You’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult. You know yourself and what you like, right? And yet you keep making the same mistake over and over, maybe with variations. But still, you choose the wrong partner. Some of it is trial and error—it takes time to explore what works for you. But after awhile, if you’re still making the wrong choices, it’s time to take a look at the reasons why.

Old-Fashioned Fear. You’re afraid nobody will actually want to have a relationship with you and you’re so surprised when someone does that you gratefully accept when you shouldn’t. Or you’re afraid if you don’t find someone now, all the good guys will be married and you’ll be left with a pool of losers. Or you’re afraid the clock is ticking and if you don’t have a baby soon, you may never get the chance. Or you may be experiencing just plain old fear of being alone.

Falling for the Physical. It’s so easy to get carried away by someone who is hot. Super attractiveness can make you weak in the knees, but don’t let that be the overriding characteristic that you choose. Potential partners who aren’t quite as hot may become more desirable over time because they put effort into other, more important things. There’s nothing wrong with being physically attracted to someone—quite the contrary—but don’t let that be the only thing you think about.

Why Do You Keep Picking The Wrong Partner? Nancy'S Counseling Corner

Misguided Values. Men often complain that all women care about is a man’s wallet. This is a sure-fire way to be unhappy if that is your sole criterion for choosing a partner. Back in the old days, women were encouraged to marry for money or to find someone with good potential for making money. But that was back when women had fewer career options and fewer means of supporting themselves. Now, when women and men have more opportunities, both want to have meaningful work, take good care of themselves and invest in their financial success. Under these circumstances, you are much more likely to have an equal, solid relationship.

Tripping Over Baggage. Everyone is the sum of his experiences. For some that includes children from prior relationships, health problems, family issues, student debt—you name it. You don’t want somebody with more problems than you have. In fact, you don’t want somebody with any problems. So as the relationship advances and you discover that your partner does not, in fact, have a flawless background, you’re outta there. It’s not that you’re picking the wrong partner, but that you have unrealistic expectations. Or maybe you’re the opposite. Maybe you’re a rescuer who actually seeks someone with problems you can “fix.” This is also a recipe for disaster.

Insecurity Is an Obstacle. It’s hard to have an authentic, reciprocal relationship when one of you has low self-esteem. If you’re insecure, you’re likely to choose a partner who will treat you like your insecure self-expects—badly. You choose a partner who feels about you like you feel about yourself, which is not good. Or you choose a partner who will treat you as you’ve been accustomed to being treated by a family who did not give you a reason to believe your value. You wonder if you are even worth loving so you find a partner who is a “project.” Someone you can work on and fix so you can feel like you deserve a partner. But the fact is, you were born deserving a healthy relationship, and before you can get that you need to build your self-esteem.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: