this ‘golden mean’(it appears that Aristotle was on to something). There is no such correlation in male preferences, where ‘estrogen reigns supreme’, as it were.

    This is of course a very rudimentary summation. However it shall suffice to say that a large part of your column is utter rubbish, and I have a suspicion that had your friend Aaron been more ‘Woody Allen’ and less ‘Old Spice Man’, you would have viewed his behaviour in a completely different light. There are many other far more plausible explanations as to why you find arrogance and narcissism appealing, and they have nothing to do with “caveman days”.

  5. KateQuinnS says:

    Just don’t have babies with the bad boy. They make miserable dads.

  6. [...] were too “metro” – Remember when I explained Why We Can’t Resist an A-hole? This falls into the same category.  If you’re more “high maintenance” than I am, we have a [...]

  7. [...] he’s tempting Aside from our stupid biological tendency to be attracted to a-holes, there’s an additional layer of complexity here. The fact that he’s attached demonstrates that [...]

  8. [...] when it comes to men. I’ve put up with drug addictions, pregnant wives, and all-around assholes, so I’m not one to point fingers. But I can promise you, the only reason I chose to date [...]

  9. [...] forth and no matter how smart, funny, and really really ridiculously good looking you are, guys are assholes. It’s not that you didn’t make a good impression; quite the opposite.  You spent so much time [...]

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