Once upon a time I fell in love with a bad boy and he broke my heart. It is the story of every girl. It is the story of me.
At the time, it didn’t occur to me that he wasn’t a nice guy. I was stuck in my own rebellious stage of being not nice and so I was attracted to that. I was attracted to him physically and it was so exciting for someone to finally notice me. I was, in hindsight, the perfect pray for the good looking guy who needed a vulnerable girl to put down to make himself feel better. But, in my eyes, he was cool. He was aloof and it made me want more. He gave just enough to keep me hanging on and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to receive his attention.
Isn’t that how the story goes?
Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t a horrible person. The bad guys are rarely awful. They’re just not quite good enough and this was true for him. He was selfish, he was a coward, he was a quitter. He played the victim and refused to take responsibility for his own life. All in all, he was immature and, I think, that most assholes simply suffer from a lack of adulthood. Some of them even beat it, given enough time.
As the story goes, I married that asshole, still not quite able to see that he wasn’t a knight in shining armor or even the type of man who would ever be willing to fight for my love. No, I wound up doing the fighting for both of us and, despite the fact that everyone who actually cared about me had their doubts, I married him.
No wonder it all came crashing down around me. No wonder he escaped unscathed and I bore the brunt of the divorce.
It’s an even greater wonder that, even after the cheating, during the separation, through the fighting and the insults and the blatant disregard for my feelings, despite how quickly he walked away from us, that I remained in love with him. I remained committed when I received the divorce papers, when he moved out, as I moved 1500 miles across the country and even after the judge declared us legally divorced. For a while, I told my friends that, should the opportunity every arise, I wanted them to remind me of the vow I made when I married him. I loved that bad guy so much.
I look back, now, and wonder how I had the strength to fight for someone that much. I am amazed at my commitment and, more than that, bowled over by the fact that I felt so strongly toward such a weak person. Even incredibly smart goes can fall for the asshole, I guess.
When I decided to enter the world of dating, I was unsure. My self image was still skewed from years of living with – and loving – a bad guy. I remember one time, in particular, when someone called me “nice.” I was so confused that someone could think that about me that I had to check with my friends. Was I really nice? Could this be true? My ex had me convinced that I was a horrible person; something that I now recognize as a defense mechanism because he lacked the ability to deal with his own (perceived) shortcomings.
As I began to accept the fact that, yes, maybe I was nice among other things, as I rebuilt my self confidence and started seeing a different person in the mirror – a person who I finally felt was worthwhile – I also came to the conclusion that I was worth someone who would value me because I was intelligent and funny and, yes, nice. Not just because I had a great rack and was sexual. I began thinking that maybe I could stand to be picky.
I began figuring out just what it was I wanted in a partner. I contemplated personality traits and values that would aid compatibility and facilitate commitment. I can’t lie; physical appearance has always had its place high on my list but no longer would I content myself with a good looking asshole. There had to be depth, too.
Soon, I was excited at the possibilities, the unknown that had scared me so much before. One possibility stood out above them all: the possibility that I would meet a nice guy who would appreciate all my quirks, respect my intelligence and value me as a human being. He would make me feel special because he wanted me to know he cared; I wouldn’t feel special just because he took the time to look at me. It wasn’t a turning point but a gradual change. One day, I simply realized that I was no longer interested in the bad boy. That maybe the sex had been exciting at first but even that had become less of a payoff over time.
Instead, I found myself genuinely excited at the idea of meeting a nice guy. I wasn’t afraid I was going to have to settle. I was looking forward to meeting a man and building a relationship on mutual respect and affection without trying to break one another down on a daily basis. I wanted a more fulfilling relationship that I would never have to defend to my friends and family. The exact opposite of what had once attracted me was now making my heart beat faster. Normalcy, vanilla were beginning to look so much more appealing. No longer did I simply want the guy that I was always afraid to lose to make myself feel better. No, I wanted someone who would appreciate what I always was so we could feel good together. I wanted the hopeless romantic, a dork like myself with quirks, someone genuine and even awkward at times.
So I began the search for a nice guy. I knew he had to exist. I knew because a friend had recently resurfaced in my life and had proven himself to be a nice guy. If he was real, other nice guys had to be, too. That search has been rewarding. I have met nice guys. I have made wonderful friends and, on the good days, my heart still beats faster as I contemplate the excitement of finding Mr. Right (again).
Every now and again, I hear someone wonder out loud why the girls, even the smart ones, fall for the wrong guys. I understand why they do; I’m a living example of the cliché but, now, I understand why the nice guy is really the more exciting option. The potential, the promise, the possibilities are endless and the nice guy does it all without playing games or putting you down.