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Girls love guys who ‘smoke and drink’, according to science

Turns out women are actually programmed to want sex with bad boys. Who knew?

Women love an asshole. We all know this by now. Whether it’s the DJ with the ghosting fetish or the four-timing dealer, we’ve all wasted time with someone we wish we hadn’t. The unexplainable appeal of the ‘bad boy’ is one of life’s greatest mysteries, and one that becomes steadily more baffling the older (and wiser) you get. 

Thankfully, though, science has now taken its first steps to help solve it. In a new study conducted by Belgium’s Ghent University, women’s ‘in-built’ obsession with bad boys is investigated – and, sadly for all of us, it’s proven as solid fact.

The research, titled ‘The Young Male Cigarette and Alcohol Syndrome’, found that men who “smoke cigarettes” and “drink” are more attractive to women as short-term romantic partners. According to the study, sex appeal is linked to how “risky” the man appears to be, with lead researcher Eveline Vincke likening the behaviour to a male “mating strategy.”

“As male physical risk-taking behavior gains attractiveness in short-term mating contexts and given that smoking and drinking have considerable physical costs, this study explores the possibility that tobacco and alcohol use is part of a male short-term mating strategy,” the abstract explains. “The experiment showed that women perceive men who smoke and drink as being more short-term oriented in their sexuality than nonusers.”

The study, which was published in the Evolutionary Psychology journal, asked 239 Belgian women aged between 17 and 30 to read short profiles of a selection of men: including their smoking and drinking habits. The participants were then asked to guess the man’s attitudes to love, danger and risk-taking, before rating their suitability as long-term and short-term partners.

According to Vincke, the men who smoked and drunk more were more attractive to women on a short-term basis (so for a short fling or one-night stand), as they were seen as more “sexually open.” 

The researchers also conducted a follow-up study on 171 Belgian men, quizzing them on their smoking and drinking habits, as well as their attitudes to sex. They found that the men who drunk more alcohol were less inhibited sexually, while the smokers were generally more interested in short-term relationships than their non-smoking counterparts.

“A follow-up study confirmed that men’s behavior corresponds with women’s perceptions,” Vincke confirmed. “Overall, these findings show that cigarette and alcohol use can operate as a short-term mating strategy.”