Have you ever heard someone confess a soft spot for bad boys? I have, many times. Instead of regret or embarrassment, women often report a history of choosing bad boys or players with a giggle. They describe it as a guilty pleasure, like craving expensive dark chocolate. When in reality it’s more like bingeing on junk food.
College students navigating hookup culture may be excused for falling into the bad boy trap, and most learn to avoid fire after being burned once or twice. More troubling are the women who make this admission in their 30s as they seek help finding their life partner. Not only do they tend to treat it as a laughing matter, they often give the impression of not being cured of wanting to convert or rescue the bad boys, players, brooding loners and narcissists in the dating pool. A recent client laughingly presented this to me as something that “can’t be helped.” Vanessa had just exited a 7-year “non-relationship” with a bad boy and was already hung up on a new one.
Imagine a woman humblebragging about other poor life choices:
“My drinking is interfering with my performance at work.”
“I’m in terrible shape because I refuse to exercise.”
“I often borrow money from friends and never pay it back.”
“I like to celebrate all my wins with a Big Mac Value Meal!”
Bad boys are the junk food of relationships. The pleasure doesn’t last, they make you feel crappy, and if you indulge often enough you’ll ruin your appeal.
They’re a commodity.
Like McDonald’s, they’re everywhere.
They’re always on the market because they don’t form and sustain good relationships. The older we get, the more plentiful they are. Bad boys engage in “one and done” sexual transactions, or string along multiple women at the same time. They are not selective.
They’re an impulsive choice.
People are far more likely to go for junk food when they haven’t planned their meals ahead of time. Swinging by the Drive-Thru is an “easy” solution to hunger. It’s also a popular choice late night when everyone has been drinking and rational decision-making is absent.
Bad boys provide short-term gratification in the form of validation. We like to feel desired, especially by a man who is attractive to other women. Hooking up with a bad boy provides a hit straight to the dopamine reward center of our brains. It can feel fantastic in the moment, and it’s easy to push away thoughts of what comes later.
They’re low quality.
Remember when McDonald’s was found using “pink slime” in its burgers? Junk food profits depend on selling food that tastes good even with poor quality ingredients.
Bad boys have an Avoidant attachment style. They suppress emotions, and recoil from emotional intimacy with others. They cheat more and divorce more. They get over exes very quickly and get back in the hunt immediately. They make poor fathers. They’re not “keepers.”
You feel crappy after indulging.
Junk food often gives us a sort of hangover – we feel bloated and full without any nutrients.
The short-term ego boost we get from the attention of a bad boy fades fast. We’re left with a bunch of bad feelings and regrets, because we’ve been used and deep down we know it. To add insult to injury, bad boys are big on deception, so we get our hopes up before getting kicked to the curb.
Getting with a bad boy is costly.
Junk food is expensive compared to preparing fresh food at home.
Bad boys are very costly too. They sap our time, energy, and self-esteem. Most importantly, we get preoccupied and stop being open to more appropriate and compatible men – that’s a steep opportunity cost!
They can ruin your health.
If you eat poorly enough, you get sick.
If you go for bad boys year in and year out, you get cynical. Like any toxic substance, they cause permanent damage when consumed in excess. They drain your sense of well-being and can destroy your mental health.
When you display a soft spot for the emotionally selfish man, you broadcast to the world that you are not discriminating. That you make poor choices and invite abuse, and have a history of failed relationships. In other words, that you are not relationship material.
It’s difficult to make a comeback from years of bad boy experiences, but it can be done. It requires a commitment to aggressively filter out those traits going forward. More importantly, it means taking a good hard look at why you are drawn to men who can’t make you happy. Perhaps the first step is admitting that bad boy charm is as bad for you as a daily Triple Whopper with Cheese!
Does this ring any bells for you? Or have you known someone who has fallen into this trap?
Why does this persist, even after years of unhappy experiences? What is the cure? Or is this a form of self-sabotage?