Always Choosing The Wrong Guys? You Might Have A Broken Picker

If you find yourself continually ending up in toxic relationships with partners who aren’t suited to you in the slightest, you may be suffering from broken picker syndrome. It’s not that you lack taste or that you’re a bad judge of character. Instead, there are likely deeper issues at play keeping you from being able to see clearly and make the best decisions for your love life. Don’t worry, there is a cure.

What is broken picker syndrome?

While some people may simply be new to dating and make genuine mistakes when it comes to choosing partners, having a broken picker is about something much deeper. In this case, you’ll find yourself repeating the same bad decisions over and over again and feel powerless to change it. That’s because of things that happened when you were young that left you with unresolved trauma or attachment issues that you haven’t confronted.

Someone with a secure attachment style — they grew up with loving parents who met all of their needs and gave them regular love, encouragement, and support — make up about half of the general population, per The Washington Post. However, the other half falls into one of the other three: anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant. If you’re in the latter party, this could explain your broken picker syndrome.

For instance, maybe you grew up with an extremely controlling parent and now only date people who prefer to have power over you. Or, perhaps you grew up around an alcoholic or drug addict and since you couldn’t “save” that family member, you now seek romantic partners with the same issues so you can try again to “fix” them. Needless to say, this rarely works.

How does it manifest?

upset couple arguing upset girlfriend

provided by iStock

  1. You ignore red flags. This is one of the biggest symptoms of having a broken picker. You know there are certain qualities that make someone a terrible partner, but you often overlook them or even pretend they don’t exist. Of course, these things always come back to bite you in the end. You end up wondering why you didn’t listen to your gut and steer clear in the first place.
  2. You’re a serial monogamist. If you jump from relationship to relationship as a way to assuage a deep-seated sense of loneliness or codependence, that’s a problem. Everyone needs time alone between relationships to reflect and grow. When you don’t give yourself that time, you end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
  3. You often feel unfulfilled or downright miserable in your relationships. Despite finding someone you really (think you) like, you rarely actually feel happy in love. On paper, everything should be perfect. And yet, you’re often left feeling unsatisfied and underwhelmed in relationships. This could be down to the types of people you’re picking.
  4. You feel like you’re settling for less than you deserve all the time. You think you know what you deserve, so why do you keep accepting less than that? You have moments of clarity in which you realize, “Hey, something’s not right here.” However, when you have a broken picker, those moments are rare. Most of the time, you’re choosing partners based on short-sighted desires rather than long-term compatibility.
  5. You keep repeating the same relationship patterns over and over. This is probably the most obvious symptom. We all make mistakes in love. The trick is to learn from them and find ways to ensure you don’t do the same thing again. However, it’s all too easy to get caught in a vicious circle when you have attachment issues that keep you from making the healthiest choices for yourself.

How can you fix a broken picker?

  1. Reflect on your past relationships. This is the only way to truly identify and learn from the lessons they have to teach you. Think about how things went down. What part did you play in the issues in your relationship? In which ways was your partner responsible? Was it a wise decision to get together at all? Don’t be afraid to delve deep.
  2. Identify your patterns and take steps to address them. The only way to identify a broken picker is to figure out the ways in which it affects you. What harmful patterns have you allowed to dominate your love life? How can you change those to make more secure choices that are in your own best interest? It’ll likely take some time to get into the swing of this way of thinking, but don’t give up.
  3. Confide in people you trust. Your friends and family members love you. They’re not going to judge you for admitting that you’re struggling. Talk to the people you trust about how you’re feeling and what your issues are. Simply unburdening yourself and hearing these sentiments aloud can really help alleviate some of the stress and shame.
  4. Be open to honest feedback. More than simply trauma dumping on your loved ones, welcome their feedback and try not to take it personally. It’s hard to be objective about your own life. You’re in your head, so thinking logically is tough. Other people may be able to offer some clarity on certain situations or behaviors. Just be aware, you may not like what you hear!
  5. Step outside your comfort zone and widen your dating pool. If your broken picker keeps leading you to the same terrible partners, switch things up. Open your heart to people you wouldn’t normally consider. Since the status quo clearly isn’t working, there’s no reason not to try something new.
  6. Consider therapy. In fact, don’t just consider it, do it. A psychologist or therapist can help get to the bottom of the issues causing your broken picker syndrome. They can also give you tools and skills to change your behaviors and coping methods to make the transition easier. They’re trained to do exactly that.
  7. Be patient — you can’t fix a broken picker overnight. Doing the work to change ingrained habits takes time. You didn’t learn these patterns overnight and you won’t be able to change them that quickly. In conclusion, be patient with yourself. You’ll get there.
Jennifer has been the managing editor of Bolde since its launch in 2014. Before that, she was the founding editor of HelloGiggles and also worked as an entertainment writer for Bustle and Digital Spy. Her work has been published in Bon Appetit, Decider, Vanity Fair, The New York TImes, and many more.