The phenomenon of girls getting attracted to the “bad guy” is as old as attraction itself. The fact that a girl would allow herself to be wooed by someone she knows is bad for her seems counterintuitive, but some of the research from recent years has demystified this for us.
A bad boy isn’t always the one who is always high, has tattoos and piercings and a playlist of songs in praise of destruction.
A bad boy has what is called the Dark Triad Personality . He has traits of Narcissism, Psychopathy and Machiavellism.
This essentially means that he has an inflated sense of self, less empathy for others and uses manipulation to get what he wants. What works in his favour is that these traits also include confidence, a high level of intelligence and charm. He is outspoken and candid and tells you what you want to hear, the way you want to hear it.
He knows how to make a woman feel like the centre of not only his world, but the entire world.
Think Hugh Grant’s character Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones’ Diary (he made us all want a Mark Darcy!).
According to Heather Rupp , a fellow at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, this has more to do with physiology than psychology. The bad boy embodies the alpha male. He usually has high testosterone levels which makes him a go-getter (read persistent and controlling) and this trait makes him a winner with the women.
But what goes on in the mind / psyche of the women who find themselves falling for the bad guy?
Contrary to what most people believe, girls who fall for the bad boy don’t always have low self-esteem.
This fatal attraction may be attributed to unresolved daddy issues, the rescuer fantasy or may even be learned behaviour.
It is no surprise that a lot of women who fall for the bad guy have a history of troublesome relationships with their father.
Growing up with a father with similar traits leaves them susceptible to being attracted to bad boys merely because it is familiar.
Familiar is comfortable. It may be unhealthy and dysfunctional, but because it is something we know and understand, it feels safe.
A lot of women also have the fantasy of being the ‘ rescuer .’
They believe that the bad boy is damaged and needs a saviour. Bad boys may be damaged, with their own dysfunctional history and thought pattern, but the fact is that a partner is meant to be a partner and not a saviour.
When a boy in second grade pulled your hair and called you names, and your mother said that it’s because he likes you, she planted seeds for the belief that if a guy acts evasive and unpleasant, it’s his way of showing you that he likes you.
We have often been told that if a guy acts mean, it is because he likes you. So, when a bad boy acts apathetic, we think it is because he feels strongly for us.
Although consciously, we may strive to unlearn being submissive, years of being taught to let others direct our lives persist at a sub-conscious level.
This also contributes to women being attracted to men who like to take the lead, and no one does it better than a bad boy.
A relationship with a bad boy is exciting and full of thrills. It moves fast and is intense. This intensity gives one a false sense of intimacy. This is what makes such a relationship addictive.
Healthy or not, the attraction to a bad boy is strong and uncontrollable. I wonder if knowing why it happens will make the bad boy any less irresistible.