We see it all the time: Ladies love outlaws, and good girls cannot resist bad boys. In the movies, it's okay because the bad boy is invariably transformed by love -- see James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, or Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love. In real life, it doesn't usually work out so well. Just ask Sandra Bullock about her tattooed love boy Jesse James, or Rhianna about her macho man Chris Brown, or Katy Perry about her rule-breaking Russell Brand, or Taylor Swift and... well, just about anyone, apparently.
Me, I graduated summa cum laude from the University of California and immediately moved in with a drug dealer who found me a job dancing topless at a beer bar in Van Vuys. They never even asked to see my transcript.
The fact that men are equally attracted to bad girls ("crazy in the head, crazy in bed") doesn't make this bitter pill any easier to swallow. I know I am not alone in seeking out the one person in the room who is going to cause me the greatest heartache and parking myself next to him. But it's modest comfort.
There are good reasons why bad boys (and bad girls) are irresistible. Sexy, seductive reasons. Those reasons are big, fat whopping lies. And underneath them are some hard truths about those of us who fall for bad guys. Ready for some truth? Then read on. If not, Netflix has a movie for you.
1. HE GETS ME. WE CONNECT ON A DEEP, SOUL LEVEL. Your bad boy sees through the veneer of accomplishment and knows you for the deeply flawed little girl you are... and wants you anyway. How can you resist? This works best on those of us who feel we are not pretty enough, not sexy enough, not thin enough, not blonde enough, not smart enough, not successful enough, not pert enough, not sweet-smelling enough... you know, anyone who has ever been exposed to commercial media in the in the western world. Or had parents. If he treats you badly, he's only confirming the low opinion you secretly had of yourself the whole time.
2. HE'S MAGNETIC, CHARISMATIC... HE LIGHTS UP THE ROOM. EVERYONE IS DRAWN TO HIM. Yup, all your friends (and enemies) will notice. And you really, really want to be noticed. Since you are not enough in and of yourself (see self esteem issues, #1), you need something outside yourself to be special, to be validated, to be okay. Remember, "All ink is good ink?" It doesn't matter what they say about you, as long as they're talking about you. There used to be a standing joke at one Hollywood nightclub that all my dates would get carded at the door. I loved being that inappropriate.
3. BAD BOYS ARE EXCITING. NICE GUYS ARE DULL. Skydiving is also exciting. So is driving a car with no brakes. Neither is something you want to do every day. Some of us confuse excitement with happiness, but there's a difference. Spontaneous is one thing; unpredictable is another. My own predilection for chaos came from early childhood stuff (it's called "inconsistent gratification") as well as a brain chemistry that is always thirsty for dopamine. I get off on the anticipating, not the knowing. Stability bores me. It's related to OCD and Adult ADHD -- not necessarily something to be proud of.
4. I CAN'T HELP IT. MY PICKER IS BROKEN. You keep picking men who cheat, who leave, who are emotionally unavailable... men who can't show up for a real relationship (see dull nice guys, #3). Me, too. I always thought the most attractive feature on a man's body was his back... as he was leaving the room. Poor us! Then it was pointed out to me that if I really wanted a relationship, I would probably be in one. I picked men who couldn't show up for a relationship over and over again so that I would never have to risk showing up for a relationship myself. Am I the victim of the love avoidant? Or am I the love avoidant herself?
5. THE LOVE OF A GOOD WOMAN WILL CHANGE HIM. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but salvation does not lie between your thighs. Of course there's a sad, wounded boy underneath that three-day stubble and those fabulous cheekbones. But that doesn't mean you can fix him. When he tells you he's in no shape for a relationship, it's probably the truest thing he said all night. We love to rescue puppies and heal little birds with broken wings, expecting that they will then cleave to us and love us forever. Sadly, in real life, when you release a frightened, wounded animal from a trap, the first thing it usually does is to bite your face off.