Q: I have a thing for “bad boys” but they always break my heart. Is my situation hopeless?

Please advise,

Hopeful

A: Dear Hopeful,

The most common misconception among women is that we must choose between the excitement and drama of a bad boy and the boredom and stability of a nice guy. Nice guys make us feel secure, but don’t trigger feelings of chemistry, while bad boys rock our world, only to leave it in shambles when we ultimately get fed up with their self-centered, temperamental ways. Neither choice is appealing: a nice guy with no chemistry or a bad boy with no compatibility. So what’s a sensible woman to do? Think outside the box and choose option three — a man with whom you have chemistry and compatibility. You can’t have a lasting relationship without them.

When high-drama relationships don’t work out, we often think we must sacrifice chemistry, and the passion and excitement that go along with it, for compatibility. This is not true. You should always and only date people with whom you have chemistry. High drama, however, can serve as a red flag, signaling dysfunctional times ahead. Because dating bad boys can be addictive, a woman must become 100 percent sickened by their negative drama before she’s ready to break the pattern of dating them. Eventually, the pain and destruction of dating bad boys outweighs the enjoyment and each woman must reach her own tolerance level for mistreatment before she’s ready to make healthier choices. Closing the door on bad boys is a woman’s first step toward a satisfying dating life. One’s healthiest partner possesses chemistry and compatibility without exhibiting volatile behavior.

The best way to find your healthiest partner is to become the healthiest version of yourself. If you tend to give too much while receiving too little in your relationships, practice setting healthy boundaries to avoid partners who don’t give anything in return. Of all the men you feel chemistry with, you get to choose the one that’s the best complement for you. This isn’t to say that your healthiest mate won’t occasionally annoy you. He will. But a healthy mate should only push your buttons enough to keep things interesting, not intolerable. While love with a bad boy may feel bittersweet, love with your ideal partner should contain an element of peace, instead of fear.

Q: Dear Rachel,

I’ve been dating someone for three months and it’s definitely more than a booty call, but he won’t commit. All he seems to care about is his band. What’s the deal?

Sincerely,

Ready to commit!

A: Dear Ready to commit

You may be dating a man with Starving Artists’ Syndrome. Those afflicted with this syndrome (SAS for short) tend to be commitment phobic in romantic situations because their first priority in life is their art. They’ve spent their entire lives escaping the conventional lifestyle: a 9-to-5-job, a wife, two kids, a house and all the time and responsibility that it entails. They’ve made sacrifices for their art, and they’re not about to sacrifice their art for love. While they desire some of the benefits of a monogamous relationship, mainly the sex and companionship, they worry that committed love leads to the traditional lifestyle they’ve worked so hard to escape.

Those most commonly afflicted with SAS are actors, musicians and other artists, although one does not technically have to be either starving or an artist to possess this syndrome. Wealthy businessmen and artistic women can possess SAS as well. SAS can appear in varying degrees, some functional, some not, so it’s vital to identify its existence and severity in a potential partner. Some with SAS may be workaholics who are reluctant to commit to long-term relationships, while others avoid romantic attachments that last longer than a few weeks or months.

If you sense your partner possesses SAS, communicate with him immediately. Men generally don’t volunteer information about themselves that they know is unsavory to women such as, “My career is the love of my life,” or, “I never want to settle down,” but they’ll usually be honest when questioned directly. If you discover that your guy is truly a commitment-phobe, accept this fact and decide whether his behavior/lifestyle is tolerable to you for the long run or not. Don’t assume your guy will change. A relationship should not be dependent on change to function. People can change, but not always in the direction we wish. If you decide your partner has a manageable case of SAS, work on compromises that allow both you and him to get your needs fully met.

Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit: www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: rachel@rebelgirlpublishing.com.

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