The Real Reason Why We Love Bad Boys, Toxic Partners and Emotionally Unavailable Men

Thought Catalog
8 min readNov 26, 2021
Elijah O’Donnell

By Shahida Arabi

Bad boys wreak havoc on our lives, our bodies and our brains. The reasons we love bad boys, toxic people and emotionally unavailable partners are not just emotional and psychological — they are downright biochemical.

The truth of the matter is, our brains can be rewired to fixate on people who aren’t good for us. Emotionally unavailable men, toxic partners such as narcissists or sociopaths and pickup artists alike all depend on these effects to get us hooked. We can become addicted to the highs and lows of dangerous romantic relationships in a way that makes a break-up from a toxic person similar to rehab from a destructive drug addiction.

Have you wondered why you were unable to let go of that one person who defined your relationship ambiguously, treated you inconsistently and unfairly, brought up your worst insecurities while simultaneously subjecting you to sweet talking and fantasy-prone fast-forwarding? Unfortunately for those of us who have a tendency towards dating bad boys (or girls), our addiction to toxic partners is actually strengthened by their mistreatment of us.

When we first meet a toxic partner or an emotionally unavailable person, our bond with him or her becomes cemented through their excessive attention combined with their emotional withdrawal and withholding throughout the relationship. The knowledge of what a toxic partner does to our brain makes it more likely for us to cut back on our investment on those who we perceive may not be a good fit earlier on, detach from any attachments we may already have to toxic people and realize that the powerful bond that’s been created has arisen from our biochemical bonds, not our true standards.

Remember that rejection and affection often go hand in hand in such a turbulent relationship where a partner is fluent in giving you mixed messages. Rejection can hurt, literally, and it’s no surprise that your brain circuitry during a break-up mirrors your brain circuitry when you are in physical pain. A break-up with a toxic person who has mistreated you throughout the relationship compounds this effect and makes it that much more difficult to recover from.

Thought Catalog

We’re a community of creators based in NYC. We publish a digital magazine and limited edition books. //