How women self-sabotage relationships

After publishing my post on “why men self-sabotage relationships” last week, I figured it is only right to share my thoughts on its counterpart. 

While men and women both struggle with the same fears: The fear of rejection/abandonment, the fear of engulfment, and the fear of intimacy. Each gender, however, has a unique way of dealing with them.

Men are more likely to self-sabotage a relationship with outward actions, such as cheating, inconsistency or emotional unavailability, whereas women often silently self-sabotage relationships by denying themselves of their happiness or acting upon limiting beliefs

How women self-sabotage relationships

Why Women Self-sabotage Relationships

For a lot of women, our early experiences of relationships affect our attitude and behavior towards love. 

If your experience of love in the past was shaped by men that would leave, cheat, or make you feel unwanted, chances are high that you will develop a tendency of expecting that same behavior in the future. 

While most women sabotage a relationship subconsciously to protect themselves from the anticipated pain of rejection or abandonment, it is, unfortunately, these assumptions lead to self-destructive behavior in relationships. 

In this blog post, I want to shed a light on how women self-sabotage relationships and the primary behaviors women engage in that lead to the end of a relationship. 

how women are self-sabotaging their relationships

10 Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behavior in Relationships

1. Settling

Number one is the one I used to be most prone to. And that is that women tend to settle for a relationship that does not truly serve them. 

Meaning that, rather than waiting for someone that meets your standards and shares your values, you settle for a man that simply shows interest or is available. 

It’s a sign of scarcity thinking that implies that you don’t believe that you can do better and decide that you need to be happy with what you can get.

Speaking from experience these relationships usually end with at least one broken heart and the assumption that something is wrong with you. When in all reality you just haven’t met the right one yet. 

2. Being inauthentic

One of my favorite dating mantras is: “Be yourself from the start because you want to find the person that loves the real you”.

A lot of times women will trade in authenticity to maintain a connection. We become who we think our partner wants us to be and thus betray ourselves. 

However, putting on a mask is not sustainable. The real you is bound to show up and when that happens, you might realize that the two of you are not compatible after all. 

If you betray yourself to appeal to someone else you are essentially sabotaging the relationship, by setting yourself and him up for disappointment. 

signs of self-sabotaging behavior in relationships

3. Avoiding conflict

This point might come as a surprise to some of you. Because as children we are taught that avoiding conflict is a good thing and means that we are being “nice”. 

However, there is such a thing as being too nice. And that is if you are pleasing your partner to the point that you compromise yourself. 

If you repeatedly bow down to his needs and wants but fail to speak up for your own, you don’t just avoid conflict but rob the relationship of its potential for growth. 

If you consistently avoid conflict, over time, it will impact your connection in many ways. The unresolved differences will fester, even more, leading to less intimacy due to resentment and anger. 

Eventually, your relationship will become stagnant and uncomfortable and prompt your partner to break up.  

self-sabotaging relationships

4. Things are going too well

Less common, but just as destructive is the idea that things are going too well. 

You believe that your relationship and your man is “too good to be true”. Rather than appreciating the relationship and your boyfriend you doubt and second-guess every action. 

You start to believe that it’s just a matter of time before things hit the fan and the relationship ends.

Unfortunately, this belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because you start looking for flaws or signs that the relationship is doomed. And slowly your paranoia will start to push him away.

5. Setting your expectations too high

Even though everybody knows that perfection is impossible, some women tend to set their expectations of a romantic partner very high.

The problem with setting high expectations is that your partner will start to feel like it is impossible to please you and make him believe he is not good enough. He will eventually give up trying and end the relationship. 

Meanwhile, you will blame your partner for the relationship failure, even though it was you that failed to set realistic expectations.

6. Controlling your partner

The need for control stems from the fear that your partner might leave you for something/ someone better. In an attempt to constantly monitor their feelings towards you, you demand control over every aspect of their lives. 

You want to know what they are doing, what they are thinking, and how they are doing at all times. This intense control is a violation of their privacy and will make them feel constricted. 

The underlying message that you don’t trust them and are anxious about your value to them will cause stress in your partner and end up costing you the relationship. 

sabotaging a relationship subconsciously

7. Being insecure 

Probably the most common way women are self-sabotaging their relationship is by being insecure about their value and acting needy. The constant need for reassurance from your partner shows that you have low self-esteem. 

Women who portray that behavior struggle with the assumption that they are not good, beautiful, or interesting enough for their boyfriend. They feel unworthy of their partner’s love and therefore question his intentions.

The problem is, that if he constantly has to reassure you, but you keep tearing yourself down, he will eventually give up and break up with you. 

8. Choosing unavailable partners

Another interesting way women sabotage their relationships is by choosing partners that are wrong for them. The best example is the bad boy or the emotionally unavailable man.

By going after someone that exhibits all the qualities you do not desire in a future mate, you are setting yourself up for failure. This is often done subconsciously by women that think they are ready for a relationship but are not. 

You enter a relationship with someone unavailable because you fear commitment yourself. 

how a man sabotages a relationship

9. Comparing your man to others

One of the main reasons why relationships fail is because we compare our boyfriend and our relationship with others, especially lovers and relationships we have had in the past. 

While thinking of your ex and the experiences you shared from time to time is normal, it becomes a problem when you get stuck comparing the closeness and feelings you had with your ex to your new partner.

Your partner and your ex are two completely different people and therefore comparing them won’t ever work. 

Rather than questioning if your current relationship measures up to your past relationship, you need to be open to a new connection and new experiences unique to your new relationship.

10. Trust issues 

And last but certainly not least, women often subconsciously self-sabotage a relationship when they have not dealt with their past hurt. 

It may be that you have been heartbroken too many times and now your trust issues affect the new relationship. 

Instead of truly trusting your boyfriend, you constantly wait for him to disappoint you. You are resistant to his kindness, love, or care because you don’t want to get too vulnerable and have to face the same hurt as in the past. 

Unfortunately, trust is one of the main components of a healthy relationship. By withholding your trust from him, you are making it impossible to build intimacy and grow together as a couple. This will eventually lead to a break-up. 

How to stop self-sabotaging relationships

The problem with self-sabotage is that it stems from a deep-rooted fear that we are oftentimes unaware of. Most of the self-defeating practices are subconscious and therefore hard to change. However, it is not impossible. Here are three steps that can help you break the cycle:

Examine your actions and attitude

Start by analyzing how you act when you are in a relationship. Are most of your actions and behaviors a reaction to deep-rooted fears. Are you worried that you can’t satisfy your partner or do you get anxious when things get too serious? 

Ask yourself the tough questions and try to identify patterns in your current or past relationships that led to a break-up. Once you understand the reason behind your behavior you will be able to reframe your limiting beliefs and outsmart your negative voice. 

Only pursue relationships that have the potential to work 

The easiest way to avoid a breakup is to partner up with someone compatible. Rather than jumping at the next best opportunity to be a girlfriend, have the tough talk with your love interest and find out what his intentions are. 

If the two of you have different agendas, then you should not even waste your time pursuing a relationship with him, because it is headed nowhere. 

intentionally sabotaging relationship

Increase your self-esteem 

At the core of romantic self-saboteurs is the belief that you have to protect yourself, therefore you unconsciously “pull the plug” before the other person can.

A woman who knows her self-worth and loves herself is very aware of the value she brings to the relationship and does not even assume that her partner will break up. She is confident that the relationship will thrive because she believes in her ability to build a loving connection. 

Therefore, the best way to stop sabotaging your relationship is believing that you are worthy of the love your boyfriend has to offer and investing in the relationship without hesitation. 

How women self-sabotage relationships

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3 Comments on How Women Self-Sabotage Relationships

  1. Thank you for this I need to ask your advice on my relationship. He lives in another city about 30 to 40 minutes drive away and works shifts so is often working weekends which is when I am off and so when he is off I am working so we often don’t see each other for 3 to 4 weeks. I am not sure if he is just making excuses or if I must end it because how can 2 people have a relationship when they see each other once a month?

  2. Hi Carol. I’m a little confused. Why don’t you trust him? Has he given you any reason to believe that he is not working on those weekends? If he has not, then you might be self-sabotaging the relationship by subconsciously looking for a reason to break up. But if he has then you need to trust your intuition and make the decision to distance yourself or break up.

  3. This is a very good post.
    The points I have identified for myself are:
    1. Trying to build an authentic connection with whoever approaches me. I have known for a while that people who come to me are not the kind of people I am interested in romantically. I might talk to them from time to time and be (too?) friendly, but I have ZERO physical/sexual interest in them.
    Issues arise when at some point these men start to push the envelope and behave in a flirty manner that ends up disgusting me in two ways. 1. I feel offended they even entertained that thought. 2. I realise they think of me as some cheap “chick”.
    In the end, I just bar them square because I have lost respect for them and because I need to reset my attitude towards them.

    2. Choosing people who are upfront about “not wanting relationships. I see myself as a laid-back woman who is not very interested in men as providers. I have worked hard since childhood to become financially independent to avoid the plight that my mother had to face throughout here 25+years of marriage. I am also horrified by the idea of “settling” and all sorts of vapid social conventions that just don’t compute with my idea of self-actualisation. So, I virtually have zero expectations for intimacy, financial or emotional support of the sort from the men I come to “date”.
    Problems crop up when these men start to pour their hearts out to me and throw me off my usual analytical/calculating self. I then try to give some practical help/advice for a while, but the whole thing soon become an emotionally draining vortex. I’m stuck in a supportive role that I never even signed up for and only realise (oh-too-late!) that their so-called “unavailability” did not stem from inner strength nor drive to achieve, but cowardice and fear of facing one’s own shortcomings. In the end, I totally lose respect for these men and just move on to live my life on my own terms.

    I’m Gemini, a sign that is known for being breezy, a bit out there but also far-sighted and insightful. My experience has been that a lot of people who come to me imagine that I’m some sort of air-headed twig who has no clue how she is being played, when in reality it is them who don’t know they have been framed from day 0.

    In the end, I don’t think romantic relationships are worth the time that people spend yapping about them: human beings are interesting for some time, but they irremediably fall into the same bullsh!t patterns of behaviour, scraping about like ants on their little molehills that, to them, look just like the Himalayas. When you are looking at their circus from the top, it is easy to just feel/believe that this is yet another episode of the same telenovela that has been running since the dawn of time.

    So, sabotage, not-sabotage, none of this matters in the scheme of high divorce rate, cheating, abuse, depression, increasing misandry, persistent misogyny and other mental and emotional ills. I really believe that everybody can be their own island, allowing some people to visit up close or contemplate from far offshore. People will never be a necessary “requirement” for our existence, they are merely a deliberate “compliment”. Watch them come and watch them go.
    All is well. 🙂

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