Why am i so addicted to toxic relationships? I always push away good women and have trouble letting go of the women who hurt me. I feel the need to seek approval and love from women who don’t return the love.

A: What a painful dynamic to be dealing with. I’m guessing that you might even feel like you’ll never have your love and safety needs met in relationships. While I don’t know your history, I can guess that this pattern likely has roots in an important early relationship in which your needs for safety, love, and nurturing were not met, or where you were physically or emotionally abandoned, abused or neglected. I have seen this pattern in my clinical practice over and over again, so I want to reassure you that you are not alone in feeling stuck in a pattern of seeking unhealthy relationships.

Our earliest attachments to our parents or guardians provides a template for our future relationships, especially when it comes to our sexual relationships. It is likely that your current pattern with lovers is an extension of an earlier pattern where you experienced yourself as undeserving of love and nurturing and you internalized feelings of shame (“I’m bad”). Please seek psychotherapy to help you identify and resolve this painful pattern and discover how lovable you really are. Through psychotherapy you can work to resolve any childhood wounds or unhealthy patterns that are getting in the way of you giving and receiving love. To find a therapist in your area who can help you please click on the Find Help link at the top of the page and look for some one with experience in trauma and family of origin issues. I have seen many clients heal from this destructive relationship patterns and go on to have fulfilling relationships, so I have hope that you can too.

Take good care of yourself.

Julie Hanks, LCSW