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“Stop dating bad boys! Just go for the nice guy.”
I came across this line on the internet the other day. When I first read it, I leaned back on the couch and took a long, deep breath, thinking, “Huh, I wish it was that easy.”
I was also slightly dissatisfied with how often we casually toss these advices around, without realizing the gravity and difficulty of this situation.
We’ve all been in this position at some point or at least heard of it from others: we tend to like the “bad boy” (or bad girl) over the nice one.
Many years ago when someone asked me why I liked bad boys, I said that I liked being challenged. My 32-year-old self feels sorry for that young girl who didn’t know that it wasn’t about the challenge or the winning. My 32-year-old self knows now that it was about trauma.
To start off, I don’t believe (anymore) that people are inherently bad. Goodness is the essence of our existence, but conditioning, upbringing, and experiences make us who we are today. The obstructive situations we go through in life create many different aspects and facets to ourselves—good and bad. But deep down, we’re all human with an infinite supply of goodness.
That said, in our attempt to call that boy “bad” or that girl a “b*tch,” we forget that our choice of partners is about us, not about them. The commitment phobic, the controlling, the risk-taker, the unpredictable, the dominant, the alcoholic, the addict, the ghoster, and so on…they’re not “bad”—they’re simply behaving in a particular way that attracts us to them.
You might ask, what is attracting me to them? What is so alluring about them?
Trauma, my dear. It’s trauma.
Trauma is alluring.
The past is alluring.
Childhood wounds are alluring.
Conditioned responses are alluring.
Unconscious patterns are alluring.
And that is why it’s never easy to just go for the nice guy or girl. When we’re attracted to these men and women, we’re not really attracted to them. We’re attracted to the familiarity they stimulate in us.
Just like that feeling when you return home from a long trip or enter your house after a tiring day at work, being attracted to the bad boy or girl feels like coming back home.
I’ve been there. I’ve been there so many times that I know very well the difficulty of dodging a similar attraction. I’ve been there so many times that I realize how challenging (and almost impossible) it is to give the “nice guy” a chance.
But again, it’s not about them. When we do the necessary inner work, we won’t see anyone as “bad” or “good” anymore. We will naturally and smoothly be attracted to someone who doesn’t necessarily feel like home in the first five minutes.
When I first met my husband, I was in so much doubt. I didn’t feel home. I was scared. I took things slow. Not because I wasn’t attracted to him, he was “nice,” or he wasn’t the one for me. It was because he didn’t trigger old emotions I felt as a child. He felt new to me. Dating him felt like a completely new territory for me.
Consequently, it’s not that we’re not interested in dating the nice guy; it’s just that this guy isn’t triggering our past (which is almost always good!).
I felt “home” with so many men I had met. But these men either abandoned me, ghosted me, or weren’t interested in committing to me. Now let’s read this again: “but these men either abandoned me, ghosted me, or weren’t interested in committing to me.”
You got it right. I struggled with fear of abandonment for most of my life. I struggled with self-worth. I struggled with finding a lover who wanted to stay. But the moment I linked my fears, struggles, and traumas to my choice of my partners was the moment I broke the dysfunctional pattern of dating.
That moment was the exact moment I started feeling safe and “home” with my husband.
That was when I knew it was okay to be with someone who doesn’t feel familiar in the first few seconds.