Why You Repeatedly Choose The Wrong Relationship

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unhappy couple

It seems so simple – two people are attracted to each other, and they either get along and the relationship grows or not, so they break up and move on. But how often do relationships actually work this way?

On one hand, some couples have been unhappily married for 30-plus years, and on the other hand, everyone knows friends who break up with partners every two months, only to date the next, eerily similar candidate. So, why do people pick lovers that break their hearts?

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Here are 5 reasons you repeatedly choose the wrong relationship:

1. The devil, you know

People tend to be drawn to the familiar. Whether it's a former boyfriend, your mom, dad, or brother — regardless of how crazy they may have been — you've become an expert in managing life alongside them. It was tough, but you learned how to handle (or elegantly avoid) them.

Craziness no longer scares you. Maybe you've played a key role in maintaining sanity in your family, and if so, you may take pride in that. You've survived and mastered that challenge; now it is familiar, even comfortable, to you. So when you meet that type of person, you're naturally drawn toward him/her.

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2. Addicted to dysfunction

Sometimes you're with somebody, not for all the rational reasons you think, but because that person meets your subconscious need. The problem is that it can create a bad dynamic.

If you're struggling with depression or boredom, a "drama queen" (or king) makes you feel alive and turns your life into a roller coaster. If you're a wallflower, a charming narcissist might help your social status, but he's hell to live with.

3. Co-dependency

Once you get together with the devil you know, you might find yourself hooked on his or her drama. The dynamics of co-dependency are complex.

While the tremendous costs of your relationship are obvious to everyone, you may also get a significant hidden psychological "kick" out of the relationship. This can affect your brain just like an addictive substance does!

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4. Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem is another huge factor in staying together with a bad match. Many prefer staying with someone who is not good for them to be alone. Dealing with a messy relationship might be easier than dealing with the anxiety and depression of loneliness.

5. Abuse

Abusive partners have a way of getting into your head. They have their own version of reality and blame you for everything. Consequently, you might find yourself going back and forth between believing it's all your fault and realizing it isn't.

Continuous put-downs can suck the energy out of you, leaving you too exhausted to do anything about it. So, where do you go from here?

First, don't assume that things will get better on their own. Second, stop trying to deal with it alone! Surround yourself with supportive people. Third, if there aren't many people you can confide in, don't hesitate to consult with a professional to hash out these problems.

Whatever the reason for your bad relationship, getting help to end it and have better ones in the future is okay.

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Julia Flood is a licensed psychotherapist with over 27 years of experience helping couples in crisis break out of the vicious cycle of hurting and being hurt.