Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could meet a guy who was good, kind, stable, and loyal…
And ALSO exciting, edgy, swoon-worthy, and even a little bit dangerous?
Do guys like that even exist? Surely he’s EITHER a nice guy OR a bad boy. You don’t get both, any more than you can get ice cream that’s both vanilla AND chocolate.
Dating coach John Howard dares to disagree.
Once you understand how your love attachment style is running the show, you can see why you might be overlooking the perfect guy.
Learn what signs point to Mr. Right, why online dating could be sabotaging your efforts to find real love, and why a nice guy who’s bad in ALL the right ways isn’t such a unicorn after all.
What You’ll Learn
What if the reason all your relationships have basically sucked is NOT because you’re broken or men are jerks…
But because you didn’t understand attachment styles?
What’s exciting about understanding our attachment style is our styles are actually malleable, so they can grow and and mature as we get wiser … and then we start to have healthier relationships.”
One of the reasons we pick the wrong guys is because we’re not always educated about secure attachment and what it looks like.
“What happens is we get attracted to people who are exciting, enticing, intoxicating, inspiring,” John says, “and we’re not able to really think critically about what qualities we need in a partner to have a fulfilling, long-term committed relationship with them.
“That’s what sets up this false binary choice of, ‘Do I choose the bad boy because he’s exciting and invigorating, or do I choose the boring guy that I can have a safer life with?’”
John is a psychotherapist and educator dealing with the very latest science of relationships. His advice is based in neuroscience, interpersonal biology, and attachment theory.
He wants us to know that “a secure relationship can be exciting and intoxicating, and it can have some bad-boy energy in it—and some danger and some unpredictability and spontaneity—but it can ALSO come with that loving, rich, consistent, predictable security that we also seek.”
Sounds great! So where do we find one?
Love Attachment Styles
Researchers looked at how infants responded when their caregivers would act inconsistently or go away for short periods.
They discovered that infants who couldn’t trust their caregivers to respond appropriately and predictably to their needs grew up to become adults who had trouble feeling secure in their relationships.
“We show up in our adult relationships with a relationship map that is often developed in childhood,” John says.
Basically, we gravitate towards what we’re used to. If you’ve never felt completely secure in an intimate relationship, then you’ll tolerate relationships with a high degree of insecurity.
Picking better partners starts with recognizing that feeling secure is non-negotiable.
The Right Balance between Security and Novelty
But maybe you’re one of those women who finds security a bit … I don’t know, boring?
John understands completely.
“That sense of security is often not terribly exciting,” he says. “And so there are other parts of us, like the lust system in the brain, that seek out novelty.”
The trick to balancing the two is to become more conscious about what you’re seeking in a partner.
John describes this kind of person as someone mature, with the kind of confidence you really admire. You appreciate him and feel excited to be around him. But he’s also capable of a healthy-long-term relationship.
A secure man “has a sense of emotional maturity and empathy and availability. He’s going to text you back when you text him about your plans that you made for tomorrow night and not leave you hanging.”
Having clear boundaries and a set of non-negotiable criteria with which to evaluate a potential partner helps you avoid getting swept away by someone who SEEMS great on the outside but doesn’t treat you well.
How to Test a Man
So you know what you should be looking for…
But is there a way to test him to see if he’s capable of a secure relationship?
John offers a counterintuitive suggestion:
One of the best ways to filter somebody and test them to see if they’re REALLY ready to show up in a relationship is to show some of your weaknesses and vulnerabilities…. Because when you put that out on the table, you find out whether somebody has the empathy and the skill to really show up and meet you there.”
He explains that he cringes when he hears dating advice that tells people to act confident and never appear needy. Hiding your weaknesses may make you appear invulnerable, but it also short-circuits connection.
“If you hide your sense of vulnerability and insecurity, and you pretend—or you try to pretend—like you have it all together,” he says, “there’s a missed opportunity to really bond at a deep human level.”
It’s okay not to be perfect. “We all come into relationships with issues,” John says. “What we need to understand are the specific ways in which we interrupt connection—and that starts in dating.”
The Problem with Flaky Guys
But maybe the guys you’re meeting fail each and every test you set.
They don’t show up when they say they’re going to show up. They stop calling after you show any vulnerability. They disappear, only to text you after weeks of no contact like nothing happened.
It can make you so frustrated that you ultimately give up. But “the sad thing is that underneath that frustration is a genuine desire to be connected and to have a real-life partnership.”
So how do you avoid the flaky guy trap?
One way is to switch to offline dating.
“I’m a big fan of teaching people the ancient science of in-person dating,” John says. “Online dating has its place, but going back to an in-person dating strategy is so much more effective. It’s more efficient. It’s way less frustrating.”
He thinks online dating is a “big problem” when it comes to attracting the kind of men who can sustain a secure relationship.
“We love the convenience of it … but the problem with online dating, especially for women, is that you get inundated with not very well-filtered matches.”
All you have to go by is someone’s picture and demographical information (like age, race, religion, etc) that doesn’t tell you anything about whether they’re emotionally secure or fundamentally decent.
Secure Relationships Take Practice
You can’t have a healthy relationship on your own.
You have to practice the work of healthy relating with another person, whether that’s an intimate partner or simply friends and family.
John recommends practicing the skills of secure attachment even before you meet Mr. Right.
Show up in a more vulnerable way, create more intimacy, create better communication, create more bond, more trust … and if you’re able to pull that off, then that suggests you DO have the skills you need for a partnership.”
With awareness and practice, you can take charge of how your relationships turn out. No more settling for exciting but disrespectful bad boys. No more settling for nice guys who don’t turn you on. Set your standards high and make it happen!
Learn more about John’s coaching and his podcast at Ready Set Love.
Jump to Topics of Interest
2:38 Why we pick bad boys
4:59 Attachment theory
7:30 How John’s personal experience inspired him to do the work he does
10:26 Why knowing your attachment style matters
12:29 Being insecure is not a strike against you
15:10 What real confidence looks like
17:50 Breaking old relationship patterns
20:58 How to change your attachment style
23:09 The problem with online dating
26:12 Dating doesn’t have to be frustrating
John is a psychotherapist and educator dealing with the very latest science of relationships. He was 1 of 12 couples therapists in the world selected to form the founding faculty of the leading neuroscience-based institute that trains relationship therapists, and developed a relationship wellness program for Google. Learn more at Ready Set Love.