Cindy was smitten with her new boyfriend, Evan. They met at church, and he had many of the qualities she had dreamed of in a man. Except for one thing: his reputation as the “life of the party.”
Evan liked to visit a local sports bar and relax with his old college buddies, which Cindy didn’t mind. The only times it really bothered her was when he occasionally went overboard and wound up intoxicated.
Whenever Cindy brought up his drinking, Evan agreed with her concerns, promised to quit, and told her not to worry about it. She hoped her affection would give him the incentive to mature into a better man. As they dated, she prayed for his improvement, gave him motivational tapes, and urged him to think of God and their future when he was faced with the temptation to drink.
Evan appreciated Cindy’s support, and after 10 months of dating, he asked her to marry him. He still had occasional setbacks with alcohol, but they were less frequent than before. Cindy thought her love had changed him forever.
Soon after their engagement, Evan’s real estate business began to falter. Under stress, he started to work longer hours, and frequently stopped by the sports bar on his way home. He swore to Cindy that he was just talking with his friends. One night, she received a call from the police. Evan was arrested for drunk driving. Cindy was devastated. She thought Evan had changed. Instead, his unresolved habits resurfaced and shattered her heart.
Cindy’s story is a common one among Christian single women of all ages. Sincere Christian women often will ignore the nice Christian guys and instead pursue relationships with the “bad boys.” Some ladies even find that they're only attracted to the rebels. So why does this happen?
Before answering that, I think I need to explain what I mean when I say “bad boy.”
A bad boy is a man who is outwardly attractive, but he’s unwilling to offer sacrificial love in a relationship. And he’s too immature and preoccupied with himself to share genuine compassion, concern, or acceptance. He might exhibit the following behavior: lying, aloofness, irresponsible dreaming, fear of commitment, sexual promiscuity, addiction to substances or pornography, selfishness, hunger for power, and disinterest in surrendering to God. (I could go on, but you get the idea.)
He’s not someone who’s interested in true love, because that requires consistent sacrifice. A bad boy will only sacrifice for someone if it’s convenient for him or if he gets something in return. He expects the woman to do most of the giving, while he ignores her needs or takes advantage of her.
So after all that, why do women find themselves attracted to these kinds of guys?
1. "I can fix him."
Some women allow their nurturing instinct to seep into their love lives. They view bad boys as projects, or as people they can fix. A woman might acknowledge that her boyfriend has character flaws, but thinks she can help him mature or overcome his problems. And it makes sense, really: helping a man “grow up” can play into someone’s sense of significance.
If a woman comes from an abusive background, she may not be able to identify someone with good character. She might even subconsciously think that marrying a bad boy can erase her past pain.
The truth is, it’s impossible to “fix” anyone. A man might fake integrity over the short-term, but he will only mature when he makes the decision himself.
If a woman thinks a bad boy’s character flaws won’t affect her, she’s just fooling herself. Though she might believe she’s insulated from the consequences of his dishonesty, addictions, or immaturity, she’s usually the person who winds up suffering the most hurt. She may hang onto the relationship, thinking her sacrifice will encourage him to improve. But it’s likely she’ll find that a few months later, his abusive behavior has destroyed her self-esteem and has drained the life out of her.
2. "He pursued me."
Bad boys tend to be more assertive than the nice guys. Since most women want a man to pursue them, it’s really nice when it actually happens. Plus, a bad boy seems like he has drive and purpose, an attractive trait to say the least. Some single Christian women complain that they’re sick of Christian men being too passive and non-adventurous; “nice guys” wait too long to initiate relationships, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere in life.
And these women make a good point! There are a lot of Christian men out there who are too scared of rejection to ask a woman on a date. Or they’re too nervous to follow their dreams or the desires that God has placed in their heart. In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldridge says, “When all is said and done, I think most men in the church believe that God put them on earth to be a good boy…. That’s what we hold up as models of Christian maturity: Really Nice Guys. The answer is simply this: We have not invited a man to live from his deep heart.”
(Nice guys, take note: follow those inner desires! You’ll come alive.)
Good girls date bad boys. But dating a guy with poor character, even if he pursues you, still equals a poor relationship.
Ladies, this does not mean that you should date a man who is boring. On the contrary, date a guy who captivates you. But take the time to discern that man’s character before you give him your heart.
3. "He’s really exciting."
Our society glamorizes the bad boy attitude. Just look at some of the most popular celebrities (James Franco, Adam Levine, Robert Downey Jr., John Mayer, etc.) Bad boys draw attention to themselves, and their popularity or playful personality is really attractive. The notoriety of dating a bad boy can play into a woman’s need for acceptance and significance. What some women don’t realize, though, is that by associating with a notorious person, they can tarnish their personal reputation. If people don’t respect your boyfriend, they will have a hard time respecting you.
Bad boys may be fun, but the party never lasts. He may shower you with compliments, attention, and excitement, but the moment you cease to keep him happy, he will lose interest in you. Soon, he’s off looking for another woman to indulge his selfish heart.
Break the Bad Boy Cycle
So how can a “good girl” avoid dating a bad boy? The key lies in understanding your identity in Jesus. Don’t define yourself by whether or not you have a boyfriend, because Jesus is the only Person who offers the unconditional acceptance that your heart craves. Your true identity is a beautiful, celebrated, daughter of God (Isaiah 62:3-4).
The affection of a bad boy is always performance-based. Jesus sacrificed His life to love you without expecting anything in return. Your desire to feel cherished and complete can only be met by Christ (Colossians 2:10).
Human relationships only experience intimacy when both people sacrifice for each other. By definition, a bad boy is unwilling to offer you sacrificial love. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are immune to his lack of integrity. You must be willing to walk away from a man who is unwilling to sacrifice for your needs.
Only Jesus can change someone, and it generally takes years to see real improvement. Change is possible, but a man must be willing to surrender himself to God and take action. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” A man’s ability to love a woman is only found in the life that Jesus offers to live through Him. A real man knows that he can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15:5). Therefore, ladies, reserve your heart for a guy who will rely upon Christ to love you.
Bad boys may be more common than men with character, but waiting for a man with integrity is worth it. So kiss the bad boys goodbye, and say hello to true love in Christ!