Damned Fool: Reasons Women Run to Dangerous Men, Even Though They Know Better

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A few months ago I tried to counsel a young woman in her mid-twenties who told me she wanted my help getting away from a man who is a textbook sociopath. I underwent Herculean efforts to get her away from him–offering to help her buy a plane ticket and stay in my home, countless phone calls and texting and coaching. But in the end, the bad guy won, and this woman, once again, ran back into this man’s arms, knowing full well his history of multiple failed relationships, multiple felonies and spotty work history.

When I realized that nothing, I mean NOTHING I could ever say or do would convince her that this man would ruin her, she stayed, and for my own sanity, I needed to figure out why. Of course it would be easy to say that this girl is a damned fool–which was admittedly my first response. But I knew there was more to it, because this man literally had a psychological hold on her that I needed to understand. What’s more, this girl was no ‘hood booger.’ She graduated from an ivy league school. However, I knew there were some family problems growing up…not horrible, but nothing I can say for fear it would reveal too much about my subject.

But intimacy expert Allan Pratt puts it together: “We get stuck in time, in our development. Daddy never paid attention, was preoccupied, drunk or abusive. Mommy never celebrated us, was competitive, jealous of attention you got over her. Clients such as top lawyers, Olympic athletes, stunning artists… it doesn’t matter. Many successful women seek abusive men.”

“When a parent didn’t provide a sense of safety, value, honor, enough’ness, kindness or presence… unless the person is AWARE of this subconscious desire to fulfill on what their parents didn’t provide (and willing to do the inner work to heal this)… they will be addicted to dangerous men and literally choose to subject themselves to the same abuse they experienced in childhood, over and over again, unless intervention occurs.”

Some Women Just Need the Drama…

For some women, chaos is all they know, and not having the drama elicits great anxiety, says Dr. Judi Cinéas, LCSW, therapist and founder of Living The Dream Inc. in Palm Beach, Florida.  “When the woman grows up in a home where this is what she saw, it’s not uncommon for her to seek that as in adult. That level of unpredictability and even danger is their homeostasis. When they find themselves in a relationship where that is lacking, they don’t know what to do. They can’t get comfortable because it’s a long journey of waiting for things to break and when it doesn’t happen, they may find themselves looking to bring that to the surface, because after the break they know peace will come. They are used to a cycle of tension building leading to an explosion followed by temporary peace. When they have that- it seems to work for them.”

So there it is. Many women run to men knowing full well they are dangerous, sociopathic, felonious, and lecherous every day. It’s not a case of “I didn’t know he was like that!” It’s a case for knowing EVERYTHING and STILL moving ahead.

These guys have a sinister understanding of the inner workings and weaknesses of a woman’s mind, and will play the “walking wounded” to garner your pity, or the exciting and impulsive romantic who makes you swoon. And once you think your love and magic vagina will make him the man you want him to be, then get ready for the script to completely flip.

“An emotional manipulator’s motive to initially praise and even glorify their victim, and then slowly and systematically tear them down emotionally by confusing them with conflicting messages. This is just one example of how manipulators seduce highly educated women, says Suzana Flores, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Chicago. I once dated a man who did this. Early in my twenties I met a guy who thought I was just sooooo beautiful, and would often tell me how much MORE beautiful I was if I didn’t wear so much makeup. At the time I had terrible acne and scarring on my forehead, but because he had me so convinced he thought I was beautiful, I stopped wearing the makeup. Then the contemptuous comments started to come. He once said, “You know I must love you because who else would put up with that?!” as he pointed to my forehead, peppered with pimples and blackheads.

It is very important to recognize this pattern because it’s pretty predictable.

Stuff (Almost) Beyond Your Control

Blame it on the Cavemen…

Women have a primal instinct to be attracted to “the biggest bad-assed caveman.” These early men offered protection and their toughness and virility made for a very sexually-attractive mate, who might produce strong and virile children more likely to be able to survive in the harsh conditions. “Women are programmed to be attracted to men with high levels of testosterone as protectors and providers; unfortunately, high testosterone levels can sometimes correlate with bad boy behaviors like risk taking, aggression, violence, and sexual promiscuity, says therapist, April Dawn Ricchuito, MSW.

And how does this translate into modern times, especially with respect to mass fatherlessness? “The little girl who grew up without a father in the home may well seek out a man who she knows will take care of her, no one will ever step out of line with her when he is around, a big strong man that she did not have growing up,” says Rochelle Peachey, a dating and relationship expert who runs a transatlantic dating site called, I Love Your Accent.

It’s the Sex…

Much of the drive women have for these horrid men is the chemical reaction and bonding-seeking hormones that are produced when they have sex. Watch out for men who rush sex almost immediately–there is an ulterior motive. Chances are they are REALLY good at it, and want you to get hooked and emotionally invested. Because once you’re sprung, that’s when the abuse and degradation will begin.


So How Do You Avoid It?

Short answer: Therapy. Lots of it if need be.

The other answer is to identify what your triggers are. Find out what the source of your neediness and insecurities are. Do you constantly need male attention to feel pretty? Does being alone make you feel like a failure? Do you feel like you constantly need to “earn” love, or make some remarkable sacrifice to feel “worthy?” If any of this sounds like you, seek help.

And before you jump in, BE VIGILANT!  “A woman should be on the lookout for a history of previous poor relationships, legal problems, and excessive lying. Similarly, during a conversation with a sociopath, she may notice his lack of remorse in past situations, this is a large red flag. In the end, the ability to have a normal relationship with a sociopath is extremely rare. Likewise, being involved with a sociopath can be dangerous. A sociopath’s complete disregard for the welfare of others and his lack of conscience can make him extremely dangerous,” warns Jonah H. Harris, VP of Software Architecture and in-house data scientist for MeetMe, one of the top ten social networks in the United States.


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