But the net result tends to be heartache.
That said, here's how to spot them, straight out of Chapter 5 of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Irresistible. In a nutshell, what you're looking out for are extremes of behavior:
1) He moves things along too quickly.
Bad boys tend to make early declarations of affection - genuinely or for effect. They also fall in love easily and have no problem proposing a romantic weekend getaway when they've known you for under 15 minutes.
Looks like: Spontaneity and joie de vivre
Reality: Impulsiveness and trying to get into your pants as swiftly as possible
You get: Plans only made at the last minute; plans cancelled at the last minute; irresponsibility; similarly impulsive overtures to other women.
2) He's just a tad too smooth.
When you first meet him, does he touch you too early and too often? Is he whispering in your ear? Is he overly generous with his compliments? Does he attempt to take you away from your friends and get you alone? Is he always subtly (or blatantly) pushing the boundary of what's appropriate and comfortable? Is he telling stories that seem too well-rehearsed and designed to aggrandize him, impress you, and get you worked up? Is there a lot of showmanship going on? Once you've started dating, are his excuses for marginal behavior all too plausible? Yup -- you've got yourself a bad boy.
Looks like: Romance! These men know this is the ultimate bait for getting a woman, and therefore use it skillfully and without apology.
Reality: Too good to be true is almost always exactly that. Deliberately seductive behavior usually means you're dealing with an experienced player.
You get: sexual infidelity (and disease); unreliability; rapid emotional detachment once he's gotten what he wants from you.
3) Thrillseeking behavior.
He rides a motorcycle -- a big Harley, actually. He skydives, takes all kinds of drugs, drinks a lot, goes out five times a week or more, and generally looks for the adrenaline rush.
Looks like: Excitement you want to be a part of.
Reality: Although many grown, responsible men take calculated risks, chronic thrillseeking heralds immaturity and recklessness.
You get: worry; genuine fear; loneliness as he goes off on his jaunts; infidelity; irresponsibility; run-ins with the law.
4) Devil-may-care attitude.
He lives by his own rules -- and only by his own rules. He dresses like he wants, works when he wants, eats what he wants, says what he wants.
Looks like: Fierce independence.
Reality: Antisocial behavior, which will inevitably extend to you as well.
You get: Inability to make plans, or broken plans when he does make them; verbal abuse; insensitivity to your feelings and desires; financial distress.
5) Studied physical appearance.
A stylish man is good to find. However, you can tell if a man has spent more time than normal on his appearance for effect. Too disheveled goes in the same category as too slick: extremes are what you're watching out for. Heavy cologne is a tip-off.