Relationship sabotage: Why and how do we do it?
People are often really surprised to hear that they have been sabotaging their relationships.
This is because it is possible to simultaneously yearn for a relationship, whilst also unconsciously fearing one.
Relationships are after all, quite frightening. In order to have intimacy, we need to maintain some level of transparency and vulnerability. This means being deeply known to our partners. We can crave this, whilst also worrying about what they might discover. What if they find out who I really am, and they don't like me any-more? What if they get bored of me? What if I'm not good enough for them?
So, what are the two main ways in which we sabotage our relationships?
- Making our partners responsible for past hurts
If we have been hurt before, we might find ourselves creating a wall, with the expectation that a new partner should coax us over it, or prove that they are 'worthy' enough to cross the threshold. It is not the responsibility of our partners, to make up for the previous hurts we have experienced. This is both a huge and an impossible task for them. Instead we need to take responsibility for our choices, and if, after care and deliberation, we decide to start a relationship with someone, we need to also take the risk to let them in. To not take this risk, only means taking the greater gamble that they can tolerate being blamed for our past pain.
- Expecting to never feel hurt or uncomfortable
Relationships require a tolerance for messiness, imperfection and discomfort. Partners will disagree. Some topics will be irreconcilable. If we find ourselves stepping back when these moments arise, we are sabotaging the relationship by being emotionally distant. This point can be particularly useful for people who have experienced abusive relationships. Understandably, for these individuals their focus is on maintaining only healthy and loving relationships. However, it is vital that this belief includes the acceptance that inevitably, both partners will feel hurt at times in the relationship, and that this is not always because the other person is abusive.
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