Why Girls Has It Right When It Comes to Bad Boys

01/17/2013

Girls-album-cover320x240People have been telling me to watch Girls, because it’s so illustrative of young women trying to figure out the nebulous form of modern dating. I watched the Season 2 premiere, and from this boy’s perspective, there was an interesting subplot about modern dating in the show: what to do with badly behaving boys.

Beneath Girls’ ironic humor, there is an unsettling accuracy about the male characters on Girls. Recent research suggests that the dating troubles these girls face are in some ways very real. Consider a few illustrative findings:

  1. Men do about 35 minutes of household work to every 60 minutes that women do. This gap persists even when both partners are employed full-time and when men self-identify as holding beliefs about gender equality.
  2. Men usually do worse than women when it comes to empathic accuracy, which is the ability to understand the feelings of another person. However, when one group of researchers told men they could earn five dollars for being empathically accurate, they found that men were suddenly just as empathically accurate as women. This suggests that men are capable of being empathic, but sometimes they just need some motivation.
  3. Perhaps one of the biggest problems is that it’s harder than ever for young women to find good men. While women have spent the last three decades ascending in education, the workplace, and athletics, men have largely gone the other direction.

So, what’s a girl to do? Contrary to the opinion that boys will be boys, I think that there’s also something to be said for the fact that people will keep doing what is rewarded. Maybe that’s why I found myself so captivated at the end of the episode, when Hannah’s bad boyfriend is imploring her to stay with pleas regarding his helplessness and corresponding need for her. Although he is handsome, sporadically attentive, and ironic in clever ways, Hannah ultimately decides that he is not motivated to do better, and that a guy with that kind of attitude is simply not good enough.

More on Relationships:

Dating Do's and Dont's

Are You Ready to Move-In Together?

10 Dating Faux Pas


Ty Tashiro is the author of The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love, an entertaining look at why modern dating is so challenging, why people can easily make bad partner choices, and how science can help us make smart decisions in the search for enduring love. It's available on Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes & Noble. Dr. Ty received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota. His research has appeared in top academic journals and he has been an award-winning professor at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado. Follow him on facebook and twitter.
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