Relationship Self-Sabotage

Healthy relationships are important for our wellbeing. We need secure bonds with people who we trust and can rely on. Romantic or nonromantic these are of the utmost importance. Feeling loved unconditionally, being treated well, and communicating properly are signs of a healthy connection. Some people find it difficult to sit with these feelings. They push that person away whenever there is an opportunity. Sometimes people can sabotage a relationship that could be good for them. Self-sabotage does not discriminate and is very common across the age and gender spectrum. Running away from relationships that are good for you is not the only option. Self-sabotage is a solution that is harmful to one’s self.

“Relationship experts Peel and Caltabiano wrote in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy that romantic self-sabotage is a result of deep-seated false belief systems and past trauma.” Romantic self-sabotage specifically occurs when an individual engages in self-destructive actions in a romantic relationship. It prevents a happy relationship, or successful outcome. It is a way of ceasing to put effort towards the successful outcome and make excuses for its ending.

There are a few primary reasons for romantic self-sabotage. Many people who have lived through trauma or pain in past relationships are afraid of betrayal, loneliness, commitment, or being cheated on. The fear of getting hurt can be a motivator for self-sabotage. Many individuals who engage in self-sabotage in romantic relationships have low self-esteem. This leads these individuals to date people who treated them poorly in the past and may have difficulty trusting that their current partner actually cares about them. Low self-esteem can be a catalyst for self-sabotage. Our romantic relationships can remind us of past failed relationships and can even trigger trust issues that began in childhood. Because of this, it can make it easier for an individual to end a healthy relationship because they believe the other person was untrustworthy, despite the lack of evidence, because of their past relationships or lived experiences in childhood. These trust problems can incite problems where there are none, known as, self-sabotage. Some individuals have unrealistic expectations of what a relationship is supposed to be like so whenever there is a problem or conflict, they break off the relationship since the person failed to meet their expectations. These too high expectations act as self-sabotage in relationships at times. Some individuals are unable to meet their partners needs because of poor social skills, inexperience, or immaturity. They ended things before the other person could discover how deficient they believed themselves to be. Inexperience in romantic relationships can function like self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage can look different depending on the relationship. Emotional detachment Is common, as well as withdrawal whether emotional or physical. Some take this detachment in the form of defensiveness, lying, or being inauthentic. Others engage in this detachment by pushing their partners away by being too clingy, combative, or angry about time spent with others outside of the relationship. They are often highly critical of the other individual as they look for reasons to end the relationship.

Resisting self-sabotage is not always easy. Allowing good things for ourselves is not always easy. Sometimes it feels so hard and uncomfortable to sit with the good things and not anticipate past negative outcomes. Learning to trust people takes time. We often have to learn how to trust or re-learn how to. Creating healthy relationships means communicating a lot. Communicating honestly and openly about all of your feelings which can be scary. It requires vulnerability and bravery to lay out how you feel to someone else especially when you are learning to trust. We all have the capacity for healthy or unhealthy relationships depending on how we work on ourselves and utilize our coping skills.

In reading this, if you realize you frequently engage in romantic self-sabotage, you are not the only one. Acknowledging how this self-sabotage negatively impacts your past or current relationship is the first milestone. Ask yourself: how have I engaged in romantic self-sabotage? What were my reasons?

We all deserve healthy fulfilling connection. If you struggle to maintain healthy relationships, or feel that this content has resonated with you, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed mental health counselors.



Arielle Teets