Why is it some people always seem to be in successful relationships while others can’t keep a relationship going any longer than it takes to tweet something thoughtless? That’s because they shoot themselves in the foot, metaphorically speaking. There’s some unconscious or even conscious drive to sabotage their relationships.
There are two different categories of sabotage—offensive and defensive.
1) Offensive Sabotage—That’s when you’re over eager to make a relationship work. You want it too much and you try too hard. You:
Over Anticipate. You’ve had one date. He seems to like you. He said he’d call. While you’re waiting for that call, you imagine a second date, what you’d wear. Where you’d go. Then maybe you let your mind go further. After all, you seemed to have a lot in common. You begin to think about restaurants you might try together. A vacation spot that would be great. And pretty soon you’re imagining the kind of wedding dress you’ll get before he even calls back. And then he doesn’t.
Overanalyze. He didn’t call back the next morning, but didn’t he say he had a meeting? He probably had to prepare, focus on his presentation. You text him in the afternoon, asking how the meeting went. You’re just being friendly, interested. He doesn’t text back, so he’s probably still in the meeting, right? Or maybe he’s avoiding you? Or you shouldn’t have texted him so early in the relationship? Or maybe he feels you’re being intrusive, asking too much too soon? And your brain is caught in a whirlwind of overanalyzing texts and tweets and pretty soon you’re working yourself into a frenzy over nothing.
Rush the Couple Thing. You’re in a casual setting and you run into a friend. You introduce him as your boyfriend, and he physically squirms. Then you have another date so you’re feeling like a couple. But he’s dating others. You’re dating him exclusively, so hey, shouldn’t he be seeing you exclusively too? Well, have that conversation before you assume anything. And please, don’t post anything online declaring you’re an item until you’re certain it’s absolutely mutual.
2) Defensive Sabotage—That’s when you protect yourself so well that you fail to let anyone else into your world. That way you’ll never be hurt. You:
Search for the Negative. You find ways to push her away because when she’s at arm’s length you don’t have to get involved. And if you’re not too involved, you don’t have to take on responsibility. And you don’t have to get hurt. So you make demands. Or you nitpick her behavior. Or you behave badly in some other way until she leaves the relationship of her own accord.
Pull Back. Every time you get close in your relationship and things are going great, you manufacture some rift that allows you to pull back. Because you’re nervous things are advancing too quickly. Or because you might start really liking this girl. And heaven forbid, you might fall in love. If that happens you are vulnerable, and that will never do. Because that will mean you’re not in control. That will mean someone has the power to hurt you.
Transfer Past Behaviors to Present. You know that girl you dated in high school? Remember how she humiliated you? Wore your letter sweater and then flirted with that guy on the track team? You just can’t trust women and that goes for the one you’re dating now. Even though she’s never done a single thing to indicate she’ll behave like that high school hussy. You’ve been hurt once too often and now you can’t trust anyone.
Stop Both Types of Relationship Sabotage. In a word, relax. Slow down and take things as they come. Let the relationship unfold naturally. As you do, try to understand why you resist giving yourself a chance for a happy relationship. If you’re afraid you’ll be hurt, embrace that concept. There’s every chance you might be, but you’ll recover. But if you never invite someone into your life, you’ll never experience the true joy of a close relationship. Yes, it’s a risk, but try to enjoy the person and have fun along the way.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.