Why Am I Sabotaging Relationships Before They Start?

Tamsen Butler
Woman rejecting man

If you never seem to successfully get past the "getting to know you" stage of a relationship, it may be that you're sabotaging the relationship's potential before it even begins. You may be aware of what you're doing, but it's likely that your sabotage may stem from your subconscious.

Toxic Narrative

Unfortunately, some people have influential people in their lives who do more harm than good. Parents, friends, or even just a difficult life can negatively influence you enough to where you have a running narrative in your mind that compels you to believe you don't deserve any joy in your life whatsoever. You may not be aware of these feelings as they may be imbedded deep into your subconscious; when this is the case, you may not even realize you're actively sabotaging things while it's happening. Instead, you likely look back and wonder why you made decisions that led to the relationship's eventual implosion.

Your Internal Monologue

What do you tell yourself throughout the day? Do you often feel powerless or unworthy? Do you frequently talk yourself out of doing things you want to do or that require effort? If so, it's possible you have a toxic narrative running through your mind throughout the day, leading you to believe your efforts will never be rewarded so there is no point in trying. You know you have a toxic narrative if these types of thoughts are commonplace for you throughout the day:

  • "Why should I even try?"
  • "I bet those people are making fun of me behind my back."
  • "I should just quit now before I fail anyhow."
  • "Why can't I be confident like other people?"

Feelings of Inadequacy

When you feel as though you aren't good enough to merit a happy relationship, you're going to sabotage your relationships. This reaction of sabotage stops you from revealing to the other person that you don't deserve them - or, at least, that's what your subconscious compels you toward. If this is the case, it may be a problem you can't fix yourself. Therapy with a licensed mental health professional may guide you through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help you replace the negative thoughts with positive ones or simply help you get to the root of why you self-sabotage.

Fears of Intimacy

Being real with another person can be potentially scary. For some people, getting close to someone makes them feel too vulnerable so they take steps to avoid this intimacy, which ultimately sabotage the relationship before it becomes serious. Others have a fear of abandonment, which prompts them to end a relationship before getting too close and having it eventually end painfully.

A Form of Anxiety

Some mental health professionals claim fear of intimacy stems from childhood encounters with parents who didn't allow them to be vulnerable, or who ridiculed them for showing vulnerability. As such, the fear of intimacy is actually a deeply-engrained form of anxiety. A licensed mental health professional can help a person with fear of intimacy to reprogram their thinking to not protect themselves so rigorously against getting close to someone. Prescription medication may also be appropriate to help control the anxiety.

Fear of History Repeating

Anyone who has experienced a bad romantic relationship can certainly understand not wanting to ever be in such pain ever again. For some people, however, the memories of pain from a past relationship are so profound that they're unwilling to get into another relationship for fear of similar results. The key here is to recognize that not all relationships are bad ones, and to carefully choose to spend time with people who have your best interests in mind.

Choose Wisely

Take your time getting into a relationship and really get to know the other person well to ensure the best odds of not getting your heart broken. While there is no guarantee the relationship won't end badly, there also isn't a guarantee that it won't be the best relationship you've ever had. Without risk there is no reward; a licensed therapist may be able to help you sort through the fears you have of getting into a bad relationship.

Narcissistic Tendencies

Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by feelings of profound self-importance. You don't have to have this personality disorder in order to have some of these traits. If you feel as if nobody will ever be good enough for you, it may lead you to sabotage the relationship. Here are some examples of this type of thinking:

  • "They're going to let me down eventually anyhow, so why should I even try?"
  • "I deserve someone so much better than them."
  • "I'm going to get bored with them really quickly."
  • "I really shouldn't tie myself down to one person; it's not fair to everyone else."
  • "I have so much love to give that I deserve to give it to more than one person."

Help From a Professional

Narcissism isn't a disorder that you can simply shed on your own. It takes a great deal of hard work with a licensed mental health professional before you can start to change your frame of mind and start taking the other person's feelings into consideration on a genuine level.

Stop Before You Start

Recognizing what is causing your sabotage tendencies is the first step in learning how to progress your relationship past the point of a superficial relationship. Working toward changing your tendencies will likely be hard work, but something that can be tackled with a credible mental health professional by your side.

Why Am I Sabotaging Relationships Before They Start?