Why Girls Go For Jerks


In which the contributor attempts to explain why females respond to jerks in social settings. It does not address why females stay in relationships with jerks that treat them terribly — that’s for Oprah to handle — nor does it wish to maintain that what is written below is specific to all females.

The “What’s a Jerk?” Theory

Ask a girl why girls always go for jerks and she’ll say, “Hey! We do not!” Ask a guy and he’ll say, “Ugh, yeah, what’s with that?!

The first issue may be that some girls don’t know a jerk when they see one. Society (read: reality TV) has drawn a confusing line between what a man is supposed to be — successful, strong, commanding — and what a jerk usually is — a condescending chauvinist. So it sort of makes sense that in a one’s search for the manliest man she can find, pieces of jerk slip in. I’m reluctant to argue that an attraction to a dude burping the alphabet is rooted in an evolutionary belief that he’ll be a suitable provider, but apparently, that’s (part of) what’s up.

The Low Attention / No Attention Theory

For some, negative attention is better than no attention at all. If this is the case, insults and jerk-tendencies are translated into actual conversation and flirting.

Girls Like A Challenge (Fact, Not Theory)

Cliche as it is, there’s something about the whole thrill of the challenge. Weak girls go for jerks because they like attention. Strong girls go for jerks because they like the “game.” It’s fun to have to work for it — to take part in that delicate tango of wit and banter that signifies this person wants to play and is probably good in bed.

But as the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until fun and games outweigh logic. When that happens, girls end up wanting to win for winning’s sake and forget to consider what they’re winning.

The Only-I-Can-Break-Him Theory

Solving problems will make anyone feel good/ impressive/ worthwhile. Applied to dating jerks, the logic is as follows: if he’s a jerk, he needs reform. If I can help him reform, I’ll a) prove he really likes me (worth its weight in abuse) and b) make him indebted to me and my Dr. Drew-like ways. All I have to do is unlock his potential. And, even better, if he’s a jerk to everyone but me, I’ll have something no one else has ever had, meaning he really, really likes me.


One could make the argument that if girls stopped responding to jerks, then guys would stop behaving like jerks. Perhaps some kind of protest-style movement would do the trick? People Against Guys Who Are Jerks? Or maybe we should come to appreciate the silver lining in the girls + jerks mystery. Once all the idiots pair up with the jerks it’ll make it a lot easier for the sane, kind women and men to find each other.

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image – My So-Called Life