Good Girls & Bad Boys
Falling in love with a bad boy is a Romance Novel trope that goes back to the beginning of folklore. Beauty and Beast is probably the most recognizable example.
Women seem to need to tame the wildness out of him, or realize that people in general are more monstrous than the beastly man.
What is a “Bad Boy”? He’s the man who was always in trouble in high school, rides a motorcycle even though he can afford a car, never stays with a girl friend for more than a few dates, hangs out in smokey bars swilling beer and getting into fights. Or maybe he’s the tycoon with a shady reputation for his business deals. There are rumors that he has mob connections.
Wily and cunning he might be, perhaps ruthless in business deals. But in romance novels, at least, there is never even a suggestion that he is physically or emotionally abusive. A man guilty of that is beyond redemption.
I believe it’s that redemptive quality that draws women to the bad boys.
On an episode of Cheers I watched recently, Lilith had written a book on the topic. She compared Sam Malone to Frasier Crane.
Sam is the kind of man who sets your blood to pumping hotly. He’s handsome, he’s attentive, and he’s good in bed. He’s the kind of man you run off to Mexico with for a week. Rarely more than a week. You throw your inhibitions to the wind, swim at nude beaches, get drunk on fruity rum concoctions, and lose yourself in sensuality.
But throughout this dream vacation you have a constant eye out for the waitresses and bar maids and other nude sunbathers because his attention span is not much more than a flea’s. If he goes off to explore the town while you shop for souvenirs will he come back to you? And if he comes back, has he stopped of for a quickie with someone else?
You can’t expect a commitment from the likes of Sam Malone.
Frasier on the other hand, even if he is balding and getting a bit paunchy, takes commitment and loyalty and love into his soul. When you come home in the evening, he’s the one who rubs your feet, gets take-out and runs the bath for you, and you for him. His love-making is long, slow, and delicious.
And you know that he’ll be there in the morning, and the next night and the one after that. He may look at other women, because he appreciates beauty, not because he’s aiming for the next score.
In a romance novel there is something very satisfying, even triumphant, at the end when the bad boy is tamed, and love conquers all. In reality though, I will gravitate toward the staid and reliable man who loves me.