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Why Do We Return To The People And Relationships We Know Are Bad For Us?

July 14, 2015 2 min read

What is it that keeps us going back to the people who aren't good for us?

Admit it, you've been there. I know I've been there. In my early 20s I was involved with a much older man. He was married, which came as a shock to me, and he worked very hard to keep me a secret. By the time I found out he was married, he was making plans to leave his wife, AND me, for another woman. Classy guy. This relationship shattered any self esteem I had. I was a 'bigger' girl by society's standards and I figured he was ashamed of me.

To this day, I cannot recall a single time where he told me he thought I was beautiful. Our connection existed only for his benefit. Our intimacy was about his pleasure, not mine. It was hurtful and disrespectful and damaging. My friends reached a point where they didn't even want me to mention his name. They could see what it was doing to me and they had already offered me all they could. They were not able to help me until I left. And eventually, I did leave. But I went back.

A few months would go by and he'd call to say he missed me and wanted to know if he could come over. I'd drop everything, do a quick apartment clean, and wait for his arrival. I did this in secret and with a great deal of shame. I knew how my friends felt about it and I knew they would be disappointed in me. But why did I keep going back? I wish I had an answer. At one point, we'd been over for close to 2 years before I decided that one last go would be okay. Wrong. Over a decade has passed since the beginning of that relationship and I still can't tell you why I went back. Did I hope he would one day love me? Probably. Did I feel undeserving of something better? Likely.

Do we return to people we know are bad for us because it is better than being alone? Our exes know us, right? Even if it is bad and dysfunctional, they know us. And we know them. Maybe sometimes we just need to connect with someone on some level and it is easier to go back to what we already know. Good or bad. Maybe we hope it will be different this time. Maybe s/he has seen the light and realizes how amazing we are. Or maybe it is just that ease of being past the awkward stuff in a relationship.

Are we just bad at making clean breaks or is there something in that relationship dynamic that we find hard to live without? What do you think? Share your thoughts with us, we'd love to hear them.

Source: Cosmopolitan

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