When I was younger, I loved the bad boy trope. I loved it in books, I loved it in movies, and I fantasized about it in real life. Eventually, I dated the guy who got into trouble, the guy who was “bad”, and the guy who was a player. It was all part of this belief that if he loved me, he would change for me.
Even though I know better, I still find myself reading books about that guy. The girl is usually “good” and tries to ignore the boy’s advances. Usually, he gives up his bachelor lifestyle for her because he loves her and eventually, they get their happily ever after. And maybe there isn’t anything wrong with this story. After all, do we really find this guy attractive in real life?
I guess I once did, back in college. But after four years, I finally figured it out. And now as an adult, I have a hard time buying into those romances. What’s wrong with the guy who’s kind and isn’t a womanizer? Is he really all that boring?
In all honesty, I’m conflicted on the topic. On the one hand, fiction is a way to escape and live in a fantasy world. It isn’t always meant to be realistic.And while the “bad boy” might promote this idea that someone can change another person, it also teaches us that there’s something good in everyone. But on the other hand, the stories and characters we are exposed to, especially when we are younger, can definitely shape who we are and how we live ours lives. For me, I definitely bought into the idea that I could change the “bad boy”. And is this really a healthy way for people to approach relationships?
But I also hate the idea of censorship. I hate the idea of saying that ideas and themes are dangerous. It’s a slippery slope that leads to a world I’d rather not live in. Ultimately, I don’t want to say that the bad boy doesn’t have a place in literature because he does. But I also appreciate a work that doesn’t portray him as a project to be fixed by the leading lady.
One of the things I love about the book community is that there’s always discussion around these topics. Just because a book has a happily ever after doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the pitfalls of the characters and their relationships. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about why the romance was unhealthy and borderline abusive. And maybe that’s enough.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!