THE BLOG
10/07/2011 05:45 pm ET Updated Dec 05, 2011

Why Good Women Date Bad Guys

One of the unexplainable mysteries of life, like what happens when we die, or what gluten is made of, is why perfectly nice women like bad guys. It is a phenomenon so common it has become cliché, but the frequency of examples does not make the reasoning any more obvious. What is the bond that ties together women who spend their lives chasing after men who aren't good to them?

Although it is easy to blame men, I don't think that it's fair to hold them exclusively responsible. A wise fortune cookie once told me that "people will treat you how you allow them to treat you..." or maybe it was a tea bag? Forget the fact that I follow the philosophies printed on or in my food and ponder the possibility that some women are more attracted to men who treat them poorly.

Often these same women have perfectly nice guys who are interested in them, yet are relegated to the dreaded role of "friend." Something about someone being considerate and knowing your middle name just isn't as sexy as that guy who often ignores you telling you he is not looking for a relationship, then sleeping with you on the couch of his buddy's apartment. For some reason, the guy who acts like he has something better going is the one who is worthy of obsession.

It would be easy to chalk everything up to daddy issues and poor self-esteem, but what woman doesn't have some conflict with her father or occasionally doubt her worth? In fact, show me a human that doesn't sometimes hate his dad or himself, and I will show you a sculpture of the face of God made from unicorn horns. Part of the human condition is learning how to reconcile the complexity of loving ourselves and forgiving our parents for all of the personal imperfections we blame on them.

The origin of this good woman / bad guy psychology, I think, is twofold. It involves an attraction to the alpha male archetype and and addiction to the drama they cause. Now, not all alpha males treat their women like cave dwellers, but the ones who think they have something to prove mostly do. Often, a dominant male personality is concealing deep insecurities, and overcompensates to make himself seem more powerful than he feels. A man like this usually can be described as "emotionally unavailable" -- paradoxically making him more seductive.

There is an evolutionary, primal aspect to all relationships. The pursuer and the pursued. If the woman pursues the alpha male, he doesn't experience the challenge of the hunt, and gets bored. He knows he has all the power in the relationship, and when a guy knows she isn't going anywhere, it can dampen his passion. The woman needs to be pursued. The guy has to think he likes her a little bit more so as to keep his interest in this monogamy-based culture.

Here is where the addiction factors in.

The drama of pursuing someone you cannot have is very consuming. You will think about him all day, talk to your friends about him incessantly, and then think about him some more. If all your mental energy is being devoured, you end up being completely distracted from dealing with yourself. The internal drama becomes a monologue in your mind, inhibiting you from becoming a whole person. If you have a dormant talent that you are too afraid to pursue, or personal emotional problems you have yet to work through, spending your time trying to impress a guy is going to keep you from ever facing these key elements of your life. Maybe women who chase unavailable men are just as afraid of intimacy because they are hiding from who they really are.

So the woman often ends up becoming a martyr in order to "change" the man she loves. But you can't change someone else. Only they can change themselves, and you will never inspire change by being someone's doormat or emotional punching bag. The only way a man will ever change for you is if he loses you and is trying to win you back. Otherwise, he is going to be the same jerk you let sleep with you last night.

So if you find yourself fighting for a relationship that is not worthy of your commitment, ask yourself, Why? What am I running from? Maybe you had dreams that never had the courage to actualize? Or perhaps you are still healing from the pain of your past? Maybe it is easier to mother a man-child than you own inner child, propping up the ego of his ambitions rather than pushing the potential of your own passions. Rather than wasting your life on the commotion of a toxic relationship, deal with whatever is holding you back from loving yourself, and become the person who knows she deserves better. As a wise cereal box once told me, "You have the vagina. You have all the power. Don't give it away." Oh wait ... maybe it said something about needing more fiber. Anyway, you get the point.