Straight Talk Advice

Why is male swag so irresistible?

Jun 16, 2015

Obsession over bad boy comes out of nowhere

Dear Straight Talk: I’ve been dating this boy for a year and five months and we are in a happy relationship. I love him very much and wouldn’t think of breaking up. But suddenly, with no warning or past history, I got feelings for this guy I don't talk to anymore due to him being very jerky to me. I try to force myself to not think about him knowing how bad he is and how everything would be ruined. Yet my mind keeps worrying and saying, "Don't like him. You don’t like him. You like your boyfriend." I'd appreciate some guidance.  —Stephanie, 13, Chicago, Illinois

Icis 17, Lehigh Acres, Florida Ask me a question

Proximity is key in the rule of attraction. Regular occurrences of seeing someone can manipulate the mind into fancying the person. Think: Is your current relationship worth losing for a date with the bad boy? Do you like the bad boy or the thought of him? Maybe the jerky attitude is what you crave. Distance yourself physically and focus on what attracts you to your boyfriend.

Breele 21, Los Angeles, Calfornia Ask me a question

I was once infatuated with an unavailable guy. Don’t feed the obsession during free moments. I fed mine and it made me do crazy things like stalk his girlfriend. After two draining months, I broke the spell by sticking close to friends and finding adorable things about them to focus on (try this with your boyfriend and other friends). Last year, I had a phase with a jerk. Mysterious and sexy, jerks are masters of charm, manipulation and smooth moves and have no conscience about lying, cancelling plans or standing you up. Even if you weren’t insecure originally, they’ll make you insecure! You’re not going to change a bad boy so kick the bad-boy habit while you're young so you don’t fall for them when you’re older.

Meghan 19, State College, Pennsylvania Ask me a question

You’re already doing the smartest thing: realizing the good you already have and that these thoughts are negative. Obsessions usually need to run their course, but to speed the process, fast-forward a theoretical play-out of the relationship, taking it all the way through breakup. Write out pros and cons for both relationships. Invest yourself more in your current relationship and zoom in on what you appreciate.

Samantha 23, Toledo, Ohio Ask me a question

No matter how long-running a relationship, you aren’t blind or invisible. Millions of people exist, many more attractive, talented and smart than your boyfriend. Yet, you're with him for a reason, probably several, so another guy catching your eye isn't a big deal unless you obsess or act on it. Your boyfriend has probably seen girls he thought were beautiful, but he obviously didn't act on his feelings. Relax.

Lisa 23, Eugene, Oregon Ask me a question

Chill out and give yourself some credit. That you want to be faithful shows that your boyfriend is the one. Ending obsessive thoughts can be hard, but remember, all the time spent worrying about this guy messing things up you could be spending strengthening your relationship. Avoid him and enjoy the great guy you have!

Dear Stephanie: You’ve been blindsided by a bad boy. Welcome to the club. In your own words, you don’t know what hit you. As Breele says, they are masters of manipulation. And yes, he will ruin everything if you follow the obsession. Avoid him physically and block his texts and posts if needed. Out of sight really does aid out of mind. The panel has other good ideas as well.

How do bad boys do it? Male swag has natural sex appeal. Add the irresistible charm and manipulations of the narcissistic, psychopathic, Machiavellian bad boy (yes, all that) and many women take the bait. Unhook yourself and run!

Editor’s Note: Male swag isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, and females are naturally wired to want to reproduce with a confident guy, since confidence usually indicates a successful guy. Thus the hard-wired appeal of swag keeps women taking the bait, even women who aren’t necessarily insecure, traumatized by divorce, with daddy wounds, or otherwise unconsciously looking for unusual challenges, risk or abuse. All women at all ages are susceptible.

But, overt swag is a red flag… it usually spells douche bag. (Now there’s a rhyme to remember, a new jump rope song perhaps.) According to Psychology Today, who reports on a study of bad boys, excessive swag usually comes with “the dark triad” of douchebag traits: 1) narcissism (someone as “hot” as they are is the center of the world), 2) psychopathology (callous antisocial behavior, like standing you up without a thought), and 3) Machiavellism (the extroverted insincere opportunistic who’s thinking about his next conquest, not you, his last one).

Take the bait from a bad boy and abuse and heartache follow sure as wrinkles follow a smoker. Like Breele says, even if you aren’t insecure to begin with, they’ll make you that way. It really is best to steer clear, and if you don’t, I hope you can get over them quickly, not take the rejection personally (they would cheat on Beyoncé), and see them coming next time. They do have a recognizable footprint. Anytime a guy is too smooth, too chill, too relaxed, too confident, saying exotic or impossible or brazen things to you and looking you deep in the eyes like no other guy does, the red flags should be flying and you should start singing the little song to yourself and getting out of Dodge. —Lauren

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  1. By L.C., age 16, from Carmichael, CA on 06/16/2015

    My stepsister has fallen for a well-known “Bad Boy” at the school we both go to.  I know she’s set up for a hard fall, but she won’t listen to me or anyone else.  He’s good looking and on the football team, and can be very charming.  But he’s gone through several girls who he uses, abuses, and then dumps.  She’s not the most attractive person in the world and had only had a few dates and nobody had ever asked her out a second time.  So she was thrilled when Bad Boy asked her out.  She’s totally enthralled with him and actually believes that they will end up getting married.  He pressured her to have sex, but when she was reluctant he convinced her to give him oral sex.  He agreed to wear a condom, so she said he made it seem totally unreasonable if she wouldn’t at least do this for him since his “you know what” wouldn’t actually be inside her mouth and he wouldn’t actually “come” in her mouth.  So she gave in to “prove her love.” But she says she does it in the nude and lets him fondle her breasts while she does it!  This totally shocks me as she’s very shy about her body even with other girls.  Since she thinks of me like a sister and we share a room every other weekend during visitations, she’s become comfortable with nudity in front of me, but is very shy with anyone else.  If a friend is spending the night when she’s here she’s so shy that she changes in the bathroom, but she let’s Bad Boy see her nude if you can believe that.  Recently, I’ve also noticed bruises on her body when she’s nude.  She denies that he did it and makes the lame explanation that she “fell down.”  But I know her well enough that I can tell when she’s lying, and I have no doubt that he did it to her.

    I know that her dad (my stepdad) would go totally ballistic if he knew that she was giving Bad Boy blow jobs in the nude and she told me this in confidence, so I don’t think it’s my place to tell him what is going on.  However, we’ve become close and are almost like real sisters and I’m really worried about what will happen when he dumps her like he has everyone else.

    L.C.

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    1. By LAUREN, from StraightTalkAdvice.org on 06/26/2015

      L.C.—If she has bruises, that’s your cue to tell parents. Don’t mention a thing about the sexual aspects, just say that she has bruises and you are 99% sure that they are from the guy she’s seeing and that he has a bad reputation for hurting girls. Let them take it from there. Have them read the comments lower on this feed from A.L, Cindy and Janice, and me, if they have any hesitation and to understand the seriousness of this. (Or print them out so they don’t see yours.) As for you “ratting” on her, many kids set up an agreement with the mother to come into the bedroom upon a certain signal when the other is nude so she can see the bruises herself. Others just tell on a matter of principle and hold their head high. Or they tell in confidence and the parents figures a way to find out “independently”. It sounds like your sister just said not to tell about the sexual aspects, and you aren’t doing that, you’re telling about the bruises. I wish you all the best in resolving this. —Love, Lauren

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  2. By E., age 16, from Orange County, California on 06/17/2015

    I have a similar problem but in reverse.  I’m gay but have to remain in the closet until I leave home due to our family’s religion (Mormon).  I’ve become totally infatuated with someone who you’d probably call a “bad girl.”  She’s one of the most attractive girls in the school and also has a reputation for seducing then dumping guys, but the guys still go for her in droves.  She’s obviously straight, so unlike L.C.‘s sister I have no hope of ever having a relationship with her, but I can’t get over my obsession even though she doesn’t even know my name.  She’s a year ahead of me, but we had gym class the same period last year.  Even though I’m gay, I’m still very shy about other girls seeing me naked except my sister who I share a room and the bathroom with and undress in front of every day.  I had never used the communal showers since they aren’t strict about it.  But I noticed that this girl was taking showers when the weather got hot, so I started taking showers so I could see her nude body.  I would subtly try to get a shower near her so that I could see her nude body close up.  I pretended to be totally disinterested in her body, but inside I was getting a huge turn on.  She never paid me any notice.  Now that school’s out, I don’t even see her, but I can’t get her out of my mind and I picture her nude body while “pleasuring myself” if you know what I mean.

    I really wish I could get over my obsession as I know the situation is hopeless, but somehow I can’t.  I think that if I could “come out of the closet” and have a girlfriend who is also gay I might be able to get over her, but that’s not possible for the reason I gave at the beginning.

    E.

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    1. By B.C., age 16, from Tacoma, WA on 06/18/2015

      E,

      I am also gay and in the closet for family religious reasons.  I have confided in my sister with whom I’m close and share a room.  As with others I’ve read about who have gay sisters, this is no problem for her and the undressing issue is no different than with any other sisters who share a room.  But I can’t tell my parents, so I have to stay in the closet. 

      I also had a crush on a popular attractive girl who was straight, so the situation was hopeless but I couldn’t help how I felt.  We sometimes attended slumber parties together and as with you, seeing her nude when she undressed drove me crazy with sexual feelings.  The only way I got over her was by finding someone who was in the same position that I was.  It wasn’t easy but I was able to be come friends with a girl who I had the feeling might be gay and by dropping subtle hints we were able to realize that we were both gay and had to keep it secret.  We became “girlfriends” but to everyone else we are just “best friends.”  By developing a relationship with her, I was able to get over my crush on the other girl and I now have no feelings for her.  I therefore think that you are right that what you need to do is find someone else who is in the same position and develop a relationship with her.  It may not be easy since you have to stay in the closet as I do, but you can do it if you work at it.

      I wish you the best because I know what it is like to be in your situation.

      B.C.

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  3. By A.L., age 17, from Lodi, CA on 06/19/2015

    My younger sister who is 16 is also obsessed with with a “bad boy” similar to what L.C. describes, and I’m really concerned about her.  She’s attractive and many much nicer guys would gladly go out with her, but she’s somehow enchanted with this guy and I know she’s going to end up terribly hurt but she won’t listen to me or to her friends who try to warn her about him.  While I don’t know for sure, I strongly suspect that she’s having sex with him.  She’s also clearly hiding something from me, so I also suspect that he’s physically abused her.  As sisters who have always shared a room, we’ve never been the least bit shy about nudity with each other.  However, lately she won’t even undress in front of me, her own sister.  We also never had a problem sharing our one bathroom in the morning.  She would get in the shower while I “used the facility” and vice versa and this never bothered us as sisters.  However, lately she’s been getting up early, taking her clothes into the bathroom, taking a shower and then getting dressed in there.  She also changes in the bathroom at night.  We both used to sleep in the nude during the hot weather, but now she wears pajamas.  Since she’s suddenly hiding her body like this from me, her own sister, I can’t help but think she has something to hide and physical abuse is the most logical explanation.  I mentioned my concerns to our mom, but she says that she thinks my sister is “just going through a phase” and feels the need for privacy.  However, my instincts tell me that it is something more than this but I really don’t know what I can do when I have no proof of anything.

    A.L.

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    1. By Cindy, age 18, from Bowling Green, Ohio on 06/20/2015

      I agree that your sister must be hiding something, and if it’s not abuse by the bad boy, it’s something of serious concern.  My younger sister was also going out with a well-known “bad boy” but she was totally enthralled with him.  Then, overnight, she wouldn’t undress in front of me and started changing in the bathroom and locking me out of the bathroom in the morning.  I knew her well enough that I could also see that something was wrong. We had always shared a room and never had any shyness about undressing and nudity as it should be with sisters.  We were so comfortable with each other that we had no problem sharing the bathroom when we having a bowel movement.  I was the one who showed her how to use tampons and how to wax.  And overnight she wouldn’t even let me see her in her underwear?  Something had to be wrong.  She claimed that she needed “privacy” but I knew better. 

      I told our mom what was going on, and she agreed that my sister must be hiding something so she made her strip down to her thong underwear for us.  She protested and claimed it was a terrible invasion of privacy, but our mom was firm.  As I suspected, she had bad bruises on her body and admitted that her boyfriend did it.  She said it was really her fault because he saw her talking to another guy.  But this guy is somebody who has been a friend of the family all our lives and there was nothing romantic between them.  She said he apologized and she forgave him.  Our mom made her break up with him.  She was furious with both of us, but in time she came to realize that this had been the right thing to do and now she’s going out with a really nice and decent guy.

      If you haven’t done so already, you should tell your mom and she should check out her body.  If she’s not hiding anything, this is the way to prove it, and there’s nothing wrong with a mom seeing her daughter in her underwear.  Give me a break!  However, I’m about 99% sure that she will find that she’s hiding something of serious concern.  If it’s not physical abuse it could be something like cutting or anorexia (but you would probably already have noticed that before she stopped undressing in front of you).  The worst that could happen is that you will find nothing and her mom will have seen her in underwear, but most likely you will find that she is hiding something that requires immediate action.

      Cindy

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    2. By Janice, age 42, from Santa Rosa, CA, U.S.A. on 06/21/2015

      I agree that your sister is obviously hiding something and abuse by her “bad boy” boyfriend is the most likely explanation. My daughter was also dating a known “bad boy” who had charmed and then rejected many girls.  However, she would not listen to her sister or me when we tried to warn her.  Against my better judgment, I decided to allow her to continue to see him and learn her lesson the hard way. 

      I’m a single parent and our home is all female, so the girls were always very casual about nudity.  They would go to the shower in the nude and often walk around in a T-shirt and thong underwear in hot weather.  They never locked the door to their room and made no effort to cover themselves if I came in their room when they were undressed or nude, which is as it should be with sisters and with mothers and daughters.  The girls also shared are only bathroom in the morning with no shyness when using the toilet and shower.  Suddenly, my daughter who was dating the bad boy started changing in the bathroom with the door locked and also started refusing to share the bathroom with her sister.  She claimed that she wanted privacy, but we knew that this could not be the issue overnight when she had been totally comfortable with both of us in this regard all of her life.  We both knew that she was hiding something, so I made her undress for me under loud protest.  Just as Cindy describes, she had bruises on her body which she admitted her boyfriend had caused when he had been drinking at a party and thought she was being “too friendly” toward another boy.  I forbad her from any further contact with this boy and realized my mistake in allowing the relationship to continue.  I am now much more careful about whom I allow my daughters to date.  While it seemed the right decision at the time to let her learn the “hard way,” I now think I was wrong in light of the fact that it turned into physical abuse.

      Janice

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    3. By LAUREN, from StraightTalkAdvice.org on 06/26/2015

      A.L.—I am so grateful that both Cindy (another teen) and Janice (a mom) wrote in with a similar story. I hope they convince you to tell your mom AGAIN, and that by showing your mom these letters, SHE will be convinced to confront her daughter and regardless of her protests or her own inhibitions around being “the boss”, she will demand to see her in her underwear. The thing is, an abusive relationship sets a girl up for trouble later. We are sensitive creatures, especially around sexual trauma. This kind of thing can really mess a girl up going forward. I hope your sister gets the family support she needs from her mom, is disallowed from seeing this guy, the guys parents are notified, and she gets counseling afterward. It would be nice if the guy needed to get counseling, too, or he could eventually wind up in prison. Let me know what ends up happening. I wish your family the best in dealing with this.—Love, Lauren

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