We've all seen the sweet girl with the jerk boyfriend.
He’s buried in his phone, while she starves for his attention. His wandering eye follows a strange woman pass, while she pretends like she doesn’t notice.
He drops a condescending remark, and she shakes it off.
"Why does she put up with that?" our brains chatter in confusion. "She deserves better."
Let’s be real: Every woman in that situation deserves better. No woman deserves to be hurt, degraded or mistreated.
And as a good girl who has fallen for, and stayed with, the wrong guy — not once, not twice, but three times — I can tell you we see exactly what you see.
We see it, however, with a filter of optimism, love and naivety. And that filter skews our judgment and alters our perception of reality, our desires and ourselves.
And so, we stay. Here are the reasons why:
1. We think they can be fixed.
As good people, we gravitate toward those who need help.
They're the stray puppies, the homeless, underprivileged children and last but certainly not least, broken men.
But just like an adopted puppy whose anxieties of fear and abandonment fog its capacity to love unconditionally, some guys cannot be fixed with love and compassion.
The worst part? We really think we can change them. And our desire to fix the guys who hurt us time and time again, becomes our favorite — and most toxic — addiction.
We think we become their soft spots. We believe we can break them out of their hard exteriors, peel back the layers and provide them with the warmth and comfort we think they need and have been lacking.
For the most part, they know exactly how to play along and to play us. They make us feel like we’re making progress.
And just when we think we’ve finally changed them for the better, they do something that makes us realize they haven’t changed at all.
But still, we have false hope.
And that false hope strings us along every single time.
Next time, we tell ourselves, it’ll be different. Next time, we tell ourselves, he’s going to realize he needs to change.
And so, we wait it out. We cannot accept some people just don’t want to be saved.
2. We refuse to be wrong about them.
Similar to thinking they can change, we refuse to admit they’re inherently wrong for us.
We come up with excuses for their behavior. We lie to our family and friends about how they treat us.
We convince ourselves that their flaws are not flaws at all, but rather just acceptable notions of human nature.
We change our standards, abandon all expectations and force ourselves to believe we like the way they act.
And so eventually, we become numb to their behaviors.
Lies become a fluent language. Avoidance becomes second nature. Rationalizing lowered expectations seems normal.
And worst of all, our love and happiness takes a backseat to the desire to be right about their ability to change.
We handle each day like a battle in a never-ending war. But, we never become braver; we never become wiser. We never retreat.
3. Our kindness and naivety blinds us from the truth.
Good girls love, and they love deeply, honestly and always with forgiveness.
We look past the tainted track records, the rumors and the advice from our family and friends. Instead, we look for the best in people and tell ourselves, "He wouldn’t hurt me; he loves me."
We focus on the (few and far between) positives, the promises and the amazing make up sex we don’t even realize is happening way too frequently.
When you’re a good girl dating the wrong guy, you never for a moment think he's wrong for you, or that he would hurt you.
And if these guys do, we rationalize it, shake it off or blame ourselves for their “out of character” behaviors.
Even though we’re the ones being hurt, the thought of standing up for ourselves and maybe hurting them makes us stay.
4. We believe too much in serendipity, and not enough in soul mates.
Good girls are completely in awe of the idea of serendipity. Sure, meeting your soul mate is awesome, but imagine if you met your soulmate in the most unexpected way.
Now that’s a romance to be written.
Oh, the naivety.
I met one of my boyfriends the summer before my freshman year of college at a hair salon. He was getting his haircut; I was the receptionist. While, at the time, love had to wait, we reconnected four years later.
Our chemistry was intense. So, I had my mind set on the notion that since we met on such a random occasion, and crossed paths again a few years later, he had to be the one for me.
I thought, "This is fate."
That serendipity was the defining moment in my he’s-the-one-for-me thought process.
I tossed aside behavioral characteristics I didn’t like, completely ignored the fact that I hated his career choice and, worst of all, let myself change into a completely different person just to fit the mold of his life.
I believed this random romance was thrown into my life for a reason.
5. We suffer from a severe case of rosy retrospection.
We remember the flowers, the late-night cuddling sessions and Netflix binges, the make up sex and that one time in the past three years he did something nice for us.
And we hold on to that one nice thing through every day we’re sad. If he hurt us, we don’t remember it, but we never forget the one time he did something sweet.
And this kind of thinking is completely distorted and unhealthy, but we see it as normal because, as good girls, we look for the best in people and in every situation.
We can’t view the once-a-year flowers as a character flaw.
6. Somewhere along the way, we forgot what we deserved.
As "Perks of Being a Wallflower" taught us, we accept the love we think we deserve.
Someone, somewhere along the way, changed our thinking, devalued our worth and made us feel as though the only kind of love we deserved was the kind that ripped us apart at the seams like a rag doll.
I’ve been a rag doll. Most good girls have allowed themselves to be one at least once.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it's that hindsight is always 20/20.
And even though we may always look for the best in people, at the end of the day, we also can tell the difference between a good person and the wrong person.
And so, we don’t stay forever. This kind of love is temporary, and the poison always wears off.