45+ Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Relationship & How to Stop

Do you feel frustrated and unfulfilled in your relationship? Despite your best intentions, have you noticed some of your actions actually leading to the breakdown of harmony between you and your partner?

If so, there may be self-sabotage going on.

It can be hard to tell when our actions negatively affect our relationships because we often don’t recognize them, but don’t worry; it’s not too late to take steps toward change and break free from these patterns for good.

According to relationship experts, here are signs you’re sabotaging your relationship, along with ways to stop these behaviors and get back on track with your loving connection.

Lisa Wimble

Lisa Wimble

Certified Life Coach, Recovery from Toxic Relationships 

Do you ever feel like you’re sabotaging your relationship? Are you frustrated with yourself for not being able to have the relationship that you so desire? If so, you are not alone.

Recognizing the signs of relationship sabotage is the first step to protecting your relationship from this negative behavior.

You unwittingly act out from a place of jealousy, criticism, and control

Good relationships are based on mutual respect and trust with open, nonjudgmental communication. If you are unwittingly acting out from a place of jealousy, criticism, and control without considering the consequences, you will be sabotaging the relationship.

Related: Why Do We Get Jealous in Relationships?

If you recognize any of the following signs in your relationship, don’t panic or beat yourself up. The important thing is that you now recognize and own what you are doing so that you can make a change for the better.

You avoid difficult conversations

Honest and open communication is essential for any relationship. It may be challenging to always achieve this as some conversations may be difficult to have. But, if you avoid these difficult conversations or communicate without honesty and clarity, this will sabotage your relationship.

You do not work constructively through the conflicts and challenges

All relationships have some conflict and challenges because that is often the nature of our fast-paced lives. But if you and your partner are not working constructively through the conflicts and challenges you face, it will likely damage your relationship.

Related: How Often Do Couples Argue or Fight in a Healthy Relationship

However, avoiding conflict at all costs will also be detrimental as it will ultimately build resentment within the relationship over time.

You frequently blame or criticize your partner

Are you frequently blaming your partner or criticizing them? This often says more about you than it does about them. 

An overly critical partner may even be considered emotionally abusive. It wears your partner down and affects their emotional well-being.

Criticism differs from complaining as it is usually constant about all aspects of the relationship and does not have a positive outcome for the relationship. When we rely on blame and criticism, it is often a sign that we are unhappy in our relationship or ourselves.

Related: How to Stop Being Critical of Others?

You stopped showing affection toward your partner

If you have, for some reason, stopped showing affection towards your partner, this will sabotage your relationship as your partner may see it as a form of manipulation. 

Ultimately, withholding affection will create a disconnect between you and your partner, and a lack of trust, uneasiness, and doubt will creep into the relationship.

You may have been withholding affection because you felt self-conscious or vulnerable, but this will backfire and will ultimately result in bigger problems within the relationship.

You are controlling your partner

Are you trying to control your partner? Do you fear that your partner will leave you? Your controlling behaviors will result in your partner feeling claustrophobic, and this will, in turn, sabotage your relationship. It is important to respect your partner’s personal space and boundaries.

Related: How to Stop Being Controlling in Your Relationship

You lack trust in your partner

Unless you have a reason, if you are constantly suspicious of your partner and double-guessing them, you will be inadvertently sabotaging your relationship.

Trust is an essential part of any relationship. By constantly questioning your partner’s intentions, you are creating an unhealthy relationship dynamic. A lack of trust and suspicion, if allowed to fester, will create big monsters in your mind that will destroy your relationship without reason.

Related: Trust Building Exercises for Couples

Why would you be sabotaging your relationship?

There are many reasons why you may be sabotaging your relationship. The outward behavior you display may differ from how you are actually feeling internally about the relationship and your partner. You may just be reacting instinctively without much thought.

It’s best to identify what you are doing that is sabotaging the relationship and then look more closely at the reasons for your reactions and behavior.

It is important to understand that change is in your hands. You have acknowledged that you may be sabotaging your relationship and identified what you might unintentionally be doing to sabotage the relationship. Now you need to work on how you can stop the behavior that is damaging your relationship.

Ways to stop sabotaging your relationship:

By looking introspectively, you may discover that you should address the following areas:

Learn to let go of the past

You may be judging your partner based on a previous toxic relationship and should learn to let go of the past. Negative thoughts, suspicions, and doubts do not belong in your present relationship. 

Using positive affirmations that constantly remind you to trust in the future will help you change your mindset.

Work on improving your self-esteem

Journaling and positive affirmations are great tools for building up your self-esteem. Good self-esteem provides you with a solid foundation in any relationship, as you will realize you are enough.

Focus on developing your own social support system

You may be too dependent on your partner, hence the need for control. You should focus on developing your own social support system with friends and family, focusing more on your career or hobbies. 

Related: How to Build a Personal and Family Support System

Just because you are in a relationship does not mean you have to live in someone else’s pocket or shadow. Ensure that you have some independence.

Reframe your mindset and focus on the silver lining

Silencing the inner critic and focusing on the fact that you are enough will build self-confidence in yourself and your relationship. Reframing your mindset and focusing on the silver lining in life will help you to silence the inner critic.

Communicate openly and honestly with your partner

It’s important to express your feelings and concerns in a healthy way and to listen to your partner’s perspective as well. Don’t allow your feelings of vulnerability that belong in the past to stop you from communicating openly and honestly. Be bold and have courage.

Show appreciation and gratitude towards your partner

Make an effort to express your love and admiration for them regularly and to thank them for the little things they do for you. Gratitude is a very powerful expression that helps to build positive feelings and confidence.

Make time for each other

Set aside time each day or week to spend quality time together, and make sure to prioritize your relationship. But if something comes up and your partner cannot make it this time, be understanding and flexible. This should not become a chore for either of you.

Address issues and conflicts in a healthy way

Avoid yelling or arguing; instead, try to have calm, constructive discussions about any problems you may face. The relationship will be stronger if you can face your problems together.

Related: What to Do After a Fight With Your Partner

Support each other’s goals and aspirations

Encourage your partner and help them achieve their goals, and be open to supporting them in their endeavors. This builds good teamwork and a sense of “we” and “us” rather than “you” and “I.

Respect each other’s boundaries and personal space

It’s essential to give each other the space and privacy you both need and to communicate openly about your boundaries.

Seek help if necessary

If you are struggling to improve your behavior or overcome challenges in your relationship, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide guidance and support to help you strengthen your relationship and deal with your past.

When we often react and behave in ways that sabotage our relationships, the behavior is instinctive and not thought through but driven by feelings of vulnerability, suspicion, and insecurity.

Related: What Causes Insecurity and Jealousy in a Relationship?

When you feel that you are going to react in a negative way, take time to breathe, bite your lip and say nothing, and spend time working out what the deep-rooted emotions are causing your negative reaction.

Where are these feelings coming from? I can almost guarantee they belong in the past, and you need to deal with them and not allow them to sabotage your current relationship.

Have the courage to be open, honest, and embracing and realize that life has no guarantees and that you need to appreciate, value, and enjoy what you have at the moment.

Dr. Ketan Parmar

Ketan Parmar

Psychiatrist and Mental Health Expert, ClinicSpots

You lack communication

When communication decreases between partners, it can lead to a disconnect and strain in the relationship. 

If you feel you aren’t connecting with your partner, take some time to reconnect with them through communication. This could be talking about shared interests, sharing each other’s days, or discussing bigger issues that bother you both.

You have frequent heated arguments, and you don’t resolve them properly

All couples argue, but if arguments get too heated and frequent without being resolved properly, this can do serious damage to your relationship. 

It’s important to take time out from arguments when things get too heated and come back together later when things have cooled down and try to talk openly and honestly.

You have unhealthy habits

If you or your partner have unhealthy habits such as drinking, gambling, or drug use, this can be a sign of an imbalance in the relationship and could lead to emotional damage over time. Taking steps to address these issues is vital for maintaining a healthy relationship.

You lack intimacy

Intimacy is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and if it’s lacking, this can cause feelings of distance or even resentment between partners. 

Talking openly with your partner about what you both need can help restore intimacy in the relationship and rekindle the spark that was there before.

Related: How to Keep the Spark Alive in a Relationship

How to stop sabotaging your relationship:

Prioritize communication

Communication is key to any healthy relationship, and it’s important to make time for it. Whether scheduling a weekly date night or just taking a few minutes every day to check in with your partner, making communication a priority can go a long way toward strengthening your bond.

Seek help

If you find that you are struggling with unhealthy habits such as substance abuse, seeking professional help is the best option to ensure that these issues don’t continue to damage your relationship. 

Counseling can also be helpful when dealing with unresolved conflicts between partners.

Practice self-care

Taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally is essential to give your full attention and energy to the relationship without becoming overwhelmed. This could involve taking regular breaks for yourself, such as exercising or meditating to keep your mind and body healthy.

Make sure that you show your partner affection regularly

It’s easy to take each other for granted when you’re in a long-term relationship, but it’s important to make sure that you show your partner affection regularly. 

Whether it’s saying kind words, making small gestures like sending flowers, or holding hands, these are all great ways to show appreciation and love for them.

By implementing the above steps into your relationship, you can ensure that you both have a strong bond and build trust with one another. Taking the time to recognize issues before they become too damaging is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship that can stand the test of time.

Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, LMFT, CRS, CMFSW

Tarra Bates-Duford

Licensed Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapist | Relationship Expert | CEO and Founder, Family Matters Counseling Group

You make excuses for ending the relationship

Signs you are sabotaging your relationship can initially appear subtle but gradually become overt if not properly corrected. 

Signs of sabotage can include: 

  • Ruminating and bringing up past fights/disagreements
  • Refusal to commit to the relationship
  • Difficulty or refusal to share personal/intimate information that would be relevant to your partner
  • You repeatedly break up with your partner at the hint of a disagreement
  • You have a relationship “shelf life” that determines how long you should stay in the relationship
  • You gaslight your partner into believing it is their fault for all the problems in the relationship
  • You make excuses for ending the relationship, although there are no real problems in the relationship

How to stop sabotaging your relationship:

Take time for yourself and adequately process your feelings

It is essential to take time for yourself once a relationship ends. Taking a personal inventory allows you to identify personal changes made from being in the relationship, as we are all edited by the individuals that enter our lives. 

Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship and recognize your individual role in the breakdown of the relationship. It is vital to adequately process our feelings and be transparent about what we are feeling. 

Identify fears and challenge them

If through the processing of our emotions, we identify fears associated with commitment, we need to explore those fears and challenge them. Some fears are housed in feelings of rejection or abandonment. 

Identifying and processing the root cause can help. If you cannot resolve these issues on your own, counseling can help build self-esteem. Counseling can also help with processing negative memories in a manner that no longer paralyzes or interferes with daily functioning.

Taylor Remington

Taylor Remington

Founder and CEO, Impact Recovery Center

You compare your relationship to others

Comparing your relationship to others can be a sign of insecurity, creating feelings of discontent with what you have. 

You may start looking for flaws in your own relationship or criticize the way your partner handles things. This type of behavior can lead to arguments and resentment, which can eventually erode the foundation of your relationship.

To stop sabotaging your relationship, focus on the positive aspects of your own relationship and be mindful of why it matters to you. Appreciate the unique qualities that make your relationship special, and avoid comparing yourself to others.

You withhold affection or communication

If one partner withholds communication or affection, it can create a feeling of disconnect in the relationship. This could mean: 

  • Refusing to talk about an issue
  • Shutting down during an argument
  • Refusing to show physical affection

To stop this kind of sabotage, it’s essential to be open and honest with your partner. Make an effort to have meaningful conversations and show physical affection, such as hugs and kisses.

You seek external validation

Seeking external validation can lead to jealousy, insecurity, or mistrust in the relationship. If you rely on feedback from outside sources rather than trusting your own opinion or your partner’s, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship.

To stop this, focus on building self-confidence and trusting yourself. Stop seeking external validation and instead focus on getting to know yourself better. This will help you understand what matters most in the relationship and how to best handle any issues that arise.

You play blame games

It’s easy to get into the habit of blaming your partner for any issues that arise in the relationship. This can lead to arguments and hurt feelings, which can quickly spiral out of control.

It’s important to take responsibility for your own actions and emotions. Acknowledge when you are wrong and focus on finding ways to work together to resolve any issues. 

Stop playing the blame game and instead focus on creating a healthy relationship by communicating openly and honestly.

Jordyn Mastrodomenico, LCADC, LAC, CTP

Jordyn Mastrodomenico

Clinical Director, ChoicePoint

You refrain from expressing emotions and are reluctant to communicate

Many individuals claim to desire to be loved, but when they do receive it, they start acting in ways that go against what love is all about. You could be doing it unconsciously.

Such people refrain from expressing emotions and are reluctant to communicate. They develop insecurities and fabricate drama to end the relationship on their terms. This is a symptom of childhood trauma.

You were probably abandoned, rejected, and injured as a child throughout such situations. You are afraid that what happened in the past will repeat itself in the current relationship; therefore, you are reluctant to take off your social mask.

You start a pointless dispute just to make your life a little more interesting

Relationships are not like the rom-com films you’re so used to watching. They are not constantly thrilling—reality lacks intrigue. It could get monotonous and repetitive.

The idea that another person can complete us and make us entire is a myth. It leads to several issues in a relationship. For example, it breeds possessiveness and jealousy.

You might think your partner belongs to you, stopping you from perceiving them as individuals. As a result, you might start a pointless dispute just to make your life a little more interesting, dramatic and happening. You might also bring up old issues which are irrelevant concerns.

Ways to stop self-sabotage:

  1. If you feel like there is a pattern with your relationships always failing, you might want to consider therapy.
  2. Learn from previous behaviors and stop the cycle.
  3. Stop overthinking so much; I promise you that things aren’t half as bad as you think they are.
  4. Communicate, even when the situation is messy.
  5. Fear is your enemy. Learn to overcome it.

Jacob Brown

Jacob Brown

Psychotherapist | Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist

You pull away from your partner

This question of sabotaging a relationship is an issue I deal with regularly in my Couples Therapy practice. We all have some ways in which we “get in our own way” in relationships. 

We tend to sabotage our relationships when we feel afraid or threatened. Something is happening in the relationship that touches on an area in which we are especially vulnerable. These issues tend to come up as the relationship begins to deepen and our fear of intimacy and vulnerability is activated. 

It can also come out if we begin to feel our partner pulling away from us. For some of us, this triggers a strong desire to protect ourselves by pulling away first. We try to beat them to the punch. 

Related: What to Do When He Pulls Away?

Here are three ways to deal with these self-sabotaging behaviors:

  • Spend some quiet time focusing on your feelings, not your partner’s behavior. This isn’t about them; it’s about what’s going on inside you. 
  • Share your fears with your partner. Open up to them about your feelings. This gives you the opportunity to work on these issues together so that you won’t feel so alone. 
  • Talk to a therapist. Couples therapy is a great way to not only share these feelings, and find constructive ways to work through your fears.

Gloria Ward

Gloria Ward

Entrepreneur | Revenue Strategist | Founder, The I’m Loving Me Project

You expect too much from the relationship itself

Most women, at one time or another, have unconsciously done something within their romantic relationship that’s hard to come back from. This is called “self-sabotaging.”

The act of self-sabotaging comes in many forms, like placing unreasonably high expectations on your partner, expecting too much from the relationship itself, or refusing to let their guard down. All of these internal actions are bound to result in issues with your significant other.

Sometimes we just can’t help self-sabotaging our own relationships. If you’ve experienced heartbreak or a breach of trust in the past, it’s common that these issues carry on into your future relationships, even if your new significant other loves you and respects you.

Self-sabotaging can definitely ruin a loving, caring relationship with a partner, friend, or family member. In order to help you develop a stronger and healthier relationship with your significant other, we’ve narrowed down five of the ways that women self-sabotage within a couple.

By recognizing these self-sabotaging actions, you can do your best to work through them, ending the cycle.

You hold grudges and do not address your feelings

Mistakes are made in every relationship but what’s important is how the couple bounces back from a disagreement or fight. If you find yourself holding onto grudges, you’re likely not communicating or addressing your feelings with your partner.

It’s best to have a calm conversation with your significant other to correctly resolve the problem instead of holding onto sadness or anger.

You neglect to put energy and effort into your relationship

Anything worth having in your life takes time and effort, especially relationships! With a busy work schedule, social life, and hobbies, your relationship can often get pushed to the back burner. 

Ignoring your partner and focusing more on your friends and job is a very common form of self-sabotaging.

You focus on your partner’s imperfections

Nobody is perfect, so it’s unfair to expect that from your significant other. We all have flaws, but over-focusing on your partner’s shortcomings can drive a wedge between the two of you.

You shut down after a fight or complication

While the silent treatment seems like an easy and unproblematic way to get over a fight, it’s not healthy. Avoiding your partner after an argument or refusing to communicate with them to “teach them a lesson” can be very toxic to your relationship.

Related: Can Toxic Relationships Be Healed?

You let your trust issues win

This is one of the most common forms of self-sabotaging in relationships, especially if you’ve been wronged or cheated on before. Projecting your own anxiety, worry, and paranoia onto your relationship can lead to negative consequences.

How to stop self-sabotaging in relationships

We wish there was one simple answer but in reality, discontinuing these self-sabotaging habits takes effort. Practicing open communication in a judgment-free zone and encouraging your partner to share their feelings is one way to combat self-sabotaging.

Additionally, seeking couples counseling can be helpful if the two of you have difficulty addressing your relationship problems.

Relationships are never easy, and it’s important to remember this. Healthy bonds take time, effort, communication, and much love and nurturing. Be patient with yourself and your partner as you work to remove the self-sabotaging behaviors from your relationship.

Relationship: How to Be Patient in a Relationship 

When self-sabotaging behavior is unlearned, be sure to acknowledge your hard work and celebrate this with your significant other. Celebrating every little win as a team is crucial, so pop open that bottle of champagne you’ve been saving!

Beata Seweryn-Reid

Beata Seweryn-Reid

Life and Leadership Coach l Personal Performance Mentor,  Beata Seweryn-Reid Coaching

Sometimes the only thing standing between us and a healthy relationship is ourselves and our past experiences.

According to one of my favorite modern psychologists, Maggie Dance, Psy.D., “One big reason is low self-esteem and self-worth.” And that is precisely what happened to me personally and what many of my coaching clients come to me for help with. 

At the beginning of our marriage, I used to provoke my husband, hoping he would confirm my fear that he would leave me as my previous partner did. I would do it for so-called self-protection. Wounded people wound people because they do not know any better. 

If you’re worried your partner may not like you enough, you might subconsciously act out or push them away, so you don’t have to feel the sting of rejection. 

Most people’s self-sabotaging behaviors are driven by fear. Fear of either being rejected/abandoned or they are afraid of being right as many times before. 

Signs you self-sabotage your relationship

  1. Cheating – Having an affair or taking a break from a relationship is the number one way people sabotage their own relationship. It’s a violation of the commitment, but even more than that, it is a violation of trust. 
  2. Undervaluing your partner  All you notice about your partner is the negative, the not enough. Whatever they do is wrong according to your standards. 
  3. Controlling – Your partner has to constantly prove themselves, explain themselves, report their day to you, and earn your trust over and over again.
  4. The silent treatment – You believe silence will teach your partner to respect you. 
  5. Avoiding long-term commitment – you keep yourself available for “something better.” You only have one foot in the relationship, and the other is already out the door.
  6. You display jealousy or lack of trust in your partner, despite any reasons.
  7. Building emotional walls – You struggle to express your emotions, fears, and needs. 
  8. Blaming – you blame every hiccup on your partner.
  9. Clinging – Needing too much time and attention from your partner may push them away. 

Take action to change your behavior

Now that you know how the behaviors show up in your life take action to end the cycle of self-sabotage.

First, to end self-sabotaging in a relationship, you need to take a deep look inward and get to know the triggers and stories behind those unhealthy patterns. 

Next, take responsibility. It’s vital to acknowledge your part in the damaging behaviors. 

Finally, seeking mentors or therapy when self-help is not bringing any results is necessary for freeing yourself from self-sabotaging behaviors and giving yourself a chance to build healthy and long-term relationships. A therapist or coach could help you process issues from your past before you embark on something serious. 

By recognizing the behaviors and patterns of self-sabotaging and then taking action to change your behavior, you can break the cycle and begin to experience vibrant, healthy relationships.

E.L. Forestal

E.L. Forestal

Founder, Find Black Therapist

There are a few key signs that you might be sabotaging your relationship. If you notice that you’re doing any of the following, it might be time to take a step back and reassess your behavior:

You have an overly critical attitude

If you are consistently critical of your partner or the relationship itself, this is a sign that something isn’t quite right. 

It’s normal to experience disagreements and frustrations every now and then, but when it becomes a regular occurrence, it might be time to look at why you have these feelings in the first place. 

Are you perhaps feeling insecure or unhappy? Is there something else going on that is bothering you? Figuring out the root cause of these feelings can help to eliminate them so that they don’t sabotage your relationship any further.

You avoid conflict resolution

In any healthy relationship, communication is essential for a successful outcome. If you find yourself avoiding conflict or sweeping arguments under the rug instead of addressing them head-on, this could be another sign that something is off-balance in your relationship. 

It’s important to recognize when an issue needs to be discussed and talk about it openly and honestly with your partner so that both of you can work together for a resolution.

You show you’re controlling behavior

Controlling behavior is never acceptable in any kind of relationship, but unfortunately, it happens from time to time. 

If one partner starts manipulating or trying to control the other, this can quickly lead to resentment and problems down the road. If either partner begins exhibiting controlling behavior towards one another, it’s important to address it as soon as possible before things get worse.

Related: 25+ Warning Signs of a Controlling Partner

Become aware of your behaviors and work on changing the negatives

If you’re guilty of any of these behaviors, the first step is to become aware of them. Once you recognize that you’re sabotaging your relationship, you can start working on changing these negative habits. 

Talk to your partner about the things you’re struggling with and ask for their help and support. Be honest about what you’re feeling and try to come up with a plan together so that you can both work towards a healthier, happier relationship.

By recognizing any signs of self-sabotage and working together to resolve them, you can ensure that your relationship stays strong and healthy. 

It’s also important to remember that relationships require work and effort from both partners. Being honest, open, and supportive of one another can help ensure that your relationship continues to thrive for many years to come.

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, MS, LCPC

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Certified Imago Relationship Therapist | Co-founder, The Marriage Restoration Project

Your worst qualities come out because you feel threatened

The way to avoid sabotaging is to know about the purpose of a committed relationship which is for growth and healing. 

We unconsciously look for someone to help us deal with our unfinished childhood business. So while in the romantic stage, we may not see this, once we reach the inevitable power struggle, we begin to get triggered by our partner. It is precisely in those times that our worst qualities come out because we feel threatened. 

As we go on the defensive, we resort to adaptations that worked for us growing up but make our spouse even more unsafe. If we withdraw, we invite our spouse to pursue and be more aggressive. If we nag, we push our spouse further away. 

Get safe and conscious

The way to stop sabotaging our relationship with our baggage is to get safe and conscious. As we get safe, we no longer need to resort to reactivity to protect ourselves. 

As we get conscious, we realize what’s really going on and that it’s not our spouse that is the problem but what they are triggering in us. If it’s hysterical, it’s historical, so realize that what bothers us is usually something deeper. 

This consciousness helps get us unstuck and move out of the perpetual power struggle and really understand each other, have compassion and empathy for the other’s pain and stretch in a way that we meet our partner’s needs—thereby healing those childhood wounds or unmet needs.

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

Senior Editor, Tandem

Sometimes people do things consciously. Other times, the things they do happens unconsciously. The same holds true for sabotaging relationships. Some people know that they are doing this, and others don’t clearly see the signs. 

Signs you are sabotaging your relationship can include:

You look for the bad instead of the good

Unfortunately, when sabotaging a relationship, it’s easy to find the bad over the good. You are looking for imperfections, which makes them much easier to see.

You do things to purposefully hurt your partner

Maybe you know your partner doesn’t like when you stay out late without friends, but you stay out until the next morning with them. Was it that important to stay out that late? Or was it a form of sabotage?

You hold a grudge

They say, “don’t go to sleep angry.” That’s because when you do, you will continue to ponder over the situation, and, in turn, you make things worse instead of better. If you are prone to holding grudges, this might be a sign.

You expect too much

When you set someone up for failure, you shouldn’t be surprised when they fail. When sabotaging your relationship, you will expect more from your partner than they can give.

You must always be right

We all want to be correct. After all, who wants to say or do something wrong on purpose? But if you must always be right, you are doing more harm than good to your relationship.

Ways you can stop sabotaging might be:

Look for the good instead of the bad

Why should you look for the bad or the things you don’t like? Wouldn’t it feel better to look for the good and the things you enjoy? It will help not only your relationship but also how you feel.

Do things that make your partner (and you) happy

Relationships are two-sided. Yes, you want to make your partner happy, but make sure you also make yourself happy. Find something fun you can do together and enjoy the moment.

Be like Elsa and “let it go”

In Frozen, it is during Elsa’s song that she learns she can’t control everything, no matter how hard she tries. Make this your mantra. Don’t be mad over something minor and forgivable. It might be best to learn to let it go.

Revise your expectations  

If only you could find the perfect mate that was everything you were looking for. But, if you think about it, you probably aren’t 100% perfect all the time, either. Lower your expectations to a level that is attainable while making you happy.

Remember, it’s okay to be wrong

Don’t try to win all the arguments. There is nothing wrong with your partner being right sometimes. The two of you are there to make each other better. You don’t need to always be right. Just be right for each other.

If you are in a good relationship but guilty of sabotaging it, there is no time like the present to stop. Talk with your partner. Explain to them why you have been doing things or behaving the way you have. 

  • Maybe you don’t think you deserve the relationship. 
  • Maybe you have low self-esteem. 
  • Or maybe you haven’t been in a meaningful relationship before and don’t know any better. 

By being honest with each other, you can learn to stop sabotaging your relationship. Instead, you can work on having a better relationship than you ever thought you could.

Erik Pham

Erik Pham

CEO, HealthCanal

You are extremely jealous

One of the most obvious signs that something is amiss in your relationship is when one or both partners become overly jealous. 

If you find yourself questioning your partner’s loyalty, invading their privacy, and becoming consumed with insecurity, it’s a sign that you are sabotaging your own happiness and peace of mind. 

You have communication issues

If you cannot communicate effectively with your partner, it can cause tension in your relationship and strain every aspect of it. Whenever a disagreement arises, make sure to talk things out respectfully rather than avoiding the issue altogether or resorting to name-calling and insults. 

You refuse to compromise 

When it comes to any relationship, compromise is key. If you are unable or unwilling to give in and make small concessions here and there, then your relationship will suffer. 

A successful partnership requires both partners to be willing to meet each other halfway. 

You withholding affection 

A lack of physical intimacy can be incredibly damaging to a relationship. Even something as simple as holding hands or giving each other a hug can remind both partners just how much they care for one another. 

If you find yourself withholding affection from your partner, it could signify that you’re trying to sabotage the relationship without actually admitting it.

You are being overly critical and constantly point out their flaws

No one likes to be criticized or put down; if you’re constantly criticizing your partner and pointing out their flaws, then it holds true that the relationship won’t last very long. 

Always speak to your partner with kindness and respect, and make sure they know how much they mean to you. 

How to stop sabotaging your relationship:

Identify your sabotaging behaviors 

The first step in stopping relationship sabotage is identifying the behaviors you engage in that are causing trouble. 

Common examples of sabotaging behavior include: 

  • Being overly critical 
  • Acting passive-aggressively 
  • Stonewalling
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding discussions

When you recognize these behaviors, you’ll be able to take steps to address them.

Pinpoint the root cause 

Once you are aware of your sabotaging behaviors, it’s important to identify what is causing them. It could be fear or insecurity, feeling overwhelmed or helpless, or anger at past hurts or resentments. 

Understanding the source of your behavior makes it easier to take steps toward change. 

Take time-outs 

When emotions become too intense, taking a time-out from the conversation or situation can be helpful. Taking a few minutes away from your partner to cool off and collect yourself can help you gain perspective and come back to the discussion with more clarity. 

Talk it out 

Once both of you have calmed down, it’s essential to communicate openly about your feelings and the issues affecting the relationship. Being honest and direct will lead to a constructive dialogue, allowing you both to come up with solutions that work for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people sabotage their relationships?

People sabotage their relationships for various reasons, often stemming from unconscious beliefs and unresolved emotional issues. Some common reasons include:

Fear of vulnerability: When people feel vulnerable in relationships, they may resort to self-sabotaging behaviors to protect themselves from potential hurt or rejection.

Low self-esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may believe they are unworthy of love and happiness, causing them to undermine their relationships to validate those negative beliefs.

Past trauma: Traumatic experiences from past relationships or childhood can impact how people approach their current relationships. They may unwittingly sabotage their connections to avoid re-experiencing past pain.

Fear of commitment: Some people are afraid of being tied down or losing their independence. They may sabotage their relationships to avoid commitment or maintain a sense of control.

What are the consequences of sabotaging a relationship?

The consequences of sabotaging a relationship can be profound and far-reaching, impacting both partners and their overall well-being. Some potential consequences include:

Loss of trust: Sabotaging behaviors can erode trust between partners, making it challenging to build a strong foundation for the relationship.

Emotional pain: Both partners may experience hurt, disappointment, and confusion as a result of the sabotaging behaviors, potentially leading to resentment and bitterness.

Relationship breakdown: Persistent sabotaging behaviors can cause the relationship to break down over time, as the emotional connection weakens and communication becomes strained.

Missed opportunities: By sabotaging their relationships, people may miss out on the chance to experience personal growth, deep emotional connections, and fulfilling partnerships.

How can therapy help with relationship sabotage?

Therapy can be instrumental in helping individuals address relationship sabotage by providing a safe and supportive space for self-exploration and healing. Some ways therapy can help include:

Identifying the root causes: A therapist can help individuals uncover the underlying reasons for their sabotaging behaviors, such as unresolved trauma or low self-esteem, and work together to address these issues.

Building self-awareness: Therapy can help individuals become more self-aware of their patterns and triggers, enabling them to recognize sabotaging behaviors and take steps to change them.

Developing healthy coping strategies: A therapist can provide guidance on how to develop healthy coping mechanisms to replace self-sabotaging behaviors, such as effective communication techniques or stress management strategies.

Strengthening self-esteem: By working on building self-esteem and self-worth, individuals may be less inclined to sabotage their relationships as they begin to believe they deserve love and happiness.

Couples therapy: For couples struggling with relationship sabotage, therapy can help them understand each other’s needs, improve communication, and work together to create a healthier, more fulfilling partnership.

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