It's not LOVE that you're really after.
What female over the age of 13 (and under the age of 93) DOESN’T have a thing for the “Bad Boy?”
Whether it was back in the days of James Dean, or more recently you've found yourself secretly lusting (or maybe not so secretly) for Norman Reedus or Shia Le Beouf, most of us have fantasized about some “between-the-sheets” time with a well-known “Bad Boy.”
Most of us have fantasized about the after-sex time with these guys, too, right?
Whether it's pillow-talk where you magically get him to reveal his tender side that no one else has seen before, or even becoming “the one” that can get him to commit to a relationship. The fantasies are fun, but most of us have learned (the hard way) that Bad Boys have that label for a reason.
I admit, I've been in this club too, especially in my post-divorce days. I often tell others that I had decent self-esteem in most areas of my life: I was well-educated, was working as a psychotherapist, had good relationships with my family and friends.
BUT, what I didn’t realize was that I had poor dating self-esteem.
I'm sure it started in my awkward adolescent years when I couldn't find a guy to date me to save my life (which, in the life of a teenaged girl, is tragic), but failing in my first marriage didn’t help.
To be fair, he always stated that he wasn't looking for a relationship.
But I (like so many of us) just assumed he meant that about women; women who clearly could not help him break out of his emotional shell (smh). So I tried for 9 months to show him how great I was, and how great a relationship with me could be.
Turned out, he meant what he said.
What I learned later is that, in the dating world, women look at locking in a relationship with a Bad Boy the same way men look at picking up (and having crazy sex with) the hottest woman in the bar — We're really looking for a conquest to prove our worth.
Men feel like the ultimate stud when they can land the hottest girl in bed, because in their mind it makes them better than all of the other men that failed to score the hook-up. Women feel a similar validation when we beat out all the other women who failed to reveal the Bad Boy’s teddy-bear side. If we can get him to commit, we win!
We feel better than 'the others' we're subconsciously comparing ourselves against.
Fortunately for me, a few relationships later I recognized my pattern and stopped trying to win over men that really were not relationship material. Now, I'm better able to work with my clients who have patterns of dating or being in relationships with men who always leave them broken hearted.
So here's the tough love bottom-line — if you keep having your heart broken, the problem is you!
I say that with compassion and understanding, but it is you.
You need to start examining why you're choosing men that will eventually leave you crying in your pillow or polishing off bottles of wine with your bestie. You attract what you put out into the universe, so if you're attracting men that don’t really want a relationship (or are incapable right now of the emotional depth a relationship requires), you're somehow telling the universe you're OK with that.
Now, if you ask your brain, your brain will respond with “Hell no, I’m not OK with that!” but the proof is in the relationship track record.
Ask yourself in a deeply curious (but non-judging) way “What's going on in how how I really feel about myself that I would put up with this?”
In my case, at that time I didn’t feel like I could actually get the Full-Package Guy: the one that is hot, educated, AND emotionally stable. And by nature, I am a rescuer (thus my career choice). But my day job is different from my personal life, and I shouldn’t have to help a man heal his wounds right out of the gate.
The tricky thing is we're taught that relationships are tough and that we should support each other and help our partner be the best they can be. But not immediately.
Feeling not good enough wreaks havoc on so many aspects of our lives, and especially in our relationships.
That’s because as humans, our need for attachment with others is so strong that we go to crazy lengths to attain and keep them, In doing so, we often lose our connection with our authentic self.
This is not about blaming yourself for yet another screw-up. In fact, looking at yourself as the problem is actually empowering. Because we can’t control others— again, your relationship track record can verify this — but we can figure ourselves out and grow to do things differently the next time around.
So, find your friend that you can be open and vulnerable with, who will be honest yet compassionate with you and do some exploring together. Or, if you don’t have one of those, find a therapist who can help you explore (bonus: a good therapist will help you identify patterns you didn’t even know were there!).
The sooner you start, the sooner you get to happily ever after with a good man instead of wasting time crying of bad boys.
If you want to learn more about healthy relationships or improving how you feel about yourself, check out Lisa Haysmer, LMSW. Lisa combines psychotherapy, Reconnective Healing and Spiritual Guidance to help clients heal themselves in different ways.