If you seem to attract toxic partners wherever you go, it might mean you have a few personality traits that lead to unhealthy relationships, and have thus fallen into a pattern. That's not to say you should ever blame yourself for someone treating you poorly — especially since relationships are about the dynamic between both partners — but it never hurts to take a step back and analyze the role you might be playing.
Does it seem like you are, in fact, attracting partners due to a few unhealthy habits? If so, you've already taken the first step in making a change. "Sometimes just becoming aware of it, coupled with some serious strength of will, allows you, going forward, to make that cognitive switch in [regards] to your partner choices and your behavior when in a relationship," Jane Reardon, licensed therapist and founder of RxBreakup, tells Bustle.
The good news is that these unhealthy habits can be changed. By being aware of the traits and tendencies that could be attracting people who aren't right for you, you'll be better able to notice a toxic situation when it happens, and get out of if necessary. Seeing a therapist can help you make this change, since they can help you figure out realistic expectations around relationships, Reardon says. You can also work on building your self-esteem, and allowing yourself to be and act differently in relationships, going forward. With time, you should be able to adjust your thinking, change up your bad habits, and attract healthier people. Here are a few personality traits experts say to look out for.
You're Loyal No Matter What
For a relationship to work, both partners obviously need to be trustworthy and loyal to each other. But there is such a thing as being too loyal — especially when it means staying in a relationship that isn't working out.
"Loyalty is a personality trait that definitely can lead you astray if you're not careful," anxiety therapist Eileen Purdy, MSW, MEd tells Bustle. "If you're one to easily adopt allegiance toward people you need to be extra cautious. Often you're wanting more than anything for someone to feel that way toward you or for you to feel secure that you'll never be alone." And that can mean sticking around for toxic situations way longer than you should.
You've Been Called "Codependent"
People who tend to have a codependent personality tend to end up with toxic partners, usually due to the fact they are attracted to partners who "need" them or want to be saved. And vice versa.
"Often they pair up with unhealthy people so they have someone to fix," licensed psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW tells Bustle. "This happens when someone focuses more on another person’s defects than on their own."
Since codependency traits can be rooted in childhood traumas, it may be worth it to see a therapist, so you can uncover what might be causing you to end up in these unhealthy relationships.
You Have Low Self-Esteem
"When individuals have a less than satisfactory view of themselves, they often feel like they don’t deserve someone who loves and cares about them," Dr. Sal Raichbach, PsyD, LCSW, of Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Bustle. "Either consciously or subconsciously, they enter into relationships with people who treat them how they perceive themselves. Often, people with self-esteem issues will stay in unhealthy relationships because they feel they don’t deserve any better or can’t attract someone with healthy relationship skills." To change up this trait, it'll be important to work on building up your self confidence.
You Tend To Be A Bit Self-Centered
Everyone can be a bit self-centered at times, but it's important to make sure that this trait doesn't wreak havoc on your relationship. "If a partner doesn’t see the merit in making the needs of a relationship more important than what they want as individuals, they may not have the necessary goods to make it long-term," Reardon says.
Being aware of this tendency can help, though. Once you realize that you're often putting your partner second, it'll be easier to change, and create a fair and balanced relationship where you can both be happy.
You Focus On External Factors
It's all too easy to focus on the external when it comes to being attracted to someone and falling in love. But if that's the only thing you base your relationship on, it's more likely you'll end up with someone who isn't a good match.
"A lot of people choose partners based mainly on attraction," certified counselor David Bennett tells Bustle. "So, they go for physically attractive and charming partners. This doesn't necessarily lead to always being in toxic relationships, but if you're not choosing someone at least partly based on their values and ethics, you're more likely to end up with someone who is bad for you."
You're Highly Passive
Having a "go with the flow" personality can certainly come in handy in life. And yet, as with all personality traits, it's possible to be too passive, and find yourself in a sticky situation as a result.
"Passive people often put up with being treated badly for much longer than an assertive person would allow," Bennett says. "An assertive person will just speak their mind, or leave the relationship if it gets toxic, but passive individuals will remain silent and often put up with the bad situation." Once you can learn to be assertive, however, you might find that the toxic people fall away from your life.
You Jump Into Things Without Thinking
"Impulsivity has its advantages but one thing to look out for is in the relationship realm," Purdy says. "Those who are impulsive tend to jump in first and think second." And that may explain why you keep ending up with toxic partners.
"When it comes to a relationship, impulsive [people] can switch gears into something more serious with the wrong person before they know it," Purdy says. But it is possible to break the cycle by taking some time to yourself, figuring out what you want, and then moving forward.
You Have Trouble Letting Go
For passive people, it's easy for them to get caught up with controlling partners. But what if you're the one who's more controlling? If that seems to be the case, it can help to look into your past, to figure out why you have this personality trait.
"People with a chaotic personal history tend to need to keep everything in their current domain under tight wraps," Reardon says. "They need to know what’s happening, where everyone is, and exactly when they can expect it to change."
This can be addressed in therapy, if you think it's becoming problem and attracting unhealthy relationships. By uncovering past traumas that lead to you need to control everything, you can eventually learn to let go.
You Have High Empathy
This one is similar to being overly nice in that it can cause you to get caught up in relationships with needy or toxic folks. "People who are high in empathy are typically sensitive, compassionate, and forgiving people," neuropsychologist Rhonda Freeman, PhD tells Bustle. "Unhealthy individuals with patterns of exploitation, domination, and abuse in their history are apt to get away with certain behaviors when their partner has high empathy."
You can, however, break the pattern. "Having empathy is a wonderful trait. Therefore, the approach here would not be how to lessen it, but rather how to protect it," Freeman says. "If you are someone with high empathy, just know that many people with patterns of toxic behavior find people high in empathy to be their ideal partner (most of us would.) Consider the following approaches to protect empathy: Implementation of boundaries, give careful consideration before automatically giving people the benefit of doubt, and seek an education or increased awareness of certain dangerous/manipulative personality types that exploit others. Those are great places to start when you have high empathy."
You Don't Know Who "You" Are Yet
If you don't yet know who you are or what you want, don't be surprised if you struggle to find a healthy relationship. "Your partner can only give you what you need if you know what that is and you ask for it," psychotherapist and relationship coach Nola LaForte tells Bustle. Otherwise, they'll just be left hanging, trying to figure out how to make you happy — which can lead to feelings of frustration.
The good news is that, once you're aware of traits like these, it makes it easier to change. While adjusting your bad habits and tweaking your ways may take time, you will have taken the first step in creating healthier relationships simply by being aware of what you're bringing to the table.