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Why Do Good Women Pick the Wrong Men?

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,...

Written by Amy C · 4 min read >
Image of words on torn paper, used on blog about picking the wrong men

Why do great women pick people who treat them poorly? Who do good women pick the wrong men? 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. but Perhaps you’re picking the wrong men. 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. He was one of those wrong men! 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 and land the wrong men.

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 addict 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 (when you pick the wrong men), 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.

To learn more about how to change old relationship patterns, and how to create healthy ones, join my 2-hour Live Workshop on Sunday, April 25 where I’ll guide you step by step on how to become more secure in your attachment, manage emotions and our reactions to pain and create healthy relationships. Get your ticket here.

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Get the Breakup Guide workbook The Renew Breakup Guide will walk you through the entire process of healing from heartbreak, step by step. For only $9, the guide is packed with tools, exercises, and worksheets to help you repair your heart and move forward. Get it now.

Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile

100 Replies to “Why Do Good Women Pick the Wrong Men?”

  1. im 42 year old bachelor and im just sick and tired of meeting good women in bad relationships who complain to me non stop about the guy and go running back to them when i show interest in them.people have told me im a good person with a huge heart hilarious nice looking sweet calm easy going and i show women this and i get hurt in the end anyway.to this day the one women who i really clicked with personality wise and in most areas scarred me so badly by her treatment of me that i have permanent untreatable emotional issues.i mean im sick of saying it was my fault for all this.some women just have issues and i just give up now.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear this. Some women make it bad for the good one’s. Just like bad guys make it bad for the good guys. #onedayweallwillgetitright

    2. I totally understand your position and concerns. I, too, am sick of it. I am a single woman and one of the problems that I have is attracting what I call the wrong man. What I mean by that is that these guys find me and peruse me until I decide to at least have a casual conversation with him. After spending a little time together. I find that they too, want to compare me to a past person or bad relationship. Constantly guarding themselves and looking for things to go wrong or to be wrong with and about me. I’m a great woman, by I means who is able to take care of myself…it’s just seem better to share happiness with someone else. They way it was intended. Someone who is very deserving of us and whom are not afraid of a little challenge.

    3. Well Mo, sounds like we’re in the same boat! I consider myself to be a nice guy at least I’m told, easy going, good sense of humor, all that and I too meet good women who flat out aren’t interested and or just run off to or Back to a bad relationship. Story of my life. As this article suggests and I am too, look into your past and btw you are Not untreatable. Maybe In an opposite but same way, you’re drawn to women who reflect an earlier situation like the one you spoke of where maybe your efforts, commitment, devotion etc. were Not appreciated and reciprocated. Now why am I drawn to these women? I’ve never been in a real long relationship nor devastated by one. This article also suggests it can go back as far as childhood as well, which is where I think I need to look. I was adopted( not knocking it or my family) and looking at again who I’m drawn to no real long relationships most of which I broke out of for no real good reason, do I have abandonment issues? Fear of getting perhaps Hurt? Again? Who knows. Anyway I thought I’d share since I shared some ideas with you! Good luck man and Hang in there! like this article also suggests, we are getting lessons so as to be ready for the right one so Take Notes 🙂 Nate

    4. I think most people are lost. They constant seek happiness in some way in order to fill-up the void. Alcool, drugs, food, toxic relationships… Anything that may help not to feel the emptiness. I have the same pattern with men: always around 50, with kids and emotional unavailable. It is very difficult to break the cycle. The reason for my choice is so clear that only a fool would carry on doing the same wrong choices: super violet dad and long term relationship with a great man in his mid-40s with two amazing kids. I seek security, emotional not financial (this part I can do by myself). I give it all, dedicate myself, want to build things together. Then all falls appart, over and over… I stay hooked and start hating myself exponentially. I am 32, have a very well paid job, have brains and a good heart and I am beautiful. It is very easy for me to get a men for a relationship (of course for sex as well but I prefer to make love with myself than give my body for a man use as object) whoever everytime I find one I run like it is the plague. Sometimes for instance I really like a guy and I am all into know him better but then he gives the signs that he is really into me and bang… I just run away, I feel so petrified. I am afraid of love. And I continually think about my ex which was the love of my life and broke my soul into million pieces. And no matter I try to glue them, it all falls appart at the minor change.
      At the moment I am trying to not connect with anyone but me – to marry me. In fact the more I am alone without any “toxic man” I feel better and love myself even more. I think I will end up alone but I am actually starting to look at this in a positive way.
      Love is a very special thing and most relationships are based on some sort of dependence.
      Maybe one day I will find love, maybe not. For now I live and enjoy each moment (or at least try!) and keep in my heart that lovely dream of a house full with books, by the sea, with the the melodies of music, the sound of the wind and waves, and the laugh of two children running free mixing all together. The sun is setting… I no longer live in Paris/London nor have a super well-paid job, and yet I fell an immense peace gained with the simplicity of life.
      So yes Mo, I think I will do like you and give up now on the others. Good luck for you!

  2. This is one of the most eye-opening and insightful articles I’ve read! Being in a toxic marriage and reading this article is showing me GLARING signs of my own toxic behavior, exactly! Oh my goodness. I am inviting my husband’s behavior and accepting it by actually accepting it. It’s perpetual, cyclical, really. Ahmazing! He’s filed for divorce twice now,and I still had hope. Isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard? He shows no interest in me, not deep level interest. I only get the surface, and that’s when he wants to show it.

  3. Just because a woman is smart and kind doesn’t mean she’s not also a loser. Whether it because of her own ignorance or simply because she’s, deep down a selfish person, having poor morals will lead you in the wrong direction.

  4. funny I am a single 32 year old well nearly 32 I am happier alone as it does seem most good men in my culture are with “rubbish women” who hardly work or contribute anything to society. Whilst the women who actually contibute something are given nothing in my culture it seems womens position is lower then a mans. AT LEAST IN A DUMB IDIOTS MIND.

  5. Thank you for writing such a great article. It was educational and provided me with some great insight and self reflection. I now have a clear perspective on my current “toxic” relationship and how I will approach new relationships with men. Again, well written with the inclusion of research to back up your premise.

  6. Ever since I watched Maury on TV, I see so many women who take care of losers and deadbeats and expect them to be they’re Forrest Gump and shocked and hurt even though everyone knows he’s been cheating. I always think, you could easily get a way better guy then him and why don’t you???

    Thank you for this article.

  7. Thanks for this article. Its a pain to realize through reading this that my emotionally unavailable dad has somehow led me to be drawn to men who are also emotionally unavailable. And that I have an anxious attachment style. It’s like finding out that the nice looking house I’m living in has pipe problems and termites. I thought everything looked okay from the outside but now I realize I’ve got work to do. I mean I’ll do the work–it’s just that moment of ah…great. Here we go….Okay, now where’s the wrench? This is going to take a while…

    It’s also annoying that good relationships seem to come to people who have gotten to the point where they can take it or leave it and still be fine. It’s like being given a really nice pair of glasses right after you’ve gotten lasik surgery and don’t really need them any more….”Ah thanks for these. Guess they compliment me but I can live without ’em now” It’s like what’s the point? Where’s the excitement? But I guess that’s what makes relationships healthy.

  8. Just look at all the Loser Pathetic Women that us good guys are meeting these days which makes it very bad for us as well.

  9. I’m not sure if it’s because I was molested as a young girl, but I too have picked to losers who I thought were princes. One I had 4 children with and was married to for 30 years, and was cheating on me for years.Divorce #1, then I met my soul mate, who was a billion times worse.He was a sociopath and predator/cheater.Divorce#2. I never thought my life would be like this at 59. I’m a very smart successful woman. How did I get hood-winked so easily. All I wanted was happy ever after. Instead I was taken for my money and my home. How could I have been so stupid and why did I pick two losers?

  10. MJ,

    You got hoodwinked because you don’t think about doing evil to others, so you aren’t looking for it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Although, I hope you have learned your lesson an know the signs. There had to be red flags that you ignored. Do you still have your retirement intact? You said you lost your home. You must have recently gone through a divorce. Things will get better. You do have to love yourself and date yourself for awhile until things straighten out.

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