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I was leaving the grocery store yesterday and I saw a woman wearing a tee-shirt with cowboy boots on it and the catchy phrase “Give Him the Boot!” Ordinarily I might roll my eyes at that, but I was actually amused – mostly because the woman was seventy if she was a day. I wondered to myself if she was wearing that shirt as a caution to the many younger women she encounters every day or if it was a specific message she was hoping to drive home by sheer repetition to a daughter, neighbor, or friend. Perhaps – and I got a bit of a thrill out of this – she had been given this shirt as a gift by someone who needed her to remember to stay strong and Give Him the Boot herself.

As a writer of romance and erotic fiction I naturally read a lot from the genre. I’ve been a lover of romances all my life, and for a long time I was a lover of Bad Boys, too. I was at many times in my younger years that awful friend who can’t let the guy go who is clearly not into her/wrong for her/the worst possible man for anyone, ever. Luckily it took just one very Bad Boy to cure me forever of their appeal, so since the age of twenty-three I’ve been in Bad Boy recovery. (It works if you work it, ladies.)

Bad Boys are all the rage in literature now, although I appreciate that most of the time they aren’t really Bad Boys, they’re more like Upstanding Fellows with a few Bad Boy hallmarks, like tattoos or motorcycles or an inordinate fondness of rough sex and dirty talk. For the purpose of this post I’ll refer to them as Faux Bad Boys, or FBBs. The latest New Adult romances (which I suck down like Butter Pecan Iced Coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts) are full of these FBBs. Once could even argue that Christian Grey is more a FBB than a real Bad Boy, since all he ever did was handcuff and spank a few willing girls and bone his mom’s bestie. (And I mean, what young boy in his shoes wouldn’t have?) He doesn’t qualify as an Upstanding Fellow with that twitchy palm and childhood trauma, but he is not the kind of man one should Give the Boot. He’s FBB all the way.

The men to whom women should Give the Boot are not complex souls with a few problems and many redeeming qualities, like the men in these books. (My current favorite FBB is Trey from Lauren Blakely’s No Regrets series. Check him out; you won’t be sorry.) The guys women need to Give the Boot are just straight-up assholes. For those who might still be a bit confused (maybe even that woman I saw in the store last night?) here are some of the key differences:


1. Attitude:

The true Bad Boy has a horrible attitude. He’s surly, rude to you/your friends/your mom/your cat. His temper is out of hand. He breaks things, alienates friends, and embarrasses or hurts you in public or private.

That shit is not even the least bit cute. It doesn’t matter if he looks like Channing Tatum, is hung like Jonah Falcon (Google it), and has a magic tongue. Give Him the Boot ASAP.

The FBB may have a chip on his shoulder, but he knows how to act. He would never take his anger out on you, not even by “accident,” and sure as hell not on purpose. He’s been known to smash a thing or two in the privacy of his own garage, but the worst he’s ever done is snap at you in a foul mood and apologize later. Draw your line in the sand; this guy will respect it.


2. Lifestyle:

Bad Boys can’t seem to get their shit together. Most don’t hold jobs down well, and someone else is always to blame. If you find yourself falling for a man who’s just about to start a new job every time you talk to him, run for the hills. He is trouble. Changing jobs periodically is normal, particularly when a man is in a transitional period (recent graduation, divorce, career change, etc.), but when he’s made the rounds of every retail and food establishment in town and is still having “differences of opinion” with every boss,  Give Him the Boot.

There are exceptions, of course. I’ve known a few guys who were essentially sociopaths, and they seemed incredibly well-adjusted and successful on the surface: good job, nice car, grown-up wardrobe. But there is always a tell. Luckily, the more successful a man is, the easier it actually is to tell if he’s a scumbag or not. There’s nothing like cash money to bring out a man’s Inner Douchebag. And there’s nothing worse than seeing some poor bitch getting dragged around like a three-year-old just for some decent seafood. Give Him the Boot and buy your own scampi, sweetie!

An FBB may have a bohemian lifestyle by choice, but he can pay his bills. There is no “billing problem” with his phone and no one needs to co-sign for anything, even if he’s divorced. Don’t be put off if he’s thirty and still sharing an apartment with his best friend from high school or younger brother. Some people just don’t like to live alone, and that’s cool.

However, if he lives in anyone’s basement, “borrows” cars, sponges off his parents, or otherwise can’t financially support himself, Give Him the Boot. No excuses.

Drugs/alcohol/fast livin’ are Bad Boy hallmarks. Now, I know some bikers and they play pretty hard, but they’re upstanding citizens the rest of the time. They earn a legitimate living, they pay taxes, they host kid-friendly barbecues, they are active in their communities. Most of them drink and some of them have given up drinking because they realized they just couldn’t. Some of them enjoy an herbal supplement now and again, and in some places this is legal. But if your dude is a slave to his vices, and his vices can land either or both of you in jail or a drainage ditch, Give Him the Boot.

Don’t be fooled by tattoos or piercings. Ink is not an indicator of anything but the desire to express one’s self through tattoos. Plenty of FBBs have ink. Or gauges. Or some other BB-esque adornments. Only be alarmed is he has five tattoos on his face and curse words spelled across his knuckles and says he can’t get work because prospective employers can’t see past it all to realize what a special snowflake he is. In that case, he’s a lazy, entitled asshole. Give Him the Boot and find a FBB with tats he can hide under a dress shirt at his job. Or better yet, date a tattoo artist.


3. Sexytimes:

If Fifty Shades of Grey did anything for this world, it helped a lot of women (and presumably men) admit that they like things a bit more…intense in the bedroom. Some women like for a man to lay them down on a bed strewn with rose petals and make sweet, sweet love to them until the sun comes up. Others like to have their own panties shoved in their mouth and be used roughly for ten minutes before being ordered to walk around with spunk dripping down their thighs. Different strokes for different folks. (See what I did there?)

Here’s the thing, though: BDSM is tricky, and if you’re curious but not experienced you should find yourself the nicest man possible to help you explore your dark desires. Do not trust your precious lady parts and your self-esteem to a predator. This is not the time to seek out a Bad Boy. An Upstanding Fellow with a penchant for naughtiness is what you want here. I cannot impress this upon you strongly enough.

A Bad Boy is at his worst behavior in the bedroom. He has double standards. He takes his pleasure first (or he’s the only one seeing fireworks). If he drinks too much, he has whiskey dick and blames his partner for not exciting him enough. Or he simply regards the whole process as a means to an end, after which he immediately demands a sandwich.

No matter how you like your sexytimes – sweet & slow or fast & furious – a Bad Boy is not the man for the job. If you can”t do the Upstanding Fellow (though you’d be surprised how many of them are creative between the sheets), get yourself a FBB. He’ll take care of you better than you take care of yourself and hold you afterwards. No one makes sandwiches unless you both make sandwiches, right, girls?


4. Kids: 

Say it with me, ladies. A man takes care of his responsibilities. Need to hear it again? A man takes care of his responsibilities. If you meet a guy, and he has a kid, here is your easiest litmus test ever: ask that man what his child sleeps with. If he can’t tell you, Give Him the Boot.

Here’s why. Men are not observant. I have known fantastic dads who couldn’t tell you with a gun to their heads what color their kids’ eyes are or remember if they are six or seven. But any man worth his salt has put his kids to bed, and if he’s done that, he’s been caught like a deer in the headlights because said child has asked for the blankie or stuffed dog/frog/monkey/donkey that he’s then had to spend an hour searching for. This is universally true whether the child lives with him or he only has visitation.

You may or may not like kids or want to date a guy with kids. That’s a really personal decision, and I won’t try to sway you either way. But know this: a man who puts his kids second to himself will put you even further down that list. Most men will defer to the mother unless she is batshit crazy or in some other way unfit. He may have joint custody or some sort of visitation. But I guarantee you, if he doesn’t put his kids to bed at least some of the time he is a waste of your time. Give Him the Boot.

The FBB may do a hell of a lot of inappropriate stuff, but he’s a good father. A good father spends time with his kids, teaches by example, folds laundry, kisses boo-boos, and reads with the voices. It doesn’t matter if that’s one day a week or every night, that’s how he rolls. Be careful. A Bad Boy may introduce you to his kid or make a big show of throwing money around, but he’s not a real parent. If he’s pretending to be more of a parent than he is, Give Him the Boot. In the nuts. The world doesn’t need assholes like that.