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Why Do Good Women Pick the Wrong Men?

Why do great women pick people who treat them poorly? Smart, successful, loving individuals – who give 110% to a partner who in return, are only half-vested, part-time, or unavailable.

Can you relate to being in relationships where you’re only fed breadcrumbs? You know, just enough so you never starve, but never enough to get you full.

But even though you know on a logical level the that the person is not right for you, you keep making justifications and excuses over and over again. You stay. You try harder. You’re hooked.

Why does this happen? I’m here to tell you, there is nothing wrong with you. You’re not a broken person needing to get fixed. There’s some basic psychology at play, and the more you learn about the inner workings of the mind, the better choices you will make.

The move you invest, the more invested you become

When you don’t get the love and attention you want, it may seem natural to give more.  You invest more – only to find yourself more disappointed, depleted and feeling insignificant with each attempt to create/repair the connection. This is what psychologist Dr. Jeremy Nicholson calls the principle of “sunk costs”.

“Doing favors for others and treating them well, leads us to value and love them…They do all of the “doing”. They are the ones waiting on their partner, doing good deeds, buying gifts, etc. As a result, they have a lot of love (sunk costs) for their date or mate. But, their partner has not invested. They have not given a thing. So, they are not at all in love or committed.”

Before you do another thing – whether that be cooking your love interest dinner, buying a gift, bending your schedule to make it easier for them to see you – ask yourself what your true intention is. Are you giving without expectation of receiving anything back in return? Are you keeping score? Or, is there a part of your giving that’s rooted in hopes of earning attention or validation in return? If there isn’t a foundation of love, respect and commitment with the person you’re dating, giving more and doing nice things will not cause them to love you more, it’ll only result in you becoming increasingly attached.

2. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perhaps you had an unstable parental figure in your life growing up, or your first relationship was one that left you hurt and feeling rejected. It is possible that you are choosing relationships that repeat the unavailability, wounding or abandonment issues that were familiar in your earliest relationship with your primary caregiver(s). In a sense, you seek comfort in that familiar scenario – even if it is one filled with angst. These are attractions of deprivation, and it’s possible it stems from your childhood.

The problem is, the longer you continue the cycle, the more your sense of self-worth erodes, making it harder and harder to remove yourself from the pleasure-pain pattern of unhealthy relationships.

A few years ago, I started dating a guy who started off by courting me with a rush of intensity. When I finally started to open up to him, he reacted with aloofness and indifference. It was clear he was emotionally unavailable to me. With the power dynamic switched, my natural reaction was to chase – try harder, initiate more, and stick around in hopes he would turn around.

By through all the self-work I’ve done, I’ve learned to recognize the signs of an unhealthy dynamic. I admit, I was attracted and craving a connection with a man who was unavailable.  But what’s different now is my response: I can choose to not engage. I can recognize that I’m worth more and do not need to chase someone who likes me just a little, but not enough. And this, is the decision that starts to break the unhealthy cycle.

Don’t let chemistry cloud your ability to remember your worth. The moment you accept less than your worth, you will get less. The moment you tolerate disrespect and disregard, you set precedent.

It’s chemical

Dr. Larry Young, the director for Translational Social Neuroscience, notes that experiencing a loss from a partner – such as a separation or death, is akin to an addict craving drugs. A study showed that voles separated from their vole partner showed high levels of a stress chemical, corticosterone, and experienced an overwhelming anxiety due to their partner loss.  The voles are driven to go “home” to their partner because only then does the oxytocin (the feel good hormone associated with pair bonding) can help ease the anxiety the separation caused.

Dr. Young states that the vole behavior is similar to humans  – they come back not because they are positively motivated to be with their partners, but because they want the misery of separation to stop.

“We have this normal together, whatever that normal is. And the bad feeling forces you to come back.” He points out that both men and women who have been verbally or physically abused often refuse to leave those relationships similarly to how drugs addicts cannot leave their relationship with drugs. They are chemically hooked. Then, “They rationalize their choice to stay by focusing on positive traits their partner might possess.” Sound familiar?

I truly believe that when it doesn’t work out with someone in the present, it is because it is meant to work out with someone else in the future. But you can’t leave it all up to fate. There’s work to be done on your part too. Each relationship that comes in your life is delivering a lesson for you to learn. If you don’t learn that lesson and evolve, you will only face the same issues with each relationship moving forward. If you want to avoid a lifetime of dating the wrong people, you have to be conscious of the old wounds you need to heal and take action to stop destructive habits and patterns.

The healthier you become on the inside, the healthier the people you will attract, and be attracted to.

94 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply July 9, 2017

    Frieda

    I agree with some of the comments that a person who is good generally expects others to be good.
    Unfortunately I have learned the hard way that not all people have the same integrity when it comes to relationships.
    My last relationship was one where I kept investing and the man was really not interested in marrying me. I thought he was but I was mistaken. In the end he treated me very badly and I was extremely hurt and confused.
    Normally I would have jumped ship a lot sooner, but I had a great deal of faith in this man for some reason.
    This will never happen to me again.
    One of my brothers recently married for a second time. His first wife was a gem, but they married young and he was really not a good husband to her.
    Later, he dated many women, one for over 5 years. She had 3 teenage children and he was not prepared to take the responsibility (their own father was neglectful).
    Then he met his current wife. After 2 years friends and dating she said if you will not marry me we are going to split up. She is a very smart, loving, beautiful and mature woman. He couldn’t believe she would leave. She was dead serious. She had also been married before (her ex husband later came out as gay).
    She was independent and was not prepared to give and give forever without marriage.
    This is an important lesson.
    No matter how much you love a man, if he is not prepared to marry you, get rid of him. You will waste the best years of your life and become exhausted in the process.
    This goes for the men too. If you are really ready for marriage (mature,,loving, stable, have a healthy romantic life with the woman and capable of commitment) ask her to marry you. If she does not want to marry you, ask if there is a specific reason. If she is just “unsure”, leave. You will be throwing away the best years of your life and will become very exhausted by the experience.

    • Avatar
      Reply November 24, 2017

      Need Strength

      This is relevant although it was posted months ago. I have been invested in a relationship for almost twelve years and my partner has had three babies in as many years with two different women in the past three years. I am such a fool for failing to leave. I do t know what I am holding onto. Lately his new strategy is to accuse me of cheating. I’ve never cheated on him in spite of his philandering ways. Recently he had a party and I received a video clip anonymously, and who did I see but him sending out his regards and recognition to his last two children’s mother who was present working at his party in his bar. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I am smart, independent and is generally no nonsense and matter of fact but I am so hooked on this guy to the point where I’ve been depressed of late. I am crippled by the fact that for the first time in my life there is someone I find it so difficult to walk away from. I’ve walked away from other people for far less. What is wrong with me? I just want to walk away and NEVER look back. I am not dependent on him for anything except I feel extremely comfortable sharing my inner thoughts with him. I am generally private and never open up not even to my friends. No one knows how much hurt I am feeling right now. I cry at nights and then smile the next morning. I just want him out of my life forever.

  • Avatar
    Reply July 15, 2017

    Paul

    Well the real problem today is that many single women just can’t Accept us single men for who we really are since they’re so damn picky today when it comes to having a relationship. And since this a very completely different time we live in now which most women now want the very best of all and will never settle for less. They usually go after the very bad boy type of men or men with a lot of Mega Bucks since many women are very greedy, selfish, spoiled, and very money hungry as well unfortunately today compared to the old days when they hardly had any money at all back then. Notice that i said the word Accept back in my comment in the beginning which many women will never Accept us good men even though we make much less money than they’re making these days especially the women that are making a six figure income now. So unfortunately for many of us men out there that are still single we can actually Blame the kind of women that we now have out there nowadays for that one since many of us men Aren’t to really Blame at all since it is the women of today that have really Changed. And there are many of us real good innocent men out there that would really know how to treat a good woman with a lot of love and respect which unfortunately they just Don’t give us men a chance at all which is the very excellent reason why many of them will always pick the Wrong men most of the time. A very bad time today for many of us men looking for a serious relationship these days.

  • Avatar
    Reply October 23, 2017

    Julie

    Thank you so much for this article, it really resonated with me.
    The man who recently dumped me was an unemployed, bipolar, pot head who lived in his mother’s garage. I drove 1.5 hours each way every weekend to see him. We never went to the movies, never had dinner out, never went for a walk, never, ever did any of the activities I enjoyed doing. Every time I visitsd I would bring him geoerices, tidy up, do laundry and I always showed up with little gifts, little tokens of my love and affection. He got an other women pregnent whilst we were together but I still didn’t leave. He ignored my texts and my calls throughout the week but I continued to visit him every weekend. I caught him on an online chat room, looking for sex with other women, he told me if someone offered him sex, he couldn’t turn it down and then dumped me. I guess he was annoyed that I went snooping and caught him out. I truly beloved that if I loved him enough he would eventually love me back. The more he mistreated me the harder I tried to please him and the harder I tried to demonstrate my love for him.
    I’m trying really hard not to contact him and beg him to take me back- this article has helped and has given me something to think about.

  • Avatar
    Reply October 26, 2017

    Ben

    Then again unfortunately which many of us good men really looking for a good woman to have a serious relationship with doesn’t quite work out either for us at all.

  • Avatar
    Reply July 23, 2018

    Mat

    I start to thing that all the dating advice threads are russian propaganda to make people unhappy in unhappy relationships.

  • Avatar
    Reply September 2, 2018

    Reality33

    Today it is the very opposite unfortunately.

  • Avatar
    Reply October 12, 2018

    Lesley

    I found this article very helpful! There was a, lightbulb moment” for me… “They come back not because they are motivated to work on the relationship, but rather they simply want the pain of the separation to go away! “ This really resonated with me! I was married for 27 years to an emotionally unavailable man who treated me very poorly. Time and time again I out ip with his nasty behaviours towards me and could not beat the thought of losing him. Finally it all came crashing down and finally the decision was made. I started dating a man who was definitely not on the same intellect or emotional level as myself. I noticed from the beginning he was not really my type but I still invested. I invested in him and tried to bring out all the positive qualities in him and shadow over the negative. Over time I could see he was not treating me well and very much a user. Yet, even being aware I still could not let him go! This article helped me see why I am doing this. I need to recognize this repeated pattern and break the cycle or I will just repeat this over and over again. I hope others can start to recognize what- ever it is from the past keeping us tied to dysfunctional men. We need to know our worth and value ourselves before we can move on with the right person.

  • Avatar
    Reply December 21, 2018

    John Doe

    The good old fashioned type of women in the past were certainly the best. And most of the women were certainly Real Ladies and very easy to meet as well.

  • Avatar
    Reply January 3, 2019

    dianna fletcher

    This is an amazing article. It resonates with me as I was shocked to see my actions and feelings in print. Yes. I have a combination of the scenarios. I have a fear of being apart. I give hoping he will love me. I know in the only vested one. He has even told me he’s not in love with me. 3 year have gone by and it hasnt changed. I will print this article and read it every day as I come to recognize that I deserve better.

  • Avatar
    Reply March 9, 2019

    Yuk!!

    Feminist Poison; women good, men bad.
    You could easily exchange women for men and it would read the same.
    So why wasn’t it written in a gender neutral way ?
    Feminism; loser men vs super women. Yuk!!

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