by Andrea M. Darcy
Life inevitably throws curve balls and we all need help and support now and then.
But if you are always attracting partners with deep-rooted issues who are in need of counselling, this isn’t just life being life. It’s a pattern that needs to be examined.
7 Reasons You Always Pick Partners With Big Unresolved Issues
So why is it you always meet others who need some help?
1. You were a very ‘good girl’ or ‘good boy’ as a child.
If you were always the ‘good’ kid, it can mean that at some point you learned you had to fit into what others want to receive attention.
“I like you better when you are being a good girl.” “Bad boys stay in their rooms until they are ready to behave in an acceptable way.” “What would Mummy do without her angel”. These are all versions of teaching a child that only part of them is worthy of love and affection.
Children raised with this sort of parenting grow up into adults who hide vast parts of themselves, aspects they don’t accept or expect others to.
This of course attracts others who are as equally inauthentic, hiding their issues, possibly depressed ( thus attracted to someone who seems ‘happy’ and ‘good’ all the time) and likely very critical. In other words, someone in need of counselling.
[For a great read on this topic, we suggest the classic book The Drama of Being a Child by Alice Miller.]
2. You have attachment issues.
Attachment theory believes that a child needs consistent and unconditional love and support from a trustworthy caregiver to grow into an adult that can relate to others in healthy ways.
If this attachment doesn’t take place, the child will grow up with a flawed ‘attachment style‘ (way of connecting with others).
This can leave you prone to making poor choices of just who you should invest in connecting with in the first place.
3. You are codependent.
Somewhere along the line you learned you only have worth if you help others, or that committing yourself to being an endless support to another is the best way to guarantee you’ll be loved.
Known as codependency, this sort of ‘you must love me because I am so useful to you’ pattern attracts people who need help. This includes alcoholics, addicts (drugs, work, sex addiction… any sort of addict appreciates a good ‘helper’), and those with low confidence and anger issues.
4. You have self-esteem issues.
Always choosing partners with issues means that on a certain level you don’t believe you deserve a relationship with someone with enough energy for a healthy relationship. In other words, you have hidden low self-esteem.
5. You use relationships like a drug.
Sometimes it’s a need for drama that has you picking partners with serious issues.
On a surface level, drama can make you feel interesting and exciting.
But on a deeper level, it is often because you are using the drama of dating someone with issues like a drug. This helps you to avoid facing what you don’t like about life and yourself. This is often referred to as being a ‘love addict‘.
6. You have your own issues to deal with.
Inevitably, always choosing partners with issues masks that you yourself have issues that need resolving. The partners you choose can be ways into seeing what issues these are. For example, the woman with trust issues is attracted to the man who is unreliable, the man with low self-esteem is attracted to the woman who is always critical or emotionally abusive, and the addict is attracted to the codependent who gets worth from taking care of others.
It’s also common to choose partners who are similar to the parent you have the most unresolved issues with. It’s as if a part of you longs to heal from the past and so recreates the same issues. If you had a controlling mother who always put you down, you might pick a partner who does the same. (Read our piece ‘Worried Your Partner is Like Your Parent?’ for more on this dynamic).
7. You experienced childhood trauma.
If you experienced trauma as a child and have not resolved it, you might find yourself attracted to similarly damaged partners.
For example, a child who was abused as a child might end up with a partner who abuses him or her, even if a different way. So even if your partner is not physically abusing you, they might be emotionally abusing you, or doing abusive things like withholding love or using you for money.
Recognise yourself in the above?
What matters is not the hand you are dealt, but how you deal with it. This might mean seeking couples counselling if you are still with your partner and they are willing.
But if you are seemingly only able to attract partners who won’t seek therapy even though they need it, it might be time to recognise the best way to attract partners who don’t have unresolved issues is to at last resolve your own.
Harley Therapy offers friendly and highly experienced counsellors and therapists in three London locations, as well as worldwide via online counselling.
Andrea M. Darcy is a health and wellbeing expert, trained in person-centred counselling and coaching. She often writes about trauma, relationships, and ADHD, and advises people on how to plan their therapy journey. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy