The ‘Bad Boy’ Type Isn’t Sexy, It’s Toxic—Here’s Why

Often, characters in films and TV shows fall for the “bad boy” who isn’t just mysterious and emotionally unavailable, he’s also borderline abusive. Yet, for some reason, the “good girl-bad boy” relationship is idolized and portrayed as romantic in the media.

Today, it’s time to put an end to the belief that your type is “bad boys.” These men are emotionally unavailable, and honestly, the way they treat women makes them deserve one name, and one name only—a**hole.

The Bad Boy Trope

man and woman sitting together on hood of car
Photo Credit: KoolShooters / Pexels
Photo Credit: KoolShooters / Pexels

Perhaps you know a “bad boy” in real life, or you’ve dated one, or you’ve just read about them or watched them on TV.

Let’s face it: “Bad boys” are a**holes, and often, their behavior is completely toxic or unwarranted, even though it is presented as romantic.

What Is A Bad Boy?

shirtless man walking through field
Photo Credit: Pixabay / Pexels
Photo Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

According to Dictionary.com, “Everyone loves a bad boy, as they say. A bad boy is a man who isn’t afraid to break the rules.”

“This rugged rebel, staring stoically off in the distance in his Aviators atop his Harley, is often seen as sexually desirable in popular media—though he’ll probably break your heart if you date him.”

A Popular Example

Claire and Bender from the Breakfast Club
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | A&M Films; Channel Productions
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | A&M Films; Channel Productions

Let’s talk about The Breakfast Club. Bender is the school’s typical “hot bad boy,” but some of the things he does to Claire are just straight-up gross. At one point, Bender ducks under the table where Claire is sitting just to hide from a teacher.

While he’s under the table, he puts his head under her skirt without her consent. He also mocks and makes fun of her throughout the entire movie, playing into that dumb, toxic “if he likes you, he’ll be mean to you” trope.

They’re Not Just In Movies

woman looking away in darkness
Photo Credit: Sofia Alejandra / Pexels
Photo Credit: Sofia Alejandra / Pexels

And perhaps you know a “bad boy” yourself. Even though he may be hot and mysterious, he doesn’t treat you right.

You’ll find yourself thinking about those few times when he said something nice to you, but otherwise, he’s a complete d-bag to everyone else—including you.

Men Should Always Treat You With Respect

Danny and Sandy from Grease
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Paramount Pictures
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Paramount Pictures

Here’s the problem: Relationship issues within these stories often include toxic or even abusive behaviors, and these behaviors get labeled as acceptable for women to put up with.

And “bad boys” are featured SO much in popular culture. Think about Danny Zuko from Grease. Did he actually DESERVE Sandy? Heck no!

Noah From The Notebook Couldn’t Take No For An Answer

Noah from The Notebook
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Gran Via
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Gran Via

Even though it seems like he doesn’t care about anything, a “bad boy” will do anything he can do to get his hands on the woman that he desires.

Like, Noah from The Notebook literally puts his LIFE in DANGER to make Allie say yes to going on a date with him, even though she had repeatedly told him “no.”

Let’s Talk About Elena And Damon

Elena and Damon from The Vampire Diaries
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Outerbanks Entertainment
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Outerbanks Entertainment

The good girl-bad boy relationship often portrays somewhat controlling and toxic behaviors as sexy.

Like, when I was in middle school and I watched The Vampire Diaries, I remember watching how Damon interacted with Elena, thinking that it was romantic. In reality, Damon used mind control powers to MAKE her kiss him when she was only a teenager. And even though Stefan is the nice guy, Damon is a fan favorite “because he’s hot and mysterious.” But he’s a TOTAL A**HOLE!

Toxic Behavior Is Normalized

Edward and Bella from Twilight
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Temple Hill Entertainment
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Temple Hill Entertainment

These types of messages are repeatedly shown to young girls and women, and it becomes normalized.

So, instead of learning about how a guy is SUPPOSED to treat you, we are fed storylines like that of Edward and Bella from Twilight, which is arguably an emotionally abusive relationship. Honestly, just look at this picture and you’ll know what I mean.

One User Ranted About Bad Boys On Reddit

In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo seen displayed on a smartphone
Photo Credit: Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Some Redditors on r/FemaleDatingStrategy got together to discuss the “bad boy” character type that is often featured in books and in movies.

It all started when one user made a post titled: “The trope of the broody, mysterious, damaged, bad boy who deep down just needs to be loved by a woman and he’ll be saved needs to die.” Harsh, but true.

“That Man Doesn’t Need Any Woman, He Needs A Therapist”

person typing on computer
Photo Credit: Donatello Trisolino / Pexels
Photo Credit: Donatello Trisolino / Pexels

The user continued: “I hate, hate, hate the idea that a guy who clearly has deep-seated issues and shows it is secretly a damaged, hurt, sensitive man and will blossom into the wonderful man he is inside if he would just be saved by a caring, empathetic, motherly woman who saw through his hard exterior and gave him a chance.”

“In real life, that man doesn’t need any woman, he needs a damn therapist and you aren’t one.” Once again, this gal is right on the money!

It’s Present In Tons Of Romance Novels

woman reading in chair while drinking coffee
Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels
Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels

“Every romance niche has its own male lead a**hole, no matter which sub-genre you look at: contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, science fiction, thriller, and historical.”

“Choose between some variation of these two a**holes: The one that waits to be saved and lets the female lead deal with his baggage as he plays hot and cold games with her, never really lets her go. Or, the chauvinistic ‘alpha’ who forces his way into her life and breaks her will until she agrees to date him.” —Marigold-ink / Reddit

Selling Damaging Ideas

young woman looks surprised while reading something on her phone
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

“Oh my God, Twilight isn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to selling damaging ideas to teenage girls. I’ll talk about just one that I will never forget because it’s so horrifying. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.”

“I read it back in the day, it’s super popular. Huge hit. I was left in shock. That was supposed to be a romance book. It is legit horror. I just went to Goodreads. It’s rated by more than half a million people and somehow has 4.09 out of 5.00 which tells you how many teenage girls and women think abuse is romance.” —localgirlcult / Reddit

“It Needs To Be Killed With Fire”

man and woman fighting
Photo Credit: Alex Green / Pexels
Photo Credit: Alex Green / Pexels

“No, it needs to be killed with fire and I will gladly furnish the matches and lighter fluid.”

“I ‘had’ one of those once. It was EX-AUS-TING. That relationship sucked every bit of joy out of my life because all focus had to be on Mr. Sensitive at all times.” —galvanicreaction / Reddit

A Person Who Loves You Won’t Treat You Badly

couple embracing and staring at each other
Photo Credit: Ron Lach / Pexels
Photo Credit: Ron Lach / Pexels

“To think I actually thought that sh*t was sooo romantic when I was a little girl. It most definitely messed me up and that mindset led me into some abusive relationships in my life.”

“We need to teach our daughters that these are warning signs, that a person who loves you and is worthy of being loved by you will not treat you badly, ever.” —pawg_patrol / Reddit

It’s A Man’s World

couple holding pinkies
Photo Credit: Jasmine Carter / Pexels
Photo Credit: Jasmine Carter / Pexels

“Women have been discouraged from being competitive athletically, academically, and professionally. We’ve only been allowed to claim self-worth from being attractive and making men happy.”

“Of course, stories are going to push that. We need to throw it out and tell our daughters to be proud of their accomplishments.” —misszazie / Reddit

Kylo, Baby, You’re Toxic AF

Kylo Ren from Star Wars
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Lucasfilm Ltd / Bad Robot Productions
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | Lucasfilm Ltd / Bad Robot Productions

“Two words: Kylo Ren. The guy was literally a genocidal maniac.”

“And for some reason, the heroine spent three movies trying to save him.” —Inspection-Critical / Reddit