By Cristina Goyanes
March 21, 2013
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You'd think that 27 mistresses equals 27 glaring red flags-much like the ones alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn expertly dodges on the giant slalom-to stay far, far away from Tiger Woods. Instead 28-year-old Vonn has chosen to ignore the embarrassing and highly disturbing facts, including the one about how she sorta resembles the 37-year-old's blond ex-wife, Elin Nordegren.

Not to say that there's no such thing as second chances or total redemption, but between this news and singer Rihanna getting back together with rapper Chris Brown, who infamously assaulted her in 2009, we can't help but wonder: What is up with powerful women getting seduced by scummy men?

"The reason women tend to get stuck with charming narcissists, like the Tiger Woods and Chris Browns of the world, is because they catch them on a series of really good days," says Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., an L.A.-based licensed clinical psychologist and author of the new book You Are Why You Eat. "Because these men are often super successful, they can treat you quite nicely, and that's how you find yourself suddenly hooked on someone who's a bastard."

Once under his spell, these same women often tend to mistaken latent bad behavior-such as violence, verbal abuse, and infidelity-for passion. "It's the old bait and switch," Durvasula says. "When these guys are on, they're on, but when they are off, forget about it."

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Devil's advocates may argue that Woods and Vonn are a perfect pair. Esquire writer Chris Jones even tweeted that they are a "match made in slogan heaven." (Woods is endorse by Nike, whose slogan is "Just do it," while Vonn is with Under Armour, which uses "I will.") Perhaps what works for these high-profile athletes is that they may be cut from the same shiny, self-centered championship cloth.

"A lot of elite athletes have to be narcissists in order to dare to defy what's considered by many to be inhumanly possible," Durvasula says. "Often times, narcissists make great partners for each other because they're playing the same games, so nobody feels like they're missing out." When it comes to celebs, in particular, any publicity is good publicity, so it's win-win for both parties, she adds. In fact, as a power couple, being together just adds to their fabulous factor (probably what attracted Kim Kardashian to Kanye West), which makes the relationship more appealing. This is why movie stars date other movie stars.

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Because it's easy to fall for a jerk-almost all of us do at some point-here are three signs Durvasula suggests watching out for to avoided getting lured in by a loser:

1. You're Stuck in His World

You're a few months in and he still hasn't met your friends, but you see his buddies all the time. You seem to always eat at his favorite restaurants. And when you start talking about a tough day at work, he doesn't quite seem engaged. "Pay attention to these things because it shows a lack of interest in you and a lack of connection," Durvasula says. "A lot of people mistake that he just wants you to be part of his world, but this will be a problem in the long run."

Love Him or Leave Him? "Communicate early on, without turning it into a yelling match, that you would love to have him get to know your friends and try your favorite foods in your part of town," she says. "If bringing it up doesn't result in him making slight changes, that's your wake-up call."

2. You Want to Change Him

The fantasy for most women is "I want to rescue him" and "I'm going to be his princess," Durvasula says. "They get it in their head that they can help these men change for the better, but do you really want to be with someone who needs rescuing?"

Love Him or Leave Him? "Consider therapy if this relationship means that much to you, but otherwise, get the hell out of dodge," she advises. "People can change up to a point but not as much as you might think."

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3. You Feel Like a Doormat

It's one thing if he's late to a dinner party because he got stuck in traffic, but it's another if he is consistently super tardy or blows off your plans altogether without giving you a heads up. What makes matters worse is that you would never do this to him-you show up to all his events, always on time.

Love Him or Leave Him? If you care about this relationship, you have to say something like, 'I'm not comfortable with the fact that you're always late,'" Durvasula says. It doesn't need to be a bitch-fest; simply be honest and tell him it's hurtful. Don't wait for things to self-correct.