“He abandoned the relationship because she’d make a perfect wife and staying would leave him no other choice but to marry her.” ~ David Burrus
Romantic relationships offer some of life’s greatest joys. They can also cause great pain. As we open ourselves up to another person, we leave ourselves vulnerable to rejection and abandonment, thus fueling some of our deepest insecurities. David Burrus’s quote is talking about a guy who leaves a relationship because he knew the woman would make a perfect wife, but what the real takeaway is this, (1) many of us (notice I said “us”) are guilty of self-sabotage and (2) many of us aren’t honest and upfront about not being ready for a certain situation, thus leaving the other person confused and heartbroken.
Do you have a pattern of being attracted to an emotionally unavailable partner who is emotionally protected and difficult to get close with? Or do you have history of pushing away the sort of person who is available, caring, and easy to get close with? Some people are guilty of one of these, and some are guilty of both. There are various reasons why people have a pattern of being attracted to emotionally unavailable people or have a habit of pushing away a good person. Some of those reasons are: (1) They fear if they get to close, they will lose themselves, their individuality, and/or freedom; (2) Intimacy means revealing their true self and they are afraid to do so; (3) they are guilty of distant intimacy; or (4) they are guilty of constant intimacy.
I want to elaborate a little more on distant and constant intimacy. Distant intimacy means shielding yourself from being rejected, abused, or controlled in a relationship. Being emotionally aloof allows you to feel less vulnerable. As a result, you don’t allow yourself to personally invest in a relationships – this is your “safety zone”. But it doesn’t allow you to feel the connection and closeness that you long for. Intimacy from a distance is not satisfying because there is less emotion, less passion, and less connection. And the sad truth is, nothing risked, nothing gained.
On the other side of distant intimacy is constant intimacy – The “needy” person who desperately wants love, but never feels good enough to allow someone to truly love them. Any distance in the relationship causes thoughts of being cheated on or abandoned. So, the anxious partner fills this space with text messages, phone calls, and everything they can to get the reassurance they need. Ironically, the partner who feels unworthy of love will often fall in love with someone who is unwilling to return it. As a result, they enter into a toxic relationship that only reinforces each other’s deepest scars. The distant intimacy partner pushes away the constant intimacy partner, who then tries harder to earn love. The distant intimacy partner will then push them away even harder, putting the relationship into a spiral of confusion, hurt, and painful disconnection.
Here are ways you can stop self-sabotaging your relationship(s):
- Understand your attachment Are you needy/clingy? Are you distant?
- Identify your triggers. Are there certain things that trigger self-sabotaging behaviors?
- Decipher the past from the present. Sometimes you have self-sabotage behaviors because you are allowing the past to impact the present.
- Be mindful of your behavior. ALL of us have issues we need to work on. It’s important to know what yours are – once you know, you can begin to work on them.
- Learn to communicate. I cannot say this enough. COMMUNICATION is important in all relationships (romantic or not). It’s the lack of communication that often times lead to issues/problems.
- Realize you are not the center of your partner’s world. The truth is, they are their own person and they are having their own life experience. No matter how much they love you, you are not their whole life.
- Know that it’s your own expectations, not other people’s expectations, that cause your disappointment. Some of your expectations are not realistic, and in some cases, it isn’t your partner’s job to meet them.
- Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it’s the lies you tell yourself that hurt you.