You might be wondering why your relationships never work out or why ‘they’ always leave. You might even start fearing relationships or even wonder if you are meant to be alone. But often, the simple truth is that the other person is not always the monster we believe them to be. Sometimes, WE are the ones sabotaging our relationships. And the worst part? We don’t even realize we do it.
Now, I am in no way saying that it’s all your fault or that it’s easy to “just stop” sabotaging your relationships. Personal transformation is rarely easy and is usually a lifelong journey.
But it sure is harder to change something you are not even aware of.
It took me years to figure out that a bunch of behaviors I thought “normal” (heck, I even thought they were a way of proving my love), were in fact pure self-sabotage: I was actively killing my couple.
So, are you self-sabotaging your relationship? Here are 7 clues to help you figure out if you are the one sabotaging your relationships.
So here are 7 ways you too might be sabotaging your relationships
1. You don’t allow enough space for you to miss each other
One way you are actively self-sabotaging your relationships is by not allowing enough time for you to be apart.
When you are in a relationship with someone you love or are infatuated with, it’s so easy to feel like you need to spend every waking minute of your life with that person, talking on the phone, or texting. Especially if you can.
Good thing you both have jobs or you’d never even leave the house!
And so, as soon as you get off work or have fulfilled your “obligations” or other life’s duties, you just run back to that person.
I mean, with an attraction so high, why would you not be together every chance you get, right?
Wrong. This behavior is actually one of the most common ways I was sabotaging most (if not all) of my relationships.
One of the key components of attraction, is (some level of) absence.
Granted, I (finally) understood that while trying to recover from a breakup, but still… that was a valuable lesson to learn and I find is relevant in my relationship as well.
Anyway. When you feel like you miss someone, it kind of confirms in your head the feelings you might have for that person. And vice versa: if that person misses you, then it “confirms” in their mind that they like you. So, the attraction you feel for one another grows stronger as a result.
But you can’t miss something that’s there, just like you can never feel hungry if you’re always full. When your stomach is empty, you crave food; and when your stomach is full, just the thought of food can make you nauseous. You may not realize it, but things can play out similarly in relationships.
Now, I’m not in favor of playing any type of “games”, and I have zero patience for it. But trust me when I say, you must learn to make yourself scarce at times (but not too much) if you don’t want to sabotage your relationship.
Don’t be too obvious about it: simply make room in your schedule to actually have a life outside of your relationship.
Similarly, if the person you like wants to spend every waking minute with you, try not to fall into the “oh-but-they-like-me-so-much-they-want-to-spend-all-their-time-with-me, it’s-so-nice-to-feel-wanted!” type of logic.
There is a difference between choosing to spend time with someone because you love them (and them, you) versus being dependant on someone else simply because you don’t want to be alone or wish to feel loved.
2. You don’t let yourself be vulnerable in your relationship
Another way you are most likely sabotaging your relationship is because you don’t let the other person know your true feelings.
Now, this can get a bit complex.
You might think that sharing your true feelings means letting the other person know that you are jealous or angry, for example. But that’s not “real” vulnerability and anger or jealousy are not the real issue here.
You have to dig even deeper.
The real way to be vulnerable is to search for the why: why are you feeling those things you feel?
Behind anger, there are usually two emotions that are much harder to confront: fear or sadness. You are not angry, you are afraid… or sad. Except that fear and sadness make you feel weak and powerless whereas anger gives you a (false) sense of strength.
“If we can find a target, we can indulge our outrage and assign responsibility for our misery to someone else. Now we are a victim. With victimhood comes (…) the reassurance that what has happened to us is not our fault” (Psychology Today).
Anger or jealousy are usually not the bottom line.
In the case of jealousy for instance, the real reason at the root of it could be that you are feeling hurt because you feel unloved, unworthy of attention, or insecure about your body, and you fear that the person you love will abandon you.
Now, that’s something you can work with.
However, for most people, fears and insecurities are extremely hard to admit even to themselves, let alone to someone else.
And more often than not, we are not even aware of the true emotion behind our apparent anger.
Regardless, not wanting to share the depth of your fears and insecurities with your partner can result in you wearing masks: the masks of anger, jealousy, or outrage. And then you sit there, expecting the other person to calm your fears.
That may work for a moment, but not for long.
Also, and more importantly, if, instead of stopping at the surface (i.e., your anger), you dug deeper to reveal your true insecurities, more often than not you would realize that your partner is not the problem: you are.
Which leads me to my next point.
3. You are not honest with yourself
Another way you are sabotaging your relationship is by refusing to be radically honest with yourself and (eventually) with your partner.
You are not capable of being vulnerable because you are no longer honest with yourself. You spent so much time hiding your pain behind numerous lies that you no longer remember what you truly believe and want. Lies such as: “I don’t need anyone” or “I don’t care if he/she doesn’t kiss me in the morning”).
This coping mechanism may have saved your life at some point, but it is now sabotaging your chances at a good and healthy relationship with yourself and with other people.
Unless you explore the depth of your heart and soul, you will keep allowing the mental program you’ve built throughout the years to sabotage your life and your relationships.
This, again, brings me to my next step. One reason why you are incapable of figuring out how to be honest with yourself is because…
4. You don’t take the time and space necessary to know yourself
If you are going to reflect on the different ways you are sabotaging your relationships, including with yourself, and figure out how to stop, then you need to spend time alone.
I know, it is easier said than done. But do you know how things change? When you make them change.
Your life will never change if you keep sitting on your ass complaining about what everyone else is doing to you. You blame the world, and yet you are not willing to do any of the work necessary to face and change yourself.
Getting to know yourself and exploring the true reasons behind your fears, insecurities, sadness, and physical and emotional pain takes dedication, time, and above all, space.
If you want to stop sabotaging your relationships, you need to create the space necessary for you to get to know yourself and build a relationship with yourself first. Only then will you have a clearer understanding of what you are doing wrong (to yourself and to others), but also what you are not willing to accept from others.
And to do that, you must listen to your internal dialogs, understand them, question them, and then find the resources to help you challenge and replace those beliefs.
By “resources” I mean books, seminars, coaches, therapists, etc.
Introspection, alone time, therapy, meditation, learning about how to become a better version of yourself inside and out, are all small (but not easy) steps you can take toward healing your relationship with yourself. And it will lead you to eventually develop healthier relationships with others.
5. You are “too needy”
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you might just be using the other person to fill a void inside, just like you would with food, alcohol, or shopping.
Maybe you don’t even like the person that much… Maybe you are only with them because you like the way they make you feel, which is a whole lot better than how you make yourself feel inside your head? Or perhaps they are a distraction from the pain you feel deep inside.
Whatever the reason, in doing so, you are making something external responsible for your internal happiness. And so you don’t really show that person love, but rather you keep acting in ways that demonstrate your neediness and attachment,
By not addressing and acknowledging the pain and emptiness within you, you might just be slowly sabotaging your relationship with a very good person.
6. You’ve gotten into the habit of doubting everything you do
One sure way you are sabotaging your relationship is because you are doubting every single thing you do.
This is not “rational”/healthy doubt, by the way. When done consistently regarding every decision you take, it becomes a complete lack of respect for yourself.
When you don’t know how to respect yourself, it becomes hard for you to recognize when someone else, in this case, your partner, demonstrates a lack of respect toward you.
If you want to quit sabotaging your relationships, you must learn to quit sabotaging yourself. By learning how to listen to your instincts and then honoring what your heart is telling you through deliberate action. And then by learning to not question your every move once you take those actions.
7. You don’t leave the relationship when the time has come
One of the most important, and most painful, lessons I’ve had to learn was to know when to leave a relationship.
You might think that staying in a relationship is the “right” thing to do to fix it, but often, staying is in fact the very way you are sabotaging the relationship.
You should try your best to fix a relationship with someone you deeply care about. But it’s important to know when we’ve done our best and given everything we had, and move on.
Now your turn. Do you feel like you have been sabotaging your relationships? What do you think was the problem and have you found ways to change that?