Swagaholics Anonymous: Addicted to the Cool Factor

At best, I’m a glutton for punishment.  At worst, I’m a masochist, but when it comes to affairs of  the heart—I must admit—I am an unabashed swagaholic.  I know many of you will argue the semantics of the now soccer mom appropriated term “swag“.  Others of you are simply turned off by it all together.  Even though “swag” is a relative term, and is likely going the way of bling bling very soon, for me it describes a ridiculously cool, quiet confidence that I suspect many woman find irresistible.

Swag is of course a slang for personal style appearance or attitude.   An abbreviation of  “swagger”, the term was popularized by hip-hop artists  several year ago, but it really entered the mainstream cultural moment with the hilarious Toyota Sienna Mini Van commercials.  Soulja Boy had a hit this year with “Pretty Boy Swag, you can argue the artistic relevance of his unique genius.  You can even like the Swagaholics Anonymous Facebook group, a page for people with so much swag they need group therapy;  it only has 43 members.  Suffice it to say, swag has been with us for a while and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  The terminology may change, but cool is cool.

Who does or doesn’t have swag is certainly relative, but it’s all about the image one presents to the world.  Yet my  penchant for cool  describes my addiction and it usually finds me head over heels for the  classic ladies man.  You know the heart breaker; the superstar.  He may or not be classically handsome, but he definitely has sex appeal. He  is  put together.  He has  his own sense of style, which usually includes a good shoe and a good watch.  While he won’t have too many words for you—when he does speak—he commands attention.  He is smart, but not pompous about it.  His cologne will always be on point.  He walks like a ball player or a rapper, but is gainfully employed; who says you can’t have corporate swag? He can match wits with the best of them, and always leaves you wanting more.  You want to lock him down because he seems so unattainable, and yet in the back of your mind you know if he gets the best of you; you’re in trouble.

For every guy I’ve fallen for like this, I can see the danger sign flashing above their heads from miles out.  Yet, I am like a moth to a flame.  The cost benefits analysis in my mind always comes out in favor of playing the odds that this time will be different.  It’s not just me.   I have met many women like this—swagaholics.  We all know the nice guy is the safer route.  Dating the one who is crazy about you is the healthier choice in the long run, but the passion and excitement of the bad boy or the ladies man can be very seductive.  I would  certainly never advocate compromising your dignity for this kind of guy; the first law of nature is self-preservation.   Yet, I’m convinced there is no shame in craving a hot boy.  What you do once you get him presents a whole other series of issues, but I digress.

It really comes down to the extent to which one embraces the nice guys finish last aphorism.  In Niceness and Dating Success: A Further Test of the Nice Guy Stereotype, Urbaniak & Kilmann (2003) write that:

“Although women often portray themselves as wanting to date kind, sensitive, and emotionally expressive men, the nice guy stereotype contends that, when actually presented with a choice between such a ‘nice guy’ and an unkind, insensitive, emotionally-closed, ‘macho man’ or ‘jerk,’ they invariably reject the nice guy in favor of his ‘so-called’ macho competitor.”

I suspect that any preference among women for the bad boy is probably a combination of one’s upbringing—a lot of us have daddy issues, what society and the cultural moment values as masculinity, a bit of evolution—the whole survival of the fittest thing, and the fact that many of us girls like a challenge.  A lot of us will say we want a sensitive guy because  its the right thing to say, but in reality we crave Mr. Swag.  Technically what we really want is a hybrid between the two archetypes, the sensitive and cool guy. Yet, it typically doesn’t work like that.  At least in my experience.

But you tell me you swagaholics out there.  Is there any hope for us or are we destined for 808’s and Heartbreaks?  Who has swag to you?  Pharrell? Kanye? Jay-z?  Idris?  For the non-swagaholics why do you prefer the nice guy?  Are these characteristics mutually exclusive, can a sensitive guy be swagged-out?


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