After Nearly 20 Years, I’m Finally Ready To Kick My Bad Boy Habit

I don’t seek out bad men. I just see the good in them, sometimes where very little good exists.

I don’t like saying I have a bad boy problem, even though that’s totally what it is, because “bad” implies someone sexy, badass, and cool. "A Rebel Without A Cause" type of dude. James Dean on a motorbike poutin' atcha. I’ve gone there too, but generally, the “bad boys” I’ve dated are none of those things.

Many of the men I’ve dated weren’t bad because of troubled pasts or being from wrong side of the tracks, nor were they bad because of long hair, motorcycles and tattoos, or illegal activity, risky behavior, being a musician, et cetera.

They were bad because they treated me bad.

It’s not that they’re all deep, troubled souls waiting to torture mine with their inability to truly love or feel things, it’s that, for whatever reason, whether they’re just not that into me, or they get off of assholery.

Unfortunately, the fact that I can correctly identify I have a problem falling for these types of unavailable, unworthy jackasses hasn’t kept me from doing so. Over and over again, I continually seek out the same messed up, one-sided relationship where I give everything, and get very little in return.

I’m completely, 100 percent at fault for not learning the lesson. My best friend Megan knows this all too well. I almost stop myself from telling her every time I start dating someone I have an iffy feeling about because I’m waiting for her to be like, “Seriously, Carla, stop. Just stop.” That’s what I’d say to me.

Somewhere along the line, I acquired a martyr’s heart and you can bet your rosary I’m going to blame that directly on the CC. Being raised in the Catholic Church is the ultimate in guilt trip indoctrination. That magical, hot rock star of a man who lived his life and died for you is a never-ending well of culpability. Feel bad about everything, all the sins, all the time. Forever and ever. Amen.

It would cheapen my life experiences to chalk my dating missteps up to a “bad boy problem.” I don’t seek out bad men. I just see the good in them, sometimes where very little good exists.

Because of that, I’ve let myself be used, lied to, cheated on, ignored, yelled at and mistreated. I start every new romance with the naïve enthusiasm of Liza Minnelli’s “Maybe This Time,” only to be let down when this time doesn’t pan out.

The jig is up. I’m a grown ass woman now. I know how to apply eye makeup, so why can’t I apply some dating rules to my life?

A lot of reasons.

I watched my parents struggle in their relationship growing up. I saw a man with all the power and a woman with none of it. She was beautiful, accommodating and servant-like. He was strong and good, but saddled with job pressure and his own 19th-century ideas of what marriage is. He called the shots, and she dodged them when she could. My sister and I were stuck in the middle, in between the fights and the yelling, the emotional trauma and the dysfunctional communication.

I got into a terrible relationship in my early 20s that lasted four years, in part to get away from my family and their cycle of abuse and dysfunction, but the inadvertent lessons I learned from observing them are hardwired.

It’s not their fault, especially at this point. I’m just acknowledging where some of my relationship issues come from. Both of my parents have made great strides in their own lives and in their relationship and I’m incredibly proud of them. Who I’m not proud of, is myself. Because at the end of the day, it’s me I’m letting down by continuing to date undeserving men. It’s my own heart I’m breaking.

I’m writing this now because I want off of this crazy train.

I moved to New York in May and casually started dating a man I’ll call Dick. I really liked him. He was sweet, and we had a lot of fun when we were together, but he totally ignored me when we were apart, and for long stretches of time.

“This isn’t how dating goes, right?” I said to my thinking self. “Yeah, but you like him, so maybe stick it out,” my silly heart answered back.

I realized I was Dick’s booty call pretty early on, but it didn’t stop me from earnestly hoping that it might develop into something more. That happens, sometimes, right?

Once, when we were lying in bed together, I noticed Tinder notifications kept popping up on his phone. I didn’t know what Tinder was at the time, but something about it seemed weird. I later found out that it’s a dating app used mainly to have casual sex with people in your vicinity.

Of course I joined it to see how it all worked and it was totally creeped out. Call me old fashioned, but if swiping someone’s picture right or left for “Yes I will have the sex with you” or “No I will not do sex with you” is what dating is in 2013, then, Ciccone, out. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. Fuck you, Tinder.

But back to the more pressing issue… bro was checking on other casual sex prospects while sleeping with me. He didn’t even bother to hide it.

Still, I came when he called, despite it hurting to do so. My need for any attention from him trumped what should have been a much bigger need for respectful attention.

My favorite Maya Angelou quote that I totally believe and have so far ignored is: “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” It’s Oprah’s favorite Maya teaching, too. She says, “That’s the one principle that really resonates. If you can just get that, you can do okay.”

I really want to get it. I do get it. I just have a hard time accepting it.

If you start dating a dude and he doesn’t call you back for two weeks, or he checks Tinder while next to you, or says something off-color that makes a little alarm go off in your smart girl head, but your dumb girl heart is like, “Shhhhhhh! I like him,” please remember Maya’s quote.

And if you, like me, can’t keep your heart locked in an emotional compartment separate from your vagina, then do not pass go sexually with a dude who troubles your head for one second.

I am not capable of being a booty call because I only ever sleep with men I like, and if I like them, I also like to convince myself that this booty call thing might be something more than what it is.

Men don’t change just because I want them to. I GET IT (now).

I’m serious about reforming my messed up dating ways. I changed Dick’s name in my phone to, “DANGER!!!” to be reminded of his bad news ways whenever he calls or texts.

I listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “I’ll Work For Your Love,” where he sings, “What others will want for free, I’ll work for your love,” and am like, this is what we deserve, this is what everyone deserves.

I’ve read Mandy’s article on dating grown ass men about 50 times in an attempt to program a new idea in my head and heart of what a man should be like in order to be considered in the boyfriend running.

I’m not putting myself through this bad boy rehab because I’m done with love, quite the opposite. I absolutely love love. In fact, my second favorite Maya Angelou quote is, “Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”

I do. I will. But next time, it’ll have to be with someone who deserves me.

Do you have any bad boy rehab tips?