Why Good Women Love Bad Boys

katy perry, john mayer

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places?

Women who repeatedly find themselves abused in dead-end relationships are often reliving a familiar childhood script. Parents may have been the first persons incapable of loving them fully. This can set-up a lifelong pattern of "looking for love in all the wrong places."

Bad boys fit right in here. They have little genuine love to offer on the one hand and seem (wrongly so) like a major conquest on the other ("he may have not loved others well, but I'll be the one that's different.") Children often blame themselves for a father or mother's inability to fully love them. A child may conclude they are unlovable, and as an adult, they may operate with the (mostly unconscious) belief that "if I get someone to love me who is not capable of fully loving, then I must be special. Getting someone to love me who is capable of loving does not count." Hence the attraction to bad boys.

Here are five ways to break free from bad boy love:

1. Find something you like to do and pursue it with passion. It could be photography, making jewelry, community theatre or volunteering at a local hospital or animal shelter. It doesn't matter what it is; just do something just for yourself that has meaning for you. This will keep up your individuality and independence and be a hedge against falling into a smothering, codependent relationship.

2. Do not idealize him or the relationship. It's fine to acknowledge the good qualities and good times as long as you are willing to stare point blank at the bad qualities and bad times. Sometimes the truth does hurt, and you'll shy away from seeing it because it will lead to difficult choices. Idealizing is a sure formula for future pain. The truth might well set you free, but you'll find out you can survive and be better for it.

3. Keep your good friends close and confide in them. Ask friends you trust what they see going on in your relationship. You will need an alternative point of view because bad boys are so convincing they can distort your perception. Doubting yourself is common when you are consistently diminished. Trust your intuition and instincts. When something doesn't feel right, pay attention to it.

4. Don't say yes when you mean no. This is how you give away your self-worth and integrity. These are precious jewels no partner should threaten or diminish. Ask for what you need. Don't settle for crumbs. If your needs are not as important as his and you go along with it, you are building your own prison.

5. Give up and get out. When the signs are clear that you are in a dead end abusive relationship, get out. Do not make excuses. Do not waste more time trying to get blood from a stone. You are not damaged goods. Focus on present realities rather than awfulizing about how bad things will be in the future. Rally friends and family, make an exit plan and follow it step by step.

The next time you — like Katy Perry — think about having a new man in your life, the above guidelines can save you heartache and set you free for healthy loving.