How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Relationship

Sometimes, partners can be the worst enemies of their relationship. The weight of the past, fears, jealousy, or communication problems are always big saboteurs. Here are some tips on how to avoid sabotaging your relationship!
How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Relationship
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Sigmund Freud used to say that every romantic emotional bond consists of two partners and their fears. As striking as it may seem to us, this last figure often has an unusual power. Therefore, if you want to find out how to avoid sabotaging your relationship, it’s essential that you learn to detect these fears, as they have important effects.

Loving greatly isn’t always synonymous with loving well. Some people do it desperately, to the point of almost harassing their partner with their demons, jealousy, constant need for attachment, and the trap of distrust. Likewise, we all carry a past behind us, a backpack that weighs heavily on our shoulders.

Most of the time, breakups aren’t due to cheating. With your own behavior, your fears, and a lack of emotional resources, you may end up destroying what would’ve been a great love.

A couple sabotaging their relationship.

How to avoid sabotaging your relationship: seven strategies

An interesting study was conducted at Purdue University in Indiana in 2001. The purpose was to find out which components predicted commitment and success in a relationship. It was discovered that the stability of a couple depends on three factors: psychological attachment, the couple’s long-term orientation and shared goals, and both partners’ intentions to solve any problems and issues.

These factors can be determinant. However, beyond the intentions you might have for your relationship, there’s your personality and, above all, those psychological areas capable of boycotting the affection. We’re speaking, for example, about fears, needs, defense mechanisms, and, sometimes, even a lack of maturity in the understanding of what it means to “be a couple”.

1. Beware of expecting “everything” from your partner

Sometimes, you want your partner to be that figure in charge of dispelling all your fears. That man or woman who rescues, heals, relieves, and solves every problem and need. However, you must know that you can’t place your own healing on other people’s shoulders.

Wanting to unload every emotional knot and unresolved past wound on your partner is an excessive burden. You can expect love, unconditional support, and understanding from your partner, but you can’t expect them to meet every need.

2. Excessive attachment and stifling love

In order to avoid sabotaging your relationship, you must be aware of your attachment style. Sometimes, low self-esteem leads to co-dependent relationships in which people build dysfunctional bonds. For example, those relationships where you tell yourself that your partner is everything, that without them you’re nothing and that life only has meaning due to them.

Excessive attachment not only leads you to excessive suffering but also overburdens you with obsessive worries such as fear of abandonment, betrayal, not being wanted, etc.

3. Learn to communicate: your partner isn’t a fortune teller

If something is bothering you, say it. If there’s something that worries you, makes you angry, or hurts you, don’t wait for the other person to guess it. Learn to communicate assertively. This is a very common pattern in most relationships. People often expect their partners to notice certain things, but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Learning to communicate confidently and effectively harmonizes relationships, heals them, and drives them forward.

4. Your partner isn’t always to blame

“He doesn’t understand me.” If you want to avoid boycotting your relationship, you must be aware that, sometimes, a problem isn’t just one partner’s responsibility. In most cases, both parties are probably contributing to a given problem.

For example, if you feel that your relationship has fallen into a rut, both partners are responsible. You should reflect on all those issues that you might unknowingly play a part in.

5. How to avoid sabotaging your relationship: work on your self-confidence and self-esteem

There are two Trojan horses that can quickly destroy a relationship: insecurity and low self-esteem. When the mind only harbors fears and a negative self-image, you see threats in every corner. When you fear being betrayed, you’re afraid of not living up to your standards. Thus, fear of abandonment takes over.

If you want to avoid sabotaging your relationship, you can work on these key psychological areas.

6. Don’t focus on flaws rather than virtues

There’s a certain kind of lens that can tarnish and blur the quality of any relationship. When you focus only on what your partner doesn’t have, on what they don’t do or what they do wrong, meaning you only pay attention to your partner’s faults, defects, and weaknesses, you completely distort the relationship. This also hurts your partner.

Being in a relationship implies appreciating our partner’s virtues but also accepting their flaws. However, if you only see their flaws and amplify them, you’ll be trapped by negative thoughts and discomfort.

People sabotaging their relationship.

7. Don’t take your relationship for granted

How can you avoid sabotaging your relationship? There’s a golden rule that you must always keep in mind: don’t take your partner’s love for granted. Don’t assume that, no matter what you do, your partner will always be there for you. Don’t assume that you no longer have to make an effort because your relationship is solid.

Love that isn’t cared for weakens. If you don’t nurture your relationship, it’ll slowly and quietly wither away. Don’t sabotage your relationship by letting yourself get carried away by carelessness and routine.

In conclusion, many factors can sever an emotional bond. However, if you’re able to attend to each of these areas in an authentic and committed way, everything will move more smoothly and you’ll have a happier relationship.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arriaga, X. B., & Agnew, C. R. (2001). Being committed: Affective, cognitive, and conative components of relationship commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin27(9), 1190–1203.
  • Estrada, R. I. (2009). An examination of love and marital satisfaction in long-term marriages. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 132.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.