I wrote a post last year about what to do when you lose “The One.” Now, I wanted to write about how to not self-sabotage your relationship when you find The One. Maybe you will relate, or maybe not.
It seems self-sabotage is not uncommon, but at the same time, there is little research on this self-defeating behavior. It is, however, definitely a thing. How does it apply to relationships? How do we know we are doing it? And most importantly, why do we do it?
So, when you finally find The One…
Why would you ever self-sabotage your relationship? How does this actually happen?
Self- sabotage is always about getting in your own way. Ruining a good thing. Preventing an opportunity from coming to fruition. Stopping a good thing from growing. Pushing away someone who cares for you because it makes you feel vulnerable. Missed opportunities and getting out of the lane you want to be in because it’s not the usual way you travel.
At the time, it can seem like we are acting from our hearts or a place of common sense. But we act from a place of fear when we self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is about trying to control a situation so we feel we protected.
So, we have found The One. This person is everything we have ever wanted and yet…
Something is STILL not feeling right.
Subtle changes in our thoughts and behavior appear. We get in our own way. We pull the plug, we throw the baby out with the bathwater. We make excuses. We create unnecessary drama and jealousy. We run away. We blame circumstances and events, people and places. We fill our heads with negative self-talk and decide from all of this discomfort, it’s better to quit while we are ahead.
And then, we realize afterward, nothing has changed. We are in the same space and place. We haven’t grown and we haven’t moved forward. We are instead, listening to sad songs. Reminiscing. Romanticizing. Back to square one. Alone.
Can you relate?
Have you ever noticed this pattern in your life, even if it is not about relationships?
If you have found The One… remember, this can also apply to the dream job you were after, the promotion you have been working towards, the opportunity to move and try bigger things, a friendship, networking with new and dynamic people and becoming successful in a field you have been passionate about.
So, if you have found The One and it’s all going great, here are some signs (red flags if you like) about YOU and YOUR actions/patterns that point in the direction of self-sabotaging behavior…
- Comparing previous relationships to your new love.
- Impossible standards – expecting others to meet them.
- Fault finding and setting up fights when your partner is being empathetic, kind, and loving.
- Making excuses at best, lying at worst, and avoiding intimacy.
- Future faking to “buy time” in the present moment.
- Setting others up for failure.
- Feeling unsure, afraid or insecure when the relationship progresses.
- Expecting things to not work out based on past experiences. You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
- Not feeling you are worth being loved.
- Finding it hard to trust others, even if their actions are matching their words.
It is actually a good thing if you are looking at a new love and thinking that they are sooo normal. Being with them seems easy. We aren’t feeling compelled to hire a private detective and find out what they are “really” doing. They aren’t trying too hard. No “Dirty John” scenarios are cropping up. He/she has good people in his/her life. He/she has goals and dreams (which don’t include you doing surreal things like flying to Vegas and then being asked to get married in track pants). He/she works. He/she has a life and, as Natasha says, is emotionally and relationally ambitious. And now, there is YOU! Bonus!
When we are used to red flags flying and the draining roller coaster rides that go along with emotional unavailability, we are primed to be careful. Natasha writes all the time about the signs things are going well (or not), and how to build your self-esteem. How taking risks in a healthy way and strategies to deal with unhealthy dynamics in relationships that aren’t loving. Natasha is always promoting a mindset where you can grow and evolve.
When we have been hurt badly in the past, we learn to look out for ourselves because we want to avoid repeated pain at all costs. This is a healthy mindset. But if we find ourselves wrapped up in unhealthy behaviors such as relationship sabotage, we are defeating ourselves and no one else.
What at first appears to be a protective behavior that gives us control – will over time, erode everything we are building and cause it to weaken. Self-sabotage is about safeguarding what we have, so we don’t lose it. But in our efforts to protect ourselves, we can actually prevent the love we want from growing.
Here are possible reasons you are self-sabotaging:
- Being afraid of intimacy.
- Not feeling good enough.
- Fear of rejection and abandonment.
- The fear that you will be “found out,” that we are not as great as someone thinks we seem to be (related to not feeling good enough and auditioning).
- Feeling we are wanting things we don’t deserve.
- Feeling like we don’t have control over our emotional triggers. We have a codependent relationship with them.
- Fearing history will repeat itself.
- Believing nothing good ever happens to us.
Remember that ANY time you feel unworthy or “not good enough” in some way, you are feeling you are not deserving of something. It could be happiness, love, success, being popular, worthy of being included, etc. If you ever feel you fall short, in any situation, stop and have a look at why this is happening. Sometimes, backing out seems the safest option when we are in the midst of doubting ourselves or the probability of something working out in our favor.
Let me ask you this: Are you really doubting the person involved or the chances of a relationship with YOU being successful?
Don’t let fear hold you back. Negative thoughts can quickly become self-defeating behaviors. If you keep putting up STOP signs, you cannot tap into your emotional GPS and move forward. When you know that you truly want something, but you are working against that happening, you are in self-sabotage mode. Read that again…
When you find The One and know that you truly want this but you are working against that happening, you are in self-sabotage mode.
We use negative self-talk to crush our hopes and dreams. We decide it will not work because it hasn’t in the past. The sad thing is, if you really believe this, then it will be so. We want something, we get it, then decide it wasn’t what we wanted. But we end up searching for it again. Whenever we work against getting something we want, or throw it away when we do, we are self-sabotaging.
When you have found The One, trust yourself enough to let them in and share who you are. It doesn’t have to be rushed, it is okay to take time to get to know someone and just enjoy being yourself with them. Share how you feel, and why. Explain your fears and where you think you’re at. It is ok to feel scared and vulnerable. What isn’t okay is when you allow those feelings to dominate your thinking and then paralyze you to the point where you will not achieve what you want.
Don’t stand in your own way.
You have so much to offer, and even if you can look back at a train wreck of a past with previous relationships, know that a happy and fulfilling relationship is something you deserve. You have no reason to feel ashamed or undeserving of good things. Especially someone who can love you.
We all want to be wanted and loved. For many of us (speaking for myself here in a loud voice), we have given out love and tried our best to make others feel wanted because that is the exact thing we were hoping to get back. We have matched our actions and words and shown patience and respect. But it hasn’t been returned.
Here’s my take on that…
If we try to love the wrong people, the result is always the same. They won’t give you what you are looking for. They probably don’t even realize what you are trying to give them. In our efforts to get love though, we will often try harder. This can set you up for unloving relationships that are halfhearted and one-sided. Don’t go looking for water where the well is dry.
We can sadly become very comfortable with this dynamic, especially if we have self-worth deficits that we try to fill with how others treat us (seeking validation from others is never a powerful move).
Sometimes, when something good comes along for us, we can self-sabotage it because it doesn’t quite seem to fit.
Someone who loves and cares for you will know how to love you back and treat you right. You won’t have to bargain with them, beg, try hard, or question them or yourself. If you have repeatedly been in unstable or unloving relationships, then when you actually meet The One, you might even find yourself feeling uncomfortable with how the relationship feels because it is a new dynamic.
If you truly have self-worth issues, you will struggle if you are with someone who is able to love you in a healthy way. Whatever you fear the most will be triggered. Self-sabotage is usually an unconscious behavior.
Over time though, it reveals itself through patterns that keep emerging when things are going well.
If you have found The One, and you are becoming aware of self-sabotaging behaviors, there’s no need to panic. It’s a great step forward in recognizing what is going on! Just let yourself feel and decide what it is you are trying so hard to protect or control.
New things, including love, bring excitement and fresh energy into our lives. Sometimes, people can’t go past that freshness, and find themselves constantly looking for a new love. They are serial monogamists. Perhaps they are also people who self-sabotage because as the relationship develops, they find that scary and overwhelming. The honeymoon period can definitely grow into a deeper more stable love that can last a very long time. A lifetime even. But we need to nurture that love so it grows.
If you have found The One, and you are afraid you might be undermining yourself and the relationship, stop and ask yourself what am I gaining here? What have I got to lose? Write down a list of everything you love about being with this person. Write down all the great qualities they have and how they enrich your life. Write down another list, of your life without them in it. What has changed? Where have they added value? What makes you happiest about being with this person?
When you have found The One, you have found someone you can build a future with. Someone with whom to share your life. Someone who is there for you, through thick and thin. Someone who you can be vulnerable, open, and honest with.
Of course, (and I know this is a real thing too) finding The One is a whole other topic to write about. If things with someone new are going really well, and there aren’t any glaring red flags, be strong enough to be the person that you actually are, instead of the person you think they want you to be.
Believe in yourself. Be yourself.
When you find The One, life is great. The broken hearts of the past pale into nothing and we wonder if we really loved that person anyway. It was so different from what we are experiencing now.
We reflect on the past and how life seemed to notice when we weren’t quite ready to step up. Somehow, we always got another chance to show ourselves just how much we can do. How we can take on new challenges and grow.
That’s a great thing. We don’t have to continue living a Groundhog Day existence. We can make life happen. We can change things up and move forward in new ways. A career switch, a new city to live in, learning a new skill where we meet new friends. Taking on a fitness regime tied to goals. Won’t it be great when we have achieved them! We take advantage of opportunities that come our way and maximize our happiness and fulfillment by doing so.
We feel empowered and glow inside. Life is feeling good. We are in control and making positive choices. Finally, all our hard work is paying off. That new guy we are seeing? He is awesome! Came into our lives when it was least expected. Life is rosy. It is working. It is taking us to new places. The “happy place” is real.
Yes, there will be challenges along the way. Yes, there will be days that aren’t perfect. Yes, things will change as the relationship grows and evolves. But that’s all good. It’s all healthy and we are living in real life, not a fairy tale. It is normal to have up’s and downs. As I once said, Prince Normal is our man, not Prince Charming…
Remember the keyword in self-sabotage is self. It is always about you. Which when you think about it, gives you a lot of power! Power to recognize your triggers, power to revisit what you really want, and power to make changes and choices that will best support you in getting those things.
If you have found The One, and your gut is calm but your head is spinning, acknowledge that but do it anyway. If you have truly found The One, they will support you, back you, and understand your fears. It’s like a bungee jump…feel the fear and do it anyway. There is nothing more freeing sometimes than letting go and facing your fears. It is like going up another level.
Finally, there are enough roadblocks and negativity in life, without you standing in the way of yourself. If you want something… and it’s happening… and it feels good, embrace it. That’s called a green light. This is your lane baby!
This post was written by Natasha Adamo team member, Lorelle.
Lorelle will be answering your comments and questions below!
+ If you need further and more personalized help, please look into working with Natasha here.