Written & Reviewed by
Gaston Molina
Published on
July 7, 2023

Self-Sabotaging Relationships

Self-sabotage in relationships can be defined as any behavior that creates problems or interferes with the success of the relationship. It can include behaviors such as cheatinglying, picking fights, or even pushing your partner away.

Self-sabotage can be intentional or unintentional, but it always results in negative consequences for the relationship.

The Psychology Behind Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage is often rooted in our subconscious mind. We may have unresolved issues from our past that we are not aware of, and these issues can manifest in our relationships. For example, if we had a parent who was emotionally unavailable, we may seek out partners who are also emotionally unavailable. We may also have beliefs about ourselves that are not true, such as feeling unworthy of love or feeling like we will never find someone who loves us for who we are.

Additionally, self-sabotage can be a way of protecting ourselves from getting hurt. We may engage in behaviors that push our partner away or create problems in the relationship as a way of avoiding vulnerability. In some cases, we may even sabotage the relationship because we don’t believe we deserve to be happy.

Common Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behavior in Relationships

There are many signs of self-sabotaging behavior in relationships, including:

  • Picking fights over small things
  • Constantly criticizing your partner
  • Avoiding intimacy or emotional connection
  • Sabotaging your partner’s success or happiness
  • Cheating or engaging in other forms of infidelity
  • Pushing your partner away or creating distance
  • Sabotaging your own success or happiness in the relationship

These behaviors can be damaging to the relationship and can ultimately lead to its demise if not addressed.

Understanding the Root Causes of Self-Sabotage in Relationships

Self-sabotage in relationships can have many root causes, including:

Childhood Experiences

Our childhood experiences can have a significant impact on our adult relationships. If we experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse as a child, we may struggle with trust, intimacy, and vulnerability in our adult relationships. We may also seek out partners who are similar to the people who hurt us in the past.

Attachment Styles

Our attachment style, which is formed in childhood, can also impact our adult relationships. If we had a secure attachment style, we are more likely to have healthy and fulfilling relationships as adults. However, if we had an insecure attachment style, we may struggle with trust, intimacy, and vulnerability in our relationships

Fear and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety can also play a role in self-sabotage in relationships. We may fear getting hurt, being vulnerable, or losing control. These fears can lead us to engage in behaviors that ultimately sabotage the relationship.

Ways to Break the Cycle of Self-Sabotage in Relationships

Breaking the cycle of self-sabotage in relationships can be challenging, but it is possible. Here are some ways to break the cycle:

  • Identify your self-sabotaging behaviors and triggers
  • Challenge your negative beliefs about yourself and your relationships
  • Practice self-compassion and self-care
  • Communicate openly and honestly with your partner
  • Seek counseling or therapy to address underlying issues

Seeking Professional Help for Self-Sabotaging Behavior

If you are struggling with self-sabotaging behavior in relationships, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you identify and address underlying issues that may be contributing to your behavior. They can also provide you with tools and strategies to break the cycle of self-sabotage and build healthier relationships.


Self-sabotage in relationships can be a challenging issue to overcome, but it is possible. By understanding the root causes of our behavior, identifying our triggers, and seeking professional help if needed, we can break the cycle of self-sabotage and build healthier relationships. Remember to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion as you work towards building the relationships you deserve.

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