Why Do Good Girls Fall For Bad Boys?

Sandra Bullock is just the latest celebrity to get hurt because of her poor choice in men. Here, a psychologist explains why women like Bullock are attracted to the wrong guys.
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Why Do Good Girls Fall For
Bad Boys?

Sandra Bullock is just the latest celebrity to get hurt because of her poor choice in men. Here, a psychologist explains why women like Bullock are attracted to the wrong guys – and how she, and others like her, can get over them and move on.

-Libby Keatinge

Why do Good Girls like Bad Guys?

In the wake of the Sandra Bullock/Jesse James cheating scandal and swirling divorce rumors, we can’t help but ask – especially given James’ tattoos, chopper-loving ways and porn star ex – how did she not see the signs that he was a Bad Boy? Or is that exactly what made her fall in love with him in the first place? Sadly, Bullock has now joined the list of other seemingly good girls who have made a beeline for boys your mother probably told you to run away from. So why do the Sandras, Siennas, Britneys and Rihannas of the world latch onto guys who are all kinds of trouble?

In fact, what might be red flags for some women, are the precise things others swoon for. As Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Morris Halperin explains, “It’s just like someone who wants an exotic animal as a pet. They actually think these guys will change their traits and be good to them.”

Dr. Halperin goes on to explain that this thinking is “actually a bit of a delusion,” as many of these women believe they are special and can be “the one” to control these wild animals. “It’s slightly egotistical behavior,” he says. “It’s out of touch with reality that they think, ‘I’m different. I can dance with this monster and control it.’ The reality is, you can’t have a tiger as a pet and control it.”

Read Why Good Guys Love Bad Girls

Bullock is not the first woman who thought she could tame a wild animal. When Britney Spears saw a broke backup dancer with a pregnant girlfriend, the pop star fell head over heels and thought she could keep Kevin Federline in line, marrying him and having two kids with him before divorcing after two years of marriage, in 2006. Holly Madison is a two-time bad boy offender. Despite Hugh Hefner’s openly polygamous lifestyle, Madison was vocal about wanting to marry the Playboy mogul and have babies with him. After her relationship with Hef ended, she moved on to another guy with a reputation as a player, illusionist Criss Angel. She broke up with him after dating for four months, in early 2009.

So why are some women so attracted to the wrong men? “What’s behind this is a need for control and excitement,” says Halperin. OK, but what to do if you have a pal who suffers from a Bad Boy Addiction – or if you’re an addict yourself?


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40 thoughts on “Why Do Good Girls Fall For Bad Boys?

  1. PiNKgirl says:

    Oh yes … story of my life. Haha

  2. amber_gurl says:

    Thank God I haven’t ever been, but, my brother in law is dating a crazy witch woman! He’s so sweet too and it brakes my heart for him. I wish he’d read this article, I think the self esteem thing really comes into play with him even though he’s a really handsome guy.

  3. citymouse says:

    Celebrities…they really ARE just like us!!

  4. Athirson says:

    Attraction has nothing to do with self esteem, unless you want to advance the argument that 90+ percent of women have low self esteem. Accept the fact that you’re attracted to bad boys. Why ask why? It is a dumb question. If you’re attracted to bad boys, you simply have to decide whether or not to resist the impulse to get with them.

  5. uptowngirl says:

    I disagree, Athirson. I think there is a relationship between self-esteem and the people we are attracted to. People tend to attract the kind of people they think they deserve. It’s definitely not a conscious thing, and I don’t think it works this way all the time, but I do think if you’re in a relationship with someone who treats you poorly, you have to consider why you are there, and realize that you do deserve to be treated better. I also think there’s a difference between a guy with a bad boy or rebellious image and a guy who treats you badly. I’ve known them both, and I’m so over the Jesse James/Tiger Woods types!

  6. jessica03 says:

    i can totally relate to this. Attraction is always a number one factor, but usually its the game that they spit on us. We as girls get caught on to that “a-game”.

  7. Lokifan says:

    Uh, openly polygamous /= cheating. Or being a ‘bad boy’, for that matter.

  8. clasifyd1 says:

    oh bad boys, i love & hate them.

  9. greenbean says:

    I have a success story to tell. I’ve always liked bad boys, and, I admit, I had many relationships that didn’t work out, but this time, I’ve hit gold. My “bad” boy and I have had a wonderful relationship for many years now, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

  10. nenita29 says:

    in my teen years i had a friend that i wanted to date but because many reasons we just get didn’t hit it off. and then when i got older i knew not to look for a bad boy because i didn’t want to be limited visitation. and then because i knew i wanted a family i didn’t want to see my children misbehaving. but bad boys can be very sexy

  11. CelebsInDisgrace says:

    you nail the whys– and Sandra is the symbol for all good girls screwed over by the bad boy; more on Sandra-gate, see:
    http://is.gd/4FVB9

  12. Genny0910 says:

    Bad Boys will never change they can be with a wonderful women who loves and takes care of them for many years and act like they’ve change then all of a sudden you found out he got your best friend pregnant(

  13. jessica03 says:

    I gotta admit though, bad boys are hot!

  14. zes57 says:

    Yah, the story of my life too. The most current one has mellowed since we met and is really not a bad boy anymore….except for cheating…. he broke my heart and I cant seem to forgive him although hes been good (so far) since then. He made me so happy and now he’s not good for me. life aint it grand?

  15. zes57 says:

    have to say one more thing, the psych in the article doesnt know all she thinks she does. Its all about the chemistry not poor-self-esteme. You can end up with the latter but the former is what drives you there. and I agree bad boy image and being treated baddly are indeed two differentl things….

  16. Whenrockysmiles says:

    Personally,I think Dr. Halperin is sheer genius. His theories and analysis are spot on and overwhelmingly insightful. He must be a pretty smart man :)

  17. Bubs360 says:

    Oh, blah, blah blah. Seriously, you women are all the same. Constantly talking about how there aren’t any nice guys out there. What do you do when you find yourself confronted with a nice guy? You know, the kind of nice guy that would provide a stable relationship? You string him along, accept his gifts and affection, then start dating an abusive jerk and rub it in the nice guy’s face. Why? Because that’s what you women do. There is no reason or logic behind it.

    Love and relationships are all just mind games. The reason that nice guys finish last is because they are not in tune with the mind games that women require in order to stay with a man. A man has to constantly belittle and crush a woman’s self esteem, because that’s what creates the “bad boy” image that women so desperately crave.

    It’s sad to say that this will never change. Jerks are displaying the “alpha male” traits and that’s the type of man that will ALWAYS win the woman’s heart.

  18. BrainyBarbie says:

    Although I will admit to always dating “bad boys” or athletes (one in the same really), I learned after my now EX of 5yrs & living together that they are the ones with low self esteem. They “act” the way they do, b/c deep down, they don’t like themselves, so in turn, they put you down & try to make you feel bad about yourself so they don’t LOSE you (esp if you have more than them…financially, educationally, anything) to some guy that can provide what they know they will never be able to. I agree with Bubs360 in some ways, it’s all mind games, some of us eventually have enough and want anyone BUT one of these losers. In my case, sadly (and embarrassing to say), it took many trips to the ER, broken bones and total disrespect (no, not cheating) for me to finally walk away for good. I had to move, change my # and email and he still, after 9mos., has found out how to reach me and wont give up.

    Please ladies…take it from someone who is an ex-model with a MBA, don’t fall for the slick sales talk, the manipulation, the shadiness & lies. They know what they’re doing and are incapable of loving anyone but THEMSELVES. Most bad boys are sociopaths.

  19. angie13865 says:

    I fell for a bad boy once. He cheated on me with his ex. And then 3 months later tried to get me back. And being stupid I cheated on my fiance with him. I would never do it again. Thank god he forgave me. The only reason I wanted him was because he told me what I wanted to hear. But when I realized that he was nothing but a lier I was done with him for good.

  20. BrainyBarbie says:

    oh and to clarify, I was with him for 5yrs…and ended it just 9months ago…it was just 2 days ago, I was STILL getting email and texts. Ya know, the “i’ve changed and love you so much, I will die without you, please take me back, I lost my girl and best friend”…it’s tough, but I ignore them all. Once you have time alone & think about it, ALL of it…you lose any connection or love you felt you had for them. I replaced it with anger and hate, at him and at myself, for being stupid enough to waste 5yrs of my life with a useless junkie and abuser

  21. SMrtnbutaful says:

    I would have to agree fully in what is being said. Ive dated bad boys and good ones. Ive noticed I physically lose interest in the good ones. The sexual attraction to the Bad boys is aweful alluring. Ive wasted 6 yrs with one and two kids later. He still wont let go and move on, so i find it very diffecult not to compare and think about him after 3 and half yrs broken up. I wish i could just never see him again, but the kids make it impossible. Any suggestions on how to move on fully and still share kids between you. I actually worry about what he will think of the guys i date. And it is self esteem totally. Ive never felt real confident in myself, when young i never knew i was beautiful. I need to move on before my daughter learns to make these same mistakes too.

  22. greenpanic6 says:

    i like bad boys because they have qualties i look for like rebel, cofident, adventrus, and exciting up for anything

  23. monamona says:

    Not buying the self-esteem argument. Girls are attracted to “manly” men and/or guys with something they want (money or power) – it just so happens that those guys tend to be a–h—s.

  24. sherribaby says:

    Girls just wanna have fun. Just dont marry one =)

  25. bookworm23 says:

    yea i should write my bad boy story, i was the nerdy bookworm and of course he was the guy every girl wanted. but he fell for me and vice verse, even though we arent together now, a bad boy can change for the better, and still keep that image without beign bad

  26. sweetheart7 says:

    I just got my heart broken by one. Completely in love with him, and I am crushed. This has been a pattern in my life and I’m 35. I’m afraid I’ll never feel this way about another man again (since it’s been about 10 yrs since I last did). I’ve got so many wonderful qualities, but none of it was good enough for him I guess.

  27. Para says:

    I`m repulsed by bad boys.
    I just dated one bad boy because he got me free entries and drinks at parties,I also cheated on him and ridiculed him in front of his friends.I didn`t even broke up to him,I just *vanished* and didn`t answer his calls & emails.2 months later he started dating another girl.I found out that he talked to her about me ALL the time:D

  28. tschoff85 says:

    My bad boy is good now…we’ve been together several years and he hasn’t had a “relapse”… he says he’s too old to handle more than me…he was wild as a teenager enough for himself and our 2 boys…no problems with bad boys here.

  29. tooshie says:

    i like bad boys and girls cos they have balls.
    i am a good girl but i have balls.
    and yes it is possible to strike gold.
    i haven't yet and not really trying but u never know.

  30. tooshie says:

    i like bad boys and girls cos they have balls.
    i am a good girl but i have balls.
    and yes it is possible to strike gold.
    i haven’t yet and not really trying but u never know.

  31. james says:

    women actually compete with other women so they are challenged to go after bad boys knowing that they are harder to handle and it gives them more satisfaction when they are able to handle the bad boys they win. but in the long run the bad boys will still become bad. I dont think women who get bad boys are pitiful coz its the challenge and extra satisfaction that they wanted to get in the first place.

  32. babyry says:

    love those bad boys, love ‘em I tell you. My Daddy was a former bboy and I don’t think there was a better father ever to have fertilized an egg. Never thought about it but it could very well be the reason I have been attracted to them my entire life. Got engaged to my bad boy husband a week after we met and married him six months latter. Every Bad Boy enthusist dream, I know. Do I think he will cheat on me, I hope not, but the straight as an arrow types cheat too and they don’t have sexy tatoo sleeves.
    btw-the men in my life are the “rebel”, tatooed, with toes just over the law abiding line type of bad boys. NOT the dangerous, violent, std spreading buttheads who will probibly die in prison at an early age-thats a whole other class of bboy and the mentally ill women who love them but not themselves.

  33. honeywest says:

    I fell for a B Boy 19 years ago. We were in both into our addiction and at first it was getting high,having fun and we saw others but we wound up ending the day together. I decide to get my act together and have been clean 6 years. I still cared for him even though he still used. Then one day, in my 4th year of soberity, he up and left and moved to another part of the state with his Gfriend from 19 years ago! I was torn ot pieces!! I havd never been so lonely and hurt in my life. We have 2 kids together so he continued to stay in touch. But to know he was living and sleeping with her depressed the hell out of me. He is currently in jail for a charge he had been ducking for over 20 yrs!! Now, who do you think he calls and depends on? Yeah me. And I like a fool still writes him, has send him money and accepts his calls. I know he still wants to return to where he was, but in my sick mind, I want him to come back. He still talks of drinking and coming here to spend time with his kids, but I know me and I will be destroyed if he leaves. I have a decent job, a nice home, my kids wants really for nothing, and it’s all MY doing. He hasn’t done sh%#!! I feel I can’t get anyone else. I have just given up. I’m in my mid 50′s, and I am a good person. Why can’t I just walk away or at least accept the fact he is a B boy, no rotten boy, and I can do a hell of a lot better?

  34. krissy22 says:

    uhhmm, i can actually relate to this article because i think i fell in love with a “bad boy” type of guy and still falling for him :) we’ve been together for almost 2 years now and fortunately, i think he haven’t cheated on me ever since we’ve dated..it’s true that once you fall for a bad guy, you silently hope that you’ll be the one to tame the tiger, just like i did.. i dont know if i succeeded in taming my man, but he changed a lot for me.. not totally of course, and i dont want that to happen coz he will not be HIM anymore if he’ll changed totally..whenever i asked him why he follows everything that i tell him, he’ll just tell me that “i may still be hard headed sometimes and tell you a few lies, but ill never cheat on you..because i know that once ill cheat u, you will leave me and i would never want that to happen..” others may say that he’s just fooling me, but in my heart i know he’s telling the truth.. i know the feeling of being cheated coz my father cheated on us several times already.so when i met him i told him everything about it, what my fears and weaknesses are,, everything.. and so honest of him to tell me about his past.. about all the girls he has cheated before..but i still fell for him.. cant help it..and i know i took a risk for this relationship but i honestly don’t have any regrets of my decision.. why? its because even though Ive cried a million times already in this relationship, nothing beats the happiness i feel whenever im with him.. and he’s the first man I’ve ever allowed to enter my life..
    Yes its true that its really hard to trust these type of men, but believe me.. love still exists in these kind of people..you just have to believe in them.. forgive them as possible as you can..accept them for what they are and have faith in your relationship..
    in my case, im taking good care of our relationship so God will see how much i treasure and love this person..and maybe.. just maybe he’ll gibe him to me forever…

  35. caveman6666 says:

    I am the bad boy and I have to let you know that you are wrong. I have been with my girlfriend for 16 yrs now and I see no end or the problems that you fortell. I took her from an abusive husband and have given her all the love in my heart, there is no hitting here we sit down at the table over a cup of coffee and talk it out. IT WORKS Yes a’m special I am a three time violent offender 4 times in prison and I’m proud of it. So where do you stand what are your secret desires? I have tought her to stand on her two feet and make her own discisions, and now she is very HAPPY signed The Bad Boy

  36. wildchild says:

    I loved all my bad boys, even though it took awhile, I learned every thing I didn’t want in a relationship. I now have the man I always wanted and didn’t know it. And he is a GOOD BOY!!! I love it !!!!!

  37. BrainyBarbie says:

    wildchild, hell yea! good for you ;) I’ve had bad boys all my life and (as previously posted) ditched the ultimate one 9mos ago after 5yrs togther. He was a user, a liar, a junkie, a fake and anyone that is delusional enough to think these typers change, deserve exactly what their precious “bad boys” give them. Yes, they’re are two specific types of bad boys for sure. One is maybe inked up, wild, more fun than you can imagine, usually good looking and great flirts, making you feel like the world with their words. BUT the other type, which who knows if Type 1 would eventually fall into this…is a criminal, violent, egotistical with like or nothing to offer. No MONEY, no car (probably due to multiple DUI’s), no home, no credit and YOU end up taking care of them…for what? These guys don’t “sit & talk it out”, they think they deserve everything and get enraged when someone dares tell them NO. They brag about how many ppl they have nearly killed in fights and will never accomplish anything other than their extensive criminal record (their idea of a resume). I dealt with enough of them, and I’d take a good guy with an edge who is loyal and Im able to believe whatever comes out of his mouth. My past bad boys, I wouldn’t trust to the front door. Dont be fools….you’ll live to regret it and waste many, many years

  38. bis4bre88 says:

    ya i love the bad boy type to i dont know why it is just like an instant attraction

  39. Bubs360 says:

    I love how you women go on talking about how awful “bad boys” are, and yet many of you are basically saying that nice guys are pathetic.

    Do any of you ever actually figure out what you want?

  40. shyguy-sdwyz8 says:

    THE ANSWER I HAVE WAITING ON MY WHOLE LIFE! LOL

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