In the wake of the Sandra Bullock/Jesse James cheating scandal and swirling divorce rumors, we can’t help but ask – especially given James’ tattoos, chopper-loving ways and porn star ex – how did she not see the signs that he was a Bad Boy? Or is that exactly what made her fall in love with him in the first place? Sadly, Bullock has now joined the list of other seemingly good girls who have made a beeline for boys your mother probably told you to run away from. So why do the Sandras, Siennas, Britneys and Rihannas of the world latch onto guys who are all kinds of trouble?
In fact, what might be red flags for some women, are the precise things others swoon for. As Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Morris Halperin explains, “It’s just like someone who wants an exotic animal as a pet. They actually think these guys will change their traits and be good to them.”
Dr. Halperin goes on to explain that this thinking is “actually a bit of a delusion,” as many of these women believe they are special and can be “the one” to control these wild animals. “It’s slightly egotistical behavior,” he says. “It’s out of touch with reality that they think, ‘I’m different. I can dance with this monster and control it.’ The reality is, you can’t have a tiger as a pet and control it.”
Read Why Good Guys Love Bad Girls
Bullock is not the first woman who thought she could tame a wild animal. When Britney Spears saw a broke backup dancer with a pregnant girlfriend, the pop star fell head over heels and thought she could keep Kevin Federline in line, marrying him and having two kids with him before divorcing after two years of marriage, in 2006. Holly Madison is a two-time bad boy offender. Despite Hugh Hefner’s openly polygamous lifestyle, Madison was vocal about wanting to marry the Playboy mogul and have babies with him. After her relationship with Hef ended, she moved on to another guy with a reputation as a player, illusionist Criss Angel. She broke up with him after dating for four months, in early 2009.
So why are some women so attracted to the wrong men? “What’s behind this is a need for control and excitement,” says Halperin. OK, but what to do if you have a pal who suffers from a Bad Boy Addiction – or if you’re an addict yourself?
Dr. Halperin explains that once a woman recognizes she’s attracted to the “wrong” men, it can lead to one of three situations. Scenario #1: After going out with a succession of bad boys, “You finally say to yourself, ‘How do I not let this happen in the first place?’” he says. “Then through dating, which is really a learning process to see what’s good for you and what’s not, you find that this kind of behavior doesn’t work for you. So you take what you’ve learned and choose a partner who doesn’t exhibit these traits.”
Scenario #2: Or perhaps you need a little help in order to stay away from the wrong guys. In this case, strengthening your self-esteem is the crucial first step. “For this person, the only logical thing to do is go to therapy,” says Halperin. Sitting in a therapist’s armchair, however, isn’t the only solution. “There are so many resources out there to improve your self-esteem: books, talking to friends or even chatting on the internet,” he says. In fact, social networks, like the one on BettyConfidential, can be a good place to discuss your issues and surround yourself with supportive people. It’s only after you’ve reclaimed your self-esteem that you’ll be able to recognize just how fabulous you are – and to truly understand that you deserve something much better from your partner.
Read Sandra Bullock Fears for Her Life
Scenario #3: In the third case – similar to the one in which Bullock currently finds herself – you realize the person you love cheated on you and you need to decide what to do. A lot, of course, depends on the circumstances. If, for example, you have children together, you may have some motivation to stay together. But, as Halperin explains, whatever the details, you basically have two choices: “You either see this is a sick situation and decide to get out of it, or you decide to stay in it and work on it. And in that case you’ll need to see a demonstration of good behavior by your partner over a long period of time. Some people can forgive and some people can’t; first, you need to realize who you are.”
So what advice would Dr. Halperin give to Sandra Bullock? “I don’t see her husband changing,” he says. “There’s no real motivation for her to stay with him. She really should take some time to work on herself. I suggest a minimum of six months of alone time, out of a relationship.”
Will Bullock get through this? We're definitely pulling for her. According to statements she made at the People’s Choice Awards regarding Tiger Woods’ disgraced wife, the Oscar winner appeared to believe she had her man in line. "If I were Elin, man, I would have hit a lot more than she did," Bullock said. "I would have kept hitting. Yeah, she stopped, she was respectable. I'd get the baseball bat, I'd get everything out." Perhaps Jesse James should be grateful that all she may be hurling at him are divorce papers.
This article was written by: Libby Keatinge, who is the author of Beverly Hills Tutor. She also writes for international lifestyle publications.