The Triple D: The “Bad Boy” Phenomenon Has Been Confirmed

A recent study on attraction from the University of British Columbia determined that women are least attracted to men who smile or appear happy and men are least attracted to women who are proud and confident.


I was so mad when I read the results of this study…this helps explain the current upside-down state of dating. No wonder everyone gets that cringy face when it’s time to enter the dating slush pile.

The exact findings of this study? (Prepare for a little Jenny-Ranting…)

The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed. (Moody and ashamed? What, we’ve all regressed to junior high??)

In contrast, male participants were most sexually attracted to women who looked happy, and least attracted to women who appeared proud and confident. (This last part was the most disturbing to me…)

So, what does all this mean?

For years, women have been devouring books like Why Men Love Bitches (B.I.T.C.H. means Babe In Total Control of Herself) and this study calls that into question. Basically, it appears to highlight that women typically want to fix the moody, broody male and men want their women already fixed up and happy (but not too confident).

To get a little perspective on this, I went to the Self-Help section of Barnes and Noble online and clicked on Relationship: there were 3,491 items. That’s quite a bit of self-help. Even if we divide that down gender lines, that’s 1,745 and-a-half books that are out there for us to read in an attempt to understand relationships.

My husband contends that men are confused because women are confused. I gave him THE LOOK when he said it, but really…he has a point. I have friends who’ve been dating so long that they feel like they’ve tried everything. They change things up periodically in terms of their attitude and their expectations just to see if SOMETHING new will work.

Failure and rejection get tiring, for men and women. I believe this is the real reason why online dating has taken off like a rocket. Look at the success of Brad Paisley’s song, Online.

You can be anyone you want to be on the internet and get attention from people who might never be attracted to you in real life.  On the upside, building some mental attraction right out of the gate does help level the playing field. I’m currently mixed on my feelings about online dating.

I’ve been polling my daters of all ages and orientation for next week’s post on online dating. I wanted to get the scoop from the old, the young, males and females, gay and straight so I could share it all with you.

But back to this attraction study…it should be noted that this was done purely on visual attraction, the equivalent of “eyes-meeting-across-a-crowded-room” sort of thing. As I watch Disney films with my daughter through adult eyes, I see where the roots of this came from. I’m already trying to figure out how to mute the appalling lessons of Cinderella and The Little Mermaid:

  • Love at first sight will build a strong foundation for marriage
  • Start a relationship based on lies, it will all work out
  • It’s OK to give up your voice for love, you’ve got your looks
  • The Prince/white knight will always save you


I love Disney films, don’t get me wrong, but their messages are damaging if you think about them very deeply. These films are building children’s early perception of romance and the happily-ever-after message should at least be examined.

And what about the fact that the mom is nearly always sick/gone/dead in these films? Consider Bambi, Cinderella, Snow White and The Little Mermaid, to name a few. Not seeing any moms here, Disney folks! Only a few wickedly vindictive stepmommies. I understand it helps the plot, but DANG….(Sorry, that’s a separate rant for another time!)

The last line of the article states: Overall, the researchers found that men ranked women more attractive than women ranked men.  (Then why do we spend so much time trying to get their attention?)

I’m concerned that dating is in the toilet…what do y’all think? Are you hearing different things than I’m hearing? What do you think about the messages being put forth to our young people about dating?

You know I love hearing from you! I love it so much that I created the Let’s Meet Up (for Training)! Contest…still waiting to hear back from some of my May winners on a time – check your Junk Mail for my message, or just email me at

Oh, speaking of contests, we are in the final days of the Going To The Chapel contest over at Writers In The Storm…it’s creative, fun and FREE! And the prize is at least three critiques of one of your chapters from your current work in progress. I wrote one of the “processional lines” – can you tell which one?

Till next time,

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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20 Responses to The Triple D: The “Bad Boy” Phenomenon Has Been Confirmed

  1. Movies and books can be so misleading when it comes to the dating world. I read “Why Men Love Bitches”, but only because I’m a bitch and the title grabbed me. It was a wasted read, really….I also read “He’s Just Not That Into You”, better but not great. I think women should stick to their friends and family for dating advice – not books. Friends and family have experiences often times in the same geographical area as you, and their stories will touch home a bit more. My opinion. Regardless, I’m so glad to be out of the dating pool!

    It’s kinda dating related, but I really think young girls should stay away from the supposed “family” shows on television too. Have you watched “The Secret Life of an American Teenager”? It’s all about getting pregnant – and making it work! “Pretty Little Liars?” A girl dates her teacher! Now, I do like that one, but I’m in my 30s! What ever happened to shows like “7th Heaven”?


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I agree, Tiffany. As much as I’m glad we’re beyond the whole arranged marriage/matchmaker era (for the most part), there was something to be said for having someone already vetted for you by the families. I met my husband in a bar but we’ve agreed that my mom pulled a few strings from heaven and sent him to me – things were just TOO orchestrated for us to come to any other conclusion. She picked me a winner. 🙂

      The shows on TV right now freak me out a bit – from reality TV to shows like the ones you mentioned, the message to kids is really, really poor.


  2. Amy Kennedy says:

    Hey! Met both my husbands in a bar, too. One was a bad boy, one smiled a lot. Still with the one who smiles. He makes me laugh every day.


  3. Love your blurb on Disney movies! I still enjoy watching them, but they definitely teach more than bad dating habits. (Mulan is a little more up on the times, but she still supports other bad behavior with the rest of the Disney “princesses”.)
    * It’s okay to disobey your father because at 16 you really are smarter than him.
    * Never seeing the boy of your dreams again (who you’ve only just met) is the end of the world.
    * Following your heart is more important than the greater good for the most number of people.

    Really, you find the same in YA fiction, at least what I’ve read.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I grew up on Disney movies and obviously I got some balance. I am a sucker for a good happily ever after but as a mom, I look at the messages and think, REALLY? Really, no one is catching on to the mommy-less girls that get married to the prince at 16? I know that way back when 16 was middle-aged, but still…


  4. Short of Disney changing their winning format the balance is exposure to films or books with strong women. There’s really not a lot out there for girls but there are a few things like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and others. It’s true they are old fashioned but the women in them are strong and good. Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip both write strong women characters but those are for older, teenage girls.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      It’s Angela day over here at More Cowbell…how fun!

      I agree that the Disney format is a winner and I’ve spent hours of entertainment with them. I mean, what could be better than Lady and the Tramp?

      I also spent hours with all the Louisa May Alcott books from the March Family books (all four of them) to “A Rose In Bloom” and the rest of that series. I learned about relationships and about strong characters from those books.

      If I look at the authors I love, it will always be their strong characters that hooked me.


  5. Laura Drake says:

    I get what you’re saying, but I’m still inexplicably drawn to the Bad Boys. I mean really, who would you pick? Richie Cunningham or James Dean? Rhet or Ashley?
    Rambo or Pee Wee?

    Don’t get me wrong – there’s always a place in my heart for Chevy Chase, but jeez.

    See, you’re assuming what attracts us is GOOD for us! I’m living proof that’s not true.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      See, after all the disastrous dating don’ts, I have learned TO be attracted to what’s good for me! This is why I took so dang long to get married!


  6. I have to say that I too was always attracted to the bad boy persona. However, after my third divorce, I began to realize that while the bad boys are fun to date but marrying them probably wasn’t the best idea!

    Since I always seemed to attract the bad boy type, I searched for a stable and “normal” companion on an online dating site ( and must confess that I found exactly that. My current husband and I are happily married and will be celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary in a few weeks.

    must also confess that I met my current and fourth husband (three divorces is the result of marrying a few of those bad boys) online through E-harmony. He is the exact opposite of my past husbands and could even be labeled We are approaching


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Rechelle!

      I know many, many people who’ve met through online dating but I still love hearing about it since I’ve never done the online thing. Congrats on your 6th wedding anniversary!


  7. Sara (sarasexpletives) says:

    Oh Disney… * Head-desk*

    I’m not sure if it’s just me getting older or gender relations just getting more warped and damaging, but I’m so glad I’m not dating anymore. I met my boyfriend online. My thought about online dating are here if you’d like to weigh in:

    Really enjoyed this post! By the way, I find Edward immensely unattractive, in personality and looks. Bleck, no thank you.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL, Sara! In the books, Edward was not quite so…broody. He didn’t drive me completely wacky. In the movies…well, *head-desk* for me. Thanks for the blog – I’m gathering all the online dating data from all my friends and cracking up the whole time. It should be fun over here on More Cowbell later this week. 🙂


  8. Lol. I just love Disney for their music. Mulan is a classic and so is Aladdin. Don’t care much about the story. 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’re so funny, Marilag! I love the music too – I can think of a million songs that I grew up loving, from the Jungle Book to Lady and the Tramp, from The Little Mermaid and Mulan. They always seem to get better. But the messages, when related to dating, are WRETCHED. They just are. Doesn’t mean I’m not a sucker for the movies…we own at least 20 of them. 🙂


  9. Jodi says:

    I have to chime in here too! This is my soapbox. I have one teen daughter and one preteen. (There’s a son in there too but I am focusing on the female side.)
    I preview everything they watch OR watch it with them – even Disney!!
    We know from studies that media plays a huge part in shaping our younger generations but then we wonder why they are struggling? Look at who their role models are! (I could list a few but I won’t).
    I teach courses for children of all ages and I remember one class we were meeting in a library. The kids were aged 9 or 10. We took a break from our lesson and started to chat about the books around us. One tiny little girl spoke up about her favorite book series Twilight. I told her I was amazed she would read such a thick book. She told me she was on her fourth time. I asked why and her little nine or ten year old mouth said ‘Edward is so sexy’.
    What are we doing to our daughters? What is the media teaching them? Why not teach them about how to meet a man and fall in love with a man and STAY with a man for a lifetime.

    Sorry for my rant but my hearts breaks for the messages our teens are internalizing.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You heard a 9 year-old say, “Edward is so sexy??” Whoa. Things might be worse than I thought.

      I know that pop culture is hugely important, especially to a teen, since it’s how they fit in with their peers, but I haven’t been real impressed with what it’s teaching our young people lately.

      Thanks for commenting, Jodi! You always add a lot! BTW, I don’t recall you weighing in on days/times for your LinkedIn webinar. 🙂


      • Jodi says:

        Sorry I was waiting to hear what our options were. How much of a time block are we looking for? My choices might be backwards to most. I work from home during the week and out of my home on weekends. So … what are others asking for?


        • Jenny Hansen says:

          I plan on having it be a minimum of 60 minutes and I’m open to extend up to 90 minutes. Friday mid-day was a hot commodity. The weekends were surprisingly busy for people so the hope was Mon/Wed/Friday afternoons for most people. What’s your preference?


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