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Women and the bad boy allure

 Women and the bad boy allure (Photo: iStock)

It is said that trying to understand women is like trying to find out what colour the letter seven smells like. An impossible task indeed, especially where matters of the heart are concerned.

From a young age, women are thrust into a world of fantasy where men are the embodiment of chivalry and most hope to walk down the aisle with a prince inviolate.

Like a broken record and a list memorised by heart, most women, if not all, will reiterate the usual qualities they want in a man; the kind who takes care of his family; physically, financially and spiritually, and the greatest of all, a faithful man.

But there's a price to pay for such a man, and many women are unwilling to pay it.

Recently, the internet went into a frenzy when the former wife of football legend Kaka, Caroline Celico admitted that she divorced him because he was "too perfect" and that something was missing. Kaka's only sin was being a good man, a mockery of the 'nice guys finish last' adage.

As the battle of the sexes heats up again, with men taking on their very formidable rivals, the consensus and undoubtedly the most unanswered question of all time remains: what do women want?

"There is no winning with the daughters of Eve! It doesn't matter how hard you try, and that's why so many men are choosing to stay single these days," says Tony Otieno who has never had a real connection with a woman.

The same could be true for Tony and many other men in the country. According to a survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), about half of Kenyan men grow old without ever getting married.

And from an early age, men seem to face a relationship conundrum. Take Alex Wachira, still in college, who says he cannot get a girlfriend because he is "too nice".

"No woman wants me! They think something is wrong with me because I am too nice. I am tired of every woman I meet friend-zoning me. It is like I am good enough to friend, but too good to date. What does that mean?" poses Wachira.

According to psychologist Eve Waruingi, some women will often reject nice men because of past experiences.

"They are likely to have experienced classic narcissistic behaviour and love bombing, and this will make it difficult for them to trust a man who has good intentions," says Eve.

While these two responses from Tony and Alex are not representative of the male population as a whole, the majority would be in agreement with these sentiments.

To be fair, it does make sense to hear what women want out of their mouths. And this is what they had to say:

"The thing about bad boys is that they are controlling and they know how to take charge. I do not like being controlled, but if a man can do it anyway, that's a man! Then he keeps me on my toes because I know he chose me when he had all the other women at his disposal. Nice men are boring and besides, who wants to sign up for vanilla sex forever?" says Lavenda Omondi, a happy bad-boy dealer.

"I am not going to lie, but bad boys know how to treat their women! Of course, they will be callous with your heart, but best believe you will be a queen for as long as your reign lasts," says Janet, a serial bad boy casualty.

"It is all about the thrill and they are so much more fun than nice boys. They are also better at lying and will tell you exactly what you want to hear. But the worst thing is that our society has normalised suffering to the point where we are no longer interested in finding Mr Right, we just trudge on with our toxic men. Better the devil you know, right?" says Flavia Omondi, who’s happily single and unbothered.

"I have not given up the search for Mr Right yet. I believe my kind and God-fearing man is out there, but for women who reject good men, I believe it has something to do with their childhood traumas, so they identify toxicity and pain with love," says Valentine Wanja, a self-declared romantic.

She goes on to say: "Women who are used to toxic environments or who have not healed from trauma automatically leave good men or float towards bad boys, consciously or sometimes unconsciously.

Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of the unconscious mind suggests that our actions are not always determined by our conscious thoughts, but are often driven by unconscious desires and experiences.

This means that people often choose to act in ways that are familiar to them. For instance, a woman who has suffered childhood abuse and has not worked through the trauma is likely to fall for an abuser. Her psyche then treats "nice guys" as allergens.

"Where are the good men? I have never met any. Of course, men are bad and polygamous, and I wouldn't expect anything else. As long as we have an unwritten agreement that he does his mischief away from me and does his duty as a man,” says Stacy Omondi, a single mother of two.

"I am married, so that boat has sailed, but I think dating a bad boy would probably be for the thrill. Good boys are generally considered boring and not attractive to most people, “says Beverly Mumbo, who is happily married.

"Everyone has something to hide. Even good men have things to hide, but they don't if they know it will affect their relationship with their families. Some men are considered bad 'boys' because of the crowd they are with, but they are good boys. I have never known a good man; I have only met toxic men in my life. I would never run away from a good man,” says Dursila Obara, an optimist of love.

Dating, like chess, requires a strategy and this is where bad boys thrive. Whereas their counterparts, the nice boys, play the game like chutes and ladders, leaving the outcome to chance, bad boys invest time, commitment, focus and skill.

With the end goal in mind, bad boys go on the hunt, and they can disguise themselves as whatever a woman wants for as long as it takes, and the unsuspecting prey will never know what hit them until character development kicks in.

In the book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup, by investigative reporter Neil Strauss, it is clear that there is more to dating than just good looks and a pair of white teeth.

Strauss outlines several ways that pickup artists use to get dates, and the method that stands out the most is negging, a word that Strauss attributes to a pickup artist named Erik von Markovik in his book.

Negging is an act of emotional manipulation in which one person intentionally makes a sly compliment or otherwise flirtatious remark to another to undermine their confidence and try to make them feel like they need the manipulator's approval.

"Men who give unsolicited compliments to women for no reason at all just look creepy to me. I like a man who makes me fight for it, or rather earn it. A little banter here and there, I mean, I don't think a man would deliberately insult me if he didn't want me, right? poses Mercy Maina, a First Year student.

"I understand the concept of negging and I appreciate it. Sometimes it is hard to get a woman to cuddle up to you, and when a strange man gives you a backhanded compliment, I know it's game on!" says Angela Nekesa, a freethinker.

We could go on with the interviews but the consensus would remain; bad boys are fun and nice men are boring. Which leads us to the next big question: who exactly is a bad boy?

By definition, a bad boy has no fear of breaking the rules. Strong, confident, manipulative and sexy, he is a macho man who needs no introduction.

Often portrayed as mysterious, rebellious and irresistibly attractive in literature, film and popular culture, the age-old stereotype of the bad boy has captured the imagination of many.

Men who offer a sense of adventure and unpredictability, who break away from the mundane routines of everyday life, may appeal to women who seek excitement and novelty in their lives.

Psychology, Eve says, provides some fascinating insights about "bad boys" through the concept of the "dark triad": Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy.

These traits are characterised by qualities such as manipulation, deception, lack of empathy and a sense of superiority. People who possess these traits tend to behave in ways that are selfish, exploitative and often harmful to others.

"Bad boys are often charming, self-confident, and slightly rebellious, and these qualities often mask underlying dark triadic tendencies. Charisma can be exhilarating; confidence can be confused with strength and rebelliousness can be seen as exciting. There is a thrill in such a partner's unpredictability but it is fleeting," says Eve.

The teens and early twenties are often a time of exploring and breaking away from societal norms and expectations. The "bad boy", with his disregard for the rules, can be seen as a symbol of this freedom.

However, research also suggests that women's preferences change as they grow older. They start prioritising stability, emotional intelligence and genuine bonding, traits often missing in partners higher on the DT Scale. This shift reflects a growing desire for healthy, fulfilling, mutually respectful and trusting relationships.

“True connection flourishes not in the fleeting attraction of the "bad boy", but in the steady flame of a healthy relationship. The traits of the Dark Triad may seem attractive at first, but they are a recipe for heartache in the long run,” says Eve.

Women should look beyond the facade. Find a partner who is your teammate, not your rival; someone who celebrates your wins and supports your losses. Look for someone who respects you, challenges you for growth and builds you up, not someone who tears you down.

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