Today I'm pleased to welcome Lynda Hilburn to Terry's Place. Admit it--we all find bad boys intriguing. Let's hear from an expert about why we do. Be sure to leave a comment answering her questions -- she has prizes! And it should make for an interesting discussion.
I had a psychotherapy session with a client yesterday and she reminded me of an ongoing question in my mind: What is it about bad boys? Why are we attracted to them? Why do we abandon good sense (along with clothing, sometimes, LOL) when one walks into the room?
From a psychological point of view, we’re often drawn to men who remind us (consciously or unconsciously) of an important male figure from our childhoods. Or, we’re enticed by the opposite. For example, if Dad was a bad boy, depending on how his behaviors impacted us, we might either idealize or demonize him. If he was a laid-back beta male, we might crave what had been missing.
Hmmm. Do we believe that hanging out with a rebellious, borderline criminal will somehow rub off on us and we’ll begin to explore our primitive sides? Is this really about our desire to be wild and crazy? Unrestricted? Less like good girls?
What is a bad boy? When I use those words, I don’t necessarily mean someone who is evil. Although, he could be. He certainly doesn’t follow rules or conform to society’s ideas about what he should/shouldn’t do. He might have a flexible moral compass. He’s often a risk taker, who probably wouldn’t be satisfied with a traditional nine-to-five job or a “normal” life. He’s the perfect projection screen for our fantasies.
The bad boy is a popular archetype. We have lots of names for him: rake, cad, scoundrel, charmer, heartbreaker, ladies’ man, scamp, rascal, bounder, thug, to list a few. He’s usually confident and indifferent. A man who exudes an aura of mystery (the perpetual “strong, silent type”). Most important, he’s unavailable. We humans always want what we think we can’t have. And, of course, once we meet this elusive troublemaker, we women begin to believe that only we can “change him.” But, will we still want him after we do? (Ah, but we hope we can’t!)
Unlike a lot of the bad boy heroes of romance novels (which I read and write), he isn’t necessarily gorgeous. So, it seems being a bad boy is more about his attitudes and behaviors than anything else. For example, my client in the first paragraph is absolutely obsessed with a hygiene-challenged, scarred, rule-breaker on a Harley. She says life without him would be unbearable. (We’re working on that.)
I love vampire books, and I consider all male vampires – and other paranormal creatures – to be bad boys. (Which is one reason we love vampires.) By their very nature, they don’t follow any human rules. They usually don’t even adhere to the laws created for their particular mythology. Like humans, they range from charming rebels to self-absorbed sociopaths/psychopaths.
Good examples of (the wide range of) bad boys: Jason Bourne, Lestat, James Bond, Dexter Morgan, Captain Jack Sparrow, Rhett Butler, Don Draper on Madmen, James Dean, Han Solo, Jamie from the Outlander books, the Harry character from True Lies, Michael Weston on Burn Notice, Dr. Gregory House, and Roarke from the Eve Dallas books.
What literary/movie characters come to mind for you when you think of bad boys? Why do you think we love them?
I’ll give a copy (either trade paperback or e-version) of The Vampire Shrink or Dark Harvest to one commenter here who answers those questions. Terry will post the winner’s name on Friday so there's plenty of time to enter. Be sure to check back to see if you won.
For more about Lynda, you can visit her at her website or her blog.