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January 29, 2016


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Breaking the bad boy habit

Metro journalist Amy Dawson explores why some of us love bad boys so much and asks BLC Founder Helen Rice why dating Mr Wrong can be so alluring – and how to break the habit!

In the article – prompted by the Twitter-ama around Natasha’s love tangle with bad boy Anatole in the BBC’s adaptation of War & Peace – Amy quotes Helen as saying there are a number of reasons many of us find bad boys (or girls) so attractive. And dating one usually serves a purpose.

Helen says “Women are often attracted to the thrill and gravitas of being with a bad boy. Especially if they have always been something of a ‘good girl’”. It might also stem from insecurity. “Some girls (and guys) just don’t think they deserve any better. Perhaps previous bad relationships or earlier experiences have left them believing they can’t be with someone who treats them right (which is simply not true of course, so if that’s you please stop it!).

One thing Helen is quite clear about though, while you may be getting something from a bad boy relationship when you’re in it, it’s unlikely to lead to a lasting, sustainable relationship. You won’t be able to change him/her, unless they’re ready for change – and that always has to come from within them. It’s very rarely prompted by you.

The good thing about infatuation with a ‘bad boy’ is that if you can keep your distance for a while, the intensity of the attraction usually dies down. Then you can learn something about yourself and move on to finding someone who will respect you and treat you right.

Here are few extra suggestions to help you get started on breaking the bad boy habit:

  • Am I really getting what I want here? List the qualities you don’t want in your relationship. Then list the qualities you do want. Which side is winning?
  • How does dating my bad boy make me feel? Write down the good and especially the bad things. Do you feel anxious every time you have a date planned thinking he might not turn up again; Do you flinch each time he gets a text, wondering if it might be another girl competing for his affection? Tell the truth now …
  • Why am I willing to tolerate this? Start with the words .. I’m dating X in order to …feel better about myself … fit in … not be alone … avoid doing what I really want to do …  Are you sure this is a good enough reason to be with them?
  • Say to yourself “I deserve better”. You already know your  ‘bad boy’ won’t change and is extremely unlikely to commit. So, be kind to yourself and put some distance between the two of you. In most cases breaking the bad boy habit simply starts by putting a bit of time and space between you to get over the infatuation
  • Consider whether it’s ever worth the effort in trying to change him/her. It might help to remember that succeeding in changing your ‘bad boy’ to a more manageable version would leave you dating someone very different to the person you fell for in the first place!!

Read Sophie’s Story to hear how a few coaching sessions with Helen helped her to swap her endless pursuit of younger, unavailable bad boys for the life of travel and adventure she secretly craved.