Why do we fall for people who treat us badly?

Picture this: You’ve got a crush.

He’s charming, attractive, and he seems into you, too. You talk, flirt, and get closer. Then suddenly he stops responding. Or he ignores you. Or he just up and ghosts you when it’s inconvenient. But still, because you’re either determined or (self-confessed) marupok, you jump at the chance every time he talks to you again. Sound familiar?

It makes me truly wonder why we fall for people who treat us badly or why we obsess over people who don’t want us back or take us seriously. Because here we are, ready for something, acting serious, and there they are treating it like a game. Like we’re just part of a game they’re governing. And it’s totally unfair and, when left to fester, it hurts in the long run.

But why do we do it? It seems cyclical at this point. We meet another person and they pepper us with seldom replies and texts but we still go gaga for it. We say stuff like “I’m never going to answer him again!” and the moment our phones light up, we scramble for them.

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So why do we still do it? Why do we still cling to people who don’t care about us and treat us badly? And I’m not just talking about only replying when they’re not busy, but actively being mean and dangling us around to make us feel like we’re an option when, in their reality, we’re not. This is active meanness, not just passive forgetting to respond. They also leave us hanging so that they know they can hit us up if they’re bored. It’s totally unfair.

And yet we’re still hooked.

Here are some hypotheses:

We want to be liked back

Who doesn’t like being liked back? Especially by someone we like, too. Being liked back feels so rare and amazing that we chase after any semblance of that feeling just to convince ourselves that they do like us back. It doesn’t matter if the slipper fits or not, in our heads we think it does. We take the smallest hint of being liked back and run with it.


We want to be liked, period

We look for validation in other people when we’re insecure about our own self-validation. And it’s nice to be liked. It feels like we’re doing something right even if we don’t think we are. And it feels like someone actually pays attention to us, which we might secretly want all along.

We make scenarios in our head of what could be and are committed to it

Instead of facing reality, we prefer the fantasy of what could be instead of what is. Have you ever hurt yourself making up scenes in your head late at night? Ever actually cried about those things? The same thing applies for the opposite, for things you hope for. We end up making up things in our head and then we can’t move on from those things. It’s too hard to confront the reality–that they’re not texting you back and likely only interested in a shallow way, if at all.

These aren’t the be-all, end-all answers to this question but they definitely hit hard. While we don’t think we can ever actually address the situation head-on, it’s still clear that these people who do these things are either just not interested or just manipulating us. And it’s best to pat yourself on the back for trying and move on.

What do you think? Let us know!

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