Self-sabotage in a relationship seems to be an increasingly more common topic. Perhaps we are more fearful of commitment, or maybe we are being more honest about our behaviors, either way it’s something that MUST be tackled in order to experience the beauty of relationships.
So, let’s confront these 5 areas I’ve laid out that are signs of self-sabotaging behavior:
You end things prematurely
This is an obvious one.
When we feel vulnerable our natural instinct is to fight, flight, or freeze. Though we were created to be relational people, relational contexts can evoke a sense of fear for many people due to a variety of reasons. So often instead of the overwhelming feelings that accompany vulnerability and intimacy, it becomes easier to just cut someone off.
If you find yourself running from relationships when things get too deep or uncomfortable, you may be self-sabotaging because you’re not used to healthy engagement or you fear over-investing and being let down.
Sometimes the cure is an honest conversation with the person and asking for a slower pace so the uncovering that naturally occurs in relationships, happens gradually. Stay the course (unless you’re in danger!) and see what may be on the other side of your endurance.
You subconsciously (or consciously) push people away
This may sound like the first one, but the difference here is that you stay in the relationship but get others to leave. Sounds crazy, right? However, have you ever spilled too much too soon? Or maybe not presented yourself in the best light to see if they can handle “the real you?” Perhaps you present all of your insecurities upfront and blatantly tell someone why they shouldn’t want you.
All of these are signs of, not only, self-sabotaging behavior, but deeply rooted insecurity (which usually goes hand in hand).
You may not realize you’re doing it, but when we bypass appropriate relational stages in order to fast forward to expected disappointment, we are reenacting patterns of brokenness and robbing our current relationship partner the opportunity to really get a chance with us.
You dwell on the little things
Do you nit-pick every potential mate? Do you connect every disagreement in a relationship to a character flaw? Is the person you’re interested in good but you always find something that you just can’t get past no matter how small?
You may have tricked yourself into thinking you’re upholding a standard when in actuality you’re finding ways to psych yourself out of something real. As a matter of fact, it’s possible the more things you try to conjure as an issue, the more viable the relationship may be.
Vulnerability is scary! For some, it’s MUCH easier to find something wrong in others than it is to face our own shortcomings.
Evaluate a potential mate on their WHOLE self instead of minor issues. Enjoy people for who they are and give grace for quirks (not to be confused with toxic traits).
You don’t give it your best shot
This seems obvious but it can be sneaky. Often people who fall under this category uphold the ideology to expect nothing from people, or maintain that most people will disappoint you, so why try?
There are minor truths in those statements, however, they aren’t mantras to live by. When you expect disappointment or remove any expectation from others you’re essentially giving up before you start. Further, lowering the bar doesn’t really keep you from hurting, but it does keep you from engaging.
The Bible tells us the run the [metaphorical] race with endurance. You can’t run the race expecting to lose and without hope of a finish line. Manage your expectations and understand humans are prone to disappointment but know that love, real love, believes all things and hopes all things (1 Cor. 13).
Whew! Anyone else remembers this from first grade? …or more recently as an adult…
Playing hard to get is really not a good look. You can have standards without being unreachable, difficult to engage with, or uncompromising.
You can’t want partnership while causing people to jump through hoops to get close to you. Any reasonable person would give up on a pointless quest. Being purposely mean or rude to a love interest is a (very middle school) form of protection. Your hope is that by putting on a tough exterior you can shield yourself from hurt, however, you’re really a barbed-wire fence no one wants to get close to.
Be easy to love and adorn people's kindness. It goes a long way!
Listen, this is a judgment-free zone. I’ve exhibited some, if not all, of these qualities before. Fight back with these 3 things: Ask God to address your insecurities and past hurts, learn how to let your walls down some, and have raw conversations with your spouse or boo about what your self-sabotaging behavior looks like so they can partner with you to combat it.
Stick things through to the end and give yourself the chance to love and be loved. I promise the risk is worth it.
Are you a self-sabotager? Have you overcome these issues? Comment and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!