December 7, 2020

Self-Sabotage in Relationships: Why We Do it & How to Stop.

Self-sabotage in relationships is all around me these days.

And for the first time in my life, it isn’t coming from me.

I believe when we become more aware of how we are hurting ourselves and when we break free from it, we can only sit with our mouth agape at the self-sabotage around us.

“Flabbergasted” is a word I like to use a great deal these days.

A friend tells me she’s marrying her fiancé for the money.

Another one tells me he’s smitten with a woman flirting with him—she is in a relationship but talking to him about a future with him, while she is currently committed to someone else.

Another one tells me his wife had a rough year (honestly, what else can we expect in 2020?), and he’s thinking of divorce and cheating.

One thing is for certain, I wouldn’t want to be any one of the people on the receiving end of this—the man who is marrying for love, the man who thinks he is with a faithful partner, and the woman who believes her marriage is strong enough to weather any storm.

But it did get me thinking about the nature of self-sabotage, and I find that these kinds of encounters make for good insights and research.

There’s actually a term for people who do this; they are called “romantic self-saboteurs,” coined by psychology researcher Raquel Peel. It sounds fancy and completely f*cked up because…it is.

All of these people have one common thread; they have ingrained into their psyche that they are unworthy of a healthy love.

Some of them are doing it unconsciously—self-awareness being absent or buried in delusion. Others are conscious of it, talking about learning from past mistakes, and their action is in the opposite direction. When what we say and what we do are in opposition to one another, there is still a present issue.

Here are three signs to know if you are a romantic self-saboteur:


Do you repeatedly choose partners who are unavailable or fundamentally incompatible with your values and goals? We might not allow ourselves to try a relationship that requires us to be intimate, open, loyal, and trusting. Our mismatch is a safe space because we, on some level of self-awareness, know how the relationship will end—we have found comfort in destruction.

And when it ends badly, we can then bemoan our fate of selfish partners when, in fact, we have proven ourselves right, and the tragic inner punishment cycle continues, “See, no one loves me.”

We have a choice. Please don’t forget that.

As much as I can understand mistakes (I have a closet full of them), if we are doing the same stupid sh*t and expecting a different result, we will continue to hurt ourselves.

Let’s be conscious of the power that lies in our hands to direct our lives in the way we want—we are all in the pursuit of happiness.

 Serial dating


That should be the catchphrase of serial daters who, in and out of relationships, take full advantage of the takeaway era of dating. While they wade in the shallows, the minute a relationship requires more, it’s easy to bail and find the next one. Also, there is usually an unrealistic fear of being alone.

If someone can’t be alone, it’s a sign that there are things they don’t want to process.

How about taking some time in-between relationships to focus on ourselves and what contribution we are making in this world?

Let’s cultivate some internal happiness, and, most importantly, do some important work on our own self-awareness and heal from the trauma that dictates our self-sabotage.

Low self-esteem

How do you really see yourself? When you look into the mirror at night before bed, what do you see?

I am not referencing ego. Congrats on your pretty face and your six-pack, but how do you feel as a person?

Low self-esteem is often the crux issue for all of us in our relationships. If we can’t value ourselves, if we can’t be kind to ourselves, if we can’t establish, stick to, or articulate our values and boundaries, we’re in trouble.

And maybe, just maybe, our focus shouldn’t be on the next relationship; it should be on working on the one relationship we will always have—the one with ourselves.

This isn’t an article with a magic list of everything we should do to stop this because, in essence, there is only one thing we can do: sit with ourselves.

Sit with the pain, sit with the discomfort, sit with the uncomfortable emotions, and stop distracting yourself. Deal with the pain and release it. If you feel it’s too much, go to therapy.

I promise, you will be much better for it in the long-term.



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