Burning Question: Why Do Women Date Jerks?

In "Drive," Ryan Gosling plays a murderous stuntmen that ovulating women want to procreate with. (Sony Pictures)[Every Wednesday, Shine tackles one of life's little mysteries. Got a burning question you want answered? Tweet us @yahooshine #burningquestions or leave it in the comments below.]

It's a simple question, and one neither sex has been able to answer. When given the choice between a perfectly decent dude and a guy who will twist our ventricles into a vice, we tend to go for option B. Even if we've already "learned from our mistakes" we're still suckers for the sadist next door. ("50 Shades of Gray" isn't a bestseller because of the writing.)

Finally, some answers! According to a new report published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it's all ovulation's fault. "Under the hormonal influence of ovulation, women delude themselves into thinking that the sexy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads," writes Kristina Durante, a researcher on University of Texas study.

If men think with their man-parts, women think with their cycles. That's when we all make bad decisions, according the new findings based on focus groups of women asked to pick potential good dads out of a line-up of actors and online dating profiles. Those women at peak fertility in their cycle went for the sexier, less dependable guys, and those who weren't picked the guys who they'd ultimately be better off with.

"When looking at the sexy cad through ovulation goggles," explains Durante, "Mr. Wrong looked exactly like Mr. Right."

Mr. Ryan Gosling, by the way is what researchers use an example of Mr. Wrong. Someone who portrays characters with charisma and unpredictability, rather than those steady commitment-seekers.(In movie terms, Mr. Right would be Bill Pullman, obvs.).

Okay, so why would our hormones trick us into picking the wrong guys, especially at the moment we're most fertile? Are they trying to ruin us? Evolutionary theorists think those "bad boys" have higher testosterone levels, so the fertility combo is right on the money for baby-making. Thanks Darwin. Other psychology experts think that jerks are less dependable because they have more mating choices, and they have their pick because their looks are so darn chiseled and genetically desirable. In other words, we all want their DNA, please. Whether they stick around and help is less important to their overall contribution.

Durante isn't biting on those theories. "It is unclear why ovulating women would think it wise to pursue relationships with men who might be unfaithful and desert them," she says, though her research doesn't imply all women are blinded by hormones. In a third study by Durante's research team a little more information surfaced: women who reached puberty before they turned 12 were most likely to pick the so-called cad when ovulating. Those on birth control or those who were later bloomers were more immune to the troubled guy charms. So can a little pill or a lot of high school unpopularity help a grown women think clearer? Sure hope so.

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Why do kids fear clowns?
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