The Lure of the Bad Boy: a Counter Argument

I was called out in Alex Stargazer’s recent blog post about the appeal of the bad boy archetype. He called me out because I rant about how much I loathe this character and will never use one as a hero in one of my novels.

Click here for  a link to Alex’s original blog post. He’s one smart cookie and makes some good points, but…I have my counter points. I replied to him in an email but we decided that I should post it and see if others want to join us in this debate. Here’s my take on “the bad boy.”

You make some good points, the “bad boy” does seem to have more sexual appeal in that he would likely be wilder/kinkier than a “good boy.” And I can see how some people get off on the idea of saving someone from the selves. It’s a power- trip kind of thing.

I will argue from my advanced age (I’m a few decades older than Alex), that neither of these is a selling point. Most of the bad boy characters I’ve read are narcissistic and therefore, by definition, would be a horrible, selfish lover–never noticing or caring that the other person didn’t enjoy it. I was listening to a podcast where women were discussing the men they had been with and they all agreed that their worst lovers were the best looking guys because they are narcissistic. It makes sense, they don’t have to try. Women (and men) throw themselves at them so they don’t feel the need to work hard and make it a great experience. Same goes for really rich men too. Come to think of it it’s probably true of gorgeous women. It’s the guy who doesn’t have a ton of women after him that will put some effort in (hence them much more interesting character, IMHO).

The opposite doesn’t have to be the blonde-haired good boy (too white/black, two-dimensional). In both of my burnout novels there are male protagonists who are sexual but emotional and caring. It is possible (and I would argue) much more interesting to be both. The male lead in the second book is a drug-using guy who has slept with almost all his female friends, but he is the opposite of a narcissist. He loves women and gets off on giving pleasure, so women pursue him. (At least the smart ones do.) His drugs are a bad habit from a rough start that he needs to deal with before he is ready for a relationship.

As for “saving” bad boys…it’s waaaaay too much unnecessary drama, in life and in fiction. I like real drama, the things that really happen and challenge us to grow. Bad boys are drama mamas. It’s part of the narcissism. “It’s all about me, always. If it’s not I’ll stir things up and make it about me.” I run from this type in life and in books.

My female characters are too busy living their own lives to want to deal with a drama-loving baby.

As you can see I feel strongly about this. Part of it is my age. When you get to be in your 50’s you don’t have time for “bad boys.” You’ve got shit to do and only so many functioning years to do it. By now you’ve also had relationships with “bad boys” and realized what a complete waste of time they are. They are an albatros around the neck of a woman who is doing something with her life. I can’t write a story that supports this idea that he will change as soon as he meets the right girl. It’s BS. He will change when life kicks him in the teeth and wakes him up, if it happens. There are definitely guys still trying to live out this “bad boy” thing at my age.

I also can’t get behind the argument that the guy is only bad to one woman. No one I know is that way. They are either generally nice or generally an a-hole. We all have moments when our worst side comes out, but that’s more about us than the person we are dealing with.

I really do like your post. I love having someone who cares enough about this topic to discuss it. Feel free to counter point my points.

Does anyone else want to jump in on our “bad boy” debate?


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