Women and “Bad Boys”

The wall in my office was recently donned with an original screen print of Kylo Ren in his helmet. I had to mount it behind me, because if it were anywhere I could stare directly at it, I would not get anything done in that space.

I gloated about this piece for weeks before I was able to pick it up. Not only would it go perfectly with my Stormtrooper action figure, lightsaber sounding doorbell, and Death Star cup and teapot, but… I also have a real love for Kylo Ren. My husband even calls him my “emo boyfriend,” and if you follow my Instagram, you might have noticed a picture of me with a ridiculous grin on my face, standing speechless as I look at his looming figure during a character interaction at Disney World. I’m slightly obsessed.

A dear coworker, who’s been at the company for 40 years, walked by my office and looked at the picture and contemplated a moment before posing a question to me, “Why are women attracted to bad boys?”

My first reaction was to think, “He’s not a “bad boy”!”, but I immediately had a PTSD flashback to a class at university where I dared to argue that the character of Chigurh in No Country for Old Men wasn’t evil, thus enticing a rain of fire and fury upon me from my classmates and a final, “And Bri, do you have anything to share?” from the professor at the end of every conversation henceforth.

But his question did make me contemplate the age-old archetype of women being attracted to the “bad boy.” The concept consumes story arcs again and again across all mediums – books, movies, plays, mythologies – ancient stories of women wanting the bad boy that will only cause her emotional harm when there was a safer, happier choice in a kinder, gentler man. If a woman knows the risk of emotional harm is high, why would she continue to pursue the one who poses the risk?

Let’s reflect on the elaborate and beautifully complex palace that is the woman psychology. We are the mothers of the world – actually having a child is not required. We are creators and comforters. We are the balance keepers – kissing boo-boos, healing wounds, and lifting spirits. We are lovers, and appreciators of the cycles of ups and downs that life brings. We experience that cycle through ourselves, innate within the biology of our bodies. We experience it through the deeply personal involvement of birth and death. This is not to say that men don’t experience and feel deeply about these life events – only that women experience it through the pain of the effort of the creation of it all.

With this understanding, it becomes natural for a woman to be attracted to what is perceived as the “bad boy” when that character often reflects the same cycle of ups and downs that we women operate in daily. We crave a companion who isn’t afraid of that journey, who will lift us to new heights within it, and who provide us with a deeper understanding as we travel through it.

To explore the perceived “opposite” option, there is also a time, personality, and even season when a woman desires an anchor that will serve as a beacon to calmer waters. But if the relationship is a healthy one, the “bad boy” can also be or become that calm beacon. Not to mention, those who present themselves as the “good guy” often have depths that can lead to unhealthy relationships (… hello Hans from Disney’s Frozen).

So, I encourage the Wild Women of this world to find their equal in their passions no matter the stigma. Explore the reasons behind your attraction, weigh the balance between health and adventure, and always know that you deserve the utmost respect as the Keeper of Life. Surround yourself with a tribe of wise supporters who will speak truths and help you along all of your journeys – and seek a life partner who complements you, raises you up, encourages your dreams, hears your voice, and desires your happiness.

I chose a “bad boy” in many ways as my life partner, but he is a “bad boy” in all the best of those ways – and we have had a healthy journey through the rest of it – on both sides.

So, cheers to the bad boys!

Photo Credit: Artwork by Justus Brozek (Instagram: @justusbrozek)


2 thoughts on “Women and “Bad Boys”

  1. This editorial made me think back to my first girlfriend in my late teens. While we were just a couple for a handful of months we forged a friendship of now about 30 years which has stayed the test of time (possibly thanks to us becoming Facebook Friends ~10 years ago). In the several years to follow after we were a couple I can recall at least four different “bad boy” boyfriends she had a relationship with. During these periods I was still single (the somber hallmark of the majority of my post-pubescent existence and wanderings until age 29) and often wondered what she saw in each of these guys. Reading this has given me some insight that I never had before on the subject!
    I have much gratitude for knowing you and being able to delight in and internalize the reading of your thoughtful prose that you entrust with the world. Much thanks for your insight.


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