“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
This is not a new topic. Google “Bad boys and good girls” and prepare to be occupied for the next year, viewing articles, opinion polls and suggestions for how to kick your bad habit.
Everyone knows it’s a dangerous dynamic, yet women continue going back, time and time again. What gives?
The answer lies in “Want versus Need” and “Long Term versus Short Term.”
What I mean is this; you seek instant gratification because the thought of doing what’s right for the long term seems dreadful, painful and not worth the effort.
The truth is that it IS in fact, worth the effort to stave off the craving and put your focus on finding a partner that will actually give you what you want AND need.
Continuing to act in the short term puts you that much farther away from your forever mate.
The short term appeal can be very tantalizing, but knowing that it’s a recipe for disaster, why do women fall for it?
1. You Want the “Get” of the Ungettable Get
There is nothing more powerful than the validation that comes from achieving something no one thinks is possible.
2. You Want to be Bad (but can’t quite get there yourself)
You were raised well and kind of resent it. You are bound by the ‘shoulds’ your parents have outlined for you and dating a bad boy is a great way of turning up your nose at convention (and maybe even your parents).
3. You Want to See How the Other Side Lives (but can’t quite get there yourself)
Like second hand smoke, you get a whiff of the wild life (without the repercussions), as you live vicariously through your bad boy’s actions.
4. You Think it Must be Real if He Wants You Too
While he may have legitimate feelings for you, the underlying appeal lies in redemption. He sees in you, all that he will never be.
That bad boy unconsciously hopes, however, that by being associated with what’s good and right by society’s standards (AKA YOU), he too can get closer to being accepted.
5. You Have Low Self Esteem
You assume that you don’t deserve to be with someone grounded, competent, responsible and present for you, so you seek out mates that validate that belief.
6. You Love the Fairytale
Romantics at heart like nothing more than a good story about triumph against the odds. Imagine the narrative of the good girl that reforms the bad boy as they battle through all the travails of their tortured relationship.
They eventually work it out and live happily ever after, in the white picket fence-lined home that houses the 2.5 kids and adorable dog. It does sound dreamy.
Now count how many people are actually living that story?
And even though you once heard from a friend of a friend’s friend that knows someone that heard that it did happen once, that is the exception, NOT the rule.
Looking for evidence that acting in the short term of “want,” always puts you behind the 8 ball?
Here are some names to get you started:
- Charlie Sheen, His 3 Ex Wives and Every Other Woman He’s Ever Dated
- Sean Penn & His 2 Ex Wives
- Halle Berry & Her 2 Bad Boy Ex Husbands
- Tommy Lee, His 3 Ex Wives & 1 Fiancée
- Sandra Bullock and Jesse James
- Anne Hathaway and Rafaello Follieri
- Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown
- Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer
- Rhianna and Chris Brown
- Jude Law, his Ex Wife, their Nanny and oh yeah, Sienna Miller
Need I list further?
I certainly wasn’t there when these couples decided to get together and some of their relationships did actually last for years. They all however, ended and ended acrimoniously.
Without prior knowledge, I can tell you that they all started from a place of short term “want” versus really thinking about their compatibility down the road.
Of course, they assumed that they had what it took to make it work.
But if they had taken pause to think long term and examine why they were drawn to each other to begin with, they would have certainly been robbed of the intensity in the moment, but they would have been saved heart ache and the inevitability of being back on the dating market once the relationship folded.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t be completely negative and say that there will never be a bad boy that will stick with a good girl until the end, because in all struggle a little optimism must fall.
There is the example of Annette Bening and Warren Beatty, after all. Then again, they didn’t marry until he was 55.
So ask yourself, ladies, do you really have that kind of time?
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
Growing up did you have to be prim and proper? Were you allowed to make mistakes without stern consequences?
If you answered yes to the first and no to the second question, you may have suppressed your “wild” side, the part of you who wants to be free to do whatever you want.
You’re locked into following the rules, so you are drawn to someone who doesn’t, who is a rule-breaker.
The dynamic is simultaneously upsetting and appealing to our shadow side that we keep hidden.
Bad boys get us in trouble and lead us into things we don’t want to do or convince us to do things against our will. This brings out our inner critic who judges us harshly for our behavior and heaps on shame, locking us further into this cycle. We come to believe we don’t deserve any better.
Breaking free is an inside job.
We need to address the lies, fears, and negative beliefs we hold that tell us, “This is the best you can get; you don’t deserve to have what you really want, you’re not good enough, you are unlovable.”
Identifying our fears and actually naming what we’re afraid of is a step towards freedom from self-sabotaging behaviors.
“I’m afraid of being rejected if I tell him how I really feel; I’m afraid he will be angry if I don’t go along with what he wants; I’m afraid no one else would ever love me.”
Become aware of what you carry in your “train of thought.”
You’re the conductor. You have power to stop that train at any moment and notice what you are telling yourself.
When you catch yourself saying, “you aren’t pretty enough, slim enough, smart enough, athletic enough,” or any other negative statement, interrupt that thought.
Write it down. Then counter it with a positive statement that is truthful.
You may need help to figure out what to tell yourself instead because the negative feels true, even though it’s not.
Over time, the negative starts to feel less and less true while the positive overlays what you used to believe about yourself.
When we address those inner beliefs, we free ourselves from attraction to bad boys when we come to believe we are worthy something better.
Charlene Benson, LPC, CSAT, CMAT – www.bensontherapist.com
Many women gravitate towards what they are used to and what feels most comfortable when they are dating.
If you are used to dating dominating men, for example, a quiet, mellow man may not be someone you find attractive.
Without realizing it, your choices become an unconscious habit that is difficult to break without some degree of awareness.
- So, why are you attracted to bad boys?
- Think about what these bad boys offer you. Are you feeling more secure with a strong, affirming male?
- Do you like the confidence and cockiness that these men display?
- Do they make you feel good about yourself when a “take-charge” kind of guy is interested in you?
- But, are they really good for you?
- Have you had lasting, committed relationships with these “bad” boys?
- Are you looking for more stability in your life?
These questions may help you understand why you gravitate towards them.
If you find yourself dating the same type of person over and over again, you need to step outside the box and try something – and someone –new.
Avoid the macho man and the “players.” Allow those with a more sensitive and caring nature to sweep you off your feet.
Explore a personality type who is different than yours, yet still aligns with your philosophy and values.
Give less drama and chaos a back seat to serenity and peace in your life. Then see if this new relationship is something you can get used to. You’ll finally be breaking a pattern that may bring about the best fit for a long-term, solid relationship.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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