Why is badness attractive?

Bad boys and badass girls are in everyone’s wild dreams. There is something about their edgy personalities that most of us find irresistible. Somehow, these thrill-seekers bring out sides of us we never knew we had.

However, regardless of their undeniable charms, maintaining a healthy, long-term relationship with them is nearly impossible, as they are usually emotionally unavailable.

So, why are we so damn attracted to bad boys and girls, even though we are aware of the consequences we may face if we get emotionally attached?

The “Bad boy” and the “Bad girl” tropes have been widely covered in iconic books, movies, and TV series. As viewers and readers, we follow the stories of likable villains, who are incredibly appealing, intelligent, talented, inventive, compelling, and possess so many more fascinating qualities. And exactly because of those bewitching traits, we overlook the sides of their personality that make them bad.

For instance, at the end of season one of “You,” a 2018 Netflix show, everyone was rooting for Joe, despite the fact he was a cold-blooded serial killer. As the series continues, people become even more drawn to Penn Badgley’s character. The deeper the public dives into his wicked world, the more attractive he becomes. But what if this was not a fictional character? What if Joe Goldberg was an actual stalker, gaslighter, and murderer? Would the public still be rooting for him?

Every person in their right mind would say no. But why are we attracted to dangerous, even cruel men and women in the first place?

One of the reasons is that a bad boy or girl usually behaves differently when in the company of their loved ones. Every woman has dreamed of a bad boy who is good only for her. Every man has wished for a tough girl who is gentle only for them. According to Psychology Today, that’s because “we all have a tendency to privilege our own interactions with a person in drawing conclusions about that person’s character.” In other words, if someone is good to us, we instantly label them as a good person in general, often overlooking the way they behave with others.

How does physical attractiveness affect the “bad boy/girl” trope? 

Many believe that we are attracted to dangerous men and women because of their tense personalities. However, this may not be entirely true. In most cases, it is not their badness that we see as beautiful, but their beauty that we perceive as good. This has a lot to do with the fact that we have a tendency to project desirable qualities onto those we find appealing while rejecting their negative traits.

This bias continues until we ourselves become the victims of someone’s villainy. We see their true colors only when we experience their cruelty firsthand. And when that happens, we start recalling all the red flags we have missed all along. We remember that time they were rude to the waiter, the toxic way they speak of their ex, the disrespectful words they use when talking to their family, and all the other tiny little details of their personality that are actually bad, and not in a cool way.

But still, this moment of revelation is not enough for some to end their relationship with an ill-behaved man or woman. There is still the desire to fix the bad boy or to help the bad girl find the right path. In suchlike couples, it is not the danger that attracts you, but the possibility that you can influence your partner to become a better person. It gives you the belief that you have some sort of magical powers that can turn a sinner into a saint. This proves that sometimes we fall in love not with a person, just as they are, but with the idea of who they can become.

How can rudeness, edginess, and meanness be romantically or sexually appealing? 

This may be the most obvious answer, but we usually associate badness with confidence. People who are labeled “bad” typically have alpha vibes, which are undeniably attractive. They have personal qualities we all long for, such as self-reliance, boldness, and fearlessness. Not only do we want to be with them, but we also want to be them. We praise them for being daring and adventurous. We admire them for being unapologetically themselves, even if their personality may not be so admirable. And as we do, we value their opinion about us more than we would value the opinion of someone with the same positive qualities, but without the badness in their character.

However, when all these praiseworthy traits mix up with the dangerous side of bad boys and girls, things can get quite intense. In a long-term relationship with a baddie, the confidence may turn into a neverending desire for control. The boldness may become recklessness. The fearlessness may develop into self-destructiveness. Suchlike a romantic, yet disastrous bond would inevitably take a toll on your mental health. In some extreme cases, your physical wellness may also be in danger.

The real question is: Are YOU attracted to badness? And if you are, what makes bad boys and girls so irresistible in your opinion? Leave a comment to let us know!

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