We’ve all been through a time in our lives when we dated – or wanted to date – a bad boy. Even if you consider yourself to be a bad boy, you probably have dated one. From his physical features to his aggressive personality, there is something that makes him so hard to resist. Whether it’s a family trait you picked up or the attraction of the opposite personality, something in you always wanted to know what it was like.
Say you get your wish and you end up dating one. You quickly move through the honeymoon phase and eventually you become their target and, surprisingly, are mistreated multiple times. You tolerated his actions when directed toward other people, but it becomes scary when you become “other people.” You stick with it for a long time because, in some way, you feel you could change him once he begins to understand how his actions affect you. Then the relationships ends with you heartbroken and defeated because you thought you could change him.
After the breakup, you two have a few encounters. You maybe even get back together, but it ends with you heartbroken once more. But after the heartbreak, you realize this bad boy you were holding on to is never going to change for you or anyone else. He is who he is, and content with the lifestyle he lives, no matter how destructive it may be.
I came to that realization when I was a teenager.
I met this man when I was 16 and he was 21 – let’s call him Derrick. We met on my birthday and we became a couple the very next day. I was attracted to this guy because he was the total opposite of me. I was this shy, conservative high school boy whose daily routine included doing research for school, playing video games and listening to James Blunt, Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz. Meanwhile, Derrick was this loud, tattooed, outspoken, saggy pants-wearing man who was all about selling drugs, clubbing and listening to hip-hop music. It was too hard for me not to avoid this guy.
For the first few months, Derrick treated me like a trophy wife. I would leave school and meet him downtown, and he would show me the finer side of New Orleans. He was ready to buy me anything I wanted, but I declined multiple times because I’m not a materialistic person. On top of that, we had a great, active sex life. It was a good few months.
Then the happy times ended when I saw the real Derrick. He introduced me to his friends, who were instantly turned off by me, likely because of my appearance and level of intelligence, neither of which I was about to compromise to fit in. Every single one of them judged me because I was so different from them. Not only that, but they raised their eyebrows at Derrick; he had a reputation for dating more “hood boys,” and that wasn’t me.
One day, Derrick told me to change everything about me because I was ruining his reputation. I instantly knew what he meant, and being young and naïve to the bad boy lifestyle I did exactly what he asked. I started wearing clothes that were twice my size and sagging my pants. I was using the N-word profusely. Derrick got me involved in threesomes and foursomes and more-somes. All of this, and we were “together” barely for two months.
That eventually led to our first breakup. I hated myself for a while for compromising myself for him. I’m not a thug and will never be one; I’m too much of a peaceful, shy, conservative person to ever be a bad boy. Whenever I did something bad, my conscience would eat me alive.
When I found myself again and found my independence, Derrick came back into my life. Shockingly but unsurprisingly, I took him back, and our relationship lasted for another two months. It was short-lived because Derrick was always upset with me, partly because he realized he couldn’t control me anymore. He couldn’t manipulate me into following him blindly like before. I was my own person and wasn’t going to let a man control me that way again. He came to the conclusion that it was time to move on, and did so by cheating on me with one of his sex buddies.
It was years before I saw him again, and in that time I stopped holding on to that hope he would accept me entirely and that I could change him. We had a tiny reunion when I saw him in the mall, holding hands with a teenager. I could tell by looking at them that they were dating. It shocked me that he was in his late twenties and still going after teenage boys. It reminded me of how he got me.
In that moment, I came to the realization that some bad boys will never change. Try as you might, but it’s never going to work. They are aware of who they are and not going to change for anyone. Through all of this, I learned that you can’t look for validation and acceptance in your partner if you don’t accept yourself.