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Take It From Me: Dating Bad Boys Won't Teach You Self-Love

Playing pretend is fun, but it's just a distraction from what's below the surface. I have to be OK on my own terms if I want to be happy, and so do you.

06/22/2017 13:28 EDT | Updated 06/23/2017 12:04 EDT

I was listening to John Mayer the other day (thanks Spotify for the random playlists that really just get me), and I thought, "I don't care how many Hollywood broads he's bedded -- this guy's voice is dreamy."

Then I acknowledged the fact that yes, this is a guy I would have been drawn to in my 20s: an edgy bad boy who would have given me just enough attention to leave me wanting more.

Because I'm one of those chicks who used to be all about the bad boys.

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I loathe the term associated with that scene, "daddy issues." Because if we're going to minimize a woman and her struggles stemming from her issues with her father, we should acknowledge that men have the same problems. It's become a way to shuffle women into a less-than category -- a way to label them as f***ed up, but still acknowledge that they are victims of neglect. All with a sprinkle of condescension and unkindness.

"Hey, I know you suffered, but I don't want compassion to give you a big head so let's give your issues an insulting label." It's lame AF.

I used to use the term daddy issues myself, back when I was in the self-loathing zone. But now I'm of the mindset that the words we use are powerful, and being impeccable with our word is paramount to health and wellness (thanks, The Four Agreements). So I pay close attention to the words that leave my lips these days.

Today I refer to daddy issues as "Not Enough Love Syndrome." My research, self-reflection and life experience has proven that when kids aren't given enough love, they suffer. Badly.

You can take a kid with all the abilities, talents and opportunities in the world, and they can and will choose cocaine over it all if they weren't given appropriate doses of love.

Take me for example. I was infatuated with self-righteous egotists who were incapable of kindness.

If a parent isn't capable or willing to model healthy self-love, their child isn't going to know how to love themselves. So they'll try to fill the void in other ways. This is how people become addicts. When you're depressed and sad, you want to feel good. Addictions fix that emptiness pretty damn quickly. And even though the repercussions can be debilitating, when you're desperate you'll do it all for the dopamine.

And then we have the parents who helped create the scenario, judging and dismissing ownership. "My kid is f***** up," they say, forgetting the fact that kids learn everything from the actions and belief systems handed down to them from their parents.

Ask a dog trainer why a dog a bites, and they'll tell you it's picking up on the owner's aggression. And yes, I'm saying we are like dogs. We are connected to every living thing on the planet. The longer we ignore that truth the more we and the entire planet suffer.

Now that I've lost half the audience (Hi, pessimism! I was wondering where you went!) let's go back to John Mayer. I don't know him from a hole in the ground, save for what the tabloids and Taylor Swift has not-so-elusively said. But the media has painted him as the quintessential womanizer, and women who lack self-love adore that type.

Take me for example. I was infatuated with self-righteous egotists who were incapable of kindness. I wanted their attention, with the problem being that I couldn't keep it. The confident, sophisticated part I played was a very thin ruse, and a millimeter below the surface I was broken. As soon as I felt a tiny bit of connection, the desperation bubbled over and the truth would reveal itself. I was broken.

SilviaJansen via Getty Images

Not many guys think it's fun or sexy to be broken. They like pretty, strong and confident women, all of which are impossible to attain full-time. You can have the most amazing life, but you'll still have moments where you feel like a shell of a human. No amount of contouring will erase that fact.

Which is why I think women are so obsessed with beauty. It's a wonderful distraction, to make yourself pretty, even though ugly feelings are haunting you.

Don't get me wrong -- I love makeup. But I also love myself enough to know that a three-in-one contouring stick won't show me how to love myself. And neither will seeking validation from some jerk-ish bad boy. I have to be OK on my own terms if I want to be happy, and so do you.

Questioning the motives that underlie my actions has been so valuable. Please try it.

Through the years I've learned to analyze my motivations, both past and present. I've asked myself, "Why did you really want that <person/thing>? What was the motivation?" And here are some answers:

"Because if I can get him to like me, it will prove that I'm important and lovable."

"Because if I use that contouring stick people will think I'm pretty, and I'll feel temporarily superior which will boost my self-esteem."

"Because a thought made me feel bad and that thing/person's approval will make me feel better, albeit temporarily."

Questioning the motives that underlie my actions has been so valuable. Please try it. Get a notebook and start being your own shrink. The answers you need are already there, you just need to do some self-reflecting. If you are honest with yourself I promise you, your life is going to change in incredible ways.

It's not easy to crack open the vault, but once you understand why you chased so many bad boys and bought so many contouring sticks, you'll open the door to self-love and healing. And there's some amazing stuff on the other side of that.

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