When it comes to love, many of us fear one thing and one thing only: getting hurt. The fear of getting hurt and having our heart destroyed into a thousand little pieces terrifies us, keeps us up at night, totally haunts us like the ghost of ex-boyfriends past.
Moving on from past hurt and hardship can be something that is incredibly difficult, whether we want to admit it or not. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our fears of the unknown and of being vulnerable, that we totally ruin things for ourselves without even realizing it. Subconsciously, we’re so scared of getting “too close” to get hurt, that we begin to push others away from us and ruin what could be a good thing, out of fear of it turning sour.
Self-sabotage in relationships is not something new, it’s not a brand new study introduced by an expert. It’s something people have done for years. When we self-sabotage, we essentially are ruining things for ourselves. Many times, it stems from a form of trauma. The trauma can be anything from childhood struggles, past relationship issues, problems in friendships, or even the relationship we have with our own parents.
In short, self-sabotaging is literally undermining your own goals and values.
I’ve struggled for years with self-sabotaging. From friendships to relationships, I’ve always been someone who struggled with getting too close to people. My childhood wasn’t easy and the relationship I had with my parents, specifically my father, was not always smooth sailing. I went through a lot of struggles with friends at a young age because my life was much different than theirs. Coming from an unstable household didn’t fair well for young girls who had it all together, in their picture-perfect home.
A lot of my self-sabotage comes from low self-esteem and self-worth. Being in so many failed relationships left me feeling worthless for quite some time.
I got hurt a lot, as a kid and as an adult. All of the scars, the bruises, and the pain of being too vulnerable with people and getting burned left a bad taste in my mouth. So, whenever I began to feel as though I was “too vulnerable” with others as an adult, I would push them to “test them.” Sometimes it was subconsciously, but sometimes I’d realize I was doing it, and just couldn’t stop.
Sometimes, we test people to see how serious they are about us. More so in romantic relationships than friendships, we want to know if they will “ride it out” with us through it all. We want a ride or die, right? Someone who will walk through the fire with us forever, not someone who will fold under pressure. So, we push and push and push them, hoping they’ll respond in the way we want them to.
In the end, this often times backfires. Either we push the person away completely, or we end up continuing this unhealthy cycle to a point where it becomes toxic for you and your partner.
Understanding your own patterns is key in learning to prevent your own demise and destruction of your own happiness. While it seems incredibly hard, self-reflection and self-understanding are the only two ways to combat this.
I spent the majority of my adult life self-sabotaging many of my relationships. I’d push and poke, I’d run when things got hard, I’d become overly judgmental and aggressive, hoping that my partner would “leave me” so I wouldn’t have to be so vulnerable. It’s like I’m the therapist’s dream client, I know all of my patterns and know why I’m doing them, but for so long, I couldn’t figure out how to fix them.
Then, I started journaling. It sounds so minimal and so small, but every time I started having negative feelings, or anxieties about love, or I felt like I was reverting back to old habits, I started writing. I wrote about my thoughts, my mood, the triggers, all of it. And, getting it out felt like a form of therapy within itself. And, then, I’d go back to it and re-read it, later on, to see why I felt that way and start to connect the dots.
One of the only ways to fix any problem you have within yourself is to re-learn the problems about yourself and understand why they are there. When do they come out the most? And, how can I readjust my path to ensure they don’t totally put me off my track to my own goals and values.
Since starting this process, I’ve realized that self-reflection has been the healthiest way for me to cope with my anxieties and fears about love. Sure, I’ve been hurt in the past, but that doesn’t mean that everyone with who I cross paths with will hurt me in the long run. In fact, the more I’ve used this mechanism, it’s changed my outlook on love. Just because you’ve been burned before, doesn’t mean the fire lasts forever.
Lex Gabrielle is a lifestyle writer who believes in messy buns and 3+ cups of coffee a day. When she’s not writing, she teaches high school English, journalism, and creative writing. You can see more of her work at www.lexgabrielle.com.