5 Signs You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Relationship

5 Signs You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Relationship

A colorful painting of a woman's face.

Share This Post

When you’re in a relationship with a significant other, you’re probably trying to protect yourself from negative feelings. If you do this on purpose, the result is a ruined relationship. Luckily, there are some ways to avoid this and save your relationship. Understanding your triggers is a good start. Self-sabotage is a common behaviour and can ruin any relationship and this article we will explore the 5 signs to bring awareness to the patterns so that you can resolve them.

Why we self-sabotage our relationships

Why do we self-sabotage our relationships? Well, a lot of reasons, really. Ultimately, it’s all about protecting ourselves. We often use these behaviours to protect ourselves from emotional intimacy. But our emotional brains tell us that such closeness can never hurt. It may be this way that we choose to ignore our partner or pick a fight with them.

Self-sabotage is often unconscious, but it is possible to recognise the triggers that lead us to end relationships. Understanding why you do this can help you deal with those emotions. Identifying the triggers will help you prevent self-sabotage from happening again. In order to do this, you must be able to change your thoughts and behaviours. Once you understand what is motivating your behaviour, you can start improving your relationship and making it work.

If your relationship has suffered due to your own inability to let go of a past relationship, you can make it better by working through these feelings and letting go of the past. When you let go of your fears, you can allow your partner to open up to you and create meaningful personal connections. Often, children of self-sabotaging parents relate to others in the same way. They may even act like their parents, and that could be counterproductive to the relationship.

An abstract painting with colorful swirls.

Signs of self-sabotage in a relationship:

If your partner is constantly thinking about how they’ll ruin the relationship, this could be a sign of self-sabotage in a serious relationship. This behaviour can come from a lack of confidence or fear of the other person. This can manifest itself as anxiety, overthinking, and even an emotional detachment. Here are five ways to mend a relationship involving self-sabotage.

Firstly, you should acknowledge your behaviour when you are not putting any effort into mending the relationship. Whether it is a job interview, a romantic relationship, or any other endeavour, it is easy to convince yourself that you’ll never have time to do what is needed to make the relationship work. This will only drive your partner further away. If your partner is being hyper-focused on a particular goal or activity, it is possible that they’re ignoring you. The other person may perceive this as disrespect, which can lead them to withdraw.

Identify the causes of self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is usually unconscious. It manifests itself through patterns when things are going well. If you notice these patterns, don’t panic. Instead, take it as a sign to find a way to improve yourself and your relationships. Self-acceptance is essential for any healthy love relationship. Once you acknowledge that you’re not the only one with self-sabotage issues, you’ll be better prepared for your partner’s problems.

1. Avoiding negative feelings at all costs

We all try to avoid negative emotions at all costs, and this might be the best way to deal with them. However, avoiding negative emotions may actually make you feel worse in the long run. We may overreact to negative emotions or avoid situations that may trigger them. These strategies can only limit our horizons and limit our life experiences. Instead, we should try to accept negative feelings and learn from them. Here are some helpful ways to accept negative emotions.

We are hardwired to resist our negative emotions, but a recent study found that people who repress negative emotions are less productive. This could be because we feel bad about ourselves, but the fact is, our negative feelings may actually be a vital clue to important matters. That’s why avoiding negative feelings at all costs may actually harm us. Despite this, it’s a mistake to ignore negative emotions, which will only cause you to feel worse.

2. Unjustified paranoia

There are many reasons why a person might engage in self-sabotage in a relationship, but they all have one common thread: protection. Paranoia is one such behavior, which people use to protect themselves from the pain of being hurt. They avoid emotional closeness because they feel they can’t be hurt easily. They also pick fights and criticise others. Unless you’re a paranoid person, you might want to consider getting away from this kind of man.

First, try identifying your triggers. Do you have a specific place or word that triggers your fears? By knowing these, you can avoid them, or work on addressing them. Second, consider the history of your relationship, which might have contributed to your self-sabotaging behaviours. If your partner has been rejected or abandoned before, you may be triggered by this issue.

3. Engaging in unhealthy behaviour

If you find yourself engaging in unhealthy behaviour to sabotage your relationship, it’s time to change it. By identifying what triggers your behaviour, you can change it. Some of the emotions you may experience include sadness, anger, frustration, and fear. You might notice that these feelings also show up in smaller doses in other areas of your life, such as waiting in line for your turn at the grocery store.

One common form of self-sabotage is using alcohol or drugs to distract yourself from your partner. While these actions may give you a short-term rush, they don’t serve your long-term goals. Alcohol and drugs prevent you from being fully present for your partner, and therefore make it difficult to build a lasting connection.

If you’re unable to stop yourself from engaging in self-sabotaging behaviour, it’s important to take a step back and examine your own behaviour. Are you the problem? If so, you may be unaware of your bad habits and aren’t even aware of them. Without awareness, you can’t come up with a game plan to change your behaviour and restore the relationship.

4. Holding unnecessary grudges

The first step to mend your relationship is to accept the fact that you are causing it to suffer. When your partner doesn’t respond to your words, you may be self-sabotaging it. You might even be hyper-focused on other things and neglect your partner, all the while convincing yourself that you don’t have the time to make up.

Therapy can help you break the cycle of self-sabotage in your relationship. Therapy can help you identify your issues and dig deeper into the source of your behaviour. Attachment theory explains how we behave with intimate relationships. In an ideal world, we would experience secure attachment with our intimate partner. However, our childhood experiences may have created anxious, avoidant, or disordered attachment styles, which can be problematic in relationships.

A positive partnership involves constructive criticism. If you constantly criticize your partner, you’re self-sabotaging your relationship. You’re actively looking for negative things about your partner and driving them away. Your partner may feel uncomfortable with this and will eventually move on to find someone else. You’re likely to be the one doing the self-sabotage, so try to avoid this pattern and try to make amends.

A couple holding hands in the shadow of a tree.

5. Having unrealistic expectations

If you have unrealistic expectations for your relationship, you are putting yourself and your partner at risk. Unrealistic expectations cause frustration, self-judgment and depression, and may even lead you to give up. You can also lose faith in your partner and end up losing faith in yourself. As a result, you might be fixated on the smallest things and may end up feeling disappointed and resentful.

Managing your expectations is essential to improving your relationship. If you are constantly unhappy with your partner, this is a sign that your relationship is suffering. If you fail to communicate with your partner, you are showing your partner that you do not respect them enough. By being honest, you will learn more about your partner and your relationship. Also, you will be able to identify your partner’s values and preferences.

Another common reason why you might be self-sabotaging your relationship is limiting beliefs about love. These beliefs may conflict with your desire for a soul-satisfying relationship. When you identify the core causes of your self-sabotage, you can develop new strategies and patterns to heal. If your partner feels threatened, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings.


In our quest to shield ourselves from negative emotions, we may inadvertently sabotage the very relationships we hold dear. Recognizing and addressing self-sabotaging behaviours is the key to fostering deeper connections and a more fulfilling love life. By understanding the motivations behind these patterns and working on self-acceptance and healthy communication, you can embark on a journey towards healing and strengthening your relationship. Don’t let self-sabotage dim the potential for love and happiness in your life; instead, empower yourself to build a lasting, meaningful connection with your partner.

If you’re currently struggling with your relationships, we offer coaching and psychotherapy services to support your transformation. Check out our full range of wellbeing services and get in touch if you’d like to schedule a call.

Picture of Andrew Miles

Andrew Miles

Founder of Clearly Wellbeing - Mental Health and Wellbeing Leader in Education - Integrative Wellbeing Coach and Consultant. My mission, to help you discover the insights, ideas and tools to lead a fulfilling life.

More To Explore

Silhouette of a couple walking on a hill, symbolizing the importance of emotional boundaries.

Strengthening Emotional Boundaries for Healthier Relationships

Emotional boundaries play a critical role in maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships. They are the invisible guidelines that define how we protect our emotional wellbeing and respect the emotional wellbeing of others. Establishing clear and healthy emotional boundaries can lead to stronger connections, improved communication, and a greater sense of self-worth.

Uncover the 10 key insights to cultivate a fulfilling life.
wellbeing lead magnet

Discover 10 Key Insights To Create a Fulfilling Life

This FREE guide will provide profound insights to support you in leading a fulfilling life. Sign up for my newsletter and get my guide as a thank you.

We collect and process your personal data in accordance with our Privacy Notice.

Are you looking for some guidance?

Drop our team a message so we can help you on your wellbeing journey.

contact us wellbeing services