Can we ever retire our bad boy obsession?
Its a trite observation..women love bad boys.. but no less trite for being true. Whether your definition of a ‘bad boy’ is one doesn’t always call when he says he will or one who snorts coke off a toilet seat on a Tuesday afternoon, most people have a bad boy (or girl) in their past.
Hell you even might be married to one (even if the baddest he gets these days is listening to 93.3 really loud when you’re not around).
The bad boy obsession starts young for most of us, right around high school. The girl who smoked behind the bike shed, the boy who wore his hair really long. The dude with a *gasp* tattoo or anyone who played any instrument in a rock band. (No, clarinet do not count). The guy who sat at the back of class being a smart ass, and of course, the ultimate bad boy to many of us kids from the 80s, Judd Nelson aka ‘Bender’ from The Breakfast Club. Give us a boy in a thrift shop overcoat, a bad attitude and a whole generation of bad boy lovers were created.
What was the allure? We knew bad boy’s couldn’t be ‘got’. Bad boys weren’t looking for a nice girl with good grades who lived in a nice house with nice parents. They were too busy practicing air guitar and scoring shwag for the weekend. Staying out until 3 in the morning and bragging about the trouble they found themselves in. They were doing and being all the things I wanted to do and be, but were too scared to. Wild, unpredictable, strong and certain.
Why did I want a bad boy? Because I wanted to be all the things they seemed to be.
Except without the smoking.
Bad boys (and girls) were confident (I wasn’t), independent (I still care too much about what people think), exciting (no comment) and always retained a degree of mystery (I’m an open book). Of course this also makes bad boys arrogant, selfish, inconsistent and totally unreliable… but ahhhhhh they’re undeniably intoxicating. And maybe, just maybe if I could win a bad boy over.. some of it would rub off on me.
Of course, back in my high school days my idea of a bad boy was pretty tame. This was 1980s semi rural North Wales after all, hardly the mean streets of NYC. I would have run a mile from anyone who smoked weed, was rude to their parents or who skipped classes. Kids who were actually bad… (the thugs, the petty thieves the dime dealers) scared the bejesus out of me. My version of bad boy.. slightly to the left of vanilla. No, all my ‘bad boys’ still wore a school uniform every day and I think the most adventurous anyone really got was a stray earring or overly long side-burn.
But for me, it was all about the attitude.
So masculine, so thrilling.
And for all those guys currently rolling their eyes and thinking ‘ why do women love assholes?’ let me explain.. we don’t. But we do love a challenge.
Fast forward 10 years and anyone’s desire for an actual ‘bad boy’ (or girl) seems to wane. After all, when you’re holding down a job, or raising a kid, or buying a house, who wants a guy who’s inconsistent, unreliable and always slightly out of reach? We want partners…or at least a degree of predictability, someone who’s grown up a little and has their shit together. Who has the emotional intelligence of a adult and who can hold a conversation about things other than music or getting drunk. But when it lands in our lap… unless we’ve retired out bad boy obsession, we don’t know what to do with that kind of maturity. The nice guy (or girl) just seems too easy. Where’s the tension? The uncertainty? The thrill?
You like me? You respect me? You’re going to let me know that you’re going to be late? You call when you say you will? You brought me flowers? You’re planning events 2 months away?
Wow.. that’s…. awesome?
Because when someone ceases to be a challenge, when the thrill is scaled down to ‘fish or chicken’ and he starts flexing to accommodate your preferences, it makes for an infinitely less anxious life, but it also feels a little …. flat. There’s no ‘will he? won’t he?’. Its easy. Predictable. Smooth.
Except – yawn.
All those things we wanted – predictability, certainty, respect – suddenly seem just a tad less important than a man who’s willing to drop everything and head to the hills on a whim. Who’s exciting and adventurous, willing to bend the rules a little and who we’re not actually sure of. Who makes us raise our game. Who’s a bit of a challenge, who we’re not sure actually likes us… and the cycle begins again.
Except these days I think I’m tired of it. I don’t want a guy who doesn’t show up. Who doesn’t care about me or who treats me like crap. I want someone who acts like an adult and with whom I can plan things and rely on. I just wonder if it means I have to sacrifice all excitement, all of the tension, all of the challenge. And therein lies the question.
How do you find that person?