If we start out going for the bad girl, are we destined to toss aside good girls later in life?

If we start out going for the bad girl, are we destined to toss aside good girls later in life?

I am biting my lip, surrounded by UConn fans in a packed basketball stadium.

I find myself watching the women’s basketball final four amidst thousands of other fans in the city I used to call home. As I watch on in angst as my dear Huskies (Washington, not UConn) turnover the ball over and over again, I spot a man with his two young daughters, hands full of popcorn, making his way to their seats.

My high school boyfriend. I consider jumping up to say hello as it occurs to me that we went to dinner once just down the street from where I now sit with my girlfriend. But after a second look I realize it’s not him. Mark. That was his name, the first boy I ever dated, who I went to prom with my freshman year. He was gentlemanly, shy, and to my amazement, always seemed shocked that I wanted to date him.

He treated me with respect, admiration, and a sweet charm that I thought only happened in Nicholas Sparks movies. And so naturally, after a few months of dating, I dumped him. In my defense, I have no recollection of why, but I’m certain it had something to do with my confusion over why this sweet, handsome, smart person would be interested in me. This was the kick off to my official dating lifeand the beginning of my tendency to date people (first men, then eventually women once I came out) who were vaguely disinterested in me.

In undergrad, I broke up with a nice boy who lived on my coed honors floor and treated me like a princess for another boy who lived a few dorms over and could never seem to find time to hang out but plenty of time to argue on the phone about why he was too busy to see me.

A few years later, I avoided a nice girl because I was more interested in the girl with the big smile who would later cheat on me with her ex. Years later, I became the bad egg when I cheated on a nice girl with a girl who had previously cheated on two other women. Yeah. Saying I had a pattern of turning away from nice and healthy and towards troubled and drama is a huge understatement. Tracing this pattern this way leaves me feeling embarrassed.

With a determination only life’s hardest lessons can bring, I set out to understand this pattern of gravitating towards women who were only mildly interested towards kind, well-adjusted, interested in me women.

In the process, I learned a few things about myself.

I was attracted to the familiar.

It was never her swagger that drew me in, even though I swore it at the time, it was the confidence with which she flirted, and my deep knowing that she was unattainable. It was the impossible that was familiargrowing up in a house dividedby moving every year, by divorce, by remarriages and conflicting rules. Stability and attention were always just out of reach it seemed.

I confused challenge for passion.

When a girl seemed not all that interested, something about it was compelling to me. I’d play the flirting game and somehow wind up with her. But after a few years, games grow old, and who wants to be with someone you have to constantly chase after to keep her attention?

I didn’t know my own value.

Underneath everything was a steady undercurrent belief that said I didn’t really deserve the kind of girl who could see me and appreciate me for me. I unknowingly turned away from the relationships that would have been fulfilling, rewarding and healthy because I thought those relationships were for other (i.e., “better) people.

It wasn’t until I examined my own worth that I began to shift away from vaguely disinterested girls toward more compatible women. I learned that the first person I’m drawn to is the last person I should date. These days, I’m more interested in the quiet girls who have depth and confidence in who they are.

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