I get the conundrum; good boys give you a sense of security and bad boys give good cake by the ocean. One smells like ivory soap, apple pie and total comfort, while the other tastes like bourbon, tobacco and freedom.
Personally, I’ve vacillated between the two men for years. I’ve tried to settle on someone my father could bro out with — which I understand to be the litmus test for good relationship, right? A nice, law abiding man that will make your parents and friends proud and worry less for your emotional wellbeing?
Problem is — I have a bit of a crazy tick in my head. The kind that’s hard-wired to like things like impossible challenges and winning. Maybe I was a blood-thirsty samurai in a past life, and I just can’t seem to forget how much I liked the thrill of being powerful — and standing next to someone who’s even more powerful. Hence the teetering between the two options in my dating life: and why the ones who are so adorable, so lethal and ultimately give the best, borderline psycho-sex of my life, are so impossible for me to resist.
Or should I say, it used to be hard to resist them. “Girls wanna fuck bad boys, but marry a good boy at the end of the day,” says Snack, a 28 year-old guy who I serve my cakes to about once a week (hence the nickname). And truth be told, he’s not entirely off. Eventually, all the drunk, random arguments, the narcissistic tendencies and the downright irresponsibility of a bad boy does begin to wear thing. Admiration finally meets common sense and sours into undeniable disgust, where there’s nothing he can do right or that you can’t do even better (although he will admit to none of those things, because that’s what bad boys specialize in — convincing you that you can’t do what they can).
And so begins the end of your relationship, which I’m pretty sure is the part we actually came for. The part where you meet the height of a transformation you’ve been looking for all along. In fact, the whole reason you got into the relationship, aside from pheromones and oxytocin, probably flirted with one of these three common reasons below:
You Probably Just Wanted To Learn How Take More Risks
Bad boys tend not to be risk averse; time and time again you watch them push the boundaries of what you thought was possible. Career, money, health, drugs, sex, and love — they bend all these things to their will and it’s mesmerizing to watch.
Except, love is not a spectator sport. Eventually, you’ll find yourself doing similar things to keep up with him — which is what you probably wanted to try in the first place. Maybe you learn to stay up later and socialize, drink more often, or change the style of the clothes you wear. Or maybe you stand up to your boss, listen to different music, or change your sense of humor. Whatever it is, I’ve often noticed that the biggest risks I watched my bad boy take were often the ones I really wanted to take for myself. And being in those relationships, and under his tutelage, I discovered how to incorporate those qualities I admired most into my own lifestyle.
You Thought You Could Find The Real You
Jungian philosophy refers to the shadow side of our personalities as an unconscious part of the that the ego does not identify itself with. The parts that you might have suppressed, because good girls shouldn’t like things like revenge, power, bat-shit crazy sex and a whole slew of things that relationships with bad boys often give you access to.
These relationships can help you explore the shadow sides of your personality, the parts you have repressed or not identified with because the environment you grew up in didn’t allow you to play with it. It’s fun to explore this side, so long as you don’t go full Harley Quinn and hurt other people (or yourself). In my own shadow side, I learned the power to speak up and how to tell someone to fuck off — and enjoy zero guilt in really meaning it. There’s a confidence your shadow side has, that you don’t often get to play with in the safe confines of someone that holds no opposition to you (a good boy.) And for a temporary spell, this development is really fun to unbox.
You Wanted To Feel Your Full Strength
I dated this guy once, who was a parent’s wet dream. Nice dude, had a decent job and would have probably crawled into the grave to follow me into eternity. His love posed no challenge — his biggest dreams were to snag a nice house, where I’d stay an art director while he taught PE in an elementary school. We’d have kids. Get old and die. Pretty basic shit.
Except, I’ve got that tick I told you about. The one that really, really likes setting up impossible goals and innovative challenges for myself. I am addicted the thrill of coming out on top (in life and occasionally in the bedroom). So I dumped him, dated a mix of very good and bad boys, and years later you’re reading an article on a website that I started, that produced its first documentary last March and also scored me this awesome love and sex column where I did this sick gig for Armani. And I feel strong — ridiculously strong. And the bad boys that came after him only helped me take more risks, test my will and push myself harder than I’ve ever tried before.
But I’m no longer kidding myself, either. While I love the lessons a bad boy can inspire, I don’t really have the time to deal with the drama of the boy himself. I don’t need to date them to become a better woman. I can just observe their risk taking skills or the shadow aspects I’d like to play with and practice them on my own. And in many ways, it’s only helped my relationships with good guys become even stronger.
So if the above sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to take a relationship audit. Do you really need to put up with a bad boy to get the thrills of personal growth? Or can you just have enough bravery to try breaking rules on your own and stick with a good guy instead? I think it almost all evens out — except for the sex. I have no clue how to duplicate that level of uninhibited crazy, but I’ll take your suggestions below if you have any.