If you are reading this, it’s probably safe to assume you have been in at least one unhealthy relationship in your life. Maybe it is a pattern and you have asked yourself why you keep attracting harmful individuals. Of course there are many different reasons. I will share two of them in this post. If you want to hear more about this topic check out my podcast series “Unsafe People and Healing from the Pain they Cause.”
When our feelings and experiences are invalidated as children it can play a major role in our relationships later in life. Invalidation can cause us to doubt ourselves and our instincts. We may sense there is something awry with the relational dynamic but we ignore it because it is what we were taught to do. Often times the ‘invalidators’ in our lives were not healthy themselves. This creates a two part problem. First, the invalidation causes us to stuff or ignore our feelings or instincts. Second, most likely we have been around these unsafe people since childhood. Since they are so so familiar to us, we will continue to attract them thus perpetuating the cycle of unhealthy relationships.
The reason we can’t identify this unhealthy dynamic is because we may not know what heathy relationships actually look and feel like. It is almost impossible to know wrong relationships until you know right ones. This is why it is so important to get help so we can begin identify safe people. In fact, a great book I would recommend is Safe People by Townsend and Cloud. Once you begin to know what ‘safe’ people feel like, ‘unsafe’ people will begin to repel you. It also helps to openly express your feelings as often as you can with those safe people so you begin to know what being validated is like.
2. Internal Brokenness
The second reason we may find ourselves in dysfunctional relationships is because we have brokenness inside ourselves that needs healing. When we keep attracting (or getting involved with) unhealthy people, generally we are the common denominator. In order to heal, we need to do some inner work to understand why we keep repeating this pattern and how we may be contributing to the dynamic. This is nothing to be ashamed of. I have been in unsafe relationships, and I have been the unsafe person in the past. It has taken much prayer, study, self-reflection, and even therapy over the years for me to identify and work through my own issues with co-dependency, shame and low self esteem before I was capable of maintaining healthy relationships.
Another thing that is extremely helpful is to remember that we can’t change anyone but ourselves. As we begin to do the work of inner healing, we will being to attract healthy people. The reason is simple. Healthy people tend to attract healthy people and unhealthy people tend to attract unhealthy people. It is also a great idea to find others who will be honest and truthful with us about our own character flaws so we can heal. Proverbs 27:6 says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
We need good people in our lives who can speak truth to us.
I hope and pray this post has shed some light on this issue. Again, if you want to hear more, be sure and listen to my three part podcast series “Unsafe People and Healing from the Pain they Cause.”