Why we choose inappropriate partners

Have you ever sworn off men forever and months later found yourself in yet another heartbreak after the new guy turned out to be wrong for you? Well, the good news is you are not alone. Choosing inappropriate partners is something lots of women do. The rose-tinted glasses are strong, and we seem hardwired to get it wrong. It is frustrating but thankfully by learning the most common reasons why this happens, it empowers us all to make better choices in relationships and break repetitive patterns that lead to disaster and crying into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s while watching Sex in the City.

Familiarity breeds more of the same

All life experiences create imprints in our brain. If you picked up a kitten as a child, you would forever remember how soft their fur is, and how sharp their claws are, but although the latter is somewhat painful, it won’t stop you petting kittens again. The sting of the claws will cause your brain to go ‘Oh yeah, that - I remember that’. Relationships are much the same. Unless we consciously look into the reasons we are making bad choices the pattern will continue. Whether a relationship will last or not, we are drawn to what we know. So, if all we know is something that ends badly, sadly we will likely head that way again in the future as there is absolute safety in the familiar feeling. Childhood experiences play a large part in our choices; if our childhood saw parents who neglected us, who were hardly around or who punished us for their failings, these will have become the blueprints in our brain that we use to find relationships, leading us to, inadvertently, pick people who have similar issues. When this happens, we assume the childhood role and the partner takes that of the parents, which means sadly the relationship will only harm not heal. The key is to recognise the traits we need to avoid and learn how to say no to this type of man before anything even starts.


Wow - for an evolving world society sure has a lot to answer for. From the day we are old enough to think we are showing images of marriage, children, and happily ever after. If that is not happening, there is an internal sense of panic and a desire to find any relationship that might even fit just a little bit. So many false myths banded about. Being alone is not considered right. Being single is regarded as a fault. Of course this is far from true, but is it that bad we need to grab the best of the worst and hope we are not too miserable for however long we can tolerate it? The answer, in case you are wondering, is no. It is better to be single for a while so that you can find a man worth your love and time.


Which brings us neatly to the final point. Our inner insecurities have a massive part to play in finding a good relationship as opposed to lurching through a series of failed dalliances. To find a partner that you can cultivate a long-term relationship with, one built on mutual respect, love, compassion and understanding; first, we have to accept that we are worth all those things. Learning to love the person in the mirror is one of the first steps to attracting the right sort of mate. No one, and this is so important it is worth repeating, no one is perfect. Whether you are a size 6 or a size 20 bears no reflection on your worth. You might have trust issues, you might have money issues, you might think you have a wonky nose or a strange laugh, but trust me none of that makes you invalid or inferior. To break the cycle of poor relationship choices, first, you need to fall in love with yourself. You are worth so much more than you believe, and projecting those insecurities is a bit like hanging a neon sign over your head that says ‘bad relationships welcome here’. To attract a better match, you need to believe that you are worth nothing less than amazing.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Taunton TA1 & London WC2H
Written by Joanna Bieszczad, MSc, PgDip, BSc (Hons), BABCP (Accred)
Taunton TA1 & London WC2H

Joanna Bieszczad has been working in mental health for over ten years in a variety of roles– as a counsellor, a senior CBT therapist, and an EMDR therapist. During this time she was struck by a commonality among her single clients and developed techniques that were able to address the most common problems on their path to finding love.

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