Do you have the bad boy bug? How to know and how to remedy.
Two men walk into a bar. One man swaggers. He has a strong jaw, an unsettling gaze, and an urge to order whiskey straight up. The other man … um, who cares?
Ah, bad boys: the eternal temptation. They've been besting the likes of feisty heroines for centuries: Virgil's Dido, Shakespeare's Helena, Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett, Margaret Mitchell's Scarlett O'Hara, Gossip Girl’s Blair Woodward. But do bad boys—in the immortal words of Gloria Estefan—really make us feel so good? Or are we setting ourselves up for failure, overlooking the perfect mate in favor of, well, losers?
Take the quiz:
Like 'em naughty? Answer true or false.
__ 1. Infatuation is the best part of a relationship.
__ 2. Challenge excites me.
__ 3. I long for excitement in my life.
__ 4. There’s nothing more exciting than sexual tension.
__ 5. I eat when I know I shouldn't.
__ 6. I am addicted to diet drinks.
__ 7. I fall in love quickly.
__ 8. There is a bad girl side of me.
__ 9. I have a history of drinking, shopping, or working too much.
__ 10. I crave chocolate.
__ 11. Even in short-term relationships, breakups can devastate me.
__ 12. When a guy really loves me I tend to take it for granted.
__ 13. I tend to get bored in relationships.
__ 14. I have a negative history with more than one male in my life.
__ 15. I can easily get restless in a relationship.
__ 16. When I meet a nice guy I tend to think of him more as a friend than lover.
__ 17. I am happier when I am falling in love than at any other time.
__ 18. I have been attracted to two or more unavailable men in my life.
__ 19. I have had an affair.
__ 20. I have had more than one affair.
__ 21. I have had many disappointments with men.
__ 22. Over time, I doubt a man's love for me.
__ 23. It seems like certain guys cast a spell over me.
__ 24. Bad boys are sexually exciting.
__ 25. I have continued to date a guy my friends have warned me about.
__ 26. Good guys are rare.
__ 27. Even when I know a guy isn't good for me, I can't always resist his charm.
__ 28. My friends would say I'm attracted to bad boys.
__ 29. I’ve gone back to a relationship against my better judgment.
__ 30. I have continued to date a guy after he has been abusive to me.
These questions are weighted in terms of severity. The more true answers you have going down the list, the more susceptible you are to bad boys.
Questions 1-10 True answers in this category are no big deal unless you make a habit of it.
Questions 11-20 These questions are much more indicative of susceptibility. If you answered true to items 11, 12, or 13, you may be able to get away with it—but any true answers from 14 to 20 mean you are on the Bad Boy Hit List.
Questions 21-30 If you answered true to any of these, you cannot date without parental permission, or at least with your closest friends' permission. You run the risk of overlooking the nice guy right in front of your face.
We sat down with Pat Love to get to the bottom of every woman’s favorite mistake.
Q: YourTango's entire editorial staff failed this quiz. Are we in trouble?
A: Don't worry! Many people "fail" this quiz. As you're going through the questions, just pay attention to how you feel. The more you squirm, the more you know that you might be a sitting duck for bad boys.
Q: Why are bad boys so irresistible?
A: Bad boys are handsome and elusive, and that triggers attraction. But it’s largely a societal issue. We are programmed by our culture to think that chemistry is love. We are constantly stimulated—by work, television, shopping—and we tend to move on if we’re not excited. Also, some women’s brains are wired to interpret anger and petulance as love because of their early negative experiences with men.
Q: Why is it dangerous to be with a bad boy?
A: Well, they're unreliable. They don't feel an obligation to have a relationship. It's important to understand that when a woman has sex, she releases oxytocin and bonds with her partner. Oxytocin is called the "snuggle chemical." It triggers orgasm, but it's also released when a mother breast-feeds. It makes you feel close and connected and vulnerable. The effects of oxytocin are offset by testosterone, so a high-testosterone person doesn't bond from having sex. And there you have it: Bad boys don't get attached! They say all these wonderful things, and you get this chemical rush that lowers your defenses. But he could be gone the next day. He could lose interest.
Q: Do bad boys ever change, or is that just what we want to believe?
A: Most don't change. When they get old, then they're with somebody who has clout because of youth and beauty. Look at Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta–Jones. She has youth and beauty; he has power and status.
Q: What about bad boys who give inconsistent signals? Bad boys who snuggle?
A: If you want a rat to push a bar forever, don't give him a pellet every time he pushes—then he'll only push when he's hungry. If you take away the pellet, he won’t push the bar at all. But if every now and then you give a rat a pellet, he will push the bar forever. It's called intermittent reinforcement. That’s the way to get a woman forever; throw her a little tidbit every now and then.
Q: What about bad girls? Do you think that that's as much of a phenomenon?
A: Oh yes, there are bad girls. They’re usually very attractive women who feel entitled. They're used to getting everything, and they know how to work a crowd.
Q: Is it important to break the bad boy habit?
A: I think you should monitor it. There's this illusion, especially for young women, that there will always be men available. And the problem is, the more you go through the revolving door of infatuation, the less powerful it is. You build up a tolerance to it. If you're going to get a good guy, then you better be watching earlier in life. Don't waste your eggs! Because it's easy to overlook someone when you’re wired to be attracted to bad boys. And if you sit around, waiting for someone to knock your socks off like that first love, then you’re going to wait a long time.
Q: Is there a way to create bad boy excitement with a good guy?
A: I always say: It’s easier to make a good man hard than to make a hard man good. Friendship gets a relationship to go the distance. Women will say, "I love him, but I’m not in love with him." Or, "He doesn’t stimulate me.” And I say, "You have to have a life that does that." If you want excitement, then get a good guy and create an exciting life.