I’ve Dated Nothing But Bad Guys & I’m Over It — Here’s What I Learned

If there was an award for having dated the largest selection of bad guys, I would win it (sorry, Rihanna). From the cheats and the addicts to the plain jerks, my dating resume is littered with all the bad guys I allowed to waste my valuable time in my 20s — but I’m finally done.

Those jerks are drama magnets. Bad boys are always in the middle of drama — they thrive on it. I’m done with running after guys who get into road rage incidents (you try running in heels after a night of dancing) and done with guys who give waiters a nasty lecture (how many times can a girl find sufficient face coverage behind spinach leaves)? I never liked that sort of drama anyway, but I put up with it. For what, I don’t have a clue.

Bad boys are glamorous on TV but have the potential for ridicule in real life. They’re leather jacket-wearing guys with brooding eyes and the subject of Lana del Rey songs that make you want to go out and find a “tough guy” of your own. But in real life, I discovered their mystery became a fancy word for deception and I got annoyed with their real leather jackets because I’m against animal cruelty. As for those brooding eyes, I wanted to ask them: is there something in your eye or are you frowning because you have a forehead cramp?

Dating them was bad for my health. Bad guys should come with a health warning: take in small doses. They were exciting and fun when I kept them at arm’s length, but once they crept into my life and heart, they brought nothing but trouble. Mainly my emotional well-being took numerous hits because I was tormented by all the 3 a.m. fights when they’d go AWOL or hit on another woman in front of me. I felt like I was going crazy trying to figure them out when they didn’t even know how to figure themselves out. Damn. I wasted so much time — years, in fact — on their crap.

Their rule-breaking became childish. Sure, there’s something exciting about a guy who doesn’t play by the rules and takes chances. The guy who pitched up at my door late at night even though I wouldn’t talk to him because he missed me (with the catch that he was totally high as a kite) might have seemed romantic, but nah. The older I got, the more I wanted something sober. Plus, a guy who can’t stand up straight while trying to declare his undying love… yeah, that was funny when you were 16. As a 28-year-old man, it’s embarrassing.

I got tired of being a fixer. Something my string of bad boy exes had in common: they were projects. They all had something wrong with them, whether it was a drug or booze problem or the inability to commit. And I thought, “Hey, I’ll totally fix them!” Okay, so maybe I was bored and needed some drama or an ego stroke from doing something wonderful like changing someone’s life. Some of the bad boys told me how badly they wanted to change, and damn it I believed them. Yeah, maybe I’ve watched too many stupid rom-coms. The point is that I quit being a fixer because guess what? No one can fix another person. In relationships I don’t want to feel like the architect on the boyfriend version of Extreme Makeover. Too much work and the house never gets built because the builder (AKA the bad boy) won’t carry a brick.

They made me bad. Okay, so I didn’t pick up a prescription drug problem or lose jobs like socks, but being involved with bad boys did make me less of who I was. I remember once looking at myself in the mirror after a sleepless night when my ex went “missing” (code for enjoying one of his disappearing acts). My skin and eyes were dull. I looked a wreck. I didn’t have a booze problem, but it sure looked like I could. I was lying to friends and family about what was going on because I was ashamed. I felt crappy inside and out. That’s not what relationships are supposed to be like!

The charm was an act. Bad boys would reel me in because they were so charming, but that charm whittled away to nothing behind closed doors. They couldn’t make me a priority because they were full of drama and only had time for themselves. So I spent many dinners miserably eating my food while listening to the bad boy in my life go on about his dramas. I never got a chance to speak about my life, my goals, my dreams. I bet those bad boys even forgot I was there. One couldn’t even spell my name after five months of dating me. Screw that. I wanted to be a priority but didn’t feel I deserved to be — why else would I have stayed? Thanks to dating all those bad guys, I realized the hard way that I deserved nothing less.

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