Updated: Dec 28, 2021
Relationships are tricky. When you fall for someone, your whole world changes. You let your guard down, trust them with secrets, and begin to rely on them—all for it to end in a painful way that makes you want to never hear the word love again, ever. Who wants to go through the pain of dating and breakups and maybe not even finding love?
You may be protecting yourself in ways you didn’t even know that keep you from finding the love you deserve.
Below are 7 common ways people unknowingly sabotage their chances of finding love:
1: When They Feel Trapped In A Relationship, They Self-Sabotage By Pushing People Away Instead Of Addressing Their Feelings
Feeling trapped isn’t uncommon for people who have been hurt. Often, trust is the core challenge. If this issue isn’t addressed before getting into a new relationship, you may experience feelings of being trapped when someone new causes you to feel vulnerable or when you start to truly desire a loving partnership but worry about it falling apart.
This experience shows up in a feeling of panic. Suddenly, you miss not having to return texts or calls and the complete freedom over your schedule. You find yourself trying to push them away to see if they will stay….and then getting proven right when they walk away. Your relationships struggle to get past a few months.
What to do instead: Love and relationships take trust in yourself and your partner. To avoid feeling trapped, work with your partner to set healthy boundaries where you can wait to reply to texts or phone calls so it doesn’t feel as pressuring. While in the beginning love makes you want to spend all your time together, continue to plan separate friends nights and one alone night a week. When you begin to feel trapped or ready to lash out, take a few deep breaths and check in on what is really going on.
2: They May Avoid Relationships Altogether Thus Never Finding Love.
If you’ve been hurt in the past, you may avoid relationships in the future to avoid the pain of a breakup. Many people don’t realize they are avoiding it as they make excuses or stay busy. Pain isn’t something anyone willingly wants to go through again and it can be scary to imagine being vulnerable or planning a future for someone to walk away.
This may look like every time someone tells you that they have a friend to set you up with, you balk. You aren’t really looking for someone, setting up your dating profile, or doing anything to move forward with dating.
What to do instead: This is a great time to face your anxiety and begin to work through it. Say yes to the friend who wanted to set you up, attend the local singles’ night, or have a friend come over to help you set up a killer dating profile. Simply make it a point to say yes if it scares you (and isn’t dangerous, of course!).
The worst that could happen from facing your fears is you have stories to tell of the date where she picked her nose or that time you and your date stayed up until 5 A.M. and saw the sunrise. The best thing? Making memories and possibly meeting Mr./Mrs. Right.
3: They May Be Waiting For Someone Who Isn’t Interested In Them
For some, the idea of someone can be better than being lonely. It can be easier than putting the work into finding the right person or facing the anxiety of getting out into the dating world. It keeps you safe with a prospect, even though that person will never work out. Falling for the unobtainable does mean you have high standards, but it can also mean you aren’t seeing someone right in front of you or putting in effort into finding an obtainable and awesome person.
What to do instead: Be realistic. Life sadly is not always a romantic comedy or a fairy tale. If that person isn’t really expressing interest in you, it may not be right. I’m these cases, it is best to be direct with that person or work towards moving on.
4: They May Have A Backup Friend
Roughly two-thirds of all college students admit to having a Plan B for their relationship. A Plan B or Backup Friend is that friend that you know is a little too interested in you and would do anything for you, so they are awesome as dates to family functions or to text late at night. A Plan B seems awesome but it can point at deeper self-esteem issues, such as fears of being alone or wanting to be seen as perfect. This can stop you from going after someone you really like or putting in the effort to date. It could also stop your new relationship when that partner feels threatened by your relationship with your backup friend.
What to do instead: The first step is to if you want to pursue a relationship with your backup friend. If not, recognize how this could be stopping you from moving forward in the dating world. Next is to begin to set boundaries by going to another friend when you are in need. The best gift you can give the backup friend is space for them to also find their person.
5: They May Stay “Too Busy” To Date
There are periods in your life when you genuinely are very busy, however, there are also periods where we keep ourselves busy to avoid something. Staying busy can be a way to avoid the anxiety that comes with dating and a way to easily turn down friends when they offer to set you up. Staying busy can keep you from finding the time to get to know yourself, which can be scary.
What to do instead: Dating doesn’t have to start off with a huge commitment Actually, it is better to only see a date once or twice a week in the beginning and gradually build up into more nights when you feel comfortable. You may need to analyze what your activities bring you and what happens if you miss them. Try to set aside one to two nights a week for dating or for alone time and see what happens.
6: They May Self-Sabotage By Being In A Relationship They Hate Or That Is Going Nowhere
Often we stay in a relationship past when the love has faded and there is no future. People feel this is the best it can be, or they don’t deserve happiness. It can be terrifying to leave the comfort and familiarity of a relationship to begin a period of loneliness and dating again. Many fear starting over and admitting to everyone that this one didn’t work out. So, instead of facing those fears and leaning into the new, they stay slightly or fully miserable.
What to do instead: Now is the time for some self-reflection about what you really want. Is this where you want to be in 5 months, 5 years, or 50 years? Will you be sad if you never find true love, get married or have kids? Do you want a better love? If the answers to those questions are yes, then you know what you need to do. Call a supportive friend and make a plan on what your next steps are. They can remind you that you can do this. See a therapist to support you with these changes.
7: They May Not Communicate When Things Bother Them
If you identify as a people pleaser or someone who has trouble telling someone when their actions hurt you, this one could be you. People pleasers tend to either agree to everything (even what they don’t want) or stay silent as someone does something they don’t agree with. Eventually, resentment builds. They find themselves getting annoyed at the idea of the person or spending time with them.
Then they explode and the relationship is tainted.
What to do instead: It doesn’t have to be this way. Setting limits is okay. There are ways to communicate your hurt in a polite way that recognizes your partner's viewpoint while assertively stating yours. This is a place to do your research and practice. If you aren’t using these skills with your partner, chances are that you aren’t using them in your other relationships. Therapy can be a great place to work on communicating effectively.
How Do I Keep Moving Forward From Self-Sabotaging Behaviors?
Ideally, the road ahead of you starts with not just recognizing these behaviors but also working to change. Often, when we recognize something, we begin to see it everywhere. Then we can begin to make meaningful changes and think about who we really want to be and what we really want from life. If you are wondering when is the ideal time to start therapy, click here.
If you are looking for counseling to help you recognize your unhealthy patterns in your life and moving towards healthy ones, Mary Willoughby Romm is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia who provides online therapy for Willow Tree Healing Center. She enjoys transforming the lives of women, college students, kids, tweens/teens, and families through providing communication strategies, coping skills that work, allowing a safe space to be heard, and actively working towards helping you with your challenges. She is certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (ages 2-7) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counsels substance abuse in teens and adults, and practices Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to explore working together.