Cut to two weeks later. I have learned from my previous experience and tracked down a man with piercing in six extremities, a little black book that needs its own computerized cataloguing system, and knowledge of every dark and secret bar in the East Village and Soho. I call Jessica up and give her the run-down. "Well, I was planning to redeem that all-expenses-paid trip I won to the Bahamas--but I bet I can change the date. Can he meet me tomorrow?"
It doesn't take a relationship expert to spot the trend. It's no wonder Catherine could never give up Heathcliff. It is why Rhett would inevitably win out over Ashley. It is why Dr. Ross (George Clooney) must fight off his female patients' advances, while Dr. Green (Anthony Edwards) takes the El train home to eat Chinese takeout on a Friday night. Women like bad boys. Women have always liked bad boys. Sure, they also enjoy the company of the good guys--when they need to move boxes on a Sunday afternoon.
Conversely, I tell a man about a woman I have in mind for him. "What does she look like?" "Well, she has the heart of Mother Teresa and the mind of Marie Curie. She spent the last year building wells for children in Africa, but I wouldn't call her a beauty. Hey, where are you going?"
There is simply no denying it: Women love bad boys and men worship beauty. But why? Certainly there are numerous factors that motivate men and women in their choices of a relationship, but inevitably there is one main ingredient that makes the whole experience worthwhile. To identify this element, it is essential to look at that which men and women lack most in their individual lives.
What men lack most in life is peace. They engage in endless battles in any numbers of arenas; the gladiator pits, the stock market, the ice hockey rink, all aim to prove that a man has earned his place in the masculinity hall of fame. Studies show that male conversation always revolves around five topics: women, gadgets, sports, politics, and money. It should come as no surprise that all incorporate the three C's: conquest, competition, and conjugality.
This is not a fun thing for a guy. And indeed, it can lead to a lifetime of pain should he feel like a constant "loser" at the endless trials of manhood. Thus men seek an end to this pain, this constant pressure, the relentless evaluation. Deep down, all they really want is to be at peace.
The rate of any drug and alcohol abuse among men is nearly eight times that of women. Is it any wonder? What better way to achieve numbness, often mistaken for peace, than through drugs or alcohol? That's also why so many wives complain that when their husbands watch TV, they are "dead to the world." They want to lose themselves in the basketball game to avoid the constant pain of having to prove something.
And this is where men err. In seeking a momentary thrill, they will forever find themselves unfulfilled. In seeking beauty alone, they will end up empty. The real allure of having a woman in his life is not physical. It is rather that she rescues him from the constant rat race by making him feel special even when he is not producing. You are not a nobody, she tells him. You are my man. Men should be attracted, not to the female form, but to the female energy, the all-embracing quality that can see beyond their accomplishments to the real human being.
Then there are women with a propensity for seeking out "bad" men. Some observers believe this is due to a woman's desire to be a savior, to her attraction to the challenge of a project--a rough diamond that she can shine and polish. While there is certainly some truth to this theory, there is a greater force working here, one that mirrors the male need to fill in that which he is most lacking. Women, who tend to be the more law-abiding and responsible sex, may be seeking the thrill of an uninhibited, untamed guy for a walk on the wild side. Since women are historically the ones who "kept the home fires burning," an activity that hardly affords much in the way of a buzz, they may be attracted to the bad boys who know how to light their own fire and who give them permission to be uninhibited too. A ride on the freeway on a Harley-Davidson, a 36-hour date of dining and debauchery, a bar brawl in the East Village--these events are more likely to take place with the tattooed guy in leather pants than the nice guy in corduroys. Never mind that even the threat of castration isn't going to keep this guy faithful. The important thing is that he gives her excitement.
Of course, women as well as men will run into problems when seeking a mate solely to fill the gaps in their life. Inevitably, a man who is not a nice guy will continue not to be a nice guy. He's probably uninhibited because he doesn't care all that much. Eventually, the high that comes of adventure will vanish and turn into the pain of not feeling loved or cherished.
Just as men must transform their need for mind-numbing beauty into an appreciation for feminine energy, so too the women must change their love for bad-boy thrills into the greatest thrill of all, namely, the ecstasy of having a man who makes you feel loved. Bad boys are forever distracted from focusing on a woman by their own quest for pleasure. But good guys, while they might not have a shining chrome Harley, do have the capacity to look a woman in the eyes whenever she speaks and make her into the absolute center of their attention. And there is no greater thrill than that.