Why Some People Always Date Mr or Mrs Wrong

Author and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Jose Toledo

close up image of man and woman hands tied together

We all know a person who seems to always start to date someone who turns out to be the wrong partner for them. It seems to happen time and time again.

Sometimes it is swiftly obvious; other times a pattern develops where there’s almost the same amount of time before it is glaringly obvious. This person is baffled as to why it keeps happening to them.

Or this description might fit you. There is the need to understand why before there is any chance of finding Mr or Mrs Right.

It could be for several reasons.

Low self-esteem

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The word “esteem” derives from the Latin word aestimare, which means “to estimate”. So self-esteem really means: how do you value yourself?

If that is low, it can mean that you don’t think you are worthy enough for a valued relationship. You will choose and settle for much less than you really deserve.

Scared of commitment

Many people are afraid of commitment. Because of this, they might be attracted to partners who also don’t like commitment.

Or they meet someone who is ideal. But then get scared and find ways to reject the person or leave the relationship.

Some of this is to do with childhood, and for some people later years too. If someone is plagued with feelings of guilt and shame, they can be frightened to commit.

They think if someone gets too close to them, that person will somehow get to see inside them and know their guilt and shame. So they stay away from getting this close to anybody or push away any form of intimacy – which can be broken down “into me see”.

As well, it can all be due to what is known as “relationship attachment styles”. Many relationship experts think our attachment styles are formed depending on how as children we interacted with our parents. 

Psychologist John Bowlby looked extensively into relationships. He came up with four types of distinct attachment styles that come about as a result of our childhood experiences: secure attachment; anxious attachment; avoidant attachment; and disorganized attachment. 

Fear of being alone

couple sitting back to back

It’s a paradox often said that we need to be happy being on our own before we are ready to be in a relationship. This is because if you feel happy on your own, then you’re ready to go into a relationship for the right reasons.

These are to share life and its experiences with someone else in a positive way. This is to give something to someone else’s life.

Otherwise, if you get into a relationship simply because you are unhappy being alone, it’s not for the right reason. It’s just an attempt to stop feeling lonely, a way to fill an emptiness.

But no other person can really do this as it’s something we need to do. We have to learn to love ourselves to be happy being on our own – and before we can truly love another.

Sometimes people are attracted to another person because they sense they have similar life histories, which often include trauma. This is what’s behind the concept known as “twin flames” which are often fiery and short-lived relationships.

All in the mind

Some people make up stories in their heads about someone they meet. They repeat it so much that before they have even had the chance to get to know this person, they have convinced themselves that the person will be as they have created in their mind.

At some point, reality will barge in though. Then there might be some time spent trying to change the person, to make them into the image that was formed in the mind.

Perhaps the person you meet drinks too much. But you think it will change when they settle down with you…

Frequently connected with this is the need to “fix” someone. This can mean you actually get addicted to the person and their unhealthy ways and the mess they make.

It makes you feel needed. If this resonates, it might pay to look into what codependency is about.

Or perhaps you have an addiction to something such as alcohol, or drugs, or a behavioral addiction like exercise, food, work or sex. You might subconsciously be selecting partners because you can do these addictions together.

As well, it could be the case that their habit is worse than yours or you think this anyway. You are hiding behind them, convincing yourself that you’re not doing so badly.

Unresolved history

The drinking problem drunk husband man in a young family concept

If there are unresolved issues from our past, they will influence how we think, feel and behave. This can lead to us getting into the wrong relationships.

Often this is because it is an attempt to deal with someone, often a parent, through your new relationship. That is, in the manner you wish you had dealt with the parent or whoever it was in your past.

It’s so common, for instance, for the child of an alcoholic parent to vow never to be like them when they have become an adult. But then they end up with an alcoholic partner.

That relationship eventually ends. But the next relationship is also with another alcoholic.

Attempting to deal with unresolved historical issues like this will never work. This is because the person will not have been given the right tools to deal with it.

The painful history just repeats itself. Each time it does, the pain seems even deeper.

Sense of self is missing

For some people, their sense of self is missing. They don’t know their true self.

Perhaps it was instinctively hidden away during their childhood to protect it. A key part of recovery for many people is to recover their true self from where it was hidden.

Without knowing your true self, it’s impossible to know what or who you really want.

Gut instinct is a very powerful guide for people. Finding your true self means you can get back in touch with your gut instinct.

Our gut instinct always tells us what’s best for us. This means certain relationships would never start.

It’s all we know

couple in therapy mr and mrs wrong

Often connected to this is how our parents were. Do we see the familiar in an unhealthy relationship?

Is it all we have known? Our parents are for the most part our “relationship teachers”.

Therapy is most often needed to deal with the past like this. Then it will stop having a negative impact on the present.

There is plenty of therapy that can be done to help anyone work through having a pattern of relationships that are not right for them. Our team of expert therapists and other staff have helped people for many years now with all relationship issues.

Get in touch with us to have a friendly confidential chat about how we can help you or someone you care about, starting today.

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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