Everyone warned her about Bob. For that matter, they warned her about Jeff, Sam, and Bill. So why does Jill find herself once again downing a pint of ice cream and wailing, “Why am I such a jerk magnet?!!!”
If you can relate, here is what is hidden to you – the magnet in your unconscious brain is drawing you to men who treat you badly. We need to fix that. To that end, we need to expose the bad boy magnet for what it is and show you what mom has to do with it.
You might think this magnet has, at its core, daddy issues and, in some cases, it does. However, in my psychotherapy practice, I see many daughters who are trapped in the “good” daughter role of the narcissistic/difficult mother, fall for the bad boy just as often.
Here’s what draws the good girl into the bad boys’ magnetic fields, and how the narcissistic/difficult mother sets the stage.
- 1. He is living out her unlived life. The rebellion she can’t express directly is embodied in his ways. His blatant self-interest is the flip side of her apologetic, self-effacing side. This magnetizes her shadow/unexpressed side like a moth to a flame.
Mom forbids the “good” daughter to defy her authority. Mom takes her daughter’s striving for independence as rebellion. Because the good daughter stuffs her independent/rebellious side, she is ripe for attaching herself to someone who is all rebellion and self-interest.
- 2. She mistakes anxiety for love. His unpredictability is thrilling until it becomes agonizing. At first, his unattainability is titillating, a challenge she wants to meet. It keeps her second-guessing. She wants, yearns, to be perfect for him. This relational challenge draws her in and holds her close.
The good daughter cut her baby teeth on the motto, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s no wonder she’s learned and abides by, “If you’re happy, I’m happy. Your happiness is enough for both of us. It’s the other person’s happiness that counts. That’s normal, right?”
- 3. She undervalues herself, and so does he. Perfect. She is used to the imbalance. It is all she has ever known. No wonder she puts his needs ahead of her own.
The good daughter’s relationship with her mother has always been unbalanced. It’s baked in; it’s her relationship template. Why wouldn’t she accept this imbalance in all her relationships?
- 4. The bad boy is mom’s worst nightmare. This is just a bonus. The good daughter can stick it to mom while, all the while, claiming innocence. The more mom complains and threatens, the more the good daughter sees her bad boy as a misunderstood victim needing to be saved.
Mom taught her that people you love need to be saved from themselves. They don’t know what’s best for them and need someone wiser to lead the way.
- 5. Nice guys give her the ick. Here’s the kicker. This one is buried deep in the unconscious. Many good daughters consciously think and will tell you, they just want a good man who will be good to them. Yet, deep down, she is terrified of exposing her authentic self. She doesn’t want to show her true flawed self, and let another human being in. She assumes no one wants to see that. She assumes (at the unconscious level) they only want the shiny, arm candy perfection that reflects well on both the bad boy and the narcissistic/difficult mother.
Sadly, she’s learned from her difficult mother that her authentic self isn’t good enough. If she wasn’t good enough for mom, she won’t be good enough for anyone else.
This is a lie, of course. The inadequacy is in the difficult mother and the bad boy. Yet, this lie has the power to ruin a good daughter’s life.
Until she can untangle the ways she has been good for her difficult mother at her expense, the good daughter will find herself vulnerable to the bad boy’s irresistible lethal charms.
To find out if you are trapped in the Good Daughter Syndrome go here.