We all know the bad boy image can be extremely alluring. Us millennials grew up fantasizing over Dylan McKay on 90210, and this typecast was not new. Looking back through pop culture and history, the bad boy has been attracting women for as long as can be remembered. The slick James Dean hair, leather jacket, and motorcycle have been symbols of rebellion to women everywhere. What is so attractive about this guy? His confidence, masculinity, and the feeling of being a little dangerous. He’s mysterious and sexy, and women eat it up. Being with this guy is romantic and thrilling; however, we know what other traits usually come with arrogance, aggression, and a gaggle of girls drooling over his every move. He knows he can have any girl he wants, so he usually does. Can you blame him? He’s hot, and he knows it. Most women have their own experience with this guy in some shape or form. When we are young, it’s fun and exciting to try to tame a bad boy; however, when we don’t learn to walk away, we can get addicted to the thrill of the chase.
"If you dated a truly bad boy in your youth, he might have a lasting impact on your success in dating."
If you dated a truly bad boy in your youth, he might have a lasting impact on your success in dating. In my experience, all it took to break my self-worth was a few bad boys taking what they wanted, and then, funnily enough, I ended up chasing that type for decades, trying to win their validation. We all know these bad boys are never as hot or slick as those on TV, but they have the same characteristics. They win you over with their charm or pursuit, which seems romantic at first, but once they hook you, they ruin your spirit. They make you question your worth, and they do severe damage to your confidence. Usually, they are complete narcissists, and that type loves to prey on the weak. If you aren’t weak, they will try to break you down until you are. When you lack self-worth, you get addicted to supplementing it from men, and it’s a vicious cycle. You can feel so high when you get the love and affection you crave, but when they return to their ways, you are dragged back down to your lowest.
Unfortunately, I experienced a lot of these relationships in my adolescence, and these patterns followed me into adulthood. I didn’t have the self-worth to think I deserved anything better, so I fished at the bottom of the pond for very long-time accepting scraps from bottom feeders. When I did catch someone who treated me well, I didn’t know how to handle it, and I always found reasons why I didn’t like them. It’s because they didn’t feed my addiction to the pain. I pushed away anyone suitable for me because I didn’t believe I deserved it. The decades of unhealthy relationships reinforced my avoidant behavior because I thought all men were this way. As I became more and more emotionally unavailable, that’s all I attracted in return. It was always the blind leading the blind.
"As I became more and more emotionally unavailable, that’s all I attracted in return."
It wasn’t until I was at an all-time low that I hit my breaking point. I realized that I had been tolerating this from men for far too long, and all the toxic men who continued to orbit my life were never going to be the man I wanted or deserved. I had to be the one to break the pattern, it was my life, and I had to gain the courage to change it. I had seen friends of mine marry amazing men; I knew they were out there; I just wasn’t finding them. At this moment, I realized that only an unhealed person would ever accept this kind of treatment. I had so much pain I hadn’t worked through, and it was time to start my healing journey. We all have trauma, and it’s not our fault, but it’s our responsibility to take care of ourselves and heal it. Here are a few ways you can start to heal and recognize that you deserve to have someone good in your life.
Recognize Your Value
It can be easy to say we have to start with self-love, but that can be difficult for someone who has deep-seated trauma. However, I believe we are intelligent beings, and just like we can see the value in others, it’s essential to know the value in ourselves. So, start by writing down things you are good at, how helpful you are to the people you love, and give yourself some fucking credit. Maybe you’re good at your job or an excellent cook; you have things that make you valuable and unique. Once you start to see all the amazing things you bring to the table, you’ll begin to realize that you DO add value, and you deserve to have someone who adds value to your life as well.
Be Gentle with Yourself
To heal your pain start treating yourself like someone you love. Our inner critic can be a bad record that never stops playing in our brains, especially if we’ve experienced abuse. You may have learned to speak to yourself in a harmful way, and it is only further damaging your self-worth. It’s time to stop the inner criticism and start being kinder to yourself. If you wouldn’t say what you say to yourself to someone you love, don’t say it at all. Be gentle with yourself, knowing you are healing. You are not dumb for making mistakes, and you do not have to be perfect to deserve love. You are a beautifully imperfect person, so give yourself some grace, and when you begin speaking to yourself with respect, it will become apparent when someone else doesn’t. Self-respect starts within, and once you create a positive relationship with yourself, you will expect the same treatment from others.
Break Your Patterns
Often our patterns are interconnected, and to learn to love what’s good for you, you must break the addiction to what’s not serving you any longer. So, dig into your toxic relationships and find out what else you’re getting out of them. What need is it meeting when you fall for the bad boy? According to Tony Robbins, we all have six human needs, and our behavior, good or bad, is serving these needs in some way. The needs are certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, connection/love, growth, and contribution. Maybe you get a sense of certainty dating toxic men; why? Because you are sure it won’t work out, so you can continue to avoid intimacy. That was my reason, and once you identify your patterns, it’s much easier to break them. I also recognized my pattern with alcohol was not serving me while dating, and I needed to be sober to make better decisions. Whatever they are, knowing yourself and your limits will make it much easier to make changes that force you to grow. When you grow, you achieve your goals, so if your goal is a healthy relationship, start by holding yourself accountable for your behavior and watch how your results change indefinitely.
The last step is to let people into your life, slowly and intentionally. If they show up adding value, being kind, and willing to grow with you. You may not have that intense spark like the bad boy, but remember that big spark usually crashes and burns. You want a slow and steady burn and watch; that flame will grow more significant than you ever could have hoped for.