Adam Levine, GQ

Tony Kelly/GQ

Perhaps Adam Levine is merely misunderstood.

The Maroon 5 frontman is profiled in GQ's July 2014 issue, and in the interview, he wonders why the media has labeled him a "douchebag." It's a description that is understandably bothersome for Levine. "Douchebag. What is a douchebag?" he asks the magazine. "Would it be really easy to assume that I was a douchebag? Definitely. 100 percent. But that doesn't mean that I am. Or maybe I am. I don't know."

"Okay," he tells the interviewer. "So I'm gonna get really intricately self-reflective right now and ask myself the hard questions, to find out, once and for all, definitively, whether or not I'm a douchebag."

Levine argues there are three ways to tell if someone is a douchebag. First, there's a lack of self-awareness. "That's big," he says. Second, there's conceitedness. "I'm not arrogant," he protests. "I'm cocky. It's different. Cocky is playful." Third, there's insecurity. "Or masking deep insecurity with too much security," he says. "I'm confident. Some people don't like confidence. They resent confidence."

The more he thinks about it, the more he distances himself from the "douchebag" label. "You know what the gist of this article is?" he asks. "Your opening line can be: 'You don't have to like me, but I'd prefer it if you did.' That's kind of how I feel. I'm not the easiest person to love right off the bat, you know. If I knew everyone in the world, they would love me. Every single last f--king one of them."

Levine says he "worked hard" and "had a lot of wonderful things happen" over the years. Still, he says, "I haven't been dealt a hard hand." It's for that reason, he imagines, that he's "not an easy guy to root for."

Levine believes he earned his reputation as a lothario after Songs About Jane went triple platinum and he moved into the Chateau Marmont. It was during that period that the "Maps" singer was linked to a number of Hollywood starlets, ranging from Paris Hilton to Lindsay Lohan to Jessica Simpson. "All of a sudden, I had money in my bank account. I hadn't had a break in a long time. And I went a little f--king nuts. You know? And good," he says. "I deserved to go a little bit nuts. And I had the time of my life."

"Men are not as sophisticated as women," Levine continues. "They're not as mature as women. They're not as connected with their emotions as women. There's a very Neanderthal quality that still exists in a lot of men. There's the carnal s--t you can't deny. And if you're in the public eye, to me, it's very boring to say what you have to say and be media trained to the extent that you don't ever reveal any truth. There was a time in my life when I lived probably a bit more on the primal level. And it was amazing."

For better or worse, Levine's bachelor days shaped his public image. "That was kind of the foundation of all the negative s--t I still get," he argues. "I was out there having fun, you know. I didn't give a s--t, and I got burned for it. People change; people grow up, get more self-aware and in tune with all this s--t."

Levine is currently engaged to supermodel Behati Prinslo, who happens to be the third Victoria's Secret beauty the rocker has dated in five years. Is that a coincidence? "I don't date what the person does," Levine tells the magazine. "I date the f--king person. You know what I mean? I could have been a zitty teenager and walked into a Tower Records, and we would have talked about Pearl Jam, and we would have fallen in love when we were 15. And that's when you know. It's like, oh, my God, game over."

"Preference should never be looked down upon," he says of his reputation as a modelizer. "Unless it's based on something really s--tty. I'm not saying I have a preference, but like, I want to date someone... Listen, there are a lot of women in this country, in many countries, who date men for their money. Okay? That's despicable. Right? That's not what we're talking about here. Whatever does it for you, man. I don't like feet. You know what I mean? But some people do. Some people have f--king foot fetishes. And it's weird to me. But I don't have to deal with it, because I don't have that. You know?"

"You know what I'm saying, man," he tells the interviewer. "It'll all make sense somehow."

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