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Why Do We Sabotage Healthy Relationships?

You finally find a person who treats you properly, loves you unconditionally and knows how to communicate properly. You should be happy, right? Instead, you find yourself pushing that person away at the first opportunity. Finding a romantic partner in this day and age is challenging enough, so why do we sabotage a relationship that may be good for us?

Unfortunately, relationship self-sabotage is very common among all ages and sexes. If you find yourself running away from relationships that are good for you, there are several reasons why. Read ahead for more insight.

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Root Cause of Romantic Sabotage

Romantic self-sabotage occurs when an individual employs self-destructive actions in a romantic relationship. The purpose is to prevent a successful outcome (happy relationship), cease putting forth the effort, and then make excuses for the failed relationship. But why would anyone do this to themselves?

A recent study shows some insight into the root causes of romantic self-sabotage. 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.

The primary reasons for romantic self-sabotage are as follows –

· Fear of Getting Hurt – Most individuals experienced trauma or pain in past relationships. They were afraid of betrayal, loneliness, commitment, or being cheated on.

· Low Self-Esteem – Most individuals who committed romantic self-sabotage suffered from low self-esteem. They tended to date people who treated them poorly in the past and had a hard time believing that their current partner actually cared about them.

· Trust Problems – Individuals had numerous trust issues that stemmed from childhood traumas and past failed relationships. This made it easier to break off a healthy relationship, as the individual believed the other person was untrustworthy (even though there was no evidence of that).

· Too High of Expectations – Individuals had unrealistic expectations of what a relationship was supposed to be like. When the littlest problem or personality conflict arose, they broke it off, as the person failed to meet his/her expectations.

· Inexperience in Relationships – Some individuals were unable to meet their partners’ needs due to immaturity, poor social skills, or inexperience. They broke it off before the other person could “find out” how deficient they believed themselves to be.

How People Self-Sabotage

People self-sabotage romantic relationships in numerous ways. They may withdraw from the relationship, stop calling, or cease emotional/physical contact. Emotional detachment was a common theme throughout the study. They became more defensive and took every innocuous comment as a type of personal insult. They stopped being authentic in the relationship. They lied about what they were doing, where they were going, or who they were with. They also withheld important personal information to avoid further intimacy.

On the other hand, some people pushed their partners away by growing too clingy. They called too frequently, started fights over perceived slights, and got angry if their partner spent time with friends or family. Naturally, this pushed the other person away over time. They also criticized their partners excessively or were alternately clingy and dismissive, which sowed confusion and chaos.

How to Stop Sabotaging Relationships

If you find yourself frequently committing romantic self-sabotage, you aren’t alone. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Take a complete inventory of your past relationships and see what patterns exist. How did you commit romantic self-sabotage? What were your reasons behind the sabotage? This requires one to be introspective and honest. An experienced therapist can help guide you throughout this process.

Learning how to trust people takes work and time. It may require getting to the root cause of your trust issues and addressing traumas in your childhood. Furthermore, you must learn how to communicate honestly and openly about all of your feelings. Lower your expectations of what a perfect relationship “should” look like, and stop focusing on little problems (unless there are too many problems, of course).

Work on addressing low self-esteem and self-acceptance, as these are the keys to any healthy relationship. Healthy people attract healthy people, and unhealthy people attract unhealthy people. If you continue to work on yourself and learn better coping mechanisms, you will find yourself in healthier, happier, long-lasting relationships.

Do you struggle to maintain healthy relationships? Do you feel lonely, anxious, or depressed? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at One of our staff members will be happy to set up an appointment with you.


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