General Question

Jude's avatar

What does it say about an individual who seeks out another individual who is emotionally vulnerable (perhaps, broken); for dating/relationship?

Asked by Jude (32134points) August 11th, 2010

Unfortunately, I know a few people like that.

Is it that feel that they can manipulate this person?

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33 Answers

iWitch's avatar

For me, I would perhaps seek out an emotionally vulnerable partner because I, myself, am quite unstable and consider myself to have an ever-broken heart. It isn’t something I usually go for, but knowing that my partner also sometimes felt weak would comfort me and make me feel like I wasn’t alone in that.

There are many reason why others would seek out a vulnerable partner, many, though not all, bad. So I wouldn’t jump to conclusions so quickly.

Nullo's avatar

See The Woobie.
Be warned: this is a TvTropes link.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’ve known a few men like that and they were rather predatory. There may be folks out there who want to “heal” the broken ones with affection, but I haven’t met any. I’d like to think naively, I suppose that most would want to help, not take advantage of such vulnerable ones.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There are a great many reasons someone would search for a vulnerable person to date. There could be an honest desire to help. There could be a dishonest desire to manipulate. The seeker could have issues of co-dependency of their own.

I’m not a psychologis , but I would say the seeker in this case more than likely has some deep issues that are more than likely unpleasant.

stardust's avatar

There’s so many possibilities. I think a lot of people don’t necessarily seek out a relationship with a vulnerable person consciously. I think it boils down to a lack of self-awareness/a lack of a sense of self maybe.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

They are predatory.

consuelo's avatar

I’m pretty vulnerable/broken and I sometimes wonder whether I’d be better off with another person like myself because I feel like they could relate me. However, a strong person can be not to be cheesy a rock to keep you steady. But I don’t think it says anything about you as a person though…

Jude's avatar

These people scare me. I recently had a guy use a line on me. He pegged me for someone who is going for a rough time, and jumped all over that. I could see what he was doing.

I really wanted to tell him to fuck the hell off.

KatawaGrey's avatar

People who seek out the vulnerable are often predatory, as @JilltheTooth described. My grandmother’s sister was one such unlucky individual. When her fiance a man whom she loved with all her heart and loved her just the same died, she broke and that was enough for the awful, abusive man whom none of us can bring ourselves our to name even his children do not acknowledge him as their father to swoop in and marry her. My opinion of these individuals is low, to say the least, and I try to warn my friends when I see things going that way. it never seems to work.

On the other hand, I am one of those people who attracts damaged and broken individuals both romantically and platonically. Most of the time, this isn’t so bad. In fact, it is the most wonderful feeling to see these people pull themselves up and “fix” themselves when they remove themselves from a bad situation such as the girl I mentioned from this thread. However, it can also be very bad because if, for some reason, these people leave my life or the nature of our relationship changes, that person can break further, such as the case with one of my ex-boyfriends. I later realized he was using me as a substitute mother-figure because his own mother was, well, not a mother so much as an egg donor who allowed him to live in her house so when I broke up with him, it was almost as if his own mother abandoned him. Apparently, he hasn’t had a relationship since and has become a bit more desperate and clingy with his current friendships.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It may be that they feel they can be more manipulative and predatory. Alternatively, it may be someone also “broken” in some way, or someone who feels that only the “broken” ones will have anything to do with them.

TexasDude's avatar

They may have a martyr or a savior complex, which can be either benign or even beneficial.

There are, of course, predatory reasons, as @CaptainHarley said.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I well remember when I was diagnosed with incurable cancer and my ex-wife divorced me. I was convinced that no whole and healty woman would ever want me again. So I dated mostly the “broken” ones, the ones I thought were like me. My wife to be convinced me that wasn’t true, and proved it by falling in love with me. : ))

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
zophu's avatar

I’m pretty vulnerable/broken. I wouldn’t want a vulnerable/broken person to be with, but I’d like a stronger person to want to be with me. So . . . look at it from that point of view. An uneven relationship like that can be exploitive, but a lot of times people love each other for strengths that aren’t obvious to outsiders, or even themselves.

le_inferno's avatar

It could be a misguided attempt at chivalry, trying to be the white knight who rescues the damsel in distress.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My first guess is they feel they themselves will receive more empathy, compassiion, patience appreciation and understanding from someone in similar situation or with a similar experience. I don’t know anyone who would actively seek out and choose these specific people as their “dating pool but I can see the attraction.

BoBo1946's avatar

They are a piece of shit. Excuse my Engish!

perspicacious's avatar

I’ve never known anyone who said “I think I’ll go find some heartbroken soul to date.” The only reason to do that I can think of is to take advantage of that person in some way. That’s not the group I hang out with.

anartist's avatar

Afraid to be strong and independent and love someone who is the same [ie doesn’t need you, but maybe, just maybe might love you?]

Nullo's avatar

From TvTropes entry, “The Woobie”:

“The Woobie’s appeal lies in how it allows the audience to experience catharsis. The Greek philosopher Aristotle proposed that tragedy is popular because it allows people to experience and let out their negative emotions, “cleansing” themselves. The Woobie is popular for this same reason. A story with The Woobie allows the audience to vicariously experience relief from some pain by fantasizing about relieving The Woobie’s pain.

BoBo1946's avatar

I could elaborate on my answer, but it makes me angry to even think about it. Involving a minister and a friend. Enough.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Now that does sound explotative, but there are circumstances where explotation and manipulation aren’t involved. ( See my earlier answers to this question for details )

BoBo1946's avatar

wow…that makes my “socks roll up and down like a window shade,” that a person could be that cruel and heartless.

My situation that I mentioned should not be something written anywhere…mainly because i never got his side of the story. I’ve gotten only my ex.‘s side of the story. Since we are no longer together, often think, i fell for that story, maybe, it was not true. If it was true, it’s a classic case of taking advantage of a person’s emotional state.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Is it a sign of their own personal weakness? I can’t get my head around the idea. If it was to heal someone else, OK. But to exploit them?

CaptainHarley's avatar


Some people are just designed that way.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@CaptainHarley That totally sucks. They’re beating down someone to make themselves feel better?

BoBo1946's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe had a job working as a truck dispatcher one summer when I was coaching and teaching, and rode with this trucker for two days and my job was to tape record his stops and how long each stop took before departure. Also, my job was to tape the directions of his routes. Actually, i was a dispatcher/investigator….did not like spying on the truckers, but it was part of the job.

Back to the trucker…He told me this story. He had a very bad wreck and stayed in a coma for two years. During that time, his wife divorced him and remarried. Don’t really understand how that happened due to her lack of grounds for divorce. I’m guessing the doctors must have told her that he would never come out of the coma. Super guy..really enjoyed riding with him.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I guess I’m not going to be able to understand this at all. I’ve never been totally screwed over, so I guess I’m just naive (if I spelled it right). I want a partner that’s going to fly with me, not cower. Chewing on this is beginning to help me understand it after all. Is it the exploiter’s lack the inner strength to manage a strong connection?

CaptainHarley's avatar

People do things a certain way largely because that’s the way they learned to do them. If someone was raised in a home where manipulation and subterfuge were the norm, guess what! That method of dealing with people may have connections to a lack of inner strength, but that varies from person to person. Mostly it’s just the way they learned to get their way.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I guess that makes sense. I had a great upbringing. We didn’t have much in the way of money, but we had a great family that really pulled together.

ninahenry's avatar

I agree with @hawaii_jake and @stardust on this matter.

I think the people who seek vulnerable people are only slightly less vulnerable than those they seek, and do so to make them both stronger. We are egotistic human beings, and it makes ourselves feel good to help others. Those seekers have a lack of sense of self that would be more of a challenge to figure out than it is to put their own problems aside and try to fix someone else’s when theirs stem from particularly complicated or unpleasant situations, and they definitely have co-dependency issues.

The people who attract vulnerable people are strong and kind, like @KatawaGrey and are also not predetors, but that is a different situation.

CaptainHarley's avatar


You’re greatly blessed to have a familly like that. : )

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