You know that guy who walks into a room as if he could care less? We all want to be that guy.
Assuming you’re not that guy, I’ll teach you how you can that confident without the downside of the typical Bad Boy.
This is a four-part article exploring the traps and the power of Bad Boys for both men and women.
- What is a Bad Boy – the traits of being bad
- What’s in a Bad Boy – the upside of being bad
- Women and Bad Boys – what do women get
- Bad Boys 2.0 – transforming the bad into good
A journey to being a Bad Boy
I grew up shy, jealous of the guys who got all the attention of the girls and the respect of the other boys. The few times I ventured into attempting to be a Bad Boy, I just embarrassed myself—like the time I spoke to Kim, the most popular girl in sixth grade. After rehearsing my lines and getting up every ounce of courage I had, I approached Kim.
As I was giving myself a pep talk, I began speaking. Suddenly I froze. Making matters worse, a couple of her male friends come by to flirt with her. Seeing my humiliation, Kim started a conversation with me. I felt like the deer in the headlights. I don’t recall what occurred next. All I remember is leaving the encounter shamed, not by Kim but by myself. The hurdle just got higher.
When I was thirteen we moved to a new town, giving me a fresh start. I vowed to be different. I was going to be one of those Bad Boys. Not having a plan other than just taking more risks, I initiated more conversations, sought out friendships and said hi to girls. There was a little progress; in this race I needed to be the hare not the tortoise. But at the pace I was going, high school wouldn’t be much better than elementary school.
I stumbled onto something: with the help of my teenage hormones, I could do just about anything. If need be, I could get in a fight, which I did. I could take on any dare, which I did. I could taunt any other boy to out-risk me, which I did. With this new strategy I was getting noticed. The price was some bruises, staying after school for detentions and groundings – but I was freeing myself.
Being an up and coming juvenile delinquent gave me a foot up with the girls. For the first time, they saw me. Unfortunately it didn’t give me any more courage or skills speaking to them. It was easier to challenge a tough guy than it was to speak to a girl.
Now that I had a rep for being “bad,” I had to step up with the girls… so I had to get dates. I discovered it was easier asking out girls from other towns, so I started there. Then I progressed to younger girls in my town. By my senior year I was going out with a cheerleader and taking crap from her ex-boyfriend, by then a college student. Unintentionally I created the ultimate Bad Boy scenario: dating a hot chick then fighting for her by standing up to the former school football star. I had made it.
Don’t be impressed. Susie was a great young woman, but I realized it wasn’t about her. It was about my journey to be a Bad Boy and being accepted. I bought the partly line that success as a man was being a Bad Boy. I went from a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia and a speech impediment, to a Bad Boy in the four years of high school. The win of that journey was huge. The prize was anti-climatic. “Getting the girl” and the respect of my male peers left me feeling something was missing. Later, when I was willing to be honest with myself, I had to admit that my Bad Boy accomplishment was an act. I was still that shy boy on the inside.
I was in a dilemma in college. I had the Bad Boy macho persona and the sensitive, needier part behind the mask. I didn’t know how to be with women. I could “get them,” but as far as developing a relationship with them, I was lost. The Bad Boy persona got their attention. My friends’ advice to solve my problem, an iteration of the Bad Boy paradigm, was no help.
Yet I would see guys who were better Bad Boys get the hot women. These men would mis-treat the women, and the women would put up with it. Other women saw that and lined up to be with the Bad Boys. I couldn’t understand how smart women would put up with that treatment—even abuse.
Seeing the limits of the Bad Boy mask I dived into “being sensitive”—with immediate results. Women would open up to me. They would tell me how other men wouldn’t get them. Feeling smug, I would become more sensitive. There was a level of sincerity… yet it was another act like being a Bad Boy.
Spilt between wanting to out Bad Boy other guys and being the most sensitive guy with women, I struggled in relationships. And honestly, I was pissed that my new found niceness wasn’t as successful as being a bad-ass Bad-Boy. No matter how aware I was as a sensitive man, the Bad Boys always did better.
What’s a Bad Boy?
You know the type, the swaggering, arrogant, macho jerk who treats women like they're disposable, while they're waiting in line to climb into his bed. He has no problem putting himself first, particularly with women, while not caring what others think.
His narcissistic personality has little empathy for other’s feelings and needs. The allure for women that he doesn’t care about them only excites them more. Treating women as if they are replaceable parts of his truck has these women either chasing him or trying to save him. The last thing he is is politically correct.
A Bad Boy’s need of a woman is not for an emotional connection, it’s for an emotional and sexual conquest. It’s about having another win, another notch on his belt. His competition is with other men, “getting” women to satisfy his insatiable need for attention. This aggression can be misinterpreted for being assertive. It’s not assertiveness because he’s not asserting a true feeling or need. He’s pushing for what he immediately wants, often with undertones of anger. In spite of his success with women, often a Bad Boy is scared of and angry at them.
A Bad Boy can be frightened by a woman’s vulnerability and emotional honesty, two things he runs from. He can’t control, compete with, or conquer these qualities. Instead he must change the rules of engagement to be about controlling emotions and women, competing with other men along with winning the game of getting a woman to succumb to him. Once he’s accomplishes these tasks, he’s bored – ready for the next woman.
A Bad Boy’s success perpetuates his adolescent need to rebel. Beating other men, winning women and not being responsible reinforce his pattern of badness. Other men grow out of this because either they don’t succeed at being a Bad Boy or they begin to feel the cost they and others are paying.
No matter how good the immediate rewards of being a Bad Boy, maturing men grow to want more intimacy, rather than more women. They realize that life is not all about them. Maturing beyond the pleasures of being a Bad Boy and the cultural double message around how we love and hate these Bad Boys, they must give up the illusion that rebelling is the only path to masculine success.
One way to look at being a Bad Boy is to see a teenager who never grew up. Every man needs to go through some form of being bad to outgrow adolescence. This badness may only be breaking the rules of what it meant to be a boy so he can mature into a man. Over the years when I see a boy or a man who never had a chance to revolt I usually see a repressed man. As much as men can fixate in their adolescence as Bad Boys, there are men who shun any emotional challenge. They are the Nice Guys whom I write about in my new book, Grow UP: A Man’s Guide to Masculine Emotional Intelligence.