“Equally important: will find nice sensible boyfriend and stop forming romantic attachments to any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, sexaholics, commitment-phobics, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits, or perverts. Will especially stop fantasizing about a particular person who embodies all these things.” – Bridget Jones (Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary).
On a return flight home from Italy in January, I read a great article by Allison Pearson for Intelligent Life magazine, hailing the 200th birthday of the quintessential bad boy of literature, Mr. Darcy. I’ve harbored a crush on Mr. Darcy since I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in my teenage years. Colin Firth, who seems to have a Mr. D fetish himself, could put his very large shoes under my bed any day.
We love a brooding bad-boy on-screen – from James Dean (Rebel without a Cause) to Johnny Depp (in well, anything), to Bradley Cooper (cheeky hottie of The Hangover). We only need to look to the newest embodiment of all things wicked, Christian Grey, the kinky leading man of Fifty Shades of Grey fame, to see just how profitable bad-boy business is. E.L. James has managed to do what women’s mags have been trying to do for years – legitimize “mummy-porn” and encourage millions of house wives to start fantasizing about getting their asses spanked by very naughty boys. (Not that this is a bad thing!). According to http://www.hollywoodreporter.com, the book tipped sales of $50 million in just 6 months. Now, that could buy a whole lot of hand cuffs.
The conundrum that a lot of attractive, savvy, confident and seemingly intelligent women face in their life time is an unexplainable attraction to that guy. You know him, – super cool, charmingly irresistible and full of self-importance but on the flip side he’s deliciously mysterious, aloof and brooding with a sense of the slightly damaged about him. One look at this guy sets your heart a-flutter, while you are having all sorts of nasty fantasies! He is always slightly unattainable, shuns commitment with ease, and he avoids ever getting too close to the fire when things start to emotionally sizzle. We don’t want to like him. It’s just bloody hard not to!
While they come in many guises, (from the egotistical to simply the non-committal), my major bad-boy crush was the smiling Producer. My very own “Mr. Big”, if you like. Of course the Producer is many things, deeply complex and juxtaposed, wielding his flashing blue eyes like weapons of mass destruction. This former inner city wild-child with left wing political leanings, is very well read with an appetite for high-end restaurants. Total heart stopper – think slicked back 50’s rebel hair, skinny leg jeans and converse high-tops, teamed with cowboy shirts and vintage leather jackets, and a glorious knack of kissing me roughly in dark alleyways. Sigh…and swoon. A lethal combination of sexuality, brains, pearly white smiles and heart.
From the first time I met him, it was a roller coaster of flirtation, excitement and emotions. The chemistry was instant. Here’s the thing though…eventually, I fell. Hard.
I am talking about the words that shall not be spoken in a “non-relationship” – I confessed that I loved him. Some words, once spoken, can’t be unspoken. Despite never meeting his family or friends, and obviously never progressing beyond “friends with benefits”, (hello, smart chic – where was your head at?!) my feelings of trust and affection continued to deepen. 8 months later we were breaking up (can you break up if you’ve never a couple? What we had felt like a relationship. Therefore when it ended, it felt like a breakup. It hurt like a bitch.). He cared for me, sure, but wouldn’t step over that line to see where it might lead. To clarify, I wasn’t asking to live together! It was simply about taking things to next level and being monogamous. It seemed like a logical progression to me.
To put things in context, I obviously couldn’t have fallen in love with the Producer if he wasn’t all kinds of amazing. He was sincerely interested in my aspirations and listened intently to stories of my past, just as I did for him. We confided in one another about our feelings, our past relationships, our fears and hopes. I lay in his arms, in his bed for countless beautiful hours. We spent his birthday together and we spent Christmas night together. We were connected and because of that, the physicality between us was undeniable and always smouldering. I loved hanging out with him, spending time with him. We laughed, often. He held my hand sometimes walking down the street. He was, as it turned out, my muse. He ignited in me many things I had forgotten about myself. He piqued my curiosity in the world, and I started writing again after a marriage-breakdown-induced-coma! I am grateful for those gifts.
It was the flip side of the non-relationship though that I struggled with. I felt he was a saboteur – whenever we got too emotionally close, he would reschedule dates at the last minute (frustrating for me when I was looking forward to seeing him or had actually packed my bag when he’d asked me to stay); I felt I couldn’t invite him to things, and he certainly never invited me to anything he was attending because well, I wasn’t his girlfriend. Our friendship was too private. Though we ‘liked’ each others Facebook statuses or made the occasional comment, the friendship was never public. When we ate out together, saw films together, went to galleries, there were no public posts about it. It was an unspoken understanding and it completely sucked for me. I had told my friends about the Producer. I had even told my kids I had a friendship with him. I was to be honest, happy to share my life with him (he met my dog. I was hoping he’d meet my kids. He would have been the first, by the way).
What it comes down to, is this…I wanted more from this than he wanted to give.
Our attraction to bad boys isn’t rocket science. As women, we are lured by the excitement, the adventure and the need to get to the mysterious core of him. We feel challenged to be the girl who can break down the walls around his heart. We want him to want us beyond the bedroom door. We want him to love us back. Enough to declare it to at least the people closest to him. Every Hollywood movie focused on the bad boy belies that true love can win out. We want to believe it. It’s less likely in the real world. It’s all fun and laughter until someone gets hurt, right?
In these scenarios it’s far more likely the woman will evolve in the relationship and Mr. Non-committal will cling to his ideals. Why wouldn’t he? There are many women willing to fill his sheets at night. Even if deep down he wants a relationship, clearly it’s not with you (or me!).
Strong women start yearning for the guy that wants the real relationship, the one who falls in love with you, and acknowledges you as more than a generic Facebook friend! Our self-esteem simply isn’t going to stand for any less. The bad boy creates a heart stopping high and gives you some bone shaking orgasms. If you stopped doing circus tricks, would he be there for you? Can you really be sure that he’s not dating and seeing other women? If he’s being quite honest about the fact that he is, you need to ask yourself if you are content to just be one of many? Having said that, I have a lovely girlfriend who has an “arrangement” that suits both she and her ‘friend’ very well. She doesn’t want the living together scenario, so all the power to her. If it works for you, it’s great. Once feelings develop however, I think it’s a tall order.
If you’ve managed to win the heart and devotion of your bad boy, I salute you lady! Otherwise I say to thee, smart chic – buckle up and by all means enjoy the ride (pun totally intended), but know that if a guy doesn’t want a relationship, he won’t be easily swayed regardless of how much he enjoys your company. As for me, I nurse my bruised heart and dinted ego that I wasn’t the girl who won the heart of the Producer. Do I regret meeting him? Not for a second.
There’s nothing wrong with licking the icing on the cupcakes girls, but when you start to hunger for the sweet treat itself, just remember that very few bad boys end up like our Mr. Darcy who changed his boorish, snobbish ways to win the heart of his girl. Most are simply going to be well…bad.
That’s his charm after all.