Who Is the "Animal" on a Date? The Badboy or the Life of the Party?
Good boys, bad boys, and party animals: What makes them who they are?
Posted May 10, 2011
It's no surprise that women respond to Badboys. They complain about doing so, try to stop themselves from doing so, ban themselves from dating them and swear they will never do so again. But sometimes, to a fault, they do so anyway.
Simply put, the area of a woman's mind that runs on pure animal instinct - call it femininity - has evolved for eons to respond to the equal and complementary opposite force in men, called masculinity.
These are deep instincts - sets of reflexes - and if your brain was a computer, both masculinity and femininity would be a kind of automatic software running in the background. This is the unconscious, the area of the mind that evolutionary psychologists have called the reptilian brain.
This man-only and woman-only software is irrational, illogical, fickle, unreliable, and incredibly powerful, and yet, it is designed to be at work only for brief periods of time in two ways: to protect your survival, and to help you reproduce. It causes men to chase femme fatales and women to stay with Badboys even though they have not proven their moral character, emotional or friendship capabilities.
The unconscious is decidedly different for men than it is for women. We need it to be that way. It's how men and women attract each other. For your consideration: What if what we identify masculinity and femininity not as learned social roles, but rather biologically determined (nature far more than nurture in origin)?
Long ago, as far back as 1996, Harvard psychologist Ronald Levant wrote of a 15-year problem in American males having to do with role confusion, the nature of masculinity, and the disproportionate amount of bad behaviors in society attributed to males.
In his article, "The New Psychology of Men," that appeared in Professional Psychology, Research and Practice, 1996, Vol. 27, No. 3, 259-265, he states: "...because of long delays in dealing with many of these problems, we are experiencing a crisis of connection between men and women."
Which appears unchanged if not worse today.
What's going on with a Badboy and women's desire for them? Could it be a primitive, reflex-based attraction to their shameless, bold, openly expressed masculine instincts, unfettered by political correctness, shyness, or emotional vulnerability?
In short, they are free men: free to express their opinions, emotions, and identity. Animals do this, too, don't they? They mate, attack, excrete, sleep, hunt, and don't bother to put on their best outfit for a trip out on the town - all without shame.
It's animal magnetism, which of course does not address emotional maturity, love (not lust) and bonding, nor does animal magnetism apply to a woman's process of qualifying a man for character maturity as a potential lasting, committed mate or potential father.
That's the crux of the worry and curiosity: "Why do I want him so badly when he is so bad for me?" It's the primitive, animal magnetism, minus the emotional and character maturity for a lasting, stable, and importantly, safe relationship.
Comedians free to address the animal nature of masculinity with a shamelessness similar to animals. When they speak, they get a free pass to be politically incorrect and observe life as it is. In fact, male comedians might be the only men left on earth with the ability to speak freely--without gossip, reputation damage, or public ridicule. Seeing Chris Rock, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, or Jon Stewart on stage or television can be a refreshing for males (watching other males express what they really think in a shame-free voice).
In this light, masculinity is primitive - an animal instinct - and seeing a comedian make light of our deepest impulses, fears and desires has a way of putting us at ease about this animal nature that is nonetheless an inseparable part of us.
The Badboy is like the alpha-male gorilla. His tenure as the most desired man will be powerful but short-lived. Why? Because the Badboy and the gorilla alike are dominated by these primitive, masculine, animal instincts. They live by reflex rather than conscious decision-making. Their robust masculinity is the ultimate attractor for women. They live by reflex, which, while lightning-quick, cannot endure as the sole method of relating to other humans. In the complex world of social politics, the Badboy ultimately gets lost. He crashes and burns.
The animal acts out of reflex. But when the comedian cracks an off-color joke, he does so consciously and for the purpose of relieving the shame, anxiety, and discomfort of the audience. The comedian does not act out of mindless, impulsive or unconscious self-concern. The animal doesn't know any better. The comedian is only taking a temporary, planned role in society. He will eventually go home, call his friends, read the paper, tuck his children in bed, and make love to his wife.
Eventually, the Badboy must grow in maturity, diplomacy, courtesy, and character. He must harness his robust masculine animal instinct in the socially acceptable way the comedian does. In short, he needs to evolve beyond mere brute masculinity, and learn emotional skills of friendship, love, bonding, and mood management.
The angry Badboy is short-lived both in his attractiveness to women and his social standing in a community. He needs to learn how the emotions can be channeled to other places besides anger, rudeness, selfishness, and an addiction to women as merely sexual conquests.
The Life of the Party
The man who is the "Life of the Party" has been said to be everyone's friend, and nobody can doubt that he is a master of celebration, networking, and the basic skills of friendship. He is attractive to women in a different sort of way than the Badboy. He isn't brooding in the corner like Keystone Beer's "Keith Stone." Nor is he speaking his mind in such primitive detail as the Badboy does -- the one so prone to offend others. Instead, the Life of the Party is free as well, but in social action and presence.
Women love him first and desire him second, if they desire him at all. He's friendly, but not necessarily sexy.
Meanwhile women desire the Badboy first, and love him second, if at all. He's "sexy, but often anything but friendly.
That difference may result in the same outcome for both types of men - being on the social outs sooner or later, since women want a man to both desire and to love.
The Party Animal doesn't tend to reveal much of his real ideas, opinions or emotions - always beholden to the popularity contest he surrounds himself with. This is his downfall both with women and in a social community, though his tenure as top dog may last a bit longer than that of the Badboy due to the social glue that friendliness engenders in a community of others.
Women do want and need a man who makes them crazy, who incites them to follow him to the end of the earth, to pester him and ask what he is feeling, to have the talk about "where this relationship is going." Hopefully to whatever that next level is called where he is transformed by her love, made more controllable, less wild like an animal, both safe and hers in his arms.
Yet women also need the man who is friendly and social, has a sense of humor, confidence, but tenderness as well. And they need him to have emotions to express - as much to speak the gender language of women back to them, as to gush in laughter or tears as an expression of being alive. They need the man to not embarass them publicly, and to have the friendship skill to preserve both her (and their) standing in her social network.
Friendship, Love, Attraction, and the Role of Your Mood
As you can see, neither the Badboy nor the Life of the Party have it made in terms of attracting and keeping women around. Their success depends.
On both their primitive masculinity, and their maturity of emotions.
The Badboy needs to add real emotion to his approach with women; the core of which must be the ability to be friendly, to have friends and keep them, showing her he will never threaten her reputation or stand among her own friends and intimates that is so entwined with feminine identity.
The Life of the Party must neither become such a nice guy that he has abandoned all primitive animal magnetism, cards help close to the vest - a compelling mystery for the woman to solve - and resolve in his opinions and actions that we call masculine shamelessness.
If he can stand on his own two feet, this is a prerequisite to being a partner who can defend her as well.
Yet he cannot remain so vague, easily substituted for by any other masculine man, or lacking in emotional intimacy that she "feels like she doesn't have a sense of who he is."
The answer to correcting the ways of both the Badboy and the Party Animal is having a solid masculinity yet the ability to express friendly emotions that are heartfelt, genuine and real. He will have to be the one to learn this for himself. His mate or date will not be able to do it for him.
Men, Our Culture, and "Depresculinity®"
Maybe you've noticed men you work with, are friends with, or whom you've met socially and noticed that some struggle to get both of these psychological tasks mastered - masculinity and emotional maturity.
Many are able to go to work, date, and have relationships. Perhaps they aren't depressed or sad per se, but they aren't so happy that they express both a vitality, a feeling of passion in being alive, and also a personable nature, a unique, honest, expressed identity that makes them knowable as individuals.
One or the other always seems to be lacking, if not both, and you notice that the culture surrounding them - still - doesn't seem very motivated to help men to sort through all this. There are books, magazines, countless websites and television largely for women, but men often get the media leftovers. Who knows, perhaps it is this way because as a recent consumer study found, current spending is controlled by women as much as 80 percent.
The condition in men related to role confusion, conflict between natural drives and instincts unique to males, versus venues available for their expression is something I've coined as "Depresculinity®" - which is a lack of vitality, or passion for life, possibly melancholic, diminished emotional and masculine expression of identity.
It is a growing kind of depression rooted in a lack of masculinizing roles, resources, honors, supports and venues for expression. It affects men on two levels - not just negative emotions that diminish their emotional attractiveness to women, but also impairs their dating and relationships in the area of animal magnetism - the expressed masculine nature in courtship with women. It's a double-whammy that hurts a male's sexual attractiveness to women as well.
In the end, every man will have to find his own way to both health of the mood, and growth of his masculine nature and expression - to get acquainted with how the masculine instincts work together with a growing maturity of the emotions that feed intimacy, friendship and love.