The quintessential Bad Boy has THE reputation: mysterious, good looking, scruffy, built... and women flock to them. Bad Boys are the reasons that shows like True Blood and books/movies like Twilight have been so popular. With all the perceived negatives about Bad Boys—cocky, arrogant, inconsiderate, inattentive, and emotionally unavailable—what are the real motivators for women to have a one-time or recurring want/desire for a Bad Boy in their life? Are they just trying to attain the unattainable? Is it the challenge of making him fall in love—to "capture" him? And, where does this leave the Nice Guy? I asked these questions to a variety of people recently, and received some interesting insights from a variety of sources—women, experts, and Bad Boys—and it was eye-opening.
First, a clarification. There were a few respondents that wrote in about their Bad Boys, and through their writing, it became clear that their version of a “Bad Boy” was actually a criminal. While I’m sure there are similarities, for the purposes of this discussion I was most interested in the Bad Boy that started smooth, cool, mysterious, and loving… but ended up emotionally unavailable, unattainable… even stretching into emotionally abusive. The stories discussing criminal behavior have not been included.
The most interesting thing I encountered was the difference between what the experts say, and the experience of women who actually dated the Bad Boys. From accredited psychiatrists, the source of these issues was clear: comes back to the woman’s father.
From Carole Lieberman, M.D, clinical psychiatrist and author of Bad Boys: How We Love Them, How to Live with Them, When to Leave Them:
“The main reason women are attracted to bad boys is because of the relationship they had with their fathers, when they were little girls, that made them feel unlovable, not good enough to attract a prince. So they end up kissing a lot of frogs. Other issues play a part, but the main fundamental, underlying, most important issue is their relationship with their dads.”
And it was those “other issues” that the women I connected with really honed in on. Yes, there were a few women who attributed their Bad Boy addiction to their upbringing and/or challenges with their fathers specifically… and to Dr. Lieberman’s point, with extended therapy others may follow suit. However, the majority of women who responded (44 out of 51) stated some very specific reasons why they were attracted to Bad Boys:
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