7 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Relationships for Good

By: Terry Gaspard
Last Update: November 01, 2016

For the most part, people who sabotage relationships are not intentionally self-destructive. Our past experience can cast a large shadow over our present relationships, and we may not be aware that we’re playing out old patterns. 

Truth be told, most of us begin relationships with the expectation that we’ll be happy, so we’re blindsided when they begin to crumble. In fact, most relationship saboteurs are distressed when they experience a breakdown in communication with their partner and don’t really understand why their relationships aren’t working out. 

The first step in changing negative patterns in relating to romantic partners is to check to see if your own baggage is getting in the way of successful communication. Is it possible that you have not come to terms with your tendency to create self-destructive relationships that match your negative view of yourself, love, and commitment? As you grow and learn about yourself, it’s important to look at the choices you make and to see what lessons can be learned from your experiences. 

Additionally, in order to stop sabotaging relationships, you are wise to examine how your trust issues are getting in the way of creating a loving partnership. Sometimes people’s actions are not intentionally hurtful, and it’s possible that he or she wasn’t aware that this was a hot-button issue for you. Not all mistakes are intentional – some are simply errors in judgment. Take an inventory of your mistrustful feelings and determine how many of them are based on the past, rather than on your partner’s present behavior. 

The first step in building trust in relationships is to work on your fear of being vulnerable and not holding in your mistrustful feelings with partners. Trust is a skill that can be practiced in the context of a relationship with a partner who is dependable and shows consistency between his or her words and actions. It takes time to learn to trust others if you've been let down in the past. 

Every person is born with the propensity to trust others, but through life experiences, you may have become less trusting as a form of self-protection. Perhaps one of the hardest things about trusting someone is learning to have confidence in your own judgment. Trust is about much more than catching your partner in a truth or lie. It’s about believing that he or she has your best interests at heart. 

Many relationships are sabotaged by self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe your partner will hurt you, you can unconsciously encourage hurts to emerge in your relationship. But day by day, if you learn to operate from a viewpoint that your partner loves you and wants the best for you, you can enjoy trust in your life. For instance, you seem to have unrealistic or rigid expectations of how others should treat you, and so you are easily disappointed. Then when a partner treats you badly, your suspicions are confirmed. Yet you failed to set healthy boundaries from the beginning. 

People who enjoy healthy relationships have learned from their mistakes and have treated their setbacks with compassion. With an empathetic attitude, you can start to connect to the rest of the world, as you remember that we are all flawed in some way and start to realize that the wonderful thing about behavior is that it can be improved. You might not get a second chance at your relationship, but there is still a chance for recovery for those who have made mistakes. 

7 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Relationships:  

  1. Gain self-awareness of your history. For instance, if you have trust issues, you may break off relationships when you experience conflict because you don’t trust your partner has your best interest at heart. You’d rather be the one to break things off rather than be dumped. Learn more about how your parents’ unhealthy patterns have impacted your choices in partners.
  2. Accept your part in the destructive dynamic with your partner. It’s natural for one person to see their style as preferred and to be convinced that their partner needs to change – neglecting to see their part in the struggle. But when you begin to focus more on changing your mindset and way of responding to him or her, you’ll be surprised how this can ignite positive change.
  3. Begin to see relationships as teachers. Let go of being a victim and positive things will start to happen. When you see yourself as a victim, your actions will confirm a negative view of yourself. Instead, focus on the strengths that helped you cope so far in life. Don’t obsess about past choices in partners, but learn from them.
  4. Examine your expectations about intimate relationships. You might be focused on your dream of how a relationship should be rather than the reality of how it is – leading to disappointment. There is no such thing as a soul mate or perfect partner. If your partner lets you down, don’t always assume that a failure in competence is intentional – sometimes people simply make a mistake.
  1. Take things slow before making a commitment. Make sure you’ve dated someone for at least two years and are at least in your late 20s before you make a life-long commitment to reduce your chance of divorce.
  2. Make sure that you have common values and beliefs with people you date. Pinpoint destructive traits in some of the partners you are attracted to. Finding a good match may require that you choose a new “type” in the future, according to dating expert Cija Black.
  3. Write a new narrative or story for your life – one that includes taking your time picking partners who are trustworthy and willing to work on a committed relationship, if that’s your desire. 

In sum, repeating the past can be problematic, but with insight and self-awareness, you can reject the faulty patterns of relating to partners you grew up with, and create loving, long-term relationships. Coming to grips with your fears and changing your responses to romantic partners will take time, but it’s the first step in changing one’s perspective on love and commitment.


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