Why You’re Falling for the Wrong Person (Again & Again).

Via on Mar 22, 2012
Photo: imgur

So why do women (and men) fall madly in love with people who treat them badly?

It’s not the excitement factor. People always talk about the allure of “bad boys,” but I don’t think that’s it. It’s not physical attraction. I don’t care how hot someone is, that’s not enough to make you overlook horrible behavior forever. It isn’t chemistry. It isn’t stupidity. It isn’t some romanticized “Beauty and the Beast” or “opposites attract” scenario.

The real reason we “fall” for people who treat us like crap?

We haven’t learned to love ourselves.

If we don’t have compassion for ourselves, don’t respect ourselves and haven’t made friends with ourselves, we aren’t ready to expect that from anyone else. Want to have a great relationship? Work on your relationship with you first. Take a look inside and get that sorted out. We’re all broken—that’s a given. That isn’t the problem at all! And giving love…giving is easy. It’s easy to love. I think one reason we fall for “douchebags” is because they don’t really care if you let them in—they are happy just taking.

The hard part? Looking honestly at ourselves. Making friends with ourselves enough to look someone in the eye and trust them enough to let them love us back. It’s harder to believe that we deserve to be deeply loved and really let someone in. It starts with maitri:

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“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”

~ Pema Chodron

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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30 Responses to “Why You’re Falling for the Wrong Person (Again & Again).”

  1. Julie m says:

    I love the fact that you plant dandelions! I hope it's true.

  2. Valerie Carruthers ValCarruthers says:

    Love this, Kate. So true! As the sages Lennon and McCartney put it, "the love you make [here meaning the love you make for yourself] is equal to the love you take."

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

    • MadMama says:

      I love what you're trying to convey, however, the quote from the song is, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." To be honest though, I always hear the last word as "made" rather than "make" and for me it gives it a different meaning that I like to ponder on. I do love the Beatles :)

  3. Branáin says:

    Relationships are just an extreme–and very painful–example of the patterns we are all stuck in. It's best to practice on the little things first, like the way you curse every time you drive to work, or how you reach for donuts whenever the deadlines at work near. With some mindfulness under your belt, you can approach your relationships with a little more clarity. And you're right. You need to work on your relationship with yourself first. Don't be afraid to date yourself for a few months before jumping into your next relationship. I don't want to be with someone who needs me to complete her. She's whole all by herself. I'm no missing piece, whatever Shel Silverstein says.

    • "I don't want to be with someone who needs me to complete her. She's whole all by herself. I'm no missing piece, whatever Shel Silverstein says."

      And that, my friend, is the key right there.

  4. Pema Chodron says, "“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with."

    Wow, what a generalization. What about personalism and character and individuality? Sorry, Pema, but I'm not "confused" at all, by anyone, about anything. Nor do I lack braveness or sanity. I do, however, have a whole lotta individuality that I intend to hold onto, and the reason I don't open my heart and mind to everyone is that they're not equipped to deal with me as an individual…..

    • Really? Lots of things confuse me! Especially my thoughts when I get to attached to them and think they are so important. But you, my lady are a force to be reckoned with! Maybe Marilyn's quote would suit you more:

      “I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.” (I think that one sums up all of us too!)

      • Well, no….:) I mean, that’s Marilyn describing herself. I’m sure we all have our insecurities, but for some they’re existential, or life-occupying, or obvious, or whatever….for others it’s just a little bump and we’re conscious of them when they arise and slowly over time they wear away. I’m impatient, yes; selfish, no doubt; I make mistakes constantly. Yet I wouldn’t call myself insecure: in case you haven’t caught on yet, I’m a label-hater :) I’m not “those things.” I might have a moment where I find myself in a situation where something triggers me off; I’d call that a moment of insecurity/fear/doubt, whatever. But that doesn’t make me the person I am: it’s just one tiny spark of me, just as all the other things that make up “me”….

        But I do agree with her last sentence, that if you can’t take me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best. The problem is that we want people to give us that consideration, but we’re often unwilling to give to them, or not aware that we should be doing so.

  5. [...] not only invites us to witness anger, but also to get to know and make friends with ourselves. It gives us a midpoint between expressing anger and repressing it, a place where we can be aware [...]

  6. [...] is a dangerous myth. If we fall in love with this story, we find ourselves falling for the wrong person over and over. Do women love this because it gives them hope that the assh*les they keep falling for will one day [...]

  7. Cletus Gadsen says:

    Whenever I initially left a comment I clicked the Notify me when new comments are added checkbox and now each and every time a comment is added I receive 4 messages with the identical comment.

  8. Torey says:

    As someone that has felt the confusion triggered by other people that leads to shutting down and the pain and loss of trust from a relationship that just is not working, if I am able to make friends with myself, am I then to trust the person that has lead to pain and confusion enough to let them love me back…..or will I just repeatedly fall prey to the same or another "douchbag"?

  9. I am so amazed with the creating of your blog, such a nice information and very presentable, thanks for making this one, I will definitely bookmarked this one.

  10. sometimes your wrong decision brings you with the wrong person, but sometimes it makes your self harder due to experience in the past.

  11. Helena Gwynes says:

    Thanks for sharing the article with all of us.

  12. Sometimes I feel confused when my parter is speaking with me. It's so strange. I have to get her to repeat herself a few times before what she is saying lands with me. Is this what you meant?

  13. vikramsurya says:

    A friend just posted this link to her Facebook so I'm a little late here but had something to share.

    First off — I adore Pema Chodron, and agree with the message of self-love. Absolutely.

    But for me, this message doesn't quite complete this topic. I know plenty of women who have done a ton of work to love themselves and who still fall prey to this pattern of loving jerks. The thing to know is — biologically, just as women are generally more emotionally intuitive with each other and children, they are also more keenly tuned to and attracted to status in men. Anthropologists have studied this cross-culturally and it is just generally true. It is the basis of patriarchy — women pursue higher-status men; or in other words men usually partner up with lower-status women, and we have an entire world of partnerships and families constituted with this gender dynamic, with men on top. The only societies where it's different are matrilineal and matriarchal, of which there are very few examples.

    Scholars call the phenomenon hypergamy (colloquially "marrying up") — and it's so powerful that even when women are mistreated, they will often stick with a partner who is of higher status. From a man's point of view — and this is the irony — the very fact of mistreating someone and getting away with it is a sign of status, so it becomes a vicious cycle we all know: douchebags are strangely rewarded for their behavior.

    So you really want to break their spell on you? Yes, develop abundant self-love. But also work to break your relationship to status-seeking through your love relationships. Part of this is loving yourself, but just as big a part is learning to look for the right things in a partner. Find the men who can be confident and powerful in their own right, and also deeply respectful of women, who can really love you for who you are. Once you know what you're looking for — you'll see there are quite a few such men out there!

    • Yes! I completely agree. I think many women look for security (of all sorts) from their partner, when they'd probably be happier in the long run taking care of that themselves, an then finding a partner.

    • discogal says:

      Agree with you both – and sometimes it's just so insane to hear someone talk badly about anyone (including their partner aa me at the time that you push back to be heard so they can evolve from thinking in their negatively biased way… but now ive learned – let them… and walk away… and fly solo until I find a guy… "who can be confident and powerful in their own right, and also deeply respectful of women, who can really love you for who you are". ha – nice one x

  14. rik richard says:

    the word 'ego' comes to mind. i can expand, but i'm sure that you know what i mean…

  15. Mr Tang says:

    Nice piece as ever! Thank you. By the way – this applies to guys who are abused by women, although that's a less talked about issue..

  16. Tina D says:

    I agree with the gentleman above. I am a kind, caring and loving individual and have been in 3 abusive relationships in a row. My issues is the compassion I gave…tooo much compassion to their horrid excuse of abusive behaviours. I do love myself enough, it was them that didn't in order to take me down or take down what I had! Some may not love themselves but I do and I fought for myself when time and time again beaten w their abusive behaviours. I can't control others but I can control myself! They were all snakes and liars and eventually I figured it out and I was the bad one?? Think not, try again!

  17. Amy E says:

    Tina D…you could be me. I could have written those words myself. I have spent my entire life helping others. It was my calling since playground days. I have helped raise 13 children (none of whom were mine). I have helped 2 husbands become successful. I have worked with battered women and children. I have helped immigrants with legal issues. I donate to numerous charities and local organizations. I have given away half my money. I have bought houses for people; paid off their debts; saved their homes from foreclosure; paid rent for several more; given free housing to those without means; bought cars, computers, phones; paid for medical expenses…I could go on and on. I was very happy with my life. I love people and I have a big heart. What have I received as a reward in the last decade? Bad apples in the barrel, out to ruin my reputation. All it takes is one determined person to ruin your life. Thankfully, I have my faith and THE TRUTH has (finally) recently prevailed. Thank you God for watching over us!

  18. FeatherStory Aniweda says:

    I "fell" because it was easy to fall. Because I wanted someone to love, didn't quite realize how much love I could actually give to myself at the time. I had to see what capacity I had to love and I learned it by loving someone who was extremely difficult to love. Now I know how much love I have to give…and I give it freely to myself, my children and people who kindly and healthily love me back.

  19. MadMama says:

    This single line spoke volumes to me: I think one reason we fall for “douchebags” is because they don’t really care if you let them in—they are happy just taking.

    While I refer to my ex-husband as a douchebag, he is actually a narcissist. I gave and gave, he took and took, sometimes without me even realizing what parts of my self and being I was giving up.

  20. englishthistle says:

    I constantly fall for the wrong guy because I was raised to believe I didn't deserve better. When you're repeatedly told by the people you love and look up to (ie; your family) that you are worthless, unattractive, lazy and stupid, you just assume that it's true and therefore if you're emotionally or physically abused by the man you love, it's because you're not worth more than that. It's taken me a long time and a lot of hard work to realise how utterly wrong this is and believe me, it's a daily process!

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