Written by Drs. Evelyn and Paul Moschetta of Mid-town Manhattan
“Bad Boys” are men who act like delinquent teenagers. They lie, cheat and refuse to take responsibility for their behavior. Instead they blame others and sooth themselves with self-righteous hurt and anger. For bad boys an intimate relationship is just another place to have control and get their way. Without the control the relationship gets too “difficult” and they withdraw to look for the next victim.
Bad boy love is toxic and addictive. It’s toxic because it comes at the price of your dignity and self-esteem. It’s addictive because the horrible times are interspersed with good times. Researchers tell us this kind of intermittent reinforcement is the hardest to break. When the pain is interrupted by brief periods of pleasure it keeps you hooked. You’re always hoping that the next happy period is just around the corner. That’s why women typically don’t leave these toxic relationships, instead they get left. Nancy’s story is typical. She came for help after her four year relationship with Andy abruptly ended.
“I never saw it coming. He started saying he was unhappy and that all I did was complain but that’s not true. He did all the complaining, especially about me. I always felt like I was walking on eggshells, that any minute I was going to do or say something that would get him annoyed. He was very controlling, things had to be just so or he would get into a mood. And I always felt it was my fault.
To try and keep peace I started adjusting my moods to fit his. If he was moody I shut down also even if I was really feeling happy. When he was happy I was happy but not too happy because he always had to have the spotlight. So even during the good times I see now that I was never really myself. He liked it when I was in the background; I was there but on “mute.”
Why did I stay? He was handsome and could be very charming. I was physically very attracted to him. We both liked to travel and to ski and had a lot of fun. Our sex was very exciting but the more we fought it got less and less. I was never sure I could trust him completely because he found so much to criticize about me that it made me jealous of other women he showed attention to. The month before he left he started hiding his cell phone. It was never just lying around like it used to be.
It makes me think now that he must of been communicating with another woman. When I asked him about it he would get very defensive, accusing me of interrogating him unfairly. And then he left. He went on a business trip and from there fishing with a buddy and then to a hotel. It’s like I never existed and I feel like I was mugged and dumped on the side of the road.”
Women who repeatedly find themselves abused in dead-end relationships are often reliving a familiar childhood script. Parents may have been the first persons incapable of loving them fully. This can set-up a lifelong pattern of “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Bad boys fit right in here. They have little genuine love to offer on the one hand and seem (wrongly so) like a major conquest on the other (“he may have not loved others well but I’ll be the one that’s different.”) Children often blame themselves for a father or mother’s inability to fully love them. A child may conclude they are unlovable and as an adult may operate with the (mostly unconscious) belief that “if I get someone to love me who is not capable of fully loving then I must be special . Getting someone to love me who is capable of loving does not count.” Hence the attraction to bad boys.
Both Dr. Evelyn and Dr. Paul have many years of experience dealing with all the above issues. Contact us today to learn more!