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We’ve all been there. Your girlfriend proclaiming to the gods that she shall never be tempted by the poisoned fruit that is the jerk in her life. No more wild romps, only to be ushered into the next cab, or spontaneously being whisked away on an exciting adventure, only for her phone number to be ostracized like a pariah. But then he pops up with his charming smile and devilish allure that oozes ‘come into my parlor’, and she saunters off without care for the judgmental looks because he’s not the first, and heavens help her, won’t be her last bad boy. Uh-oh…

From afar, it’s not easy to spot them in the crowd because by large, they dress very well, drive lovely cars, and act as if they are the boss. All the while being very seductive and generous, giving you a serious case of the butterflies. Being human, we are inclined to want money, success and a certain caliber of lifestyle. Unfortunately a lot of things that we like come with slightly boring attachments, such as a bank manager or a physicist as the tidy, safe bow on that package

“Women also want sex appeal,” says Chris Hart, a relationships expert. “We want someone who will sweep us off our feet like all the Hollywood leading men. I’m afraid that’s what the bad boys are; exciting, uncontrollable and unpredictable. It’s like holding a tiger by the tail.”

Being caught in their clutches, in the beginning, is perfectly understandable. They’re confident, commanding and exceptionally convincing because they’ve done it a thousand times. “I hate to say this but there’s a streak in women of ‘I’ll change him’, ‘with me he’s going to be different’, “says Hart. Sadly we all know how much of a fallacy this can be, with bad habits being magnified under the marriage lens. However, Hart insists that this, not low self-esteem or ‘daddy issues’, is the main reason we give in to the ‘bad boy addiction’.

Related: WHY YOU WILL PROBABLY NEVER GET THE GIRL IF YOU’RE A NICE GUY

While excitement is a crucial ingredient, the core cause stems from subconscious thought. “Our bodies are very sneaky and ultimately want good children, “explains Hart. Just as men will look at the curves, symmetry, and beauty of a woman as indicators of good genes, women gauge this from a man’s social success. “You want a man who is going to win, against all odds, who is going to be successful in life, “explains Hart. “One of the most prominent ways he should be successful is at seducing women.” Think about it, most women want to have children that will be successful, have a partner(s) and have children. “When they see this man at the end of the bar with a huge smile, one of the things that go through the subconscious mind is that ‘He’s very successful at seducing women, I’d like for my son to be able to do the same’, “says Hart.

It is for this reason that when women hear their internal clock sounding the alarm, they think it’s a wiser idea to try for one last one with another man. “Would you believe that 30% of the children in this generation have fathers that aren’t their mother’s husband? It would explain why then the last born is usually a bundle of fun, socially precocious, and knows all the ways to win your heart when the husband is a bit too timid for life,” explains Hart.

So, has the bad boy been vilified for a natural function in the link of humanity? In early times, the bad boys were knights and army men, yet poetry was written in adoration. The modern bad boy may have given up the sword and horse for fast cars and suits, but Hart disagrees with the terminology. “We call them bad boys, but they’re not. It’s actually a very successful mating strategy.”

The average man will find a wife, have children and do his level best to stick around and raise them. Bad boys, on the other hand, see the value in quantity and see a lot of women. They live right on the edge of acceptable human behavior with their strong physique, big cars, and money, becoming less acceptable as life becomes hectic. And yet, quite a lot of women go out seeking that guy without even realizing.

That doesn’t change the fact that our genes want a share of his. However, there are instances that the bad boy just doesn’t check out on the list of attributes you’re looking for. You know that friend who is stuck dating a man who’s not too attractive, successful and is just plain rude? Hart suggests that she could indeed be having fun to keep going back or to stick around. “I hate to say it but he must be great in bed! Honestly, you’d keep him around too, wouldn’t you? Obviously, your friend is going to chuck him out one day but for now, she keeps thinking ‘one more time’.”

There’s nothing wrong with dating the bad boy. Its reality that 90% of decisions are made by the subconscious and your conscious is notified after the event.  “The thing is you can have fun with them and you’ll never forget it. Dare say, even enjoy the ride,” says Hart. Whether you are enthralled in the enigma of a bad boy or trying to get out, one thing we know for certain is that our subconscious truly has a lot to answer for.

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