Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

Cohow-to-be-a-bad-boynfirmed: The lure and attraction of the “bad boy” does not disappear post-divorce. Or past the age of 40. Or even when you’re smart (read: experienced enough) to know that absolutely nothing good comes from an attraction to bad boys.

Damn it.

I had a date last week with a bad boy who may very well have written the book on how to be a bad boy. Brad was a hottie-hot-hot 45-year-old who was equal parts charming, sexy and handsome. He was funny–oh my lord, he was hysterical. And his smile could melt a room of Russian ice queens in a New York second. I was in a puddle the instant he flashed his pearly whites. He also ran a successful contracting business, was father to an adorable 8-year-old and had a body to rival most 25-year-olds.

Now for the bad part.

He had a long history of violence and had served jail time on several occasions for beating the shit out of people. His last fight, he told me, was at a bar in San Francisco five years ago when he punched a guy out cold for crowding him while he was trying to order a drink. “So, really, it’s been a long time since I got violent,” he said. Right. Comforting.

He had a history of cheating. He’d dated a married woman for a while and didn’t have a twinge of remorse about it. And during his last relationship with his son’s mother? “I had a girl on the side for a few years,” he told me, with about the same tone most people would use to say, “I had shredded wheat for breakfast this morning.” Disturbingly nonchalant.

He had slept with “tons of broads” in his lifetime and, while he was slowing down now at the ripe old age of 45, he was certainly not against hook-ups and meaningless sex–usually with women 10 to 15 years younger. I learned all of this on our first date.

Clearly I had “I (heart) bad boys” written all over my face and he could sense my attraction to men with a dark side–why else would he think it would be okay to divulge all of this so quickly? I, on the other hand, dished about my 20 years of marriage, four children and extremely suburban lifestyle. Bow chicka wow wow. Pretty sure I got him super hard with all that sexy talk.

So we hung out, swapped war stories, drank a few drinks and generally flirted for a few hours at a classy bar until we shut the place down and then had to decide, what do we do next? Call it a night? Go somewhere else? Head back to my place just 10 minutes away?

My place?! Did I say “my place?” Psssshhh. Whatever – I would never invite a man with a history of violence, cheating and hundreds of hook-ups back to my place, especially not on a first date. Until I did.

bad-boy-looks I know. Don’t judge. I’ve already judged myself enough for the both of us. Yes, I invited him back, yes, I said, “I’m not hooking up with you,” and yes, he said, “Okay, baby, I get it,” while clearly not getting it.

There was a raging battle in my mind at this point, with an angel on one shoulder saying, “Sweet baby Jesus, run!” and that ornery little devil whispering, “But he’s so hot and very nice and . . . that smile, though.” Truth be told, the damn devil won and we headed to my house.

The lure of the bad boy was alive and kicking and completely overtook my good judgment. If you are cursed with an attraction to bad boys, you know how overpowering it can be. Thankfully, nothing bad happened with this particular bad boy. We opened a bottle of wine, played with my dog (that’s not a euphemism, it was seriously my dog), sat on the couch and had a nice conversation. It got to be midnight and since he lived 30 minutes away and we both had to work the next day, he kissed me good night and left – no violence, no sex, no hint of anything bad or dangerous. But it’s not lost on me that I took a bit of a risk, and this man is clearly not good dating/boyfriend/even hook-up material.

Here’s the success part of the story: I woke up the next day knowing I wouldn’t see him again. He texted; I responded once politely but not again. He may ask for a second date; I will say no. And the initial attraction? It’s all but gone and has been replaced with a mild repulsion. I can’t and won’t date a professed bully and cheater, no matter how much his smile lights up a room. This, my friends, is success because there was a time in my life when, not only would I have seen him again, but I would have been (by now) head over dysfunctional heels completely infatuated with His Royal Bad-Boyness.

The lure may still be there, but my heart has bad-boy battle scars that remind me of this: The initial excitement is always and ultimately replaced by pain . . . and I believe that I’ve reached my lifetime capacity for bad boy-induced pain. I’m claiming victory on this one, regardless of the fact that I let my guard down and flirted with danger for a few hours. At least I sobered up, wised up and now I have my guard up.

And sometimes it’s the small victories that make the biggest impact on how healthy our choices and relationships are–including our relationship with ourselves. Cheers to being good to us.


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