Falling for a guy who isn’t good for you is a classic in romantic relationships. But why are we sometimes attracted to these bad boys anyway? Our psychologist answers us.
You dream of a balanced, stable, complicit and yet relationship! You find yourself attracted in spite of yourself by what is popularly called a “bad boy”: a rebellious man, a little dangerous or enigmatic, who promises you emotions in the form of a roller coaster. But why are we attracted to danger? In the Psychology Today media, psychologist Mike Travers puts forward 3 major reasons.
The great confidence that characterizes the bad boy
The appeal of bad boys is largely based on the aura of confidence they exude… and which we often lack. But be careful though: with him, self-confidence can reflect a masked arrogance rooted in insecurity. However, confidence and arrogance are two different personality traits: the first is marked by emotional self-sufficiency and independence, while the second can be identified by the paradoxical attitude of “I do not need you” which can strangely create a bonding effect.
Great self-confidence also promises an exciting adventure for the partner… but can also hide what we call narcissism. In short, behind this attraction for the great thrill, and the excitement and the novelty, may hide a person who appears attractive, but with the aim of manipulating you afterwards.
The appeal of a fiery story
It won’t occur to you to openly say that you’re hoping for a chaotic story. Yet there is a subconscious attraction to the emotional chaos that bad boys often bring and which is based on the way they constantly oscillate between positive and negative treatment. The relationship then promises hots and colds, and periods of neglect followed by periods of affection which seem to repair this lack. “This psychological phenomenon of intermittent reinforcement then creates a twisted cycle, drawing us deeper into the web of attraction” indicates the psychologist.
Kind of like a deep emotional bond that forms between an abused person and their abuser, as shown in a 2022 study published in Journal of Social and Personal Relations. The attraction increases tenfold when the bad boy finally looks at you, but this alternation of love/neglect establishes the rules of a complex puzzle.
L’appel du “Love Bombing”
The other characteristic of the bad boy is this ability despite everything to “bombard” you with love and attention like you were the most beautiful person in the world, in a protective and passionate behavior. But for psychologists, this is again a tactic of manipulation and possessiveness: “They cleverly push your buttons, making you forget about their unexplained absences or blatant disregard for your needs or relationship boundaries.” says Dr. Travers.
By redirecting attention to yourself, you are more inclined to accept a situation that is not stable and fulfilling. So be vigilant on this point too.
A romantic character, but false, according to our psychologist
For Johanna Rozenblum, clinical psychologist and author of Uncondition yourself! published by Le Courrier du Livre (September 2023), the bad boy, can indeed attract, but few will bring a lasting and happy relationship. “The bad boy is attractive because he can convey (apparently) something quite romantic. The confidence, the “above the law”, “afraid of nothing” side suggests that he will be a protector who, for sure, will bring us our dose of adrenaline… But that’s the imagination who speaks. In fact, the glamor of the character only works for a while and behind this posture, there may be certain difficulties which could harm the couple: high self-esteem, lack of empathy, angry mood or even authoritarianism….” really “bad” boy after all.