Advice for: “I’m Attracting Damaged Men”

attracting damaged men

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Do you feel like you swipe and swipe and swipe, and date and date and date, and you just can’t meet the right person? Does dating make you feel frustrated, disappointed, and even hopeless? Do you get your hopes up with a guy but deep down in your heart you know it’s not right, and then it ends and you’re not really surprised, and secretly you are relieved because you know there are red flags?

No, this is not an infomercial! I’m asking these questions because these are the “symptoms” of attracting damaged men.

I have no training in psychology, and I’m not a dating coach. But for the purpose of this article, please take my advice as a friend and someone with years of dating experience.

Here are my thoughts on attracting damaged men. What does that mean and why do people do it?

Does a “damaged man” mean: he’s older, divorced and possibly suffered a bad breakup? Does it mean he’s mentally or physically abusive? Has an addiction? Is commitment-phobic? Is depressed? Has anger management issues?


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Damaged could mean anything, and damaged people are not bad people, they’ve just been through something.

Maybe because they are “damaged,” they exhibit behavior that makes it difficult to sustain a healthy romantic relationship. Maybe the person is constantly drinking or doing drugs, being abusive, mentally or physically, cheating on you, acting mean, ignoring you, being non-communicative or hard to talk to, being impatient.

These are all behaviors that can stem from being damaged. That said, not every person who is damaged exhibits these behaviors. I think the difference lies in those who do the work, meaning work on themselves-therapy, addiction treatment, etc. and those who don’t.


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Here are 5 Potential Reasons you Might be Attracting Damaged Men (or Women)


1. Low self-esteem.

In my opinion, people with low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence, who don’t think they can attract someone better than a person exhibiting these bad behaviors tend to go after damaged men (or women.) They think they can’t do any better, and they don’t think they deserve any better.



2. You don’t want to be alone.

Some people can’t stand not being in a relationship. They view being single as lonely and sad. (Which is why people rush into second marriages). And so, they settle for someone they know isn’t right, because in their mind, it’s better than not having someone.


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3. You’re stuck in a pattern.

Here’s an example. A person’s father cheated on their mom and they knew it growing up but no one talked about it. Then let’s say they married a man who cheated and they got divorced. Now, they get into relationships with guys who cheat, because that’s all they know. There is a subconscious comfort in the familiarity and they don’t realize that they need to break this awful pattern and attract a different kind of person.


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4. You don’t like or love yourself.

A lack of self-love almost always leads to people dating men (or women) who aren’t right for them. Maybe they are even punishing themselves by going after people who don’t treat them well or make them happy.

5. You subconsciously don’t want to be involved with anyone.

People who don’t want to be in a relationship will often go after men (or women) they know they aren’t ending up with because it’s safe. Maybe they get involved with someone who is much younger or much older, or someone just out of a long-term relationship because subconsciously they know the person won’t commit. Or, they attract a big drinker, and they continue to date him for a long time because in their mind, they are saying “this guy is great to date, but I would never marry someone who drinks this much.” So, if there’s no way it’s going to turn into a marriage, and in their mind, they don’t want marriage, that works out perfectly.

Here’s the thing. Isn’t every man (and woman) damaged in a way? I’ll come right out and say it. I’m damaged. That doesn’t make me a bad person, or a person who can’t have a successful relationships. But let’s be honest. A divorced person (and really, anyone who is older and who has lived a life-not just divorced) is in a way, damaged. That’s not a bad thing. Along with going through things and getting older comes wisdom, patience and gratitude. Plus, people who are divorced and who have overcome hardships are more interesting. They’re deeper.


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If you think you are damaged, I only ask one thing. That you look deep into your heart and ask yourself if you deserve to get the help you need to have a better quality of life and better relationships. I pray for you that the answer is yes. Remember that damaged people are good people. It’s loving yourself enough to realize you deserve to attract a healthy, happy boyfriend/girlfriend, who is going to treat you wonderful and make you happier than you ever thought possible!

Like this article? Check out, “Dating After Divorce at 50: What to Say, What To Wear and Other Tips”

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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