If you saw The Big Chill in 1983, you may remember one very chilling scene where Mary Kay Place's well-heeled yuppie lamented to her fellow boomers that all the good men were "married, gay or had just broken up with the best girl in the world."
Here was a smart woman who had it together and did everything right. Yet she was single, unmarried and plotting to seduce one of her former male classmates -- with the willing assistance of his wife -- to conceive a baby so she would not grow old alone.
This is a reality that followed Generation X women into adulthood, along with good educations and strong work ethics. Creating a double whammy for those of us raised in Jewish homes is the fact that the good values we were brought up on may make us a little less sexy and appealing to a continually shrinking talent pool.
Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist who has brought her wisdom on relationships and human nature to such TV shows as Oprah, Larry King, The Today Show, Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight, is not going to lie to you: The dating world is an increasingly treacherous jungle, especially when some of the rules we thought were foolproof are, in fact, a little outdated.
She says her new book, Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them and How Good Girls Can Learn From Them, is intended for both men and women.
Women can learn why those who seem least deserving "get the guy." Examples come from real life, classic literature and American pop culture (including all four BFF's from Sex and the City).
However, she also hopes men will pay close attention to her "Dozen Damsels in Distress" so they will ultimately end up with a smart, savvy good "girl" with self-respect rather than a broken heart.
From all the interviews, she selected the most compelling stories, organized them and presented them in 12 chapters, broken down by type, from the "Commitment-Phobe" (i.e., Carrie Bradshaw) to the "Ball-Buster" (i.e., Miranda Hobbes) to the "Sex Siren" (i.e., Samantha Jones) to the "Marriage Hunter-and-Trapper" (Charlotte York).
"Good girls get left on the shelf because they've bought into the myth that in order to find Mr. Right, you have to be the good girl, and that it's what's inside that counts," Lieberman observes.
"In each chapter, I start things out by explaining what each type of bad girls want, along with specific reasons why men may be drawn to them and those behaviors each type exhibits."
She continues: "For example, it is often believed that when guys hear a woman described as a 'nice Jewish girl' it can be the kiss of death. That's not to say that there are no sexy Jewish girls, and there certainly are Jewish bad girls.
"I think Jewish women are particularly often told this little story or myth that you just need to be 'good and some man will find you and love you,' and sadly that often does not work."
Ouch! However, many unmarried Jewish professional women, especially those over 35 who have yet to make it down the aisle, will acknowledge they've experienced some form of this at some point.
We have also found out the hard way that the strong desire to connect and commit may have sent some men we've been with running for the proverbial hills.
While we can also admit that rejection was protection in some cases, in that we did not end up marrying the wrong guy (something covered in Lieberman's book, Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live With Them and When to Leave Them), there's often the aftermath of wondering what we could have done differently when we followed whatever set of rules we came of age with.
Through her exhaustive conversations and anecdotes, the author aptly explains one's time is better spent learning what the bad girl does right in making a man stand up and take notice, and why that "trophy" man may not stick around forever.
From there a conventional wisdom springs forth, that the mating game should be done with a light touch and playful heart rather than a heavy hand.
"In many cases, when the bad girl approaches a guy, she will succeed because she doesn't have that whole heart-on-her-sleeve thing," Lieberman says.
Another message Lieberman conveys is that although a man can make some wrong relationship choices in his life, in the greater scheme of things, he's smarter than a woman may give him credit for. Specifically, a man can tell the difference between a good girl and a bad girl, even if they look, dress, act the same way and say the same things.
Even if your niceness can impress a guy, there is such a thing as too much nurturing, especially as it sends signals you may be desperate, needy or just trying too hard. What Lieberman sets out to achieve is a middle ground,
"I do not want good girls to become bad girls, but learn the tricks these male patients told me attracted them to the bad girl, such as how to dress," stresses Lieberman.
"For example, Kate Middleton is a good girl who used 'bad girl' secrets to capture her prince. She was a good girl, but smartly wore a sexy dress at the college fashion show, which changed William's perception of her, from just a nice friend to somebody that got and kept his attention."
Summing it up, Lieberman says a bad girl may get a guy, but a good girl who is willing to take a few risks, make a few improvements, relax a few expectations and get out of her comfort zone will be the one to keep the guy in the long run.