Is the "Bad Boy" Phase Necessary?

When you look at it at the surface, the “bad boy” phase doesn’t make much sense. They’re selfish, narcissistic, toxic people, but are rewarded for their behavior by women (and men) in the dating scene. We see it in movies, television shows like Sex and the City, songs from Billie Eilish, and our friends’ relationships, but still fall for the same behavior. Why are we attracted to these bad boys (or girls)? And what do we learn by dating toxic people?

THE WHY         

The sad truth is that we are biologically wired to seek out bad boys. Especially when we’re ovulating, we're more likely to seek out toxic men because we want to be the one who changes them into committal mates, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Even though we all know it doesn’t work, we’re still willing to attempt the challenge.

We're also attracted to the danger and recklessness that follows them. The uncertainty, spontaneity, and impulsiveness captivates us and keep us coming back for more despite red flags or toxicity. A study at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona found that impulsiveness and neuroticism are considered favored evolutionary traits because it shows that the person can live dangerously without suffering any harm.

THE WHAT

Speaking from experience, I’ve found that bad boys are unfortunate, but a reality check for women to discover a sense of self and what we deserve in a relationship. Historically, I’ve been the queen of ignoring red flags and I’ve paid the price. You name it, I’ve experienced it in a relationship. My dating history isn’t something I'm proud of, but I’ve learned a lot from each failed relationship—lessons that I’ve incorporated into my current relationship. For example, I’ve learned self-worth. It’s twisted, but my bad boy phase gave me a sense of confidence in myself and my decisions. From my past, I now know what I’m looking for in a relationship and what I deserve from my partner.

To be clear, I’m not advocating for dating a bad boy. He’s not going to change regardless of your support and hopeless romance, and it most likely won’t end well for everyone involved. However, he may give you a chance to realize what he’s lacking, which will help for future romantic endeavors. And if you’re just looking for a little fun, he’s your guy.