The Sad Reason We Fall So Hard For People Who Can't Love Us Back

It has a lot more to do with us than them.

woman alone pixelshot via Canva

Relationships are messy. They reflect what's happening within ourselves as individuals as much as they reflect the couple. And there is a weird thing that happens in many, many situations: we often go after folks who can’t return our love. It’s a story that plays out over and over, leaving us confused, hurt, and wondering about our own value.

Mark Groves, author of Liberated Love: Release Codependent Patterns and Create the Love You Desire opened up about his own past tendency to attract women who couldn't truly love him on an episode of "Open Relationships: Transforming Together"


Why do we drift towards those who can’t love us in return? Groves shared two powerful reasons why. 

RELATED: 8 Beautiful Things You Only Learn After Loving Someone Who Doesn't Love You Back

2 Reasons We Want Partners Who Can't Love Us Back

1. We are afraid to be vulnerable.

Every good relationship is built on vulnerability. It takes guts to open up to someone and to share our feelings, fears, and dreams. Being vulnerable is what connects us to others, letting us get close and share deep emotions.


But this same openness also leaves us open to getting hurt and rejected. "You run from people who can actually love you back" says Groves.

In our search for connection, we often look for partners who share our vulnerabilities. Finding someone who understands our struggles, who shares our wounds, feels safe. We think that by loving someone who's broken like us, we can fix things together.



RELATED: I Love You Even Though You Don't Belong In My Life


But this longing for understanding can lead us into tricky situations.

2. We overprotect ourselves.

Strangely, while vulnerability pulls us towards those who can’t love us back, it also makes us crave protection. Deep down, we might be scared of real love from someone who can truly love us back. The idea of being fully known and accepted is scary because it means giving up control and risking getting hurt.

why we love those who can't love us backPhoto: Gang Zhou / Getty Images Signature via Canva


So, when we choose partners who can’t love us back, it’s like putting a shield around our hearts. We convince ourselves that if we love someone who’s emotionally unavailable, we won’t get hurt as badly.

We mix up familiarity with safety, picking the comfort of one-sided affection over the uncertainty of real love.

How To Break The Pattern And Let People Love Us

When we chase after people who can’t love us back, we're not just seeking external validation; we're confronting our inner demons. Our insecurities, fears, and past emotional wounds often dictate our relationship choices more than we realize.

Perhaps we fear abandonment, rejection, or intimacy because of past experiences that left us scarred. These inner struggles manifest in our attraction to partners who are unable to reciprocate our love, perpetuating a cycle of longing and disappointment.


Breaking this cycle means looking inside and being willing to deal with our deepest fears.

It means realizing that true love doesn’t have to hurt or be out of reach. It’s about knowing that we deserve someone who loves us back just as much. Scary as it may be, it's about embracing vulnerability and trusting that opening up to love is worth it.

RELATED: An Open Letter To The Man I Loved — And Let Go


Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.