Bad Boys have THE reputation: hot, good looking, scruffy but also cocky, arrogant, inconsiderate, inattentive, and almost unfeeling 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 negatives about Bad Boys, 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 over 500 women, a number of other relationship experts, and as many self-proclaimed Bad Boys that would participate. The results were eye-opening.
First, a clarification. There were a few respondents that wrote in about their Bad Boys 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 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 to my survey stated some very specific reasons why they were attracted to Bad Boys:
1) Great sex.
This topped the list, but I would argue that the other reasons mentioned (below) contribute to the quality of sex with a Bad Boy.
There were many mentions of a certain “look” of the Bad Boy. The notion of a “look” coincides with a study by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health in 2007.
To wit:Women were asked to judge potential mates by how masculine their features are, new research shows.
Men with square jaws and well-defined brow ridges are seen as good short-term partners, while those with more feminine traits such as a rounder face and fuller lips are perceived as better long-term mates.
In the study, 854 male and female subjects viewed a series of male head shots that had been digitally altered to exaggerate or minimize masculine traits.
The participants then answered questions about how they expected the men in the photos to behave.
Overwhelmingly, participants said those with more masculine features were likely to be risky and competitive and also more apt to fight, challenge bosses, cheat on spouses and put less effort into parenting.
Those with more feminine qualities were seen as good parents and husbands, hard workers and emotionally supportive mates.
Despite all the negative attributes, when asked who they would choose for a short-term relationship, women still selected the more masculine looking men.
2) The Challenge.
The possibility of converting a Bad Boy from a serial playboy into a loving, supportive, feeling man was a strong pull for Bad Boy-addicted women but it’s also the reason some women left them.
From one anonymous respondent:
“My motivation for dating bad boys is the fire of attitude they bring to the table.
The challenge is what brought me to them, but the fire of never knowing what’s next, and them being great in bed is what keeps you with them for a short period of time.