By Kadi Hunt
As I was driving home this afternoon, I spotted a dog running frantically through my neighborhood. I stopped the car and spent fifteen minutes trying to lure this creature, who couldn’t decide if he’d rather play with me or bite me, into the backseat. After several minutes of painful squatting and embarrassing baby talk, he finally ran the other way and hopped into another good samaritan’s car. It was a waste of my time but I had to stop. After all, he did need my help, right? I mean, he was a dog and it’s not his fault that he was scared and indecisive, so of course, I would do it again. Unfortunately for myself and a whole lot of other women, the outlook on wasting our time to help those who may not want it, extends to grown men as well.
I’m a happily married woman, but I do consider myself a reformed commitment-phobe. Nice, stable guys just could never keep my attention long enough for the relationship to go anywhere. The guys that could peak my interest were the ones that should have been wearing about ten different warnings plastered to their foreheads. I wanted a project or distraction and the good guys just couldn’t do that for me and I don’t think I was alone in that thought process. Whether it’s a criminal record, a reputation as a world-class player, or the guy who never calls when he says he will, what exactly is it about the men that our mothers warned us about that is so alluring? Why are we attracted to men that we know in our hearts are not good for us?
As a species, women are nurturers. Regardless of whether or not we have children, we‘re biologically hard wired to take care of someone (or something). It’s why we can’t pass adoption events at the pet store without stopping to “just look” (or power walk in the other direction resisting the urge to turn around and throw ourselves in a pile of puppies). It’s why when we’re lonely, we get a cat and if we can’t get a cat, we redecorate our entire house or organize our closets. We need something to take care of. If we can’t take care of something, then we want something we can fix. The idea of taking care of a damaged man and rehabilitating him into some functional member of society is a big part of what draws us in.
My second theory has less to do with women and more to do with human nature in general. “Everyone loves a challenge” is something we hear all the time. It can refer to sports, careers, or in this case, men. There is nothing more attractive than someone you can’t have. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying it’s the truth. Sure, you could probably get a date (or a motorcycle ride) with the scruffy, mysterious guy at the bar, but you couldn’t have him at his full potential. You couldn’t have the perfect, emotionally stable guy that he could be once you work your magic. The challenge is what makes bad boys seem like so much more “fun” than the guy who plays by all the rules.
For many of us, it’s a combination of the need to nurture and the thrill of the chase that draws us in. In my case, I always wanted someone to take care of and “fix” all the while enjoying the excitement. There are a myriad of other possible reasons as to why we go against our gut feelings to chase after men with more issues than Sports Illustrated, many of which would probably take a few bottles of wine and a resurrected Sigmund Freud to figure out. That being said, it doesn’t really matter if your reasons are the same as mine or if you just have a thing for mugshot photos, as long as you know how to love yourself enough to not become a doormat (or accomplice).
It’s possible you may never get over your love of the infamous “bad boy.” Even my husband started out as the guy who partied too much and called too little. Trust me, there are guys out there who will surprise you. Just remember that try as you might, you can’t save them all, and some dogs actually do bite.
Kari Hunt fights fear and stigmas surrounding mental disorders at throughthefear.com
I confess, there was a time when I was younger that I used to love the bad boy – the chase, the thrill, the danger. Then I married the complete opposite of bad boy — someone kind, caring and thoughtful. Boy, had I been missing out! Can you relate to loving the bad boy? Are you currently dating the bad boy? Would love your thoughts on the topic.