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Why Even Smart Women Love Bad Boys

Updated on October 19, 2012

"Ladies Love Outlaws" (Waylon Jennings Album Title)

When we women hear men complain that nice guys finish last, we are quick to reassure our sweethearts that their safe, warm, love is all we've ever wanted. And that is true - as long as we say it with our fingers crossed behind our backs.

The truth is that most smart women really do eventually settle down with good, dependable men who they adore for all the right reasons. However it's also true that any woman who's enjoyed her share of romantic adventures still smiles when she thinks of the bad boys in her past.

This brings up the question: "If women are always in hot pursuit of Mr. Right, why do they always fall hard for complicated, elusive, difficult, offbeat mavericks at least once? And why aren't those memories among their worst instead of their best?"

The logic may not make sense to men, but any woman with an ounce of estrogen in her body will relate in a heartbeat - which is about the time it takes for Mr. Wrong to steal our hearts - at least for a while.

Several things create this irresistible pull, and none of them are simple or even fixable.

Some of the Coolest Bad Boys- Ever

James Dean
James Dean
Sean Connery as James Bond
Sean Connery as James Bond
Lenny Kravitz - Rolling Stone Cover
Lenny Kravitz - Rolling Stone Cover | Source

Face It- There Have Been Some Cool Bad Boys

Most women fall in love with their first bad boy when they are girls and see him on a movie or television screen. Since girls are impressionable and romantic, these larger-than-life anti-heroes become the stuff of daydreams. Long before we meet our first real-life date, we've been hopelessly hooked by some of the world's coolest rogues. A few of the most famous are::.

  • Rhett Butler
  • James Dean
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Usher
  • P. Diddy
  • James Bond
  • Chuck Bass

These men are confident, refuse to play by any rules but their own, and are impossible to pin down. They don't care about anyone but themselves and exude a sense of the forbidden. They are different from most of the men girls and women know. The combination makes them irresistible.

Naturally, this list of traits makes no sense to most men. Oh sure, they may understand that these thugs are cool. After all, they do get what they want, including the women other men want. What men don't get is why women are drawn in. After all, don't women constantly say they want good manners, communication, and empathy? And aren't the bad guys just the opposite of that?

The answer is yes, women do want the qualities they say the do - and even they are often confused to find themselves mooning after a man they wouldn't dream of taking home to meet Mom and Dad.

But really, after spending their youth and adolescence watching these magical men weave their mysterious webs on screen, is it that surprising for a girl to be bowled over when a real-life rogue swaggers her way?

There is another question which remains, even in women's minds: "Shouldn't bright, self-confident, aware women see this coming and figure out the unhappy ending?" You'd think so, but despite common sense, at some point most women find themselves doodling the initials of a motorcycle-riding, long-haired, underemployed bouncer nicknamed "Vinnie the Beard".

What is it about this species that seems to remove our spines and turn our brains to mush? Believe or not, the phenomenon has been studied. Experts tell us that some of it is in our heads, and some of it we can blame on Dopamine.

Bad Boys Mess With Women's Minds on Many Levels

There are a lot of ideas about what dark part of a woman's psyche a maverick lover may activate. Theories about about their appeal include:

  • Bad boys don't do commitment - this makes them catnip.
  • Some women may perceive bad boys as damaged and what girl can resist a chance to be the one to "bring the dead back to life"?
  • Unlike most predictable, steady men, bad boys are spontaneous. They bring an air of "anything can happen" with them.
  • A bad boy has street cred. He usually has a long string of conquests before he gets to a woman. This brings out her natural competitiveness.
  • Bad boys don't care what you think or probably what you do. Combined with everything else, that can be a turn on.

All in all, the average rebel can crawl under a girl's skin before he can say, "Gotta light, Babe?"

Even Our Hormones Fall for Bad Boys

Dopamine is usually our friend. It is a pleasure hormone that kicks in when good things happen, and it makes us feel really, really good. All that is great, but there is a downside.

Two sure-fire things which trigger Dopamine production are risk and danger. Since bad boys fairly reek of both, they tend to set off a series of events which pretty much speed up our hearts and put our brains on hold. It goes something like this:

  1. Johnny Dangerously struts into our personal space and we sense the risk.
  2. Our bodies immediately betray us by drowning us in adrenaline.
  3. Lust quickly follows.
  4. Dopamine is released, causing attraction.

It might seem like you could walk away from this scenario and be done with it; but there is a hook making it difficult. Our pleasure sensors, once activated, push us to keep trying whatever felt so good. Unless something gets in the way, most of us do just that until we regain our senses or some outside influence saves us from ourselves.

Bad Boys are Usually a Passing Fancy

The good news for caring, steady, lovable men everywhere is: Bad boy flings are typically just that.

Some younger women only get involved to spite their family. They outgrow their "rebel without a clue" phase eventually, and hang up their Harley keys by the time they're adults.

Other women are only in it for the thrill and are actually aware enough to know this. They go along for the ride, follow the band, or otherwise engage in anti-social, behavior until they feel like rejoining society, They then wave goodbye and ride off in their own very cool way.

Most of us simply wise up. There comes an inevitable day when we wake up and realize that, "Holy Cow, I'm actually dating a convicted felon". At that point leaving our bad boy is about as hard as giving up our dental braces.

Women really do adore the men they say they do. We love romance and knowing men will be there. Nothing could pry us away from the guys who wooed and won us.

But that doesn't stop us from having the occasional teeny-tiny fantasy about leaving a rock concert on the back of a Harley Roadster.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago


    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting attempt to explain this phenomenon. Personally I still don't get it, but I'm not a women, lol.


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