Bad boys. They’re exciting. Unpredictable. Full of masculine swagger and often brimming with sexual confidence. The young ones usually easily identified by a trail of broken hearts and plethora of tattoos. But as people grow and mature, many trade-in an obviously Don Juan persona for something less threatening and more conventional. Without fail, not a week will go by without the media launching another news cycle on a seemingly “average” family man who was leading a double life.
As many of us come to know (the hard way), a bad boy’s behavior isn’t tamed by marriage or business success. If anything, the façade of normalcy affords them in many cases the ability to be even more “bad.” Domesticity can be an illusion. Predictability in one’s daily routine doesn’t necessarily equate to the same in one’s internal life.
There have been more times than I care to remember where I caught myself blindsided by the “bad” behavior of a man that I really, really wanted to believe was good. Most of the time, the writing was on the wall from the start. But in my insistence to maintain the illusion that he was “the One”, little signs were glossed over or rationalized in an effort to keep my happily ever after dreams intact.
I’m not the only woman who has loved 'too much,' or given too much of myself. Indeed, many of us are taught that sacrifice and self-abnegation are ideal feminine character traits. Recovery from a historical attraction to bad boys is going to require you to regularly engage in some pretty honest conversations with yourself about potential partners. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, but from personal experience there are some basic rules to follow that can help protect you from a propensity towards self-denial.
- The greatest predictor of a person’s future behavior is their past behavior. It ain’t the past if it happened six months ago.” If your new flame just quit drinking three months ago, or tells you that they’ve never been faithful before – hit the brakes. Focus on the friendship and allow them to show you that they’ve really changed. Take things slow, unless you’re dying to play a game of “sober coach” or become collateral damage in his hunt for new sexual experiences.
- No exceptions. It is not only foolish, but arrogant to think that things will be different with you. Yes, you are loving and great in bed and could give his momma a run for the money in the kitchen. But no matter how much you want to believe this to be true, the purity of your love isn’t going to change a bad boys (or anyone else’s) behavior. That is something that comes from within. And usually as a result of having to live with the consequences of poor choices.
- Birds of a feather do flock together. Common interests and values are what bond people together, both socially and professionally. If your mate runs with a crew of boys whose main form of recreation is chasing women, don’t fool yourself into thinking that he’s trying to show his friends the error of their ways. It’s not impossible, but chances are he’s chasing right along with them. If all his friends are unscrupulous, he’s more than likely to be, too.
- How you do one thing is how you do everything. Does he lie to other people? Are his business practices a little shiesty? Does he always put his needs before other people? Character is demonstrated in a million little ways each day. If they lie to them, they’ll lie to you. If he cheats them out of money, he’ll cheat you. If he always helps himself first when at dinner at his parents, he’ll do the same with you.
Look, I realize that people have issues…people screw up. Just because you’ve made mistakes in the past, it doesn’t mean you’ll make the same ones in the future. As the popular saying goes, “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” Personal growth and evolution are possible; however, the key to knowing if someone is really reformed or just running the okey doke is time. Relationships and people have to unfold over time. And if you’re prone to falling for the one you shouldn’t, it’s especially important to take things slow.
Of course, there is no surefire way to protect yourself…relationships all come with their inherent risks. But you can increase the likelihood that you won’t end up a relationship casualty if you make a commitment to loving yourself and the truth first.
Sil Lai Abrams is a writer, inspirational speaker, anti-domestic violence activist, Ebony.com’s relationship expert, and founder of TruthInReality.org. You can follow her on Twitter: @sil_lai and connect with her on Facebook. Want her advice? Email SilLai@ebony.com to have your love questions answered in a future column!