Is your dating history a bit of a disaster?
Maybe it feels like you always seem to attract people who are damaged in some way.
This article will look at the different reasons why you attract broken people, so you can understand what’s going on and how to change it.
10 reasons why you attract broken people
1) Subconsciously you are drawn to them
So much of how we behave is subconscious.
It not only shapes how we act, but it also impacts how others relate to us too.
On a conscious level, we may think we want quite the opposite of what it is that we are attracting. But on a subconscious level, something else is going on.
We can go subconsciously looking for the wrong things.
For example, perhaps we attract the “wrong types” as a defense mechanism.
The subconscious logic is that if it’s doomed to fail from the start it prevents you from truly connecting and so keeps you safe in some way.
The obvious reason it is so tricky to avoid subconsciously attracting broken people is for the very reason that we aren’t even aware of it.
As Researcher Magda Osman explains, unconscious forces can silently pull our strings behind the scenes.
“Unconscious mechanisms, through the preparation of neural activity, set us up for any action we decide to take. But this all happens before we consciously experience intending to do something. Our unconscious appears to rule all actions we ever take”.
You could be inadvertently doing and saying things that pull the wrong people and relationships toward you.
The good news is that our conscious mind does play a role. Although we may not understand everything we do, we can actively question it.
Attraction is complex, but it doesn’t need to be unconscious. As Magda Osman asserts:
“So why did you fall in love with your partner? Maybe they made you feel strong or secure, challenged you in some way, or smelt nice. Just like any other matter of importance, it is multifaceted, and there is no single answer. What I’d argue is that it’s unlikely that your conscious self had nothing at all to do with it.”
If you notice a pattern of attracting broken people into your life, your consciousness may need to step up and take more of an active and questioning role in the decisions you make.
The fact that you are seeking out this article in the first place suggests this is something you are already doing.
2) You want to be their savior
Some unhealthy relationships fall into roles where one person is the victim and the other the savior.
Maybe you always need to find a solution for people, you are convinced that if they just made certain changes it would be life-altering for them, and you really believe that you can help them.
Wanting to help is one thing. But as Healthline points out:
“There’s a difference between helping and saving…Savior tendencies can involve fantasies of omnipotence. In other words, you believe someone out there is capable of single-handedly making everything better, and that person happens to be you.”
You see a broken person and you think you can change them. You see them as a fixer-upper. A project to take on.
In some way, you get a sense of satisfaction (and even superiority) in being the wise one who can take the lead.
If they are broken then you get to feel needed. The thought that you could be the one to heal them feeds your own self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
Helping make them a better person, makes you feel like a better person.
Which leads very nicely to the next point. Attracting broken people often says more about you than it does about them…
3) Something in you is broken too
Many years ago I was having a heart-to-heart with a friend.
I was explaining to her how I seemed to have a habit of attracting emotionally unavailable men.
Her question to me came as somewhat of a surprise and a wake-up call:
Do you think YOU are emotionally available?
The reality is that to a certain extent, like really does attract like.
That doesn’t mean you are identical to the people you are attracting. Or have the same issues.
But we tend to gravitate toward others who share similar traits or whose own unique set of damage somehow fulfills some of our own unhealthy subconscious tendencies.
You may be more inclined to allow broken people in if:
- You have low self-esteem
- You are lacking in self-love
- You have low standards
- You think that’s all you can get or all that you deserve
- You feel desperate for a relationship
Maybe on some levels, you identify with them in some way.
The way you feel about yourself heavily dictates the people you allow into your life and the behaviors you will (and won’t) put up with.
If you have self-confidence, self-worth, and self-love issues to address (and the vast majority of us do!) then it can mean you go looking for love, validation, and security outside of yourself, because you aren’t finding it within yourself.
4) You’re addicted to the drama
As strange as it might at first sound, it’s not uncommon to seek out drama.
The intensity of strong emotions can be quite intoxicating. It can even be confused with passion.
Some people seem to seek out a state of crisis. It’s almost as though they get a kick out of it.
As draining as it might be, seeking out an emotional rollercoaster means you never get bored.
But there are deeper biological and psychological reasons for it according to Psych Central.
“The truth is that there is a portion of this behavior that has a biological basis. Some people are just wired for more extreme emotions. They are naturally more exuberant or feel more deeply affected by difficult circumstances than others. But that’s not the only factor. A tendency for strong emotions or not, the drama queen (or king) is also likely influenced by the life experiences they have had as they’ve grown.”
There are many reasons why someone can come to enjoy the unpredictability and uncertainty of being caught up in drama. Such as looking for a distraction as a tactic of avoidance, attention seeking, as a coping mechanism, a desire to feel extreme emotions, etc.
For other people though, it’s not necessarily drama that they seek, it’s actually depth. Which leads nicely onto our next potential reason.
5) You appreciate depth
As Aristotle once said: “There is no great genius without a touch of madness.”
Maybe you crave depth and not drama. But unfortunately, sometimes that brings drama.
The more complex and multidimensional someone is, arguably the more likely they have struggled with their demons.
Perhaps you would rather take that, and all its complications, over shallow connections.
Life is full of light and shade. And often the two are so closely intertwined that we cannot neatly separate them.
This idea of a fine line existing between genius and madness has long been a recurrent theme, as discussed in Live Science:
“Many of history’s most celebrated creative geniuses were mentally ill, from renowned artists Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo to literary giants Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allan Poe. Today, the fabled connection between genius and madness is no longer merely anecdotal. Mounting research shows these two extremes of the human mind really are linked.”
The reality is that we cannot always remove the most undesirable parts of ourselves and others from what it is that also makes us special.
They exist on a spectrum. Perhaps the qualities that you enjoy in someone are inextricably linked to things that make them in other ways appear broken.
6) You have poor boundaries
Boundaries are important. We use them in relationships to keep us safe and protected from other people’s BS.
They help us define where we (and others) stand. Without them, we risk losing control.
As Mark Manson points out: “Boundaries in relationships work both ways: they create emotional health and are created by people with emotional health.”
It’s easy to see how boundaries can become blurred when dealing with people who are emotionally unstable or damaged.
When faced with intense emotions, your ability to maintain boundaries may become compromised.
But often people who take advantage prey on those with weak or undefined boundaries.
In a way, you then let broken people over step the line because you struggle to say no or keep them at a distance.
And before you know it, you become drawn in and play along with their games.
7) You’re a kind, compassionate and empathetic person
I’ve spoken already about how many of our positive traits can also become a breeding ground for our problems.
Our strengths can still leave us open to weaknesses.
It may be that you have an open heart, which is a wonderful thing. But all that sensitivity and understanding is attractive to someone who is broken and looking for support.
On the other hand, your kindness and compassion mean you find it hard to dismiss or discount people, even when you probably should for the sake of your own well-being.
You may feel guilty or take on responsibility for someone else. You may worry about them. This can be especially common if you’re a natural empath.
People pleasers can also find themselves more easily being pulled into someone else’s issues.
Your sensitivity and empathy mean that you can see beyond someone’s problems and look deeper at what lies beneath.
Whilst it’s admirable, it’s not your job to mould them into the version that you know they can be. The work can only ever be done by them.
8) You’re not learning lessons
The emotional pain we experience in life may hurt like hell, but it’s also the ideal classroom for growth and development.
Pain ultimately helps us to learn lessons.
We understand that putting our hand in the fire is agony and so it’s best not to do it again.
But unlike physical pain, we can be slower to learn the lessons from emotional turmoil. And we can end up repeating the same mistakes, sometimes over and over again.
You ignore red flags. You underestimate how damaged someone really is. You don’t want to acknowledge the problems that exists, because they are inconvenient and in the moment go against your desires.
We’re often told to go with our feelings, but sadly feelings cannot always be trusted. Blindly following emotions can mean we get stuck in a pattern and fall into unhelpful cycles.
Sometimes we do have to use our head over our heart. Because what we think is our heart speaking to us is actually unhealthy patterns repeating themselves.
9) It feels familiar to you
So what causes these unhelpful patterns that we can end up repeating?
Sometimes they spring from something as innocent, yet deeply ingrained, as routine and familiarity.
Once you’ve experienced broken people, you know what to expect and that feels comforting in some way.
For example, let’s say you find yourself ending up with certain types of people. Perhaps with addiction problems, anger issues, particular mental health problems, cheating behaviors, or who are emotionally unavailable, etc.
It could be that in a weird way your exposure to this kind of person makes them feel safe, simply because it is familiar to you.
Our preferences are subtly programmed into us from such a young age.
They are shaped by what we observed in our own family units, which we then go on to model our own relationships on.
We then continue to seek out what feels normal to us, even when it’s not really serving us.
10) You don’t, but we’re all slightly broken
I’d like to leave you with this as a final thought:
We are all broken to a certain extent.
Life is quite the ride, and none of us get through it without a few scrapes.
Maybe you don’t attract broken people, you attract real people.
And real people carry the scars of past hurts.
That’s not to say you should ignore huge red flags or unreasonable behavior from a partner. You obviously do not want to welcome dysfunction into your inner circle.
But it is to say that scratch below the surface and we’ve all got issues.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line.
We have to accept other people’s flaws and imperfections. Just as they will hopefully accept ours.
That vulnerability is what creates truly deep and fulfilling relationships. But that cannot be at the detriment of your own well-being.
You are never responsible for fixing another person. And it is perfectly ok to put your own self-protection first.