Saying Goodbye to the Bad Boys & Gaining Back Your Self-Love

self-love, bad boys, relationships, confidence, women empowerment, girlboss, lifestyle, dating, dating advice, motivation, motivational mondays, inspiration, health, healthy, couples, partner, weddings

Now ladies, most of us have been there, and if not personally than we know a friend who has fallen for that bad boy in the past (or even recently). And despite knowing they’re poison, we still drink them up like a fine wine. Time and time again, we are in a mental battle that roughly goes like this:

I want you. I need you. What the fu*k was I thinking?

Even your friends tell you he’s an idiot, and if you’re like me, you’re the biggest idiot because you repeat this cycle more than once.

I wised up eventually, but it didn’t happen the way I thought it would – which was by meeting a good guy. One that killed me with consistency, honesty, dates, flowers, and all the things I deserved, making me forget the other assholes that came before.  Truth is, I didn’t need anyone to “show” me what I’d been missing.  By exploring my relationship patterns, I saw I was using bad boys to compensate for what was lacking in my own life.  A lot of the qualities I was continually attracted to were the ones I wished for myself.  That’s when I set out to cultivate these traits instead of seeking them.

Essentially, I became a “bad girl” – but on my own terms – and when this happened, I stopped looking outside myself for that elusive edge.

I evaluated a man objectively as a potential partner, instead of being captivated by his bad boy charm.  It was not a romantic process of being won over by a “good guy,” but rather an empowering one that has made a more interesting person out of me.  If you’re a “good girl” who finds herself constantly frustrated by her “bad boy” tendencies, get honest with yourself and consider the following:

You lack confidence.

Bad boys are typically assholes, and assholes get the girl.  Besides the plight of many a friendzoned, it’s also your misfortune because you’re the girl who ends up falling for the asshole.  Why?  Because he has confidence.  These guys know they’re going to “get” you. And you love it.  I’m not advocating settling for a pansy or downplaying the importance of confidence in a mate.  But I am saying that once you develop your own high level of self-assuredness, you won’t stand to be treated anything less than royalty.  When I started thinking and speaking positively about myself, a funny thing happened.  I began treating myself really well because I deserved it.  If you had only one of something – and that thing is beautiful, smart, funny, and creative – how would you care for it?  You’d nurture the sh*it out of right?  Well, that something – or someone – is YOU.  By loving from a place of self-love, asshole behavior is simply not tolerated anymore.  Obsess over treating yourself well, and you’ll find someone who is obsessed with you – which is what a queen like you deserves.

You care too much about what other people think.

I dated someone who honestly did not give a shit what other people thought of him. Because of this, some of his behavior was embarrassing; but some of it was pretty awesome because he took risks where others would not.  And it was attractive … until I learned he also did not give a shit about me.  He didn’t care about hurting my feelings. However, from him I learned how to speak up for myself. Partially because he was always shitting on my writing and I needed to stand up for my work, and also by studying how he addressed others, myself included.  I took from this relationship clarity and conviction of my own path, but substituted his selfishness with my compassion.  By quieting the noise of others, I was free to be more myself and attract those that fit my wavelength – which guess what, are NOT bad boys.

You’re not following your passions.

A lot of people – women especially – get caught up in “helping” their significant other reach their full potential and become a “better” person.  Let me tell you, that does not work.  It only does if your mate is willing on his or her own, and even then, you’re in for a hard road.  I find that loving someone “as is” works best.  Think of it is an expensive article of clothing.  You wouldn’t pay bookoo dollars for something that needs to be altered anyway.  For that kind of money, it should fit perfectly.  With relationships, you are paying in time and love – the most valuable currencies of all.  I’ve been guilty of bending over backwards to play muse to a moody artist or inspire a struggling entrepreneur.  Though they were interesting and cool, they weren’t always great matches for me. I had to ask myself why?

It turns out I wasn’t so in love with them, but more in love with their potential.  That was a hard truth because it meant I wasn’t actually living up to my own potential.

Instead of pushing myself, I was pushing them – which is never a good dynamic for a couple.  By pursuing my own neglected passions, I became the talent instead of trying to date it.  Now, when I meet someone whose work I admire, I may be awed by their aptitude, but no longer confuse it for compatibility or character.

Self-exploration has been the most empowering way for me to finally break this toxic cycle.  Once you embody the qualities you are so taken with, you’re not as awestruck by the “bad boy” because the persona is familiar to you.  It IS you.

  • Robin Rue

    I have definitely made some mistakes along the way, but if I hadn’t, I never would have ended up where I am now – with the perfect man.

    • Kristen Lem

      Super happy for you (:

  • Jessica Taylor

    I can relate to this so much. I am so much more confident with myself now that I have been single for three years. I learned self-love which I couldn’t do before.

    • Kristen Lem

      So glad that you had this valuable ME TIME and some self-love out of it … you deserve it!

  • I’ve had a relationship like this before. The worst part was that he’d tell me he loved me all the time, then I found out he had a girlfriend and she was pregnant.

  • Jenn Goggin

    I think most of us have had one of these whether we want to admit it or forget it. Having 2 daughters make me dread them dating jerks in the future

  • I think that all of us have gone through different types of guys until we found the right on for us. What is always important is not to forget about who we are and don’t compromise in that.

    • Kristen Lem

      So so true Joanna

  • Pooja Mitra

    This speaks my heart. I was in such a relationship till I realized it was just about him. I was so caught up with supporting his needs that I could not see my potential. After break up I got time to think about myself and start my own blog and I feel liberated. Thanks for sharing. I feel powerful.

    • Kristen Lem

      Thank you Pooja .. and you ARE powerful!

  • I love this post so much. I dated several “bad boys” and looking back I still wonder what I was thinking… But it was like they were a drug to me. I was able to break this cycle though, but it can be so hard to do that.

    • Kristen Lem

      It sure can be. So glad you liked this post and have broken that cycle – you deserve it!

  • Kathy Ramsey Myers

    I am sharing this with my daughter. She seems like she is finally over this stage, but I want to make sure. Great read, and so important!

    • Kristen Lem

      Thanks Kathy ! Hope your daughter enjoys it.

  • Brown Sugar

    I think you are so right when you say that we date “bad boys” because we see their potential. That is a woman’s gift and curse.

    • Kristen Lem

      Ooo well said Brown Sugar

  • tara pittman

    It is hard to make this realization. Why do we love the “bad boys” so much.

  • Such a great post! I’ve been in a couple of relationships with bad boys. It took me years to FINALLY figure out I deserve so much more than that.

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • Kristen Lem

      Glad you’re out and have figured it out (:

  • This is great. I never had the patience for bad boys. I always went for the nerds because I demanded respect. My friend always went for the bad boys and was always in tears. I didn’t get it.

    • Kristen Lem

      You’re definitely wiser than me! Glad you didn’t need to go through the process and knew your worth early on.

  • Arena Owais

    This is awesome! I often think of how people who are attracted to the “bad boy” want the “bad boy” to change into someone good.

    • Kristen Lem

      It’s so tragically true sometimes…

  • The funny part is that it’s so easy to lose yourself but so hard to find yourself again. There’s a quote from Rupaul that rings so true, “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?” You need to know yourself before you can find and appreciate the “good person”.

  • Alison Rost

    The times when I’ve had to re-gain my self love have been some of the sweetest for me. They are the seasons I’ve started living new lives and I look back on them with sweet fondness

    • Kristen Lem

      Great to hear that!

  • Thanks for such an honest, personal post that’s filled with great advice! I love how introspective you are. Love this post. <3

    Jenn Wang

    • Kristen Lem

      Thanks so much Jenn! Your blog is wonderful – love those outfits (;

  • Chloe Ranford

    Such an great article. This is something I feel we all need to read and learn from.

    • Kristen Lem

      Thanks so much Chloe!

  • Erin Rose Maycroft

    Darn those bad boys. It was a long road but I figured it out eventually 😉

    • Kristen Lem

      Haha yes damn them. But so happy for YOU !

  • Alyssa Kolsky Hertzig

    i wish I had had this post years ago! went through my share of bad boys until i finally found a nice (and good!) one! 🙂

    • Kristen Lem

      Ahhh so glad for you Alyssa (:

  • Shannon Marie

    OMG yes! It’s like you described my teenage/college me perfectly! This will be so helpful to lots of girls. Those bad boys are so fun.. until they’re not. Then they’re really not.

    • Kristen Lem

      You summed it up perfectly!

  • Anmaria Djong

    It took me a while too to wise up. I guess we all learn from our experience to figure out who’s the one that’s best for us. I am glad I met the nice guy who become my husband now..after wasting years of my youth with those bad one who treat me so badly.

    • Kristen Lem

      I am so glad for you too !

  • David Elliott

    I never really thought about ending up with someone was about seeking personality traits that I felt were lacking in myself. This is definitely food for thought. I will have to think about this for a little while. I do get the lack of self confidence part. I was told that we marry the people that are most like the parent we have unresolved issues with. I found it astonishing, but it’s true more than I would like to admit.

    • Kristen Lem

      I’ve heard that too ! That is totally possibility. We don’t always seek in others traits we wish for ourselves, but in this instance, it has been my own personal experience.

  • Carrie Chady Rundhaug

    I dated a bad boy in high school but then I met my husband and he was the perfect boy for me and since has been the perfect man for me. I am so glad I ditched the bad boy long ago!

    • Kristen Lem

      I’m glad for you too!

  • Jason Gill

    Really nice writeup Kristen. I think there’s something to learn for everyone, from this. 🙂

    • Kristen Lem

      Thank you so much Jason!

  • I have a friend who should totally read this post… She can’t let go of few toxic people in her life :/
    ♥ xoxo My Life as Foteini/ Foteini Karagianni ♥

    • Kristen Lem

      Don’t we all !

  • My daughter needs to read this post and I’m sending her the link. She’s such a beautiful and confident young lady but she chooses bad guys over decent guys every time.

    • Kristen Lem

      I hope your daughter enjoys the article! She’s so lucky to have a mom that thinks so wonderfully of her.

  • Rahul Khurana

    A really great post. We need more women like you in this world who think of good guys too. 😉 Enjoyed reading the message you wanted to convey to other women.

    • Kristen Lem

      Thanks so much Rahul !

  • That’s something that I can relate with. It’s good to learn how to love yourself and love yourself first instead of focusing your emotions towards boys.

  • Erica Crawford-Terry

    This is an awesome post! 13 years ago I said ‘Bye’ to the bad boys and met my husband about 6 months later. We’re going on our 12 year anniversary now and life is good! Ladies, if you’re on the fence about taking this advice, do it! It’s so worth it.

    • Kristen Lem

      I am so happy when I read things like this Erica! So glad for you and your non-bad boy hubby (:

  • Loving yourself is so important, especially after and duriing a breakup. If you can not loev you right, how can you expect someone else too.

    • Kristen Lem


  • Brittany Daoud

    Thanks for sharing this, it is so hard to love yourself sometimes. But you can’t give love if you don’t already love yourself, so it’s so important!

    • Kristen Lem

      You’re welcome! And you are so right on girl.

  • This brought back so many memories of when I did the same… chased the wrong guys and tried to “save them.” The only thing I did was dig myself into a hole, and I was never happy.

    • Kristen Lem

      I hope you are feeling these better these days !

  • Chloe

    There was one “bad guy” that I was with for many years and I am SO glad I saw the light and got out of there. It was a very hard road though, and it definitely changed me as a person

    • Kristen Lem

      I am glad for you too (:

  • Crizzy Kiss

    What if the “bad boy” totally changed because of you? Lol. I enjoyed reading your post, I’m glad you learned from your experience and empowered yourself. Everyone deserves to be happy and free.

    • Kristen Lem

      That would be awesome! But I’ve yet to experience that (and probably never will to be honest)

  • Elena Stevkovska

    Well, I think that everything that happens to you teaches you something. Being with a bad boy will maybe teach you to love and appreciate yourself more!

    • Kristen Lem

      I couldn’t agree more !

  • erin fesperman

    I love this! I am totally the girl you mentioned in this post. It takes a lot to realize that the problem lies within yourself and like you said, it’s simply you (or me or whoever) that isn’t living up to our potential!

    • Kristen Lem

      Thank you so much for the kind words!!

  • This is great advice and an awesome reminder of our own self-worth. I have a few people that I need to share this with.

    • Kristen Lem

      So glad you liked this and thank you for the kind words. I hope you will share!

  • Melanie Edjourian

    We change with age. I used to worry more about what others think but not quite so much now. I think as you gradually increase your self confidence this becomes the case.

    • Kristen Lem


  • I have fallen for a few guys because of the ‘potential’ that I see they may have. Yes, I agree…that does not work at all. Luckily, I wasn’t with any of them for too long.

    • Kristen Lem

      Good! I’m glad for you too

  • Yeu Doi

    Great post. Cheryl Sanders advised women similarly in a recent article. The nerds are great people too!

    • Kristen Lem

      Oo thank you for the kind words. I’ll have to check it out (and hells yaas to the nerds!)

  • Nay Mattis

    Totally get the concept of falling for potential.
    Never ends happily.

    • Kristen Lem

      UGH don’t I know it girl

  • Donna

    Love this so much! It’s great to try and garner self- awareness at every stage in your life so you can move on with more purpose and be so much happier x

    • Kristen Lem

      So glad you enjoyed this !

  • Thanks a lot for your invaluable insight and sharing your personal experiences! I can relate to you dating someone because you saw a potential in them, it’s often easy to overlook what is really important in a relationship. It’s crazy how girls fall for the ‘bad boy’ type too.

    • Kristen Lem

      Isn’t it though?! Crazy how our judgement can be so clouded by that perceived “edge”

  • Oh man I wasted about 5 years of my life dating terrible men. Eventually you learn to respect yourself before dating again. I met my future husband later in the game but hes absolutely perfect for me.

    • Kristen Lem

      Yay! So happy for you (: Congrats to you and your hubby

  • Frosted Events

    Such a great story I love reading this and so glad that you share this with it has similar to the true story

    • Kristen Lem

      Glad you enjoyed reading it !

  • This is such a great read! I use to say that I was confident and it wasn’t until I crashing into a crap relationship turned marriage that I realized I really wasn’t that confident… and hence my train of destructive relationships… wait is it me?

    • Kristen Lem

      So weird how relationships tend to point out the things we need to work most one. I hope you are doing better these days!

  • Crystal Gareau

    I think sometimes we just don’t know what it is that we need and we tend to chase after the ones we want. This was a great article to read.

    • Kristen Lem

      UGH so true, hate that. I’m so glad you enjoyed this read (:

  • Angela Zimsky

    I dated many bad boys in my early 20’s. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized that all men aren’t douchebags.

    • Kristen Lem

      Yesss ! So happy for you (: (: Congrats to you and your hubby

  • Dusica

    I think that all of us must have at least one bad boy in our life.They teach us that we decide to what we want not. 🙂

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