I’ve been reading a lot of articles that talk about women wanting the “bad boy.” Everyone has their pet theory, even psychologists who have tried to experiment to find out reasons for it. Many of the reasons people cite are that it is supposedly a biological imperative (which, if you talk to biologists is not a real concept, but a convoluted misunderstanding of the realities of biology).
I personally think it is a matter of societal programming.
How many of us were taught growing up that the boy who bullies us, pulls our hair, or any other negative behavior that negates our own body autonomy is doing it because “he likes us?” Parents think that by telling their daughters this that they are protecting their girls from the idea that boys (and men) treat girls (and women) like property.
Sadly, those of us women growing up heterosexual then associate narcissistic, abusive behavior as part of being “loved.” Look at all of the “romantic” celebrity teen idols of the past and present. How many of those are “bad boys” who make poor choices, Hell, look at the Twilight series and the 50 Shades series – these are all about the idea that if you love completely, it makes up for how badly he treats you.
There is a self-described, self-help guru named Mark Manson who has a great article about the idea that “Love Conquers All.” I read it when I was going through the first steps of my divorce from my ex. It resonated strongly with me.
Now that I’m in my 40s, I look around myself and I see exactly where the pursuit of the “bad boy” has taken most women. Most of them have ended up like myself, older and wiser but wounded and broken.
You can’t ever “save” the bad boy. He – just like the rest of us – has to save himself. Nothing ever changes unless the motivation for change comes from inside ourselves.
I also look around and see all of the “nice guys.” The guys whose shoulder we cry on when the bad boy hurts us. The guys who are willing to step between us and the abusive bad boy if only we would let them. The guys who, when they do find a woman to love them, more often than not end up with a woman who happily uses and abuses them.
Yes, nice guys have a thing for “bad girls” too.
The nice guys are the ones who grew up with compassion and caring, and more often than not end up being the “white knight.” Except, after they’ve done their knightly duties – they rarely get the girl. No, more often than not, the girl wants the villain (like in the pilot of Galavant – where she chooses fame and fortune over “true love” – one of the reasons I loved the show, as it turns many fantasy tropes upside down). Or, they find they have saved the dragon, not the princess.
Whether it is a woman wanting to save a “bad boy” or a man wanting to save a “bad girl” – more often than not all it leads to is a broken and battered person.
We white knight types need to learn to save ourselves. And learn that not every bad person deserves to be saved.