I never make the same mistake twice; I make it five or six times, just to be sure. – Unknown
Does this sound familiar? I’m thinking you’re thinking, “I should know better, yet I continue to make the same mistake.” Most of us have, at one time or another, asked ourselves, "Why do I continue falling for the wrong guy?"
Here are five reasons why we go for the same guy, the wrong guy, over and over again:
History has a way of repeating itself. Researchers believe that in order to categorize the type of partner you are seeking, you first have to evaluate the type of partner you’ve sought out previously (Gollwitzer and Sheeran).
You don’t end up with a partner by accident, nor do you find yourself with the same type of partner repeatedly by coincidence. As a basic human instinct, we gravitate toward the familiar. Unfortunately, our instincts may be “off.”
Reassuringly, we often know what is healthy and what is unhealthy, in terms of romance. The problem arises when an attraction cannot be suppressed.
Researchers have found that when mate selections are assessed in a state of cool rationality, our preferences are often different than those in the heat of the moment (Eastwick and Finkel). While "loyal" and "reliable" are mate-worthy qualities, in the heat of the moment, we often opt for exciting and unpredictable.
Whether a person is motivated to feel good about a potential partner or to accurately evaluate one depends on the person's motivation. Different motives likely influence how biased and/or accurate your evaluations are (Gagne and Lydon).
Researchers propose that there are two competing motivational concerns: one in which you’re more likely to be objective, impartial and fact-driven when evaluating a potential partner, and the other in which you strive to maintain or enhance your positive beliefs about a potential partner.
Your current situation (e.g. turning 30 versus looking for a summer fling) will affect your motivation to either “feel good” or accurately evaluate a potential partner.
We often evaluate romantic relationships with blinders.
When deciding to enter a dating relationship, we tend to focus on positive feelings about the partner, while often failing to disregard or acknowledge warning signs or red flags as to why this relationship won’t work (Murray, Holmes and Griffin).
Researchers have demonstrated that people are unrealistically optimistic about the success of their plans after they decide to engage in a particular course of action (Taylor and Gollwitzer).
People often derive their predictions based on their hopes and aspirations. In other words, sometimes the brain cannot deter the heart’s pursuit once an end goal has been recognized. We all believe the outcome will be different this time around.
We have the potential to stop ourselves from experiencing déjà vu. Optimism needs to co-exist with realism.
In reality, he will only change if it is his choice – not for you or because of you. What you can change are your own thoughts and behaviors. Changing a behavior is a conscious decision made by you, and you alone.
Until you are ready, advice or counsel from others — and even yourself — is irrelevant. Most of us cannot change overnight; it may take another week or another heartbreak before we’re ready.
If you find yourself thinking about making a change, you might find this exercise, proposed by Barbara De Angelis, PhD, revealing. First, make a list of each of your past partners. Second, list each partner’s negative qualities next to his name.
Third, circle any words and/or qualities that are consistent between partners. Finally, make a summary list composed of those words and/or qualities. Then, ask yourself, do I see a trend? Am I choosing the same type of partner?
This summary list may provide some insight into the type of person you attract and to whom you are attracted. Once you begin to recognize your behavior, you may or may not decide to further analyze why you continue falling for the wrong guy.
Often times, our emotional wants are in conflict with our brains, but the power is in our hands. However, when we continue to make the same mistake repeatedly, it is no longer a mistake, it now becomes a choice.
So, ask yourself, once again, why do I continue falling for the wrong guy? Perhaps, he’s simply what you choose.