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Why We’re Often Attracted to People Who Are Bad for Us

Have you ever found yourself inexplicably drawn to someone who seems all wrong for you? Perhaps you’ve been in a toxic relationship or have witnessed friends make questionable romantic choices. Read to find out why we’re often attracted to people who are bad for us.

From what’s written in theory books to personal experience – you’ll find countless examples of different people who, perhaps continuously, attract or are attracted to others who are bad for them.

The Attraction of the Familiar

Let’s take a step back and look at relationships in general. Many psychologists believe that we learn to connect with others through the relationships we have with our parents or primary caretakers. These relationships influence many, if not most, of our life-long relationships. Why? Because we’re attracted to what we already know. Our brains are wired in a way to seek out the familiar, even when it’s bad for us, which may be part of the reason why we keep repeating the same mistakes. For example, if you grew up in a dysfunctional or unhealthy environment, you may unconsciously gravitate towards similar dynamics as adults. The familiar, even if it’s detrimental, can feel comfortable and safe. 

Unresolved Issues

Another factor that may play a significant role in our attraction to people who are bad for us is our unresolved psychological issues. Sometimes, we seek out relationships that mirror our own internal struggles. For example, if we struggle with low self-esteem, we may be attracted to partners who reinforce those negative beliefs about ourselves. These relationships can become a reflection of our inner turmoil, making it challenging to break free from them.

The Thrill of the Unknown

As much as our brains are wired to seek out what’s familiar, we also love the excitement and, in some cases, the novelty that comes with doing something new. This drive for novelty can lead us to be attracted to people who are different from us or who exhibit risky behaviours. While this can be harmless in many cases, it can also mean that through all the excitement and adrenaline, we overlook red flags and engage with people who are ultimately bad for us.

Our Hope of Redemption

Human beings are naturally optimistic creatures. We often believe that we can change others or that they will change for us. This hope can lead us to pursue relationships with people who have significant flaws or destructive behaviours, believing that our love and support will transform them into better partners. While change is possible, it is rarely easy and usually needs to be internally motivated.

How can I stop attracting the wrong person?

Although there is no single or easy route to not attracting or being attracted to someone who isn’t good for you, recognising and understanding the above points can be the first step toward breaking the cycle of toxic relationships. It’s important to remember that we have the power to make healthier choices and seek out relationships that are truly beneficial to our well-being. This process may involve self-reflection, therapy, and learning to value ourselves enough to prioritize our own happiness and safety. Ultimately, by understanding why we’re often attracted to people who are bad for us, we can work towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

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