There’s no denying that we’ve all done it at least once in our lives. Whether we’ve healed blocked it out with dove chocolate and bottles of Moscato, or simply written it off as a weird side effect of the birth control the doctor recommended—there’s no refuting it. We’ve all dated a Voldemort, a Sith Lord, a master of the dark arts, a Lord Disick. We’ve all dated at least one, or in my case, as many as would have me. There’s just something so appealing in dating the villain, the bad boy, the douche in the backwards hat. I’m not sure if it’s something in our DNA, a need to rebel at least once, to date a jackass and see if it’s really as passionate as The OC taught us it should be. Or if it’s something else all together. A type.
In my case, it’s a type. If you’re attractive, smart, good to me, good to my friends, and have a good head on your shoulders, odds are I don’t want anything to do with you. On the other hand, if you’re attractive, a smartass, bad to me, horrible to my friends, and have good shoulders, I’ll be all over you.
(If you’re a newbie to the bad boy scene and wondering if it’s really as dramatic as One Tree Hill taught you it should be, the answer is yes. There’s a lot of yelling, a lot of tears, a lot of door slamming, and throwing yourself dramatically and with sorrowful purpose onto your bed. Is it as sexy as Grey’s Anatomy promised it would be? Not really. If you’re vulnerable stupid and you’ve gone and fallen in love with Voldemort then life might start feeling like you’re constantly in a state of smeared mascara and bed-head. And not in the I-just-had-great-sex way but in the I-just-clawed-my-way-out-of-the-depths-of-hell way. In short, just say no, kids.)
So I have a type, one my mother wouldn’t be proud of. They’re all full of shit deep insight and metaphors. They’re all “put the killing thing to your lips, but don’t give it the power to kill you,” and then smoke the damn cigarette anyway. (Because they’re always smoking cigarettes.) If you’re into the good guy thing then you’re probably rolling your eyes at this. If you’re me, then you’re hanging on to every word, nodding your head vigorously. I’ll roll my eyes later, when he’s long gone, back to the hole he crawled out of, my car still smelling of smoke and regret.
Needless to say, my friends never understood my fascination with the Voldemorts of the world. Come on, they’d plead, what can you possibly see in that guy? Um, Nathan Scott? Angel? Jess Morello? Edward Cullen? Christian Grey? Guys with enough issues to give Vogue a run for their money, but ready and waiting for their redemption in the form of a good woman.
Perhaps, I should blame the fictional literary and film characters that colored my childhood. While other girls were actually interacting with the opposite sex, I was the girl with her head in a book, passing at the chance to flirt with real boys in favor of watching Gilmore Girls marathons. Growing up in the private school scene I was surrounded by kids who came from old Southern money, affluent, and impeccably dressed in Vineyard Vines and Lily Pulitzer before college Greek life made those labels cool. The boys I was interested in were rich, entitled, wearing pastel color pallets, and dating girls who never wore a Juicy sweat suit in their lives. Then there’s me. Fresh-faced and wearing last year’s Delia’s collection. I considered myself somewhat of an outsider, misunderstood, kindred spirits to the broken boys featured in my tween romances. Do you see where I’m going with this? So maybe it had something to do with my past, maybe I never stood a chance. Or—because I’m constantly looking for something else to blame my problems on—maybe it’s inherent. Maybe it’s biological and uncontrollable.
I read in Psychology Today that more men than women possess the Dark Triad personality traits. These traits include narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellism. Narcissism I can understand, what twenty-something isn’t a little bit narcissistic? Machiavellism, sure. I just naturally assume that any guy who buys me a drink is a bit insincere and manipulative, only trying to get in my pants. But psychopathy? The hot guy at the bar is actually a crazy, murder me in the alley, eat my brains for breakfast psychopath? What? On the other hand…it actually makes some sense… The Dark Triad. This literally sounds like a Lifetime movie starring a Pretty Little Liar. Studies show that women find these men more attractive than the nice guy. DT’s also have more sexual success than the nice guy. The article throws out words like sexual selection and sexual conflict, biologically ingrained factors, as excuses reasons as to why we choose these types of men.
I’m not sure why we choose these men. If you have a type, or if it’s a one-time thing like the Chicken Pox, an itch you now know never to scratch—but we’ve all done it at least once. Dated the guy with the fast car, the empty childhood, the smooth excuses, the cage fighter body. It’s a right of passage, like getting your period, you date a douche bag and now you’re a woman. Welcome, wronged sister, this is Womanhood. There’s no shame in dating a bad boy, or in my case, bad boys. The point is this: one day you’ll grow out of it. One day a Sith Lord will come up to you and you’ll see past the smoke he’s trying to blow up your ass. You’ll see that backwards hat for what it really is, apparel to hide his horns. One day we’ll grow out of it. I read this book and in the end Voldemort dies, the good guy wins, and people get their happy endings. And I’ve always been a sucker for happy endings.