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Why You Choose Unsafe People

abandonment boundaries character development discernment emotional healing perfectionism relationships spiritual growth support toxic people May 03, 2024

Jessie sat across from me, tears streaming down her face. "I thought this time would be different," she said between sobs. "I really believed he was the one."

After nine failed marriages, Jessie was understandably distraught. She couldn't fathom why she kept ending up with men who hurt her. Was she just unlucky in love? Doomed to attract toxic partners?

I gently explained to Jessie that luck had nothing to do with it. The real problem was her inability to choose safe people. Something inside of Jessie was subconsciously drawn to familiar patterns of hurt and disappointment. Until she addressed her own character issues, she would continue finding herself in destructive relationships.

The Hard Truth About Unsafe Relationships

While Jessie's case may seem extreme, many of us can relate to the underlying parts of Jessie's struggle. We have a history of painful connections with friends, family, or romantic partners. These relationships leave us feeling used, rejected, and utterly depleted.

Yet time and time again, we ignore the red flags and open our hearts to unsafe people. Why is that? Jesus provides profound insight in Matthew 7:3-5:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

In other words, we often blame others for the hurt in our lives without taking a hard look at ourselves. Our own unresolved issues and character flaws blind us to the true nature of unsafe people. We fail to see them clearly because we haven't yet seen ourselves clearly.

14 Reasons We Pick Unsafe People

What exactly causes us to choose poorly when it comes to relationships? It usually boils down to one or more of these 14 factors:

1. Inability to judge character
2. Isolation and fear of abandonment
3. Defensive hope
4. Unfaced badness
5. Merger wishes
6. Fear of confrontation
7. Romanticizing
8. Need to rescue
9. Familiarity
10. Victim role
11. Guilt
12. Perfectionism
13. Repetition
14. Denial of pain and perceptions

For Jessie, abandonment fears and familiarity were driving her toward explosive, unavailable men just like her father. She desperately craved love and security, so she clung to the devil she knew. Facing her painful past and building healthier bonds felt too risky.

Sanctification Through Safe People

Ultimately, surrounding ourselves with safe people is a necessary part of spiritual growth and healing. Proverbs 4:23 says we must "guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life." We cannot thrive in isolation or in the company of destructive influences.

Finding mature, loving relationships takes brutal honesty and courageous change. We must:

- Recognize our unhealthy patterns
- Repent of our own sins and character flaws
- Set strong boundaries against toxic behavior
- Pursue healing for our unresolved wounds
- Practice discernment in choosing friends and partners
- Risk vulnerability with safe people who earn our trust

This process is painful but transformative. As we uproot lies and allow God's love to fill our hearts, we begin attracting relationships that align with our true identity. Unsafe attachments lose their pull, and we find freedom to love from a place of wholeness.

Your Turn: Identify and Break an Unsafe Pattern

Consider your own history of hurtful relationships. Can you identify a destructive pattern that keeps playing out? Maybe you gravitate toward rescuing broken people or rationalize away mistreatment.

Spend some time prayerfully reviewing the list of reasons we pick unsafe people. Ask God to reveal any character issues or unhealed hurts that are driving your dysfunction. Then commit to one action step that moves you toward health. For example:

- Seek counseling to work through unresolved wounds
- Confront an unsafe friend with truth and boundaries
- Join a support group for accountability and encouragement
- Practice vulnerability with a safe person who has earned your trust

Remember, you are not doomed to unsafe relationships forever. By facing your own flaws and pursuing Christ-like character, you can absolutely find healing and develop healthy, lasting connections. Don't lose heart in the process. God is able to redeem every hurt and bind up all your broken pieces. Choose wisely, love boldly, and watch as He transforms you from the inside out.

Get Dr. Cloud's free guide on how to deal with the toxic people in your life. 

Dr. Cloud can help you live the life you were meant to live!