Last Updated 2 years by Emily Standley-Allard

Relationships are tough! We all carry around insecurities and doubts. But do you carry a fear of vulnerability, are you afraid to lose control, or does some part of you believe that you are actually unlovable? These are actually defense mechanisms that are both working at keeping you from being in a potentially happy relationship as well as trying to protect your fragile psyche. If you find yourself in a pattern of constantly sabotaging your relationships or picking the same partner with similar characteristics over and over, or never advancing to the next level in your career, then read this post on how you can overcome your self-sabotaging ways and have happier relationships!

Whether in your personal or professional life, a pattern of sabotaging your relationships can occur anywhere. 

**Disclaimer – I am not a mental health expert, this post is strictly my personal opinions and what has worked for me in my life. I do not guarantee the same results. Please seek out a medical professional for a personal opinion. 


Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

Years ago, the famous cartoonist, Walt Kelly, wrote this immortal line for his character, Pogo Possum: “We have met the enemy … and he is us.” When it comes to relationships, we often turn out to be our own worst enemies.

The true enemy could indeed be your inner self. Once we get rid of our self-defeating practices, we have won half the battle. To follow Sun Tzu’s advice, in The Art of War, if you know your enemy, it allows you to outsmart and defeat him.

If you apply this principle, in this case to yourself (the enemy) and really get to know yourself, your limitations and your standards, this will truly allow you to defeat the patterns that you have followed over and over, which have led to unsuccessful personal and professional relationships in the past.


How to Stop Sabotaging Your Relationships

In order to stop sabotaging your relationships you need to change your patterns. Believe me when I say, even though it takes real consistent effort, it’s not impossible.

You must rethink the way you’ve been doing things. You must apply new standards to your life and experiences.

There’s many ways your personal and professional sabotaging habits can get in the way of how you relate to your intimate partners as well as your business partners.

It’s possible that you haven’t come to terms with your tendency to pick ‘losers’ who match your negative view of yourself.

Recognize your role in this.

If you believe you are worthy of someone intelligent, attractive, on high moral ground, deserve mutual respect and love then you won’t ever settle for less.

The same holds true if you believe you are worthy of a position that inspires you to be your very best and pays you what you deserve then you won’t ever settle for less. 

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Ways you may be sabotaging your relationships:

1.You are controlling and rigid in the way that others should treat you and are easily disappointed. With this scenario you set up the rules so no one will ever make you happy and then when they don’t meet your expectations, your suspicions are confirmed. It’s a ‘self-defeating’ prophecy that you have laid down so no one can ever win.

Your family may say that you’re too ‘Picky’ because you keep ending relationships or jobs over seemingly petty situations, but since you never set up healthy boundaries in the beginning no one knows what to expect.

2. You have issues with real intimacy. You both crave it and reject it. You find yourself either demanding to be loved which turns your partner off completely or play the stonewalling game and shut down whenever stressed.

3. You tell yourself internally that this relationship or this job will never work because you inherently feel inside that you’re not good enough. That you won’t be able to make this work and you may as well throw in the towel.


4. You are a people pleaser who doesn’t like conflict of any kind. You sabotage your relationships because you think that your partner or your employer will only love you or promote you if you’re easy to be with, don’t cause waves and make them happy and never show that you’re in a bad mood or object to something. However, this can backfire with you winding up feeling very resentful and quitting the relationship or the career altogether.

5. You are sure that it’s NOT you but your partner or your workplace that is the one at fault. You spend hours on end analyzing the behavior and words and complaining rather than taking responsibility for your role. 

People are only human, and we vary on a day-by-day basis in terms of different stresses we are under and other circumstances beyond our control.

6. You take every little thing to heart and examine it under a microscope thinking he or she must not love me or like me anymore or respect me if they talk to me in a certain way or are impatient or just in a foul mood. Because after all you’re perfect all the time right?

7. You constantly test your partners love for you. You become overly needy and possessive and start putting them through a battery of tests designed only for them to FAIL so you can prove your insecurities were right, this isn’t safe for you, and you need to leave.

If you tend to ruin decent relationships and professional opportunities you need to examine how your personal baggage is getting in the way of creating a loving partnership and fruitful career.


Ways to avoid self-sabotaging your relationships


1. Go to a therapist and really examine your history.

Sabotaging your relationships goes back to your childhood. For example; if you’re drawn to the excitement of meeting and starting a relationship with a ‘bad boy or bad girl’ – someone who has a lack of morals, character and is untrustworthy – learn about how your parents’ unhealthy habits have affected your choice in partners.  

If you have a habit of being enthusiastic once, you start a job and then easily become overwhelmed or disappointed this can stem back to childhood as well. You make suffer from a lack of resilience


2. Accept that you are part of the problem.

If you have a fear of abandonment and rejection and you are constantly ‘setting’ up scenarios that led to your disappointment you just might be the puppeteer controlling this. There’s no such thing as utopia in relationships, and no perfect partner and no perfect career.  


3. Examine what type of characteristics you truly want in a partner and in a career

For example: It’s unlikely that you will meet “Mr. or Mrs. Right” in the “wrong” places. If you don’t want a bar fly for a boyfriend, or a party girl for a wife, then don’t go looking in the wrong places.

Often, women will meet a man in these types of places and begin to date him, and then when it turns out that their man wants to hang out in bars all the time or is an alcoholic, they are surprised and disappointed.

It’s also unlikely that you will get the job of your dreams on an disreputable website for example. Or if you are willing to accept anything just to ‘pay the bills’. 

Likewise for men. Sure you’re attracted to someone by the way she looks physically but who is she really on the inside? Do you keep picking women who are externally attractive only to find that they are either shallow, dense, have bad habits they’re unwilling to break, or lack true character?

Some women are drawn to powerful men. As Henry Kissinger once stated, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” However, these women often find that the powerful man they attracted lacks the sensitivity that is also important to her.

Powerful men are often self-absorbed…that focus on their personal goals is how they became powerful. With many of these men – top executives, politicians, pastors – their families and significant others take a back seat to their first love…their vocations.

Many have not found the balance between work and home. Be careful…relationships with these people can often be a lonely journey. Therefore it’s so vital that you put time, effort and value into yourself and truly invest in yourself. Your ambitions and the training that will take you to where you want to go. 

Many times, we choose partners whose basic values are totally different than ours. It is critical that what is important to your partner matches what is important to you.

Watch for signs to determine what is important to your significant other. This can prevent the tendency to walk into a potentially bad situation.  


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4. To stop sabotaging your relationships – Stop having a victim attitude

When you see yourself as the ‘poor me’ victim, your actions will confirm a negative view of yourself. Remember the law of attraction. People can read this all over you!

It will show up sometimes in very subtle ways: body language on a date or an interview that tells someone you are insecure, canceling dates or appointments, playing passive-aggressive games, not calling back, making someone jump through hoops to test their feelings for you, and many, many more.

Focus on your strengths that helped you achieve what you have in life. Let go of unrealistic expectations and visions of where you ‘should be’.

Don’t obsess about past mistakes in life whether it’s a career choice, a bad partner or something else you regret. If you’ve learned from it then you’ve gained essential experience.

We need to destroy the negative patterns that keep us repeating the same mistakes over and over. After all, you cannot make a different dress using the same old pattern. As the saying goes, “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.”  


resiliency determines success


5. Do not move forward in a damaging relationship or career out of fear of not having another choice or chance.

Make certain the people you date and hang around with have common values with you when it comes to the important things!

Remember certain ‘destructive’ traits that your former partners had and try to make a conscious effort to choose a different type.

We should not only learn from the bad choices that we make but learn from the mistakes of others to avoid making them ourselves. In that way, you can stop sabotaging your relationships and move from being our own worst enemy to being our own best friend.

Until we feel worthy of abundance, of love and of happiness, we will sabotage everything that comes our way.

And I do mean everything! A great job, weight loss or fitness goals, a full bank account, and a wonderful relationship will all fall beneath the burden of our negative view of ourselves.  


6. Change your thinking patterns to stop sabotaging your relationships

You can rewire your thinking patterns that are utilized by the subconscious mind. Your sub-conscious mind can gradually be reprogrammed. This process will take some time but it can be done.

The first step is having keen awareness of your thinking patterns. When you have negative thinking, you need to change it to a solution.

You need to be in the business of passionately solving your problems. When you run into an obstacle, just re-evaluate the situation and try looking at the event from a different perspective.

Notice when you feel an emotion about something, and then preempt the feeling before you let it completely take over in your mind. When you apply this method you are rewiring the connections leading back down to the emotional brain from the intellectual brain.

It is vital that you start to create new pathways of thinking in our mind. Just think of your mind like a circuit board and you are severing connections from the negative circuit and soldering new connections to the positive circuits. Now your thoughts are positive energy currents that are traveling away from the negative circuit boards in a totally different direction.

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If you have trouble doing this yourself a therapist who specializes in CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This can help with these techniques. Just like any muscle in your body you just need to retrain your brain!

When a negative thought about the goal you are accomplishing comes into your mind, preempt the thought and replace it with a positive thought about a solution. The negative circuits will gradually get re-wired to move to the positive thinking circuits.

It won’t happen overnight, but with consistency there will be improvement, and new thoughts, options and ideas will begin to develop. Once you clean up and rewire your head space you will have more room for the more positive and creative solutions that your already possess. The golden nuggets of creativity can be brought to the surface once all the cobwebs are cleaned from your inner circuit boards.  


Happy woman dancing


Other forms of collateral damage that come with a low self-esteem are as follows:

• You’ll attract the bottom of the barrel personally and professionally. People can sense when someone doesn’t feel good about themselves from a mile away and take advantage of it. If you don’t value yourself, why should anyone else? Confidence is a huge aphrodisiac.

• You will make up excuses not to better yourself, blaming it on heredity, a bad hand dealt to you, poor genes, rotten childhood, missed opportunities, and a million other non-productive situations. If not now, when? Do you want to be singing the same song a year from now?

It may be a work in progress, but you can do it. Just remember you’re not alone.  


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For example, most weight loss plans don’t fail due to laziness… they fail because the dieter has already set up in their mind that they can’t do it before even beginning. 

When you believe you are important and worthy of a healthy body, healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes will come to you easier than you can imagine.

This is your only shot at an amazing life on this planet. You and only you hold the power to turn it around completely. Talk back to the voices who tell you, you can’t. Rip up the labels and whatever you do stop comparing yourself to others.  

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Comparison is the thief of joy!

Each day is a new day to start anew! Pull out a blank canvas and fill it with bold statements and goals that show who visualize yourself as being and this is will naturally guide you to where you need to be going!

It’s very helpful to make a ‘Vision Board’ that shows the life you are creating for yourself and what you want to achieve. Write down achievements daily no matter how small. Then look these over at the end of the week to see all that you have accomplished.

Once you create this world for yourself you will start to attract those special people who deserve to share it with you.


This post was originally published on healthyfoodlife and Thrive Global by Emily Standley who wants to help you build your best life ever working for yourself and being your own boss! Sign up for our weekly newsletters to learn how!  




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