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Why Bad Men Happen to Good Women

If you’re convinced you’re a jerk-magnet, think again. It can be easy to come to that conclusion if you’ve repeatedly found yourself in dead-end relationships with men who are all wrong for you. Yet there are reasons you keep finding yourself there, and those reasons can be addressed and eliminated.

Here are six common dynamics that may be keeping you stuck in the rut of relationships with the wrong guys:

1. You don’t think there are any good men left. If you don’t believe there are any “right” men out there, settling for the wrong one may feel like your only option. Taking an honest look at what you believe about men in general may be a great first step toward interrupting a frustrating dating pattern.

2. You don’t know your criteria for the right man. If you have never taken the time to visualize in great detail the right man for you, recognizing him in real life is going to be a challenge. What are his personality traits? Can you describe his values and beliefs? What are your must-haves in order to consider someone for dating or marriage? Knowing your criteria for the right man for you begins with knowing yourself. If you don’t understand yourself well enough to understand what you need in partner, you’re in far greater danger of welcoming the advances of men who are all wrong for you.

3. Even when you realize you’re with “Mr. Wrong,” you’re not sure how to end the relationship. Some women are intentional about recognizing the wrong man, getting out, and moving on. Others tend to hang in there with a guy far longer than is wise or healthy. It’s possible that you’re staying too long in the wrong relationship because you’re not sure how to end it. For starters, realize you don’t need your partner’s consent or permission—respect yourself enough to understand that your dissatisfaction alone warrants the breakup. Decide what you need to say or do to exit gracefully.

4. You don’t want to be alone. Sometimes women attract and settle for a string of “Mr. Wrongs” because they jump too quickly into the next relationship . . . and the next . . . and the next. Being okay with “going solo” after a breakup gives you the time to evaluate your past relationship, hone your understanding of yourself, heal from heartache, and appreciate the wholeness and beauty of your life with or without a partner in it. In other words, being okay with being single allows you to choose to be with someone because he meets carefully chosen criteria that fit your unique wants and needs . . . rather than being mindlessly driven to accept someone new because he’s the first guy who asked you out after your last breakup.

5. You believe it’s possible to turn a wrong man into the right man. Maybe you have a savior complex. Maybe you’re co-dependent and need someone to “fix.” Or maybe you’re just optimistic. While it’s always possible for someone to change into someone nicer or healthier, it’s not very probable, especially if your boyfriend isn’t even the one longing for change. Trying to change Mr. Wrong into Mr. Right is a recipe for frustration.

6. You are attracting because you are attracted. Is there something about the “wrong” men that you find initially attractive? You may be attracted to the same wrong type over and over because you’re subconsciously trying to “fix” a past failed relationship, or because your father had some of those characteristics.

Here’s an idea: Ignore your default attraction settings and try something new. If someone you’re not initially attracted to asks you out, don’t immediately say no. Think about this new kind of guy in light of your criteria, or borrow the judgment of a trusted friend. Trying something new is a great way to interrupt a pattern that isn’t working for you.

If you’ve been attracting the wrong guys, take heart: there are plenty of “right” men available. By making sure you have the right attitude and the right perspective, you may soon find yourself with the right guy in love with you.