signs he is sabotaging the relationship

There is nothing worse than going through a breakup and you don’t even know why. 

You feel completely blindsided because it feels like everything was fine just a week ago. But now your (ex-)boyfriend seems cold, distant, and unbothered. 

Unfortunately, that happens in a lot of romantic relationships.

Your romantic partner ends the relationship without prior warning or a sign that he was not happy anymore. And even though you might have sensed a subtle shift in his behavior, you never would have thought that he is about to break up with you.

The truth is, sometimes men self-sabotage relationships and there is nothing you can do about it!

And in this post, I’m sharing the signs he is sabotaging the relationship.

self-sabotaging relationships

What are sabotaging behaviors? 

Simply explained, self-sabotaging behaviors are conscious or subconscious actions that get in the way of maintaining healthy relationships

There are many different ways how a man sabotages a relationship, but a few common ways include being controlling or causing unnecessary arguments.

Self-sabotaging tendencies often come from a lack of a healthy coping mechanism. Rather than confronting their fears or relationship issues in a healthy way, they use unhealthy relationship skills to navigate intimate relationships.

The question is, why would a man choose to sabotage his own relationships?

Why would a man self-sabotage a relationship?

As with most unhealthy behaviors, the root of self-sabotage is fear. 

In particular three different types of fears. The fear of rejection/ abandonment, the fear of engulfment, or the fear of intimacy. 

Each one of these fears stems from childhood trauma or previous relationships and shapes the way we behave in our adult lives. 

So if you are asking yourself “Why do men sabotage relationships?”, then one of these fears is most likely the answer. 

Fear of abandonment/ rejection:

The overwhelming fear that you will be rejected by your new partner. Men with abandonment issues tend to display these behaviors and thought patterns.

Both fears tend to have a huge impact on new relationships if not dealt with. They are often the main reasons why a long-term relationship ends.

Fear of intimacy:

The fear that a relationship is becoming too intimate. When a man has a fear of intimacy, he will often avoid a having strong emotional connection with you.

He doesn’t feel comfortable being vulnerable and therefore has a hard time opening up.

Fear of engulfment:

The fear that your partner over-immerses himself/ herself in the relationship. Men who are afraid of engulfment, that you will become a needy girlfriend.

Your partner feels strongly about his freedom and will use self-sabotaging behavior to safeguard it.

what causes self-sabotaging behavior

Signs he is sabotaging the relationship

1. Lack of trust

A very common way men self-sabotage relationships are through trust issues. Their lack of trust is fed by the fear of losing you and so they behave paranoid.

This may include jealousy, excessive control, and being possessive. Even though such behavior may seem harmless on its own, it stems from negative past experiences.

The problem is that when a man is afraid of you leaving, his behavior will make you feel trapped and helpless. That can easily get to a point where it becomes so uncomfortable that it drives you away. 

2. Causing arguments

The second most common way that men self-sabotage relationships are by picking unnecessary arguments.

If he starts to blow seemingly small disagreements out of proportion and repeatedly causes conflicts, then these are signs he is sabotaging the relationship.

He may subconsciously or consciously try to disturb the peace of a happy relationship. By doing so he re-introduces friction that will justify a breakup. 

How men self-sabotage relationships

3. Silent treatment

A very toxic way in which people self-sabotage relationships is by ignoring or stonewalling their partner.

If a man doesn’t pay attention to your emotional needs or even ignores your requests, then there’s a good chance that he is using these tactics to distance himself from you. 

According to psychology today, silent treatment is a form of passive aggression, that prohibits meaningful connections. Especially, women with anxious attachment styles get triggered when this self-sabotaging behavior is used.

4. Being emotionally unavailable 

Being emotionally unavailable is another very common way a man self-sabotages at the beginning of a relationship or during the dating phase.

And it is something I have experienced in the past as well.

Someone I dated in the past had a fear of intimacy and sabotaged our relationship by avoiding being vulnerable at any cost.

Sometimes when a man feels like he is becoming too emotionally invested, he tries to keep you at arm’s length in order to make a possible breakup hurt less.

That self-defeating behavior ends up causing you to feel unloved or unwanted and subconsciously manifests in a breakup.

signs he is sabotaging the relationship

5. Cheating

Cheating is a very painful way to self-sabotage a relationship!

When a man cheats on a woman he loves he betrays her trust and throws a grenade into the relationship.  

Unfortunately, it is still very common.

That foul move is often an ego move. Instead of approaching the issue headfirst, they choose to be sneaky and avoid the confrontation.

It’s a surefire way to blow up any long-term relationship.

6. Looking for a flaw

There is a saying that “if you search for a flaw, you will find a flaw”.

A common way that men will self-sabotage a relationship is by focusing on the one thing that is “wrong” with you. 

He will zoom in on that flaw in order to convince himself that you are not right for him.

This could be something as harmless as your voice. Anything that will give him a reason to opt out of the relationship. 

7. Being inconsistent/ flaky

Another way to sabotage good relationships, especially at the beginning, is inconsistency.

If a guy repeatedly cancels plans, is unavailable, or even ghosts you, it may mean that he is not ready for a serious relationship but is not courageous enough to say it.

Therefore, he is using his poor relationship skills to give you a hint.

8. Not committing 

Closely linked to the last point, is when a man uses not committing to you as a way to sabotage his own love life.

When a man is not ready to commit, he will often play games to distract from the real issue. 

He may refuse to make the relationship official, even though you have been seeing each other for weeks. Or he may purposely put work and other commitments ahead of you and the relationship. 

By neglecting to prioritize the growth of the relationship, he is dooming it to fail. 

how to stop self-sabotaging relationships

9. Quitting before it gets too real

Ohh this one always makes me mad.

The most f&$#ed up way that men are self-sabotaging relationships is by quitting before it ever has a chance to evolve. 

A lot of men don’t want to put in the effort it takes to make a relationship work. That’s why they quit at the first sign of challenges, rather than working through it with their current partner.

signs of self-sabotaging behavior in relationships

10. Unrealistic expectations 

Even though this self-sabotaging behavior is often used by women, some men use it too.

He will create unrealistic expectations (often physical) of you, which sets you up to fail. Once you are not able to meet his high expectations it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that confirms his speculation. 

I find that this is a common exit strategy for guys who don’t want to commit as well.

How a man sabotages a relationship

How do you know if your partner is sabotaging your relationship?

While men and women both struggle with the same fears.

Each gender has a unique way of dealing with them and subsequently uses different ways of relationship sabotage.

You will know your partner is sabotaging your relationship if he constantly finds ways to bring conflict into it.

Whether he is doing it on purpose or not, you are starting to feel like he doesn’t want you to be happy by destabilizing your relationship.

Most of the time men are not even aware that they are self-sabotaging relationships with their actions.

In his mind, he feels connected to you and loves you. But in his subconscious mind, he might be nervous about the pressure of commitment and experiencing negative emotions around it.

If that’s the case, his mind will look for ways to get him out and trigger him to pull back the moment he gets too close. 

Or he might be afraid of the pain new love could cause, so he starts looking for flaws that would justify a breakup. 

All these behaviors could be ways he is sabotaging the relationship subconsciously before it even has a chance to grow. 

And unless you are dealing with a narcissist or are in a toxic relationship it is very unlikely that he is intentionally self-sabotaging the relationship.

Because at the core, self-sabotaging behavior is an unconscious attempt to protect yourself.

It’s your mind trying to keep you safe from the perceived fear of abandonment, fear of intimacy, or fear of engulfment. 

What to do if your partner is self-sabotaging? 

Even though self-sabotage is often subconscious, I want to reiterate that by no means should you excuse the signs that he is sabotaging the relationship. 

While men who self-sabotage relationships might not mean harm, it’s not wise to get emotionally attached to a man that is ruining your relationship experience.

When you are dating someone who self-sabotages you have to evaluate the relationship at its current stage and decide for yourself if the challenges are worth it. 

So decide carefully if you want to stay, point out his pattern and work through his past hurts together.

If he is willing to work on it, great. But if he is not, then it might be time to break up to protect your own mental health.

Always remember that there are many great men out there that have worked through their past trauma and have a more secure attachment style.

Signs he is sabotaging the relationship

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