The simplest definition I’ve heard of a bad boy is that he’s any guy who’s bad for you, period. I like that definition — it fits well.
The problem is that while a fling with a bad boy can be fun, bad boys are the junk food of the dating world. They are good for a quick bite in a pinch but bad for your long-term health. And as any dating advice will tell you, ending up in a toxic relationship is something to avoid at all costs.
Here are 10 annoying bad-boy behaviors and one big reason women stay with them:
1. He fails to follow through.
He might say that he’ll call or go out with you, but when the time comes, he flakes. He often comes up with insincere excuses later but somehow manages to make up for it just enough to get you to see him another time.
If you call him out on it, he is only slightly apologetic or acts like you’re the one who is making a big deal out of it.
2. He’s a lone wolf.
You haven’t met his friends or family, and he seems committed to keeping it that way. He doesn’t talk much about either group. When you ask about his family, he remains tight-lipped and changes the subject.
3. He keeps you off balance.
He tends to run “hot” then “cold.” No behavior is too small for him to be unpredictable. One minute, you are in love, and the next, you wonder if he’s disappeared completely.
You can’t figure out what is happening since there is no identifiable pattern to the interactions between you. Late nights are spent talking to your friends while trying to analyze his behavior.
4. He seems to have a pack of women following him.
Even if you’ve never seen or met these women, you can feel them. When you’re around, he seems interested enough in you, but he gives you a feeling other women are waiting in the wings.
He may intentionally give you this impression, or it may be a feeling you get.
5. He has a lot of baggage.
Abusive childhood? Check. Horrible past relationships? Check. Stories about being “misunderstood”? Check.
Bad boys often make us feel like if we could get close to them, we could somehow “fix it” with our love and make their deep wells of pain go away. Whether he’s feeling pain or not, this is a masterful technique since he manages to make you feel bad enough for him that you want to stick around and make excuses for his bad behavior.
If he’s too raw from his last relationship to call you or follow through with plans, you might have hooked a bad boy.
6. He’s allergic to planning.
The bad boy holds out for the “bigger, better deal” when he plans. This is why he’s so resistant to nailing things down in advance.
He isn’t concerned with scheduling dates since it leaves him in a position to cancel if he meets someone else or doesn’t feel like seeing you. He’d prefer to fly by the seat of his pants and “surprise” you when he’s feeling the urge.
7. He suggests a lot of “hanging out.”
The “date” isn’t something he’s interested in, per se. He’d rather “hang out” at his place or yours so there is less financial investment, formality, and obligation.
It’s easier to be intimate at his house watching Bewitched than dining at Le Cirque.
8. He will tell you he’s too conflicted/damaged/busy for a relationship.
The bad boy is perpetually “conflicted” about relationships. He will wax poetic about how he “can’t do a relationship,” but he’ll keep calling you and trying to hang out. It’s a classic case of him doing one thing and saying another.
He might make you feel like you’re the only one for him while telling you that he “just got hurt too badly” to start a relationship. When anyone says they don’t want a relationship with you, believe them and run fast.
9. He’s selfish and indifferent.
At no time do you sense he puts your needs over his own. He’s selfish and indifferent to your feelings.
When you get upset with him over his unpredictable behavior or anything else, he shakes it off. It just doesn’t seem to bother him that you’re upset with him or that he’s responsible for causing a problem.
10. The bedroom is hot — so she stays with him.
Bad boys are pros in the sack, which is a massive reason why women even get hooked in the first place. Bedroom prowess alone obviously isn’t a sign a guy is a bad boy since tons of good men are wonderful in bed.
But sexual bravado combined with the other signs on this list could signal you have a problem on your hands.
Elizabeth Stone is a love coach and founder of Attract The One and Luxe Self. Her work has been featured in Zoosk, PopSugar, The Good Men Project, Bustle, Ravishly, SheKnows, Mind’s Journal, and more.