Do you feel like you’re constantly stuck in a loop of falling in love with the wrong kind of person? You may start off with a seemingly harmless mismatch, but end up in a downright toxic or even abusive relationship. It’s easy to dismiss these patterns of attraction as mere coincidence, but they could indicate something deeper. In fact, it’s your mental health that could be influencing your unconscious choices. In this article, we will explore the impact of mental health on attraction, and how it may lead you into the arms of an unhealthy someone.
The Love Blueprint
If you want to find out the roots of your love choices, psychotherapist Amy Morin suggests looking for clues in your childhood. Did one of your parents constantly need fixing and reassurance? Did you have to walk on eggshells around them? It might be why you believe that’s what relationships are all about, and that’s how your relationship blueprint is created. It is the set of beliefs, values, and expectations that shape how you approach and navigate romantic relationships. Life coach Desislava Ivanova explains that our unconscious mind is programmed to seek out people who match our blueprint. Your mind is incredibly skilled at recognizing patterns, and it takes all the positive and negative characteristics of your parents or caregivers and combines them into that blueprint. And when you grow up, you’re naturally drawn to people who match it. Unfortunately, this can sometimes attract you to toxic partners who awaken old traumas.
Growing up unhappy and ending up in bad relationships could take a toll on your self esteem. And if you don’t really like yourself that much, you need someone nice and caring by your side. But unfortunately, your heart might not be so attracted to those kinds of partners. In 1981, social psychologist William Swann came up with a concept called self verification theory. This theory tells us that you search for people who see you just as you see yourself, because it verifies your self image. This means that if you have low self esteem, you may unknowingly be attracted to those who make you feel like your low self-worth is well deserved. For example, you may believe that you are not deserving of love or respect, so being with someone who treats you right might feel odd and uncomfortable.
The Shared Battle
Over time, these experiences can drain your mental health. And if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health condition, you may be attracted to those who feel the same way. A 2016 research study found that those with a psychological issue are more likely to marry someone who also struggles, often with the same condition! Researchers found that people with disorders like autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, as well as those with schizophrenia, had a tendency to marry people with the same diagnosis. It might be possible that having someone similar by your side makes you feel supported and understood. But sometimes, you might get attracted to someone whose mental condition is characterized by aggression, manipulation and lies. In those instances, recognizing your love blueprint and the patterns that follow you becomes the first step of getting your love life back on track.
Do you see yourself in some of these patterns? Let us know in the comments! If you do find yourself attracted to toxic partners because of your mental health, please remember that this is not a conscious choice! Your brain might be wired to like unavailable partners, but it’s not impossible to rewire it. Seeking help from a mental health professional might help. Meanwhile, you can take a look at the video we linked below. Thanks for reading, and take care!
Take a look at this video made by a psychiatrist Dr. Tracey Marks to learn how to stop the cycle of negative relationships:
- iam.Desislava. (2020). Why are we attracted to certain types of people? Why opposites attract? [Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b05p-zSjUSk&t=3s
- Morin, A. (2021, April 22). Ask a therapist: Why do I keep dating people who have major issues? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/ask-a-therapist-why-do-i-keep-dating-people-who-have-major-issues-5180062
- Nordsletten, A. E. (2016). Patterns of nonrandom mating within and across 11 major psychiatric disorders. JAMA Psychiatry, 73(4), 354–361. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3192
- Swann, W. B., Jr. (2012). Self-verification theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 23–42). Sage Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446249222.n27