Why Do Good girls fall for Bad Guys?

Sandra Bullock is just the latest celebrity to get hurt because of her poor choice in men. Here, a psychologist explains why women like Bullock are attracted to the wrong guys – and how she, and others like her, can get over them and move on.
-Libby Keatinge

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.
BettyConfidential.com
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What Guys Said 28

  • I don't know you tell us? Your a girl

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  • good girls are dumb and they'l always be

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  • What goes around comes around.

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  • I think the reason is: Sex

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  • Because they're stupid.

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  • I think because you can't manipulate, use a bad boy that's his job'and then when he's done and your no good for no one not even your self you can call your self a crugar and get your so called groove back and when that doesn't work you can say men are dogs... how unique or new is that.

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  • Because women would rather believe a guy can become perfect than give up on a good looking, highly desired guy. Regardless of what the flaws are. No need for an essay.

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  • I think a part of it is girls think bad guys are more manly. Why not think he's a man, He will tell anyone off and treat everyone else bad, maybe even you. But that just says he is not afraid right? To tell the truth I am apart of the "good guy" label. Being a bad boy doesn't make you a man. For my rant I will say I never get any credit for being a man when I am more of man than most of the bad boys I meet. I'm the guy that makes sure there community service hours are in check. lol

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  • One thing a lot of discussion about girls and jerks doesn't mention is social psychology...

    But its been confirmed in more than one study, that women do have an "arrogance" and "narcissism" bias. That means they are more attracted to a guy if he displays some arrogance. Plenty of solid science on it. Its also a subconcious bias, women don't even know they do it. In one study a guy was (for example) rated more attractive by groups where he was more dismissive and insensitive...

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  • why so longggg

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  • Women go for bad guys because her children will have greater prospects if he is the father rather than a decent man ('nice guy' whatever you want to call him).

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  • Cuz they are good wif words to get u in bed with them. If u have a strong will, u couldve resist those playa-like type of guy. U can easily tell if they are one by how confident they speak without anxiety.

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  • The same reason why good guys fall for bad girls ;)

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  • Because many women are idiots and think they can change a guy that is a dick.

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  • It's the challenge of changing the person. A bad guy/girl presents that challenge. I used to wonder at this until I realized every girl I had been with wanted to change me and "tie me down." It happens even to the "bad" girls/guys.

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  • Because these "Good Girls" aren't as good as you think they are.

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  • The fall for bad guys cause they want a guy so bad
    they take up with the first guy who comes their way
    they really need to get know a guy well enough as a
    friend before making any move to be more of friends
    with him

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  • I'm curious about the rate of acceptance of the old "rejected" guys who now have to settle for an emotionally damaged woman.
    How many are will to lower their standards that low?
    Judging by the rage on the internet about this whole issue, i wager less and less.

    So women are trapped.
    They get damaged by these assholes and by the time they realize "hey i wanted the nice guy all along, fuck this bad boy poser" the nice guy has turned into the "asshole poser.

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  • Having now read the article.. Britney and Holly Madison are really bad examples. It's just really bad to analyse celebs as normal people, because their motivations are completely different. Publicity and drama are sort after for attention. These things creates fans, which then creates reality shows and higher profiles for movie or TV gigs. You can't judge the motivations properly. And I am not suggesting that Sandra did anything like this on purpose, but she still gains from it.

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  • Arghhh I hate how much celebs personal lives are over analysed. It's harmless for the sake of this article, but she will get so many fans out of it, it will help her career so much. Like it did Aniston's. I would prefer actors/musicians be rewarded for their work in their job, not because of their private lives. That women care so much about celebrities frustrates me a bit. I didn't need to hear of Bullocks story, to know that women find bad guys more exciting.

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What Girls Said 10

  • TBH I don't know.

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  • I think its because they are just... rebellious and for some reason I find that to be a huge turn on. I also think that girls who have dated good boys for too long, get bored with the flowers and all that and they moght want more of an adventure.

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  • Well, I think that it's usually because the girl believes that she can change him and that his behaviour makes him challenging for her, making her want to "win" that challenge

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  • Hmmm... - watch? v=WrjwaqZfjIY

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  • Because some people are somewhat attracted to what they can't have or know is bad for them. Its the RISK involved that makes it so exciting to them. Similar to the reason people drive 80+mph in cars (knowing it could kill them). Or why they try or use drugs knowing they shouldn't. And why when we're told to cover our eyes and NOT look we feel so inclined to wanna just take a peek. lol

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  • Cause there is mystery in the relationship and , you never know what to expect. Besides most bad boys are cuter.

    Most girls like bad boys at a young age after that we all seek for a good,nice guy.

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  • I'd say bad daddies make you go for bad boys.

    and since there are lots of them there's also lots of girls who are into that.

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  • Where is the delete button..... done with this dumb article.

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  • I agree with Gregs.

    BTW, I want to add that your article was confusing. It wasn't clear as to why women want to date "bad boys".

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  • It's the rush, the rebellion, and the wild feeling we have repressed behind our "good behavior" that come out in us when we meet the bad guy. They have a certain magnetism and charm, it's deadly

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