There has been a rash of celebrity relationship meltdowns recently as a result of men behaving badly: Jesse James and Sandra Bullock; Tiger Woods and his wife; Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer; Charlie Sheen and the latest hapless woman who took up with him.
What's surprising about these incidents isn't the behavior of the men, but people's reactions as if this were somehow unexpected. It's a bit like the headline "Lion Kills and Eats Antelope, Breaks Vegetarian Vow." This is not news; it's just what lions do.
Now I'm not in the business of criticizing celebrities, since I live in Los Angeles and they go to my yoga classes and might whack me with their mat when I'm in down-dog. They also happen to be perfectly nice people who have done nothing to deserve calumny in a public forum.
However, I am in the business of figuring out what fulfills people in their love lives and helping them achieve that. So if you're interested in that, listen up.
When it comes to relationships, women have three options: short-term (fling), medium-term (boyfriend), and long-term (life partner/husband). Any of those options can be fulfilling in its own right. The problem arises when you think you're signing up for one but end up with another. That's when you get a disjunction between expectation and reality, also known as pain.
Enter the Bad Boy. By virtue (or vice) of who he is, he presses deep-seated evolutionary buttons that can compromise any woman's good judgment (entire books have been written on that, so that's a topic for a different day). Those feelings happen at an unconscious level -- there's not much she can do about that. But woe betide her if she acts on those feelings and tries to shoehorn Mr Bad Boy -- custom-made by nature to be an excellent fling and passable boyfriend -- into the life partner/husband slot.
Now Sandra, Jennifer and Elin are smart, decent women with lots of options. To think that somehow you, my dear reader, are better than those ladies and would never fall into the same trap is not only a mistake, but a mistake with a name: the fundamental attribution error -- i.e. the notion that bad stuff only happens to other people.
So this article is here to help you spot Bad Boys before you get involved with them. Dating a bad boy is like obesity: solving the problem after it's occurred is costly and ineffective. Prevention works best.
Remember that Bad Boys aren't necessarily bad people, and dating one isn't always the end of the world. They're the dating equivalent of dessert -- part of a healthy, balanced diet that keeps things interesting when consumed sparingly. But if you keep on mistaking your chocolate cake for the meal, that's when you end up fat and sick. Just saying.
A guy doesn't necessarily have to build and race motorcycles or be a womanizing pop star to qualify as a Bad Boy. My definition has less to do with what he does and more with the effect he has on you: overall, he brings more pain to your life than joy. Sure, there will be some good times with the bad boy -- that's why women get involved with them.