Why Do Good Women Pick the Wrong Men?

we accept the love we think we deserve

Why do great women pick people who treat them poorly? Smart, beautiful, incredible individuals – who give 110% to a man who in return, are only half-vested, part-time, and approach the relationship with a “me”, not “we” mentality.

And while your friends see that your relationship is unhealthy, and your rational mind does too, you just can’t seem to get out.  You know deep down inside that the person is not right for you, but make justifications and excuses over and over again.  You stay. You try even harder. You’re hooked.

Why does this happen?

1. The more you invest, the more vested 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 engage in another act of love, 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 is rooted in the hopes you will get love and acknowledgement 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 male figure in your life as a child, or your first relationship was one that left you hurt and wounded. It is possible that you are choosing relationships that repeat the unavailability, rejection or abandonment issues that were familiar in your earliest relationship with the opposite sex. 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, inaccessible relationships.

I once started to develop feelings for someone and as I started to open up to him, he reacted with aloofness and indifference. It was clear he was emotionally unavailable to me. My natural reaction was to try harder, initiate more, and stick around in hopes he would turn around.

This is what I would have done in my early twenties, but a decade later,  I’ve learned to recognize the signs of an unhealthy dynamic. My craving and desire to make it work with a guy like him is similar to those same attractions in my early twenties. 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 than to invest in someone who likes me just a little, but not enough. And this, is the decision that starts to break the unhealthy cycle.

Don’t ever forget your worth. The moment you accept less than your worth, you will get less. The moment you tolerate disrespect and disregard, you set precedent.

3. 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 behaviour 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 the universe’s way of 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 men, you have to be conscious of the old wounds you need to heal and take action to stop destructive habits and patterns.  After all, you have to be the “right one” until you will meet the “right one”.


Disclaimer: This is not a bash on men. I am a woman and writing from a woman’s point of view. You can flip the genders and the same points would apply.



  • Reply January 6, 2015


    this has help me so much. thank you thank you thank you. I was in 3 bad relationship all in a row. the last one was a guy that I dated in the past 2 other times. on the 3d try I felt that we are both up thear in age so this time will be a charm right?! NOT! it was just as bad as the other 2 times we dated. the thing about it is deep down inside I knew that it wasn’t going to work. but I still tried. just like with the other 2 ex boyfriends that I had b4 him. spent money on them and thear kids to prove my love. and it did nothing for me but put me in debt. i kept saying to myself why? i am the nicest person you will ever meet. and i have a big heart. why cant i find someone that is equal to me. someone that i can love and that will truly love me back. well now i know why. fyi when i was younger my father left my mother for another woman. growing up i see how different he was with me and my sibles then he was with his new set of kids. he gave them everything. and we got nothing. i am 38 years old now and i still don’t have a good relationship with my father because of that. even now that all of us are grown up. he still favors his kids from the 2nd marriage then the first. so now i know why i am always trying to prove my love. i am still looking for my fathers love and approval. Still trying to get him to be proud of me by looking out for my younger siblings. and even then my father still doesn’t see how much of a good woman i am. i had to pull back from that because my younger siblings are now starting to take advantage of me. just like the men i dated. i need to make a change and i will start with me. it was hard pulling back from my younger sisters. but i know now what it is. i can not make someone love me no matter who they are.

  • Reply February 10, 2015


    You mention that you might be attracted to a partner that repeats the patterns you had in childhood because it’s familiar and, therefore, comfortable. But it’s actually more than that. The “repetition compulsion” drives us to repeat those situations so that, this time around, we can master them.

    This isn’t inherently a bad thing. If we can find a situation in which to replay some of these wounds and actually can master them, it can be the most healing thing possible. However, the problem is we often end up in these situations and the other person remains completely unwilling to open up to change.

    It’s no wonder people are so torn on what to do when they’re in this situation – stick with someone who offers the hope of healing past wounds or leave them and instead choose someone more stable but who may offer less deep healing. I wrote the article linked to this comment about this dilemma.

  • […] relationships and their partners the more they became more attached to the man. The more she is hurt the more she wants to try and invest and that it is something […]

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