Finishing last on September 21, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’ve been going out with this girl for a while now, and I’ve been hearing rumors that she wants to break up with me. The main problem is that I’ve heard that reason is that she likes this loser who’s known as a “bad boy.” You know the type. Into drugs, sneaking out of the house, heavy drinking, doesn’t say much, doesn’t come to class much… my question is, why do girls always seem to go for the bad guy instead of the good guy?
I’ve talked about the Nice Guy thing a lot before, cautioning everyone that the opposite of Nice Guy is not Mean Guy; it’s a nice guy who also acts like a boyfriend-guy who’s not “too nice” to ask you out. But about the bad boy thing, yeah, fair enough. For men, it’s the thrill of the chase; for women, it’s the thrill of the … car chase. If you wanna dig into the whole psychology of the phenom, there’s a mildly cheesy but quite informative book called — guess — Bad Boys that can give you some good answers. (If you want to retain any semblance of badness yourself, I’d get a friend to pick it up for you.) I will say this, though: most people assume that we go for the baddies (if/when we do) out of some sort of pathetic zero-self-esteem “Hurt me! Ignore me! You’re right, drugs are more interesting than I am!” impulse. Well, okay, yeah, that’s pretty on the mark. But sometimes, it’s also this misguided faux-noble mission to be the one to — claim to — find the diamond in the roughneck. Or sometimes, you seek out the bad boy to make you look good (though also, granted, dumb) by comparison.
Regardless of all this, your job as the Good Guy — or at least the super sleuth — is to get to the bottom of these rumors. Without using the word “check-in,” do a “check-in” with your girlfriend. Is she happy? Everything going okay with her in the relationship? Anything she’d like to change? Then take it from there. And don’t worry, Joe. For every guy who writes to me wondering why women go for bad boys, there’s a woman who writes wondering why all the guys she meets are into drinking and drugs and skipping class. Be — stay — good.