Self-Sabotaging a Relationship: Why We Do It, 43 Signs & Ways to Break Free

Relationships are often touted as sources of joy, fulfillment, and love. Yet, for many, they can also be a battleground of self-sabotage. It’s a paradox that plays out repeatedly in the lives of countless individuals, leaving them bewildered and heartbroken. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the phenomenon of self-sabotage in relationships, exploring its roots, identifying signs, and offering 43 actionable ways to break free from this destructive cycle.

Why Do We Self-Sabotage in Relationships?

Before we can address self-sabotage, it’s essential to understand why we do it in the first place. Here are some common reasons:

  1. Fear of Vulnerability: Opening up emotionally can be terrifying. When we fear getting hurt, we may push our partners away as a defense mechanism.
  2. Low Self-Esteem: Feeling unworthy of love can lead us to sabotage a healthy relationship, as we believe it’s only a matter of time before our partner realizes we’re not good enough.
  3. Past Trauma: Unresolved issues from past relationships or childhood experiences can create baggage that influences our present behavior.
  4. Lack of Trust: If we’ve been hurt before, we might find it challenging to trust our current partner, causing us to act in ways that damage the relationship.
  5. Fear of Intimacy: True intimacy involves exposing our true selves. This can be intimidating, causing some to push their partners away.

43 Signs of Self-Sabotage in a Relationship

Identifying self-sabotage in your relationship is the first step to healing. Here are 43 signs to watch out for:

Communication Issues:

  1. Avoiding difficult conversations.
  2. Constantly criticizing or blaming your partner.
  3. Withholding affection or communication.
  4. Ignoring your partner’s needs or feelings.

Trust and Jealousy:

  1. Accusing your partner of infidelity without evidence.
  2. Snooping through their personal belongings.
  3. Constantly questioning their actions or whereabouts.
  4. Not allowing your partner personal space or privacy.

Emotional Barriers:

  1. Suppressing your emotions instead of discussing them.
  2. Fearing emotional intimacy.
  3. Keeping secrets or lying.
  4. Creating unnecessary drama for attention.


  1. Believing your partner will leave you.
  2. Comparing your relationship to others’.
  3. Seeking constant reassurance from your partner.
  4. Self-sabotaging through self-destructive behavior, like substance abuse.

Attachment Issues:

  1. Being overly clingy or needy.
  2. Pushing your partner away when they get too close.
  3. Fearing abandonment and acting out as a result.
  4. Sabotaging your relationship when it becomes too comfortable.

Lack of Self-Care:

  1. Neglecting your own needs and well-being.
  2. Allowing your partner to become your sole source of happiness.
  3. Resenting your partner for your own unhappiness.
  4. Losing touch with your own identity outside of the relationship.

External Influences:

  1. Allowing friends or family to dictate your relationship.
  2. Comparing your partner to others or their exes.
  3. Seeking validation or advice from others instead of communicating with your partner.
  4. Letting societal pressures dictate your choices.


  1. Faking your feelings to please your partner.
  2. Hiding your true desires and goals.
  3. Pretending to be someone you’re not to keep the relationship.
  4. Not expressing your boundaries or needs.

Blame Game:

  1. Always making your partner responsible for the relationship’s problems.
  2. Refusing to take accountability for your actions.
  3. Using past hurts as ammunition in current arguments.
  4. Viewing yourself as the perpetual victim.

43 Ways to Break Free from Self-Sabotage:

Breaking free from self-sabotage is a journey of self-discovery and growth. Here are 43 steps to help you on your path to healthier relationships:


  1. Acknowledge your patterns.
  2. Explore your past experiences.
  3. Seek therapy or counseling.
  4. Practice self-compassion.


  1. Foster open and honest dialogue.
  2. Listen actively to your partner.
  3. Express your needs and boundaries.
  4. Practice effective conflict resolution.

Building Trust:

  1. Address trust issues directly.
  2. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Trust yourself and your judgment.
  4. Let go of unfounded jealousy.

Emotional Health:

  1. Develop emotional intelligence.
  2. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
  3. Practice mindfulness and self-awareness.
  4. Embrace self-love and self-acceptance.


  1. Reconnect with your own interests.
  2. Prioritize self-care activities.
  3. Build a support network outside of your relationship.
  4. Set and pursue personal goals.

External Influences:

  1. Trust your instincts and values.
  2. Limit external interference in your relationship.
  3. Seek advice when needed but trust your judgment.
  4. Embrace your relationship’s uniqueness.


  1. Be authentic and true to yourself.
  2. Share your desires and fears with your partner.
  3. Respect your partner’s boundaries.
  4. Practice radical honesty.

Taking Accountability:

  1. Accept responsibility for your actions.
  2. Learn from past mistakes.
  3. Avoid blame and finger-pointing.
  4. Focus on solutions, not problems.

Seeking Help:

  1. Consider couples therapy or counseling.
  2. Engage in individual therapy to address personal issues.
  3. Connect with support groups or communities.
  4. Read self-help books on relationships and self-sabotage.


  1. Embrace change and personal growth.
  2. Challenge negative thought patterns.
  3. Develop self-confidence.
  4. Set and work towards relationship goals.

Patience and Persistence:

  1. Understand that progress takes time.
  2. Be patient with yourself and your partner.
  3. Keep learning and growing together.

In conclusion, self-sabotaging a relationship is a common but damaging pattern that can hinder personal growth and happiness. Recognizing the signs and taking proactive steps to break free from these destructive behaviors is the key to building healthier and more fulfilling relationships. Remember, it’s never too late to change and create a loving, lasting connection with your partner.

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