Self-sabotage is a funny thing. Everything is going great, and WHAM. It’s like a bomb goes off, and the bizarre behavior begins.
I used to have a huge tendency toward majorly fucking up relationships right around the 6-7 month mark. It would always be right after things were going really, really well. I would start being a jerk. I would suddenly get very critical about the dumbest things. I would yell. EVERYTHING about the relationship would irritate me.
It was awful. I reached the point where I seriously considered just breaking up with everyone at the 5 month mark. Saying “this was fun, thanks but no thanks” and going on my merry way. Opting out of the whole crazy thing.
Invariably (and understandably) this would totally throw the poor guy off. I would try to be honest, “I’m big on self-sabotage,” I’d say. He would look at me funny.
I would try going on vacations. “I’m off to London,” I’d suddenly proclaim. More funny looks, combined with attempts to go along.
I’d try daily meditation to increase my calm. I’d go to the gym A LOT. I’d throw myself into my work. I’d try to kill a lot of time with hobbies, new or old. If it was time consuming and could keep me away from my new beloved, I would be all over it.
The guys would complain “I never see you, is something wrong?” and I wouldn’t know how to answer. I’d want to just announce I was a huge jerk and go back to building the giant Eiffel tower of toothpicks in my backyard.
It became obvious that while I thought, said, repeated that I wanted “a meaningful relationship with someone special” (hat tip, American Psycho), it was clear my attitude was repellent. None of these tactics worked because I wasn’t getting to the emotions behind the behavior. Instead of facing it head on, I was trying to distract myself out of the hole. It didn’t work so hot.
So this begs the question, how do you stop self-sabotage in a relationship when things are finally going well?
Here’s what I learned:
Self sabotage in relationship is the result of telling yourself that you’re not worthy, can’t do it, or aren’t “cut out” for a good relationship. It’s a product of the mindset that even though you desperately want a relationship on the surface, you’re somehow deep-down not worthy.
When I hear women saying, “I’m not pretty enough,” “Guys don’t like me,” “I’m too ‘intimidating’ to men,” it always sounds to me like they’re engaging in a healthy dose of self sabotage. For the reluctant daters among us, dating is a little like going to the gym. Sometimes it takes a lot to get there, is painful while it’s happening and we’re glad it’s over.
Dating, like the gym, gets better with repeat attendance.
How to Stop Self-Sabotage in a Relationship
Sit down and ask yourself “what kind of life do I really want to have?” What does this include as far as your relationships? Do you want the traditional white picket fence family? Lots of interesting flings? Tangled bodies and passion? What kind of relationship do really you want to have?
Now, ask if you’re truly interested in your relationship and if it matches up with how you want your life to look. Listen hard for the answer. If the answer is an emphatic “yes, this is a great relationship better than rainbows and puppies” then your work begins.
If the answer is no, decide whether your answer is no because the relationship is truly not what you want, or you’re afraid. It will become clear if you think about the relationship in terms of the enjoyment you’re getting from it.
Say the answer is “yes”, now consider what might make you say “yes BUT.” Usually following the “but” there is a litany of “but I’m not good enough” or “he’s losing interest” or whatever. The objections are where the real growth begins.
Once you get an idea of the real deep emotion behind what you’re feeling, it’s time to face up to your own bullshit. If you’re going around telling yourself that you suck at relationships and you won’t ever meet someone you like, then GUESS WHAT? This belief alone will make you turn heel and run when a potentially good relationship shows up.
That’s why you MUST get to the bottom of what that little scared voice inside your head is telling you.
For me it was a deep sense of feeling like I wasn’t ever going to meet someone who could deal with a feisty, type A entrepreneur who had regularly (by virtually everyone) been told she was “intimidating”. When I dug deeper, I realized there was more to it.
While I had been told I was intimidating numerous times, I had also decided that I was “bad at relationships” because all of them had failed. [Aside: Of course relationships with the wrong people fail. Thank goodness they do! Wouldn’t it be miserable if we just got stuck with the wrong people with no hope for escape?]
See how the garbage in our heads shapes what we do? I might say I want to get fit, but without getting rid of the idea that I’m fat and ugly and won’t ever be attractive, it’s going to be a real hard road.
Next, purge yourself of whatever damaging belief popped up. Tell yourself it’s time for a change. Strip off the idea that there are limitations to having the kind of relationship you’re looking for. If you have a part of your life that you feel fearless and confident in, bring the same attitude over to your limiting beliefs about your relationship.
Now take things day by day. Commit to the idea that you will make a positive change. If you notice that you’re being destructive to the relationship, take a little step back and examine your feelings. Let things be good in your relationship. Resist all urges to pick fights.
In conclusion, once you dig down deep and figure out why exactly you do these self-sabotaging behaviors, it’s much easier to knock it off. Self-sabotage is a behavior that diminishes big time once a bright light is shined on it.
What if it’s not you who sabotaged things?