Why The 'Bad Boy' May Not Really Be As Bad As You Think

The bad boy.

As a Millennial woman, I've seen this stereotype portrayed the majority of my life. From movies, TV shows, ads, stories told around cocktails: It literally surrounds me almost daily.

But what exactly is a “bad boy,” and what attracts so many women to them? A friend of mine described her definition below:

I get drawn in by the looks and I stay for the attention. I like thinking I can turn them into a good guy rather than a bad boy. It's like a mission. Sadly though, I wind up mistaken, and end up being on the bench, thinking they care, but just being used. They never change, I end up hurt, and feelings get thrown around when they were only one sided to begin with.

For the majority of my dating life I wholeheartedly agreed with my friend's statement. Bad boys were those who typically ended up breaking my heart, had a mystery about them and, above all, were men I tossed into the “douchebag” pile, due to various degrees of debauchery.

I've infamous in my circle for dating countless “bad boys” and have more experience in this department than I care to admit.

I've listened to guy after guy tell me he didn't want commitment but chose to ignore the words that spilled out of their mouths and instead focused on the fact that they totally called me cute last week. That must mean he's leaning towards commitment with me, right?

Wrong. I'm not sure where the disconnect in a woman's mind is, but for some reason when we hear “I don't want commitment,” we immediately think “I haven't met the right girl to commit to yet.” This disastrous correlation has led to many brokenhearted girls and probably excessive amounts of rosé.

“So bad boys have broken your heart time after time, how can you even possibly begin to defend them?”

Well, a guy who doesn't want commitment isn't a bad boy. Just because a guy doesn't want commitment doesn't mean he doesn't like you, he doesn't have feelings for you or he's a heartless douchebag with a stone-cold heart.

It simply means he doesn't want to be tied down to anyone. That's it, not that he thinks your nose is too big, or you need to fit into size 2 jeans again or that you need to change something about your appearance or personality to make him want commitment.

Some guys just don't want, or aren't ready for, commitment. And that does not make them bad.

I'm not sure where the "bad boy" myth started but I can assume it was by a girl who, like me, had her heart broken by guy(s) who were extremely upfront about their intentions but chose to dive headfirst into something she was not emotionally ready for or didn't listen to what he was saying (probably a combination of the two).

The stereotype stuck and now women everywhere practice the ritual of discussing the latest bad boy in their life over cocktails.

As a Millennial woman, I'm taught that dating is supposed to lead to something. Typically you date, get engaged, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. The idea to date someone for fun is becoming obsolete, which is extremely disappointing.

No longer are women being taught that dating can just be fun. You can find someone you're compatible with and have adventures, be a regular part of each other's lives and be stress-free.

Nope. We're taught to constantly be freaking out about why he isn't texting us back, why he hasn't made it official yet or why a ring isn't on our finger.

Dating has become more of a chore and stressful activity rather than something you can enjoy. Those who oppose this viewpoint have been tossed into the “bad boy” pile.

So we've covered the fact that guys who don't want commitment aren't bad boys. But do bad boys exist? The answer is yes, but the correct name for them would be "emotionally manipulative toddlers."

Men who simply don't want commitment but enjoy the benefits/presence of women in their life aren't "bad boys." You can have a healthy, fun connection with someone without commitment involved.

This is, of course, as long as you're both completely upfront about your feelings, intentions are made clear from the start and you're both understanding that things will never lead to monogamy, much less marriage.

Also make sure you're emotionally ready to take this on. If you're not, there's no shame in that; save yourself the emotional headaches that will ensue. But if you are, buckle up and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime and stories to tell your friends for days.

Yes, bad boys do exist, but in a different way than most women are led to believe. Once a guy begins maliciously manipulating your emotions to get a desired result, he is a bad boy. If he promises you monogamy and a relationship but has no desire other than to use you for physical or emotional comfort, he is a bad boy. Not only is he a bad boy, but he's an asshole.

So be careful the next time you toss around the term “bad boy” over mimosas. Was he actually a bad boy or was it just that you just wanted two completely different things?

This article originally appeared on the author's blog.