Many times I counsel women who struggle to let go of a lover who they know is not good for them. Guys that are cheaters, drinkers, gamblers or just plain mean... most of the time. So what is the attraction?
Well, the rest of the time, or at least at some stage in the relationship (usually the blissful beginning) these guys weren’t bad at all. In fact they may have promised to be just the guy she was looking for. They were charming, or funny, or seemed so interested in the woman in question that she feel for him.
Or maybe she didn’t, maybe this guy just slipped and grew on her. Whatever the pattern, an attraction was established so by the time she found the ‘fly in the ointment’, this guy was part of her life, and most importantly, part of her mind.
When good guys turn bad.
I'm not saying women are all angels, but eventually these guy shows the devil inside. She finds the cheaters text, the drinkers or druggies stash, or the subtle abuse starts with him telling her what she should be doing and who she can see.
There are other cases where the guy is not that bad, but the two of them start to clash. Or perhaps he messes with her mind in another way, swinging from nice to nasty or available to distant.
Whatever his MO, eventually it becomes clear that this guy is no good for her. (That’s if her friends haven’t been telling her all along!)
Can't she do any better?
Does she have such low self esteem she doesn’t think she can do any better? Well, sadly sometimes this is true.
Other times it is a case of ‘better the devil you know’ and women settle for second best because somewhere they believe that he’s as good as it gets.
The work here is clear, help this woman understand the origin of her beliefs about her self and relationships, then work toward building her self worth and ultimately create the space for attracting the kind of guy who can give her what she really deserves.
It's not always low self esteem
Blame it on the media
Yet for every woman who has self worth issues underlying the pattern of addiction to bad boys, there is another who knows she’s worth more, yet goes there anyway.
This other kind of woman had a fairly rosy past. She was generally treated with respect by the men in her past and is otherwise doing pretty well in all areas of her life, except her addiction to guys who are no good.
So what could be going on here?
Well, lets start with the insidious media modeling that tumultuous relationships are ‘normal’. Pick up any magazine and it would appear that if you are not swinging from high to low and dealing with a partners bad behaviour you aren't really living. And lets not start with the idealised hollywood model of love concours all, because it doesn't.
But we can all see through that, right?
So once we decide we don’t want a tabloid relationship, why do women keep going back to the bad boys?
Here are 5 reasons why a sane woman can’t leave a crazy relationship
- Maybe he won’t let go. My mother used to say, “men only love in retrospect”. Lots of guys are attracted to what they can’t have. So when the woman calls if off, suddenly he’s interested again or he feels the pangs of love lost and start perusing her all over again.
- Many women are unwittingly still stuck on the frog and prince model. Believing the fairy tales and hollywood movies, they think that this guy will turn into prince charming if only they could find the right kiss to unlock his true charming nature. Their love can transform him. Sorry but I yet to see it happen.
- Alternately, it's blaring that doesn’t have enough good points to out weigh the bad, but she’s in ‘love with him’ or more rightly, she thinks she’s in love with him, but....
- She doesn’t know what love really is. To her love is a mix of many different emotions. She’s feels good when he’s being kind to her, she feels bad when he’s away for too long. Perhaps she can’t stop thinking about him, constant text message checking, Facebook stalking. There are so many emotions to keep her connected with this bad boy that the relationship continues in her mind even when its done in life. So she thinks this must be love, but really….
- She is addicted to him and the crazy neurochemistry he creates. We know about good chemistry, right? The amazing sex, the stimulating conversations, the good times laughing together. In these moments the woman feels alive, she feels loved. But then the arguments or absence or dawning reality of his inadequacy shifts her mood from high to low. Perhaps they 'make up' and she is up again, and then he isn't there for her and she crashes. Each move from high to low causes different mood states which in turn create a space in her brain dedicated to him. Good or bad this guy made her ‘feel’. And she is now addicted to the feelings associated with this guy and the space he has made in her mind. It's chemistry alright, but crazy-making chemistry.
Recovery takes time and like any addiction may need the assistance of a 'sponsor' a completely objective person who is there to help you through. If you are ready to let go of someone you know is not good for you first you have to want to let go, then you need to understand why it feels so difficult.
Stay tuned for my blog on 12 Steps to recovering from a bad love addiction.