Why Do Good Girls Fall for Bad Boys?
I hate the way you talk to me
And the way you cut your hair
I hate the way you drive my car
I hate it when you stare
I hate your big dumb combat boots
And the way you read my mind
I hate you so much that it makes me sick
It even makes me rhyme
I hate the way you're always right
I hate it when you lie
I hate it when you make me laugh
Even worse when you make me cry
I hate the way you're not around
And the fact that you didn't call
But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you
Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
-Kat, 10 Things I Hate About You
Do you remember that movie? My 1990’s self soaked that up like nothing else. Angry girl bands. Cute guy with curly hair. Crop tops and sullen faces. Yes, I was all about it.
Explains a lot.
What is it about “bad boys” that good girls like so much? It can’t be all girls, as they say, “There’s a lid for every pot”! So really, why is it that some girls like bad boys? Are they more prone to enjoying danger?
If you don’t know where you sit on the bad-boy continuum, it’s very simple, when you watch popular tv shows which guy are you attracted to?
Riverdale: Archie or Jughead?
Grey’s Anatomy: McDreamy or McSteamy?
Pretty Little Liars: Ezra, Caleb or Toby? (That’s a hard one because is Ezra a good guy or a bad guy? I mean, he had an affair with a student- bad. But he’s honest and kind- good. He wins both categories!)
So, where did you land?
And while I’m asking questions, why is it that every bad boy seems to have a twinkle in his eye? Is it because he knows he’s good-looking? My four-year-old has it. Thankfully, he says he’s going to marry a mermaid with rainbow hair who loves Jesus, so I won’t have to worry about him. He’s going to be single forever!
In all seriousness though, have you fallen in love with a bad boy? Be still, my beating, rebellious heart!
I don’t believe that junk about wanting to change them. It’s the danger we like, why would we want to change them? Even still, the change your boyfriend theory is a popular teaching, especially in addiction circles. They even have a name for it, they call them ”Fixers”.
Probably stems from the codependency teachings.
If you’ve taken Breaking Up with Bad Boundaries, you know how I feel about codependency. If you haven’t taken our video series on boundaries and you’re ready to blow your, and everyone else’s, codependency theories out of the water check out the video series here.
No, I don’t think it’s about being a fixer of men. I think some girls are attracted to bad boys because we’re trying to fix ourselves.
My First Fall for a Rebel King
When I was twelve, I fell in love with my first bad boy. His name was Shane. If he was reading this, he would know exactly who he was; he was an eye twinkler. Dark eyes, dark hair, dark skin. Very short. I think part of why he liked me was because I was short, too. It was a matter of proportion more than the heart.
I distinctly remember a time my tiny love was sitting alone in the hallway because he’d gotten into trouble in class and passed me a note he’d written out there on the cold, tile floor. I thought it was so cute at the time.
Now I think,
“Of course he’s writing girls notes in the hallway, what else is he going to do?”
“Why did I think his note was cute instead of thinking how stupid he was to have gotten kicked out of class?”
Or even worse,
“Why was accepting a note from a boy in trouble every day not a giant red flag?”
Really! Where was the red flag?
Later that same year, I went to my best friend’s house, her name was Steph, and we told her mother we wanted to go to another girl’s house to study. Truthfully, we were going to see boys! I have no idea how we got to the boy’s house, now that I’m thinking about it (did we walk?! It’s possible!).
When we got to the boy’s house there were no parents home. Steph and I went to hang out. The boys intended to get into trouble.
They had Peach Schnapps. I had never drank Peach Schnapps, I sipped it once but thought it was disgusting (I still think it’s disgusting). That was the end of the Schnapps for me. They put on music that was super offensive to my ears, to get Satan’s rhythm in the air no doubt. Then they went out to the garden shed to smoke pot! I tried it, didn’t like it either but it was better than the Peach Schnapps.
The boys kept going.
By now, I was feeling all the red flags. Steph and I were both uncomfortable but not sure how to get out of the predicament we’d gotten ourselves into. We couldn’t call Steph’s mom, that would blow our cover. We couldn’t leave, that would make us look like losers and we would surely hear about it at school.
We were also waiting because at that point I felt like Julia Goolia from Never Been Kissed with my virgin lips and was promised to have my very first kiss that day, so said the note I received in the hallway.
I just realized that I tried smoking pot before ever kissing a boy. So much of my life is making sense now. Ha!
Long story short, I was kissed. Confirmation I was not going to grow up and become Leah Diarrhea.
Then, Steph’s mom called Sarah’s house to see what time she should pick us up. Our cover was blown. Big trouble!
Somehow, still, the feeling I was left with was that it had all been worth it. I was no longer a social outcast. In like Flynn.
It’s terrifying to think that could be my son in two years. He’s ten. (Note to self- keep him away from bad girls with Peach Schnapps and pot!)
Why do good girls fall for bad boys?
Based on my argument we are trying to fix something in ourselves, what didn’t I like/needed fixing? Let’s make a list!
I was insecure. Very insecure. I had been bullied up until (and beyond) that point and needed reassurance I wasn’t the loser the bullies said I was.
He was one of the best looking guys in the class. In fact, most of the bad boys usually are. It’s generally the awkward or the late bloomers who become the real “catch” later on. It confirmed I was attractive.
My own father was not overly affectionate and I was probably needing some kind of Freudian psychobabble reassurance from males.
Their danger is a drug in itself. The bad boys are their own adventure. It is a chance for the good girl to be bad, without having to actually break the rules. I wanted adventure.
I think somewhere it goes right back to the Garden of Eden. Eve disobeyed God. She had no reason to rebel against Him, her life was perfect. It’s possible this is a generational curse of rebellion we need to pray against (you better believe I will be praying over my daughter tonight, BRING ON THE HOLY WATER, JESUS!).
I was very naive. I didn’t realize the dangers drugs and drinking could lead to.
I think I’m a little bit O.C.D. (obsessive compulsive disorder) and I don’t mean that as a saying. Like “Hey, I’m so O.C.D.” No, I think I really am. I have everything in my home in its “place”. If someone moves it, I go move it exactly back the way it was. It gives me anxiety when it’s not in it’s spot, positioned in the correct way. I’m not like What About Bob or anything, but I do have to fight the urge to have my home perfect. I think I obsessed about this boy. All the boys. It was too much.
Lastly, I was trying to find out who I was apart from my parents. Who did I want to be? Like trying on a dress that’s not your style but hey, it looks good on you.
As you can see, it had little to do with him. Sorry, Short Stuff. It’s also why I repeated my behaviour from one bad boy to the next.
But there’s more, falling for bad boys goes far beyond our moral misgivings. Its science.
The Science of Attraction
We are primal beings at our core. There is a natural process of selection that happens when we go to choose a mate.
Parenting tip #1- delay the mating as long as humanly possible. Provide other activities. Lock them up in the basement. Feed them ice cream and bribe them with cakes. Anything to make sure they never go out into the wild!
When women meet kind, sweet, docile men, we don’t believe they’re going to be strong enough partners. Most bad boys exude masculinity. Testosterone oozes out of them and into their questionable activities. Their rebellious, risk-taking, charismatic behaviour makes them more than likely to hunt, kill and feed our baby chickens.
Even writing that, I can totally picture some good-looking man feeding chickens, shirtless. Obviously picturing my husband with an imaginary six-pack.
In this article from Projects at Harvard, they examine the science behind attraction to bad boys.
“After all, James Bond, James Dean, and Jesse James all share a dangerous, roguish persona, and women in our popular perception seem to find them hard to resist. Indeed, existing scientific literature upholds the idea that bad boys are irresistible. These studies, of course, couch that irresistibility in the reproductive success of bad boys. In other words, studies examining dominance and hypermasculinity show that bad boys have more sexual partners and are perceived as more attractive than their more considerate counterparts (Sadalla et al. 1987; Bogaert and Fisher 1995).”
- Exceeding the Threshold, Why Women Prefer Bad Boys by Edward Horgan
What does the Bible say?
The Bible is full of examples of rebellious men. Rebelling against God is dangerous business and falling in love with a rebel, well, the Bible warns against that, too!
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
(Psalm 146:3-5 NIV)
The best way, the only way, is to submit ourselves to God.
Parenting Tip #2- teach your children to submit to God and you will have done the very best you can! I make no promises. Those bad apples, they’re very attractive. Its science.
How about you? Did you fall for a bad boy?
Pick one bad boy from your past. An easy one, not the one who brings up all the feels.
Make a list of the reasons why you think you fell for him and what you were trying to fix in yourself.
Then answer, do you see yourself repeating those same mistakes today?
Once you’ve identified it, you can now go to God and talk to Him. Ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to fix those things in you (if they aren’t already). Strengthen your spirit and submit to Him and by doing so, you’ll break the spell of the rebellious heart.
And don’t forget to pray over your kiddos tonight (if you have them) that they don’t repeat the same mistakes their ridiculous parents did!
If you’d like more of my parenting advice, formed entirely by mistakes not infallible expertise, check out my book, “We’re Not Okay”.
*Previously called, “Why Do Good Girls Love Bad Boys?”. Updated 05/22/19.