We’ve all been there…
For most of my life, I was clueless about why I avoided relationships that were good for me and clung to toxic ones.
In my case, I’ve avoided commitment to partners who could be a good match for me by demonstrating sabotaging behaviours such as starting arguments or threatening to leave. It wasn’t until after my divorce that I came to terms with how my negative view of myself caused me to walk on eggshells, be a people pleaser, and sabotage most of my intimate relationships.
In hindsight, I’ve sabotaged relationships largely because I lacked confidence in my ability to make a long-term commitment to a partner. Truth be told, I’m fearful my intimate relationships will collapse like my parents’ marriage did when I was a young child. Likewise, my fear of loss causes me to jump headlong into relationships with men who are wrong for me – without considering what I need and deserve from a partner.
However, becoming more aware of red flags that may signal problems has helped me to make better choices and to pick a partner who is capable of sustaining a loving, romantic relationship. The secrets to healing from the past are to make a decision to stop pouring energy into saving a negative relationship, recognising the role we play, and making a decision to change self-defeating behaviours.
Eight things I’ve done to sabotage relationships:
1. Had unrealistic or rigid expectations of how others should treat me...
Which leads me to feel easily disappointed. Then when a partner treats me badly, my suspicions are confirmed.
2. Failed to set healthy boundaries from the beginning.
At times, I was my own worst enemy and let my partners take advantage of my easy-going personality – making decisions for me.
3. I tend to fall for men who are passive or emotionally distant like my father.
For instance, I’ve been a pursuer (craving intense closeness) and chosen to be in relationships with partners who are distancers (who can be remote and shut down when stressed) and can’t meet my needs.
4. When I date someone that might be a good match for me...
I’ve ruined things by being overly needy or possessive.
5. I’ve held onto negative beliefs about myself and my ability to find long-lasting love.
Consequently, I’ve told myself “I’m not good enough” or “There will never be anyone who is right for me.”
6. I’m a people pleaser and don’t want to make waves.
As a result, I tend to avoid conflict and may not share my true feelings with partners – at times to the detriment of honest communication. I believe that people may reject me unless I make them happy and I’m in a good mood.
7. I’m prone towards feeling resentful when my needs are overlooked.
Yet I don’t always assert myself to others due to fear of rejection and because I’m a people pleaser.
8. I convinced myself the problem I have being intimate and trusting my partner is mostly because of them.
Therefore, I spend too much time analysing others rather than taking responsibility for my role in my relationship problems.
As you can see, there are many ways my baggage has gotten in the way of how I relate to intimate partners. Many of my self-defeating relationships have matched my negative view of myself and been an obstacle to finding authentic love. But with self-awareness and the help of a seasoned therapist, I’ve gained the insight to break self-defeating patterns of relating to intimate partners. These are seven lessons I’ve learned in my journey toward self-love.
Seven ways to avoid sabotaging relationships:
1. Gain awareness of your personal history and identify your patterns of relating.
For instance, learn more about how your parents’ unhealthy patterns or breakup may have impacted your choices in partners.