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Seriously?   Why on earth would a betrayed woman even venture near the topic of, least of all reveal the need for, bad boys?   

  I see the irony of it.    It seems some of us get what we ask for right?  Well, the answer is yes……and no.   There are certainly cases where ladies have an inner destructive need to entangle themselves with abusive and worthless men.  However, that in my opinion is not truly representative of the attraction many women have for bad boys.    Bad boys have been mis-defined in a lot of ways.   The definition of a bad boy has come to mean something literally bad.   Obviously there are some legitimate reason for that.  Many bad boys live up to the reputation.  They can be narcissistic, rude, liars, manipulators, cheaters, cave men, Casanovas, rule breakers, fighters, steam rollers, or even worse… they can be physically abusive,  criminals, emotionally cruel, heartless, and psychopathic in their inability to engage in a healthy relationship of any form.   Where is the attraction in that?

  The problem with the bad boy label is that it’s not really representative of what attracts us.   Most of us have no desire to be caught up with someone who will cheat, abuse us, or take us for granted.   The “Bad Boy” we desire so passionately isn’t bad at all.  In fact he’s really quite good.   But as good as our bad boys can be,   we sometimes mistake the bad boy traits that will hurt us,  for the bad boy traits that are longed for.  When we don’t understand why we are addicted to the bad boy persona,  we find ourselves with truly bad boys,  rather than really good bad boys.  And there is a distinct difference between the two.   We know this, but the desire for the perfect kind of bad boy is so powerful that we can be blinded in our quest.
     I’ve been thinking about the book “The Monogamy Gap” and it’s argument that monogamy is unnatural if not impossible for men to sustain.   Now that’s a topic I want to discuss, eventually, because it’s distressing to me, the concept that monogamy has always been doomed to fail and the argument that cheating is a man’s only choice.  But, I don’t want to address that just yet.   It’s still a fairly volatile topic for me.  It was while pondering all of this monogamy myth business that my thoughts drifted toward a comment left on my blog weeks ago referencing a female preference for bad boys.
   This is what really started my wheels turning today as I thought about my own desire for bad boys and how that has affected my relationships and what it really says about me.   I’m not so sure I like what it says.   Undeniably, I’m a bad boy addict!  There’s no question about the affect a bad boy has on me. No mistaking the surge of adrenaline through my veins. The weakness in my knees sometimes takes me by surprise but the desire a bad boy provokes in me rarely does.  Why?  Because it’s inevitable that the desire will be there.  He’ll tune into and turn on my rebel self in an instant.  He’ll ignite a sense of intrigue and mystery from the first moment his eyes meet mine and a subtle hint of challenge will erupt from his first crooked half smile.  He’ll evoke every fairytale fantasy I’ve ever heard or concocted as a young girl about the powerful strong knight in shining armor destined to save me.  A warrior, a prince, a rebel who could have any woman but chooses to love ME.   
  Oh god yes, I can feel it coming a mile away.   I’m like a fly to honey,  a moth to a flame.  It doesn’t matter whether this bad boy is real flesh in front of me or a character in a book or on the movie screen.   I am attracted to and shamelessly affected by his power. 
   I have eventually left every boring and timid guy that I’ve ever dated in favor of something more exciting and more satisfying.   So, it’s at this point that common sense pipes up and says….what in the hell is wrong with you girl?!  This is where I’m suppose to ask myself if perhaps my repeated cycle of falling in love with men who betray me is perchance,  just possibly, due to my addiction to bad boys?  
  But, there’s more to it than meets the eye.   As I stated before,  most of us have no desire to be with a selfish, hurtful, void of integrity kind of guy.   Quite the opposite!!  In fact, we have little respect for that kind of bad boy.   So that being the case, what is driving so many of us in their direction and why are the very behaviors we despise in a man working so well, for so many of them?   
    I’ve come to the conclusion that most of us fail to understand why a bad boy is appealing in the first place.   When we’re able to understand why we perceive him as appealing we may be more able to walk away from him and keep searching for the better, stronger, more worthy man who has the same traits that attract us but without the hurtful behaviors that come with them.
So what attracts us to the bad boy?
    Well, let’s first try to clarify some things.    Being a nice guy is NOT always the same as being a boring guy.  Just as it’s not true that all bad boys are truly bad boys(as in heartless or unethical) the nice guy has often been misinterpreted into being the boring guy who always comes in last. That’s just not true.  A nice guy can be a bad boy and in fact…  that is the ideal, hottest most tantalizing mixture.   A boring guy is, well… a boring, lifeless kind of personality and it has nothing to do with being a nice guy.  And a heartless, unethical man is exactly what he is,  heartless and unethical, which has nothing to do with the definition of a bad boy.     So when most women talk about bad boy appeal it’s important to define what that really means.  For most of us, it relates to a list of characteristic traits that we interpret consciously or subconsciously as being strong, protective, courageous, daring, mysterious and challenging. (to name just a few)   We find ourselves intensely attracted to these men as opposed to men that do very little to ignite interest or passion in us. 
   Setting aside a small percentage of destructive women who knowingly choose bad men,  it’s not that we literally have a preference for bad men over good.  It’s really about looking for the man who has exceptional characteristics that engage and capture our interest.    He’s a good man but in addition to having a good heart he also exudes an air of strength and charisma that defies the average.    While he swims against the current at times, you can be certain ordinary is not a word you will associate with him.  While he may or may not be the most financially successful or the most politically correct,  you can be certain that he is living life on his own terms and not according to what others tell him he should be.  His passions and his internal code are what guide him.   If we really dig deeply into this bad boy attraction the term Bad Boy could be replaced more accurately with words like extraordinary, unconventional, unique,  or even rare. 
     But honestly,  do you think any of those sound as enticing or forbidden as “bad boy”?  No.  The term bad boy fits because we’re not searching for something that conforms to the norm or conforms to what’s easy.   We’re looking for something that transcends it, challenges it, defies it.    Something that matches the wild feminine voice that calls to us from deep inside and we perceive that only a wild man in his own right can truly answer that call.   Thus the bad boy concept comes to life. 
So, what sets this unconventional man apart from the more predictable, conservative, conventional man we frequently find ourselves ignoring?
I’ve made my own personal evaluation here. 
Extraordinary  Traits                             
More Common Traits.
·         He doesn’t settle easily.
Doesn’t conform but holds tight to his beliefs and principles.
He forges his own paths.
Whether it mean standing up to his enemy or his best friend, he’s not easily influenced by others.  He will choose honor over popularity. He doesn’t sell himself out and won’t sell out the people he loves.
·         He takes an easier path, he tends to avoid conflict, hides from the difficult tasks in life. He gives up a little too easily, makes too many excuses, blames others for his shortfalls, and finds it easier to go along with the majority.  He wants and needs to be accepted as part of a group or by his peers.
·         He’s not afraid to fail. Takes risks.  Pursues dreams, follows his passions. He pursues his woman and answers her wild woman strength with his own respectful but powerful strength. His confidence can make him appear to be a smooth operator.  One of the many ways women fall for players instead of really good bad boys.  There’s a difference between a man who knows how to seduce and truly appreciate a woman and a man who is out to play with and conquer women.   We often ignore the signs that differentiate between the two. He welcomes challenges, fights for what he believes in and looks out for the well being of those he loves.  He’s rogue by the very nature of his adherence to his core values in a society where few adhere to their own.   Non- conforming in his refusal to compromise himself.   We refer to this as “integrity”  and it’s what every knight is supposed to possess. 
·         He’s hesitant to fail and often tries to avoid it.  He prefers a sure thing.  He pursues what’s safe.  He fears rejection or frustration from a woman, so he shrinks from it, avoids it or pouts about it. Or he rages over it and attacks her for having her own emotions.  He prefers to possess or conquer women for the thrill and validation he needs,  rather than risk the vulnerability of  truly admiring and respecting women who might never choose him.   Typically willing to sacrifice his beliefs for something that is more convenient or that gains him acceptance.  While he can and does do kind things, he does so mostly at his own convenience. Doesn’t readily fight for others. Will not pursue you if it means too much challenge and will not fight to keep you if it means taking a risk.  All these things woven together show that he’s not the fabric knights are made of. 
·         He enjoys adventure or he’s passionate about his interests and life.  Because of this he lives with a kind of powerful edgy intensity. He has an energy about him that makes him unpredictable and mysterious and that adds significantly to the excitement he creates.
·         He doesn’t care what other people think of him.  That’s not to say he has no social grace. It means he’s comfortable in his own skin and with his own heart. He doesn’t have to pretend to be anything else.  He doesn’t worry about being cool,  he just IS.    Aware of and in tune with the world around him while walking to the beat of his very own drum.  He’s neither timid nor arrogant.  He’s sometimes cocky in his self assuredness but only to the degree that he feels he has nothing to prove and can accept it if you disapprove of him. 
·         May enjoy some adventure, especially those things other men deem manly pursuits.  But his life, as a whole, is lived with much less intensity or purpose. Mostly routine predictability. More dull than vibrant. Doesn’t expand himself much outside his boundaries because he’s afraid of risks or worries too much about his “image”. Likes things in the comfort zone and doesn’t get overly passionate about life.  Often considered more of a safe bet, albeit also a bit boring.  
·         Has no social grace and/or feels inferior to others or he’s consumed by his performance and the image he tries to project for others.   May be completely out of touch with the world around him (reclusive or introverted) or may exert too much effort in trying to appear to be greater than he is.   He stands anywhere from having no self esteem (passive) to being excessively arrogant and self serving (aggressive).  In either case, whether he hides or performs for the world around him… he clearly doesn’t have the authentic comfort with himself that a bad boy has. 
·         He doesn’t need to brag or threaten. Doesn’t seek the spot light.   He’s often soft or level spoken.  His words may be few at times, but when spoken they are effective.   He says what he means.  He doesn’t need to pretend. He’s not a manipulator or game player. He’ll face you, life and even his fears or hurts head on.    Liken this to the calm assuredness of a Clint Eastwood character.  He doesn’t need to intimidate you with his dangerous nature or prove his coolness.  His actions and his life speak for themselves.   This kind of natural confidence can be extremely sexy in a man.   The bad boy feels no need to win approval and can appreciate sharing your energy but won’t rely on it or drain it.  Instead he will likely feed you his own powerful energy in return.
·         Talks too much or tries too hard to impress.  Consistently seeks attention. Longs for recognition or notoriety or to be heard. Needs to be right.  Can be a blow hard, opinionated, know it all.. or intimidate others to bolster his own stature.  Once again it’s about the need to belong, or have respect from his peers.   Or, conversely he might have low self esteem and not stand up for himself at all.   Preferring to avoid recognition and conflict alike.    Wherever he may fall on this scale, he takes a lot of energy to maintain.   He’ll draw the energy from you, need you to constantly reinforce or build him up. Not just occasionally but always.  You’ll spend most if not all of your energy tending to this mans needs, fears, ego. 
·         There are no fashion rules for a bad boy. 
It doesn’t matter if he’s a man who rocks a suit or a rock star who wears ripped out jeans and tight t-shirts.  It doesn’t matter if he has a GQ perfect hair cut or rebellious long hair.   Whatever his style is in the moment, he will make it his own somehow and conveys  sexuality because of his natural comfort with himself.  What he understands is that the clothes do not define him,  he defines the clothes.
·         Breaks the rules.   Usually for all the right reasons.   This is different than being a criminal or being corrupt or immoral.   But sometimes the rules need to be pushed.    This is the man who will do it for the right reasons and won’t apologize for doing so.
He is a rebel with a cause.    He stands for something and often it’s something larger than himself.
·      Might  be a little mysterious, or complex.  May seem like  the strong silent type or the brooding writer type. Perhaps he’s the rock star who expresses himself through music or one of the risk takers who push the envelope thru dangerous careers or hobbies.  Maybe he’s well off financially and maybe he just gets by.  It doesn’t matter to him because his lives his own dreams whether it be artistic expression making a difference in the world.  He doesn’t seek anything other than the satisfaction of being true to his heart.    Because of this lack of emphasis on conforming to others expectations,  he might sometimes appear aloof, untouchable or as a non conformist.  He may come across as a little bit hardened, or perhaps scarred or wounded.  While this can be frustrating as hell to a woman when trying to establish a connection, it’s also one of the biggest hooks for loving bad boys. The lure of the challenge to “reach him” is intense and the reward “of intense love in return” beckons brightly.
As an analogy, a really good bad boy would be more likely to recognize this blog entry as an opportunity for discovery.  A glimpse into the mind and soul of a woman.  To understand the attraction of a really good bad boy  is simply the longing for someone who is strong enough in character to protect us and our hearts, secure enough in themselves to live the life they dream, confident enough to go against the current if they have to, has enough integrity that we never need fear giving ourselves and our trust over to him, interesting and multi-faceted enough to intrigue us and surprise us,  interested enough in us to make the effort to truly see, know and hear us, and passionate enough to answer our wild woman desire to let go and allow ourselves to be consumed and devoured by his love.
·         Has narrow comforts zone. 
Might remain stuck in an era because he’s too uncomfortable to take new risks or he may become to obsessive about conforming to current trends in order to fit in.  Is self conscious about his style and image.  Fusses with his tie, worries about his shirt being tucked in.  Dresses to blend in or at least thinks he blends in.  
Believes the clothes reflect who he is, rather than understanding that he defines the clothes he wears. 
·         Adheres strictly to the rules.   May  be afraid of standing up for what’s right if it means going against the grain or breaking the rules or making himself vulnerable to attack.
Or on the flip side may disregard the rules for all the wrong reasons.  Such as selfish want or greed.  Basically, whether he’s afraid to break rules or whether he breaks them out of his own desire to benefit somehow, he is focused on himself only.  He  is not a rebel with a cause.   There are no Mavericks here.  Mavericks live in the really GOOD bad boy world.
·         Basically a bit more simple minded or narrow focused.   Doesn’t like to dwell on anything too complex.  Doesn’t dig too deep or look to closely at life or the people around him.   In this regard he is out of touch and somewhat oblivious to the people closest to him.  Doesn’t like to face too much emotion.  Generally does not  analyze life or explore his own motives.  He’s just not concerned with a larger or deeper picture.    He likes it on the surface and he wants the surface smooth.  Just coasting along where his energy isn’t needed and can be reserved for his own personal comfort.      He might be aggressive when it comes to success or achievement but rarely is it because he’s following his life’s passion or trying to make a difference.   More typically that drive is simply about the achievement and success or the money.  Keeping up with the Jones’  may be a common motivator.  He’s more likely to hear the musical beat than care to listen to the lyrics, to read for pleasure than to read for discovery or to provoke thought,  to focus on the destination rather than the journey, to experience sex as physical sex rather than an intimate wildly sacred connection, to have an attitude rather than be an attitude, to zone out rather than tune in.   This is not to say he is incapable of any of these things.  Only that they are much less common or frequently found in the average man than they are in the bad boy that pulls us into his world.  Like the bad boy, he might also appear unreachable but it won’t be due to his complexity as much as it will be that he himself has no awareness of, nor interest in, what lurks beneath his surface.  In that regard there is nothing particularly challenging or invigorating about being with him.
As an analogy, the average or common man is more likely to find this blog entry offensive.  Threatening.  An example of how women are never satisfied.  He is less likely to see it as an opportunity to understand why women fall prey to bad boys in their search for extraordinary men.  Or to study it like a map that shows the way straight to our souls.  It is unlikely that he hears our wild woman howl or understands our desire to be both wild and tamed all at once by a man who is not only unafraid to, but who longs to,  experience our passions and our complexity head on.
     I’ve read many times about women’s needs to change men or fix men.  I think there may be something to that whole “need to fix”  theory.  But I don’t think it is about wanting to fix men as though they are all flawed in some way.  I think it’s just about wanting to reach our men.   There is something powerfully enticing about the concept that you can heal or help another person when no other individual has been able to get through.   If a man who has refused to commit to any other, chooses you…. you are left with the ultimate feeling that you are extremely rare!  That he has let you in and thus you are loved above all others. You’re left with the sense that he would protect you at all costs.   It’s the stuff of fairy tales and movies.  Girl gets boy,  boy will never abandon her from that day forward.
    The reason it becomes dysfunctional to pursue bad boys is because there are bad men who know these female weaknesses and how to play them.   Because it’s become the narrative of nearly every romance fantasy for centuries and has left us longing for something that reality often falls short of.   Because a lot of us mistake the shiny lure for the real deal and bite too quickly.  
    Sometimes my friends,  the aloof, dark, brooding man is just that.  He’s not a wounded really good bad boy who is going to let you save him.  He’s just brooding and dark.   And sometimes what first appears to be a maverick like rebel is nothing more than someone who has a selfish disregard for rules they don’t feel  should apply to them.  Sometimes risk taking, or unwillingness to compromise, or bold self confidence are not what they first appear and beneath them you uncover a man who is neither true nor strong, nor moral nor bold.   But instead simply cowardly, selfish, and all about the image.  Sometimes, a man can appear to have the extraordinary traits of courage and strong convictions yet later he fits neatly into the common more predictable column of characteristics when you learn that his fierceness was all ego based and his convictions come only from a need to control or impress others.   The truth is,  A LOT of common predictable men learn how to pass themselves off, if only temporarily, as the fantasy bad boy we long for and that’s what makes the pursuit for this powerful enigma dangerous.   Players.
   The thing I’ve ignored too long in my life,  is that every single thing listed in the unconventional column,   all those things that make me swoon with desire and swim in adrenaline… can exist in a good man.  In a nice guy.  In fact they are what make the exceptionally good man good.   I look on them as bad boy traits because they are non conforming, they defy the typical and the average. They rebel against the socially accepted norms in favor of something more.  They are mysterious because they are multi-dimensional as humans rather than self absorbed or shallow. They make me work for their affection because I must earn it to deserve it and they will likewise hold nothing back in pursuit of mine because they understand they must also deserve it.  All of these things make a man stand out,  to be an exception rather than the rule.   Around that we have created, as we have in one form or another for generations, the character of the rogue individual, dangerous in the sense that we might not earn his heart, but SO worth the risk of trying.  
Nice guys can and do win… but only the brave ones.
  Somewhere across the centuries we have romanticized the concept of a thief who steals our hearts even while knowing he will break it.   We’ve melted all the prince charmings, and knights and robin hoods and  beasts and wizards into one convoluted psyche.    We search now for a magical dangerous beast that only needs healed, by our love alone… in hope that a real knight will reveal himself and love us deeply. 
  We are often fooled by bad men, believing that he might harbor these things inside of him, just waiting for us to reveal them.   We have forgotten that the best kind of bad boy is really the good boy who is brave enough to stand for what’s right,  courageous enough to defy the norms and the superficial, comfortable enough in his skin to live authentically to his own beat..on his own terms, but most of all wise enough and giving enough to un-cage even our wild and unruly female spirit.  To treasure it, be fascinated by it,  and to make love to it, protecting it passionately forever more!!!   Now that is what knights (and fairy tales)  are made of…. 
For more reading on the bad boy attraction try these..