Bad boys have edginess. They’re risk-takers, a trait that’s present in successful, charismatic men of power, status, wealth and savvy.

So, what’s wrong with being attracted to them? The answer is “almost nothing,” as long as you don’t allow the exhilaration of being with a man of fame, fortune or excitement make you overlook his disrespect of you. Look at the expression on the face of the women with the pink striped top. She’s the only one not smiling amongst her privileged friends. Something’s wrong.

Connie, an attorney in my study of more than a thousand accomplished women, said she permitted Brad’s commanding personality to coax her to do things she didn’t want to do. “I was shocked at how much I gave up just to keep him. I turned over all the finances, I tolerated his philandering, drinking too much and his criticizing me—which I thought was his way of improving me. I even agreed to group sex and being filmed for others to see. I was so ashamed that I thought that staying with him was better than the humiliation of divorcing such a great guy I finally couldn’t close my eyes any longer to his denigration of me. Still, I mourned the loss of the jets and yachts.”

Connie exchanged self-respect for a relationship with bonuses–excitement, luxury, and sexual passion. Edgy men can be expert seducers. They make you feel special because they chose you. They have radar for women who secretly long for approval and a sense of being alive. In exchange for all these goodies, you agree to tolerate their serious problems. Over time, you experience inner Death by a Thousand Accommodations.

If Connie’s situation describes yours, you’re probably wondering how you—an accomplished woman—could have made such an unwise choice of partner. Look at the checklist below to learn why you might be susceptible to falling for bad boys who turn out to be really wrong for you. Mark the ones that describe you. There’s no score that indicates your degree of vulnerability. Sometimes, just one item can tip the scales.

My Vulnerability List

I’ll put up with things I wouldn’t normally tolerate in a relationship because:

  • This man is an amazing catch—and I love all the goodies
  • I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I want out of the rat race and out of worrying about money and a career that has already burned me out
  • A high-powered man is the only kind of person whom my colleagues and especially my family expect me to be with
  • I like being dropped into his exciting life because I don’t know how to create an exciting one on my own outside of work
  • I need a man with a bad boy personality to break through my shell, my self-lies and not so great ways of reacting to stress and life in general
  • This is the kind of man I need to make me feel alive again—and drop my guard especially sexually
  • I am tired of dating basket case men who need me to take care of them all the time
  • I’ve never been the popular girl, and now I feel chosen and appreciated
  • I’m willing to sacrifice the warmth from a man who offers understanding, acceptance and consideration for the safety from a man who offers high income, connections and ability to navigate the world in a way I don’t know—especially since I believe you can’t feel both safe and warm in a relationship.

These emotional vulnerabilities decrease your ability to see warning signs in your partner. But don’t despair. Instead of focusing on what your partner does or doesn’t do, keep your eyes on you. It’s not the type of man that is as important—it’s what you give up, what crumbs you accept, and how you allow these men to make you feel, act, and think negatively about love in general and you. One of your top goals is to like the You-who-is-You-in-the-Relationship. Here are some warning signs that you might be allowing your partner to disrespect or abuse you.

My Relationship Warning Signs

I restrict myself to his activities and his choices

I hold back on speaking up about things that upset me because I don’t want to rock the boat or make him angry

I accept emotional crumbs from him–and rationalize that it’s okay

I’ll put up with a lot, including demeaning sex, abuse, and drugs, to stay with him

I don’t believe I have the inner strength to leave him

I’m afraid to tell my friends about my situation

I keep a detailed journal of our relationship because sometimes I don’t trust my judgment.

If you think you might be especially attracted to the wrong kind of exciting men, here are some dating tips to help you spot the good version of the bad boy from the harmful bad boy.

Staying Mindful

Pay attention to your physical, cognitive and emotional signs of distress such as upset stomach, dizziness, shaking hands and legs or doubt and anxiety.

Be on the lookout for your date’s overly-“courtly” behavior such as going through all kinds of gyrations to hold open doors, pull out chairs for you, walk on the outside of the street or steer you by your elbow. These acts tend not to be signs of gentlemanly behavior. They could be signs of wanting to keep you as his “little lady.”

Be wary of impressive dates that are engineered to wow you. Be worried if your man has to brag about getting coveted event tickets or dinner reservations—especially if he insists on ordering for you. Watch how he treats the wait staff.

Talk about your relationship and your doubts with someone, especially a therapist, your religious leader or trusted friend. If your partner physically, sexually and verbally abuses you, seek professional help to develop an action plan and exit strategy to protect your safety.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D, MSS, MA, is a nationally recognized psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, specializing in women's issues in love, life, work, and family. Sign up on her website,, to receive free advice, blog, cartoon, and information about her two upcoming research-based, self-help books for women: The Love Adventures of Almost Smart Cookie-a cartoon, self-help book and Smart Relationships. You can follow Dr. Wish on Twitter.