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5 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Relationships (and What to Do About It)

Updated on September 26, 2017
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Michelle writes about relationships, self-improvement, life lessons & attitude to both inspire & relate to her readers

Relationships. Whether they are romantic partnerships, friendships, or family relationships, many times we end up sabotaging them in a variety of colorful ways.

This doesn't necessarily mean we don't want to have these relationships. In fact, in most cases we want them to succeed very much. But there's something about getting involved in the nitty-gritty of deep, meaningful relationships that can sometimes bring out the sabotage monster in all of us.

Here are 5 ways you may be sabotaging your relationships:

Source

1. Expectations

No matter how old you are, you have expectations. You may expect a swashbuckling knight in shining armor in romantic relationships because you read too many romance novels, or you may expect a friend who is loyal to the absolute death because that's how you are.

These kinds of expectations are part of the preconceived ideas we all have, and they're usually based on our past experience, or on how we ourselves behave.

If you're the type of person who is fiercely loyal or who gives everything they've got to a relationship, then most likely you're going to expect the same from another person. That's mainly because we're all used to our own way of thinking, and for some of us, it's hard to relate to something different.

Many of us, when faced with a relationship where the other person doesn't meet our standards or expectations, will immediately decide that the person in question simply isn't good enough and couldn't possibly meet our needs. We often dismiss them instantly. This is especially true of romantic relationships.

How do you suppose that makes the other person feel? They have their own set of expectations based on their experiences too.

This would be where communication, compassion, and compromise come into play.

  • Communicate your expectations to people you want to have relationships with. Let them know about issues that are difficult for you to deal with.
  • Have compassion. Everyone is dealing with something, and every person has their own take on how a relationship should work. Understand other people have feelings too, not just you.
  • And lastly, is compromise. You can't have compromise without compassion. Unless you're able to get to another person's level and see the world from their perspective, you won't be able to compromise on anything. It doesn't have to be a massive compromise, but it can be something small, like agreeing to be more organized, or saying you'll call more often.

*Assuming anyone can read your mind is not only lazy communication but another mode of relationship sabotage.

Do you think your partner can read your mind?
Do you think your partner can read your mind? | Source

2. Pride

Pride in relationships is the silent killer. This is because it's pride that causes people to never call back after that terrible fight, or to simply disappear on someone when they don't act in a way that's expected. Having too much pride in relationships causes a complete shutdown of the whole system.

Pride can be defined as:

  • A feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people

  • A feeling that you are more important or better than other people

You can't have compromise without compassion. Unless you're able to get to another person's level and see the world from their perspective, you won't be able to compromise on anything.

Of course, these are not the only definitions of pride, but it's these forms of pride that we use most to sabotage relationships. When people say, "swallow your pride," they mean it. Pride is the thing that keeps you from speaking when you should, apologizing when you should, and from communicating your needs when you should.

Pride is definitely difficult to subdue, but in order to continue having healthy relationships with the people around you, it's got to go down.

There's nothing wrong with having a sense of pride in your career, accomplishments, or in any other aspect of your life, but when it prevents you from loving people, communicating with people, or showing compassion, it has to be shut down.

If more people picked up the phone to apologize or even just admitted they were wrong once in a while, their ability to sabotage relationships would be significantly diminished.

3. Insecurity

This is probably the most commonly known and talked about way in which people sabotage their relationships. Whether it's a relationship with your mother, father, siblings, friends, mate, or potential mate, insecurity is the quickest way to stunt further progress.

We are all (mostly) insecure beings. We worry about the way we look, the way we act, what we say, and so on. When we engage in relationships with others, we tend to be preoccupied with how they may see us and if they think we are worthy of their love.

This is a stark contradiction to how we judge others with our expectations and standards. Often times, intensely insecure people dismiss others quickly in order to protect themselves from potential rejection.

It makes little sense logically, but most of us function on an emotional level in relationships that isn't always rational.

Of course, jealousy is usually a frequent guest to the insecurity party. It's not only romantic relationships that suffer jealousy. It can haunt relationships with siblings, parents, children, and friendships.

If more people picked up the phone to apologize or even just admitted they were wrong once in a while, their ability to sabotage relationships would be significantly diminished.

Insecurity kills relatinships
Insecurity kills relatinships | Source

With the invention of social media, and everyone's lives and best moments on display, there's a lot more pressure on people to feel as though they should have perfect, harmonious relationships in their lives.

Even though many of us know the "perfect" relationship doesn't exist, sometimes on sites like Facebook, it can be depressing to see other people having these supposedly wonderful lives with their loved ones or spouse if you're not experiencing it yourself.

This kind of social media envy also adds fuel to the fire of irrationally high expectations that people have about what their relationships should look like.

When we engage in relationships with others, we tend to be preoccupied with how they may see us and if they think we are worthy of their love.

4. Narrative

A person's narrative regarding relationships really makes all the difference. None of the above factors can be dealt with properly unless a person has the appropriate attitude about maintaining relationships.

If your constant narrative is negative when discussing others or events that happen in your relationships then it's unlikely your relationships are very healthy.

In romantic relationships especially, a person's narrative can make it or break it. If you've been single for a while, dabbling in the dating scene, and continually say over and over that you're never going to find someone, or that your relationships never last, then they probably won't.

How you continually describe your life, thoughts, and what you think is going to happen to you means a lot more than people realize.

It has a palpable psychological toll. Sometimes people who are afraid to commit in relationships will have all kinds of excuses as to why they can't make it work.

A negative running narrative in your head aids sabotaging relationships
A negative running narrative in your head aids sabotaging relationships | Source

If you're constantly talking about how horrible your sister is, how you can't find a loyal partner, or complaining about that friend who always lets you down, that's just a running negative narrative that keeps you spinning in a vicious cycle. The vicious cycle may be familiar and safe, especially if you've been participating in it for some length of time.

The important thing to remember is how vital your thoughts and words are in relationships. Simply thinking positive isn't going to solve any real issues or make someone else feel valued, but it's a good start. It takes practice.

Turning your thoughts around when they start to go down a dark hill is the first step in transforming your narrative. In this way, your thoughts can meet your words, and then your words can meet your actions in your relationships.

How you continually describe your life, thoughts, and what you think is going to happen to you means a lot more than people realize. It has a palpable psychological toll.

5. Priorities

Having functioning relationships are important to a healthy lifestyle. Making time for those relationships is necessary for evolving them forward.

It's true that really great friendships or family bonds can stand the test of distance for quite some time. But showing those you care about and who care about you that you're willing to make time to talk to them is part of the give and take process.

Even if you're unable to physically see the people in question, you can call, write, e-mail, text, or even do screen time with them online.

There's a vast ocean of ways to communicate to people these days. In fact, it's become very hard to stay off the grid with so much communication technology.

If you have a busy life, find alternative ways to stay in touch!
If you have a busy life, find alternative ways to stay in touch! | Source

So, when it comes to friendships, romance, or family, keep in mind that all of those relationships need consideration. If you let them languish for too long because you feel you have better things to do, or that you don't have time to listen to people's problems, then you're in a sense, sabotaging those relationships.

We all have things in our lives that keep us busy. But, at the end of the day, when those really important things you had to do come to an end - it's a great feeling to have people in your life to talk to.

Checking in with your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, children, parents, siblings, friends - even for a short amount of time - shows you value them. If you can't make it to a social function, call them and let them know. Keeping the lines of communication going boost relationships more than people realize.

Do whatever it takes to keep the conversation flowing between you and the people you want to have relationships with. In turn, they should hopefully respond the same to you.

Sabotaging relationships is generally pretty easy. It's nourishing and maintaining those relationships that takes real effort.

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    • RJ Schwartz profile image

      Ralph Schwartz 20 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

      This is a very well thought-out hub. I think that more weight should be given to expectations, since that's where most people seem to run into trouble.