We've all heard that girls love a bad boy and that "nice guys finish last," but turns out that science isn't totally on board with those stereotypes: According to a new study, nice guys don't actually finish last. In fact, guys who care about the well-being of other people might actually have a better chance at "getting the girl." So maybe humanity isn't so doomed after all?
Researchers in the UK conducted a study that investigated whether women find good looks or altruism to be more attractive. Women were shown photos of men with varying degrees of conventional attractiveness, and alongside these photos were also shown the men engaged in some activity — some altruistic, like buying coffee for a homeless person, and some not. They found that when women were looking for something long-term, being altruistic made them find a guy more attractive than actually being conventionally attractive did. Good news for everyone, right?
Of course, though, it's not actually quite that simple. This study is in contrast to another recent study that made headlines in 2015 — one that found that women tend to go for narcissists, even when the women are interested in a long-term relationship or getting married. The results of this study imply that nice guys do finish last after all. So what gives?
Well, the short answer is that people are complicated. Women can find narcissistic guys attractive and find altruistic guys attractive. And since the two traits aren't being compared here, it's impossible to know which one would win out, overall. Plus, there are guys who do some things that seem very narcissistic and other things that seem very altruistic, because people tend to have more depth than can be conveyed in just one scientific study.
I'd also like for these sorts of studies to be done on other people beyond straight women, too, for what it's worth — do men care more about whether a woman is kind or attractive? Are they attracted to narcissists? What about LGBTQ men? Or LGBTQ women? Inquiring minds want to know.
Overall, though this study is encouraging since it shows that caring about others and doing nice things for them genuinely is something that is attractive, despite all the stereotypes about girls only liking jerks. Being a good person might even be more important for your looks when it comes to attracting a potential partner.
Of course the caveat is that you should also probably be an actual nice guy (or nice person) who genuinely cares, as opposed to the kind of "Nice Guy" who only treats people well in order to gain some sort of personal advantage. So it's like a narcissist in altruistic packaging. Like I said, people are complicated. "Nice Guys" aren't always nice, and human attraction doesn't always have a simple explanation.
But hey, before you get too confused, there is one thing everyone can agree on: being funny is definitely attractive.
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