Bad Boys. What’s not to love about them? They’re every inch the Alpha male: utterly confident, fiercely protective, and just the right amount of intimidating in that way that makes you feel deliciously vulnerable and gets your heart racing. But from a deep-seated psychological perspective, why do we find them so damn appealing?
On a primal level, being mated to the Alpha ensures our safety, a biological imperative. But exploring this from a more modern perspective, I’d like to consider the hallmarks of your typical bad boy that you find in popular Romance novels.
I think that Edward Cullen from Twilight provides an excellent example of this archetype. What could be more dangerous than a man who craves every moment to drain you dry? This isn’t your Anne Rice or Charlaine Harris teeth-penetrating-flesh sexual allegory; Edward literally wants to kill Bella.
Only he doesn’t want to. His love for her gives him the strength of will to deny his nearly overwhelming instincts. Essentially, their passion is so all-consuming and transformative that love literally conquers all, even his very nature. The most important thing to take away from this: Bella changes Edward (Or, if you prefer, Anastasia Steele changes Christian Grey…).
While this notion of a love so pure and powerful creates the ultimate romantic story, unfortunately it doesn’t often work out so well in the real world. I’m not saying that love can’t be transformative, but going into a relationship hoping that you can change a man is a dangerous move. Even if the bad boy does change, that level of intensity can cause a relationship to be passionate to the point of volatility. Being caught up in the rapids of it can be heady, but you’ll be sure to be banged against the rocks more than once as you’re swept downriver; your hearts might not survive the battering.
In my mind, the ideal man for the “real world” is the good guy who can be oh-so-bad when it counts. This man cherishes women, respects them, protects them, and treats them like gold. But when he wants you – and he knows you want it – he can tap into his inner Alpha, hold you down, and ravage you just right. This guy is a keeper.
I’ve brought to life my share of dangerous, damaged, bad boy heroes. Hell, Sean Reynolds from my Impossible trilogy fits that description to a T. And his love for Claudia does change him. I won’t deny that I love him.
But in my latest novel, Savior (An Impossible Novel), I wanted to write about the Alpha good guy. Clayton is sweet, funny, even-tempered, and honorable. And he believes in Rose when she can’t believe in herself. He taps into his dominant bad boy side in order to force her to see the good in herself. And to give her earth-shattering orgasms, of course. So while I adore Sean, I think I love Clayton a little bit more; he’s the ideal man for me.
That’s just my two cents. Do you want the Bad Boy or the White Knight? And would your choice be different in real life than it is in books?