01 Apr

Here is something I never considered until I woke up on a recent morning after a dreadful date with a scoundrel.

There never was a Paradise free of charming predators. The devil dwelled in the Garden of Eden, too. It was there, in the world’s first gated community, that he ambushed Eve, seducing her into committing Original Sin.

What occurred to me as I cursed the handsome swindler who had talked me into spending an evening in his suavely misogynistic company was this: Charming blackguards have been beguiling women since the dawn of dawns.

And me in particular.

I want to know why. I want to make it stop. Well, sort of.

There is a sickening sensation when attraction turns to fear or revulsion. This happens when you are entangled with a charismatic cad. I felt it on that recent morning. I felt it on our date.

Yet again and again the bad boy appeals. It’s amazing how many shapes awful can take. Consider all the colorful demons in religions around the world: the Christian Lucifer, Buddhist Mara, Muslim Iblis. So many devils in so many forms. The bad boy’s ranks are enormous.

Why so charismatic? The Evil Guy breaks rules, and respects no taboos, which gives him a kind of liberated libidinous allure. He’s unpredictable and unreliable and therefore never boring. He is open to all addictions and bad habits, which means he is accepting of all faults although completely lacking in empathy. Most alluring of all, he never wants to get close to you, make a commitment, cling to you or actually love you, which means that he is not very demanding and will not threaten your fears of intimacy.

According to some psychology theorists, the bad boy is someone to whom we can hand all our own diabolical qualities and act as if they are his. He expresses the negativity we repress. We can project all of our own evil aspects onto him.

The problem is that while he can be exciting and even convenient psychologically, el diablo has a big down side: he likes to hurt us and he will. Being with him is scary, depressing, deflating, wounding, sickening, and not conducive to good physical and mental health.

How can we banish him? Certain self-help gurus are fond of saying that the more we can accept and own our dark side, the less we need to express it through unpredictable, punishing, crazy or even dangerous relationships. If we can work out some of these nefarious impulses in ourselves, and either recover from them or find harmless ways to express our witchy ways, then perhaps we will feel freer to choose partners who are not so impossibly evil.

Maybe we can aim for a good guy next time. Or at least a pretty good guy. Or, well, maybe just a little bad. A tiny bit devilish. A satanic spark. A bad boy streak. Just a little one, to keep things exciting, stir things up in the neighborhood.


Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Essays, Oops I Dated Again


2 responses to “Bedeviled

  1. Janet Hulstrand

    April 2, 2011 at 2:10 am

    I never fail to be amazed by the clarity and elegance of your writing. By the way you make hard-won insights seem effortless and irrefutable. By the way your warm and wonderful heart is so wonderfully well expressed through your wit, and grace, and style.

    You are amazing, Mary Ellin. And you are on your way. Can a Nice Guy, with just a tiny bad streak, be any farther away than just around the next corner?

    Whether yes, or no, you’re on to the Bad Guys. And that’s progress to be proud of, and surely it will bring peace of mind–and heart–to enjoy, and savor.

  2. mariehelene56

    April 2, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Janet, your friendship is a gift that brings tears to my eyes. I cannot tell you how much your support for my writing means to me. One of these days we will celebrate our friendship at a Janet Hulstrand writing seminar…in France, Hawaii…or somewhere else on the globe. Bad boys come and go…but friendships endure. And art endures–whether or not it is blessed by the illumination of that one great true love.


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