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The Allure of Bad Boys

The Allure of Bad BoysYou have a good head on your shoulders. You’re attractive. You’re personable. You’re smart.

And yet, for some inexplicable reason, you’re drawn to bad boys.

What is it with this attraction? You can’t explain it. You just know you find a certain kind of guy alluring — even when you know (from experience) that the relationship will end badly.

Friends tell you that your new “great guy” is cocky, brash, foolhardy. But you have a different take on it. You view him as sooo masculine, exciting, unconventional — in a good way. He’s such a turn-on. No comparison to other guys. Yes, those other guys are nice, but oh, so boring. Why even be with a guy if the adrenaline isn’t pumping?

So what is the draw of the bad boy?

What makes them so attractive to many women, even addictive to some?

  1. The bad boy is exciting.

    Life is never dull when you’re with him. You’re not quite sure what he’ll do or say next. He makes you laugh. He keeps you interested. He’s an instant cure for the ho-hum of everyday life.

  2. The bad boy is no run-of-the-mill guy.

    He has a unique way of doing things. His unconventionality turns you on. It feels masculine. It feels powerful. It feels like how guys should be. Not wimpy — like so many other guys. True, his adventures can frighten you. But they also thrill you. And isn’t that what life is all about? Exciting experiences you’ll remember forever!

  3. The bad boy is an enticing mix.

    He’s confident (he knows what he wants). He’s independent (he doesn’t care what others think). He’s a sweet talker (he knows how to get what he wants). He’s mysterious (you still can’t figure him out).

To sum it all up, the “bad boy” is a thrill. And the more blah your own life is, the more alluring the bad boy seems.

Only one problem — well, more than one, actually:

  1. What happens when you grow up but the bad boy doesn’t?

    He’s still into risky stuff when you’re long past that stage. What used to seem enticing now seems half-baked or just plain out ridiculous. His antics no longer seem unfamiliar and exciting. Indeed, they seem all too familiar and dim-witted.

  2. What happens when the bad boy’s pranks begin to feel more menacing than masculine?

    His actions have put you in harm’s way more than once. And these days you’d really prefer to feel safe with him, maybe even protected by him.

  3. What happens when your bad boy turns into a bad guy?

    When his shrugging off what others think becomes he doesn’t care what you think? When his lack of respect for rules becomes blowing off rules you consider essential to your relationship? When his unconventional behavior that used to excite you becomes behavior that creates anxiety for you?

Though bad boy antics may be attractive when “boys” are entering adulthood, beware of what happens when bad boys reach maturity and full adulthood.

The Allure of Bad Boys

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Dr. Linda Sapadin, psychologist, success coach and author is proud to announce the publication of her new book, Overcoming Your Procrastination: College Student Edition – Advice for 6 Personality Styles available on Amazon. Now more than ever with remote learning, this book is a must-have. If you’re a perfectionist, dreamer, worrier, crisis-maker, defier or please, grab your copy. No longer a student? Get my book How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age – 6 Change Programs for 6 Personality Styles. Visit to subscribe to my free e-newsletter. Contact her at

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APA Reference
Sapadin, L. (2018). The Allure of Bad Boys. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 3 May 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.