5 Ways Self-Sabotage Is Keeping You Single

“Hi Orna and Matthew,

I’m so tired of sabotaging my relationships! How can I shift/release/realign the incredibly painful belief that “I’m not wanted”?! Recently I had this pain triggered again by a man that I KNOW I don’t want a relationship with when I discovered he’s in touch with another woman. I’m afraid I’m sabotaging my relationships again.

I’ve done a ton of work on this belief and I’ve become clear how I’m the one who sabotaged my past relationships because of this fear. I really feel discouraged that this belief was triggered again despite all the healing I’ve done.

Part of me feels like I will never have the kind of relationship I want. Now, I know that isn’t true but that’s how it feels right now.

I would love your insight/help in changing this old pattern for good!


Hi Sheri,

Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing your pain and your fear of sabotaging your relationships. While we get how frustrating and painful this kind of wound can be we want to congratulate you on being able to identify the pattern. Taking responsibility for how you’ve been sabotaging your past relationships puts you in the power seat to make some real changes.

All of your limiting beliefs about love and relationship can be blocks to creating the love you want. When you have self-sabotaging behaviors it can feel particularly frustrating because it can feel like the behavior is out of your control.

Self-sabotage is a misleading term because no one wants to believe that they are purposefully creating situations that prevent them from having what they want.

The truth is self-sabotage is not a conscious behavior, it is a subconscious behavior and understanding how and why you have these behaviors will bring you some peace of mind.

You see, all of our behavior has positive intent – even the ones that cause us much pain and frustration. While it may not have a positive result, all of our behavior is trying to get us something that we need – like safety, love, and acceptance.

We develop self-sabotaging behaviors when we are young children because we are trying to get our needs met before we have a lot of mental and emotional resources available to us. As a young child, we make decisions and take on strategies that have negative consequences later in life.

Having compassion for your younger self and her need to feel loved and safe will give you the right mindset to approach your own healing.

While you didn’t give us any details about your specific strategies for feeling safe, we know that self-sabotage can be a huge block to love.

So how can self-sabotage hurt your relationships?

Here are 5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Relationships:

  1. Being Overly Critical

Judgment is the most significant block to love. When our expectation of self is very high, it can lead to self-criticism, especially when we fail to meet our unrealistic expectations. When you are overly critical of yourself, it can easily manifest into being overly critical of your partner.

You see, most people project their inner dialog onto the outer world and the people around them. If your inner dialog is one of constant criticism and frustration at your imperfections, you will see and criticize the imperfections of the world (and especially your partner who can become the scapegoat for your failures).

Judgment has many forms and often times it comes from the need to be in control. Feeling out of control feels unsafe to most people and judgment and criticism are a strategy for feeling like you are actually in control of the situation.

Another trigger for judgment is stress. Stress creates anxiety, which then creates an inner dialog of judgment and that judgment is directed at either yourself or your partner.

No one decides to be critical, or to be constantly critiquing their significant other – and this is where self-sabotage comes in.

If you know you are hard on yourself, and if your expectations of self are so high that you don’t even meet them yourself, then a partner will be no different. You’ll end up feeling disappointed because no one can live up to your unrealistic expectations.

You must first come to terms with your own humanity. There is no such thing as a perfect person. When you can accept your own faults and love yourself despite them, that is a huge step toward being able to love another imperfect person. This acceptance will help you stop sabotaging your relationships.

  1. Having Unrealistic Expectations

When we fall in love, we often have unspoken (or even unconscious) expectations about our partner and the relationship.

Your spouse will not be EVERYTHING to you. Expecting that your partner will be able to fulfill everything you need is an unrealistic expectation and you are ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment.

It’s important to have good friends to have a balanced life. In the early part of a relationship – The Romance Stage – it’s easy to think that you can simply just be with your partner every moment of every day and have your needs met. We’ve all had that friend that disappeared every time she got a new boyfriend.

Over time the chemical high of The Romance Stage will wear off and your partner will just be one human being – one that is different from you.

Be sure you have a well-rounded lifestyle that includes spending quality time with friends. Both men and women need friends of the same gender to really thrive in life.

The disappointment you end up feeling when your partner is unable to fulfill your expectations, and the anger and resentment that results, all come from the original unrealistic expectation that started the relationship. The expectation is the seed that ultimately leads to a break-up.

Too many people sabotage a great relationship because it didn’t fulfill every need.

  1. Not Speaking Your Needs And Wants

Don’t be mistaken that your Soulmate will intuit your every thought, need, and emotion. The “right person” won’t come with psychic powers. In order to get what you want you have to ask for it.

Many people don’t speak up because they are afraid they will create conflict with their partner.

The common phrases we hear about relationships like: “Pick your battles,” and “Don’t rock the boat,” imply that some wants and needs are worth talking about and some are not.

You’re not in a war with your Beloved – there is no need to decide what you want to address and what you’ll let slide. In the best of relationships you can discuss anything.

The rule in our house is this: We can talk about anything, but we don’t have to talk about everything.

Being able to speak your needs and make requests is a life skill that will serve you in every part of your life.

The majority of people are conflict-avoidant. Now we’re not suggesting that you go looking for a problem, however, you must speak your needs and wants because your spouse will not be a mind reader.

Often times we learn as children that it is not safe to speak up and ask for what we want, so the child learns a strategy for keeping the peace. This desire for peace and avoidance of conflict will create a rift between you and your partner. All the unspoken hurts, needs, and desires leave you feeling alone and misunderstood.

Teach your inner child that conflict can be a doorway to a deeper connection by taking the risk to speak up about what you want and need.

  1. Fear Of Abandonment

A belief that you are not wanted, or not worthy of love comes from a deeper fear of abandonment, that you will lose what you most desire. This belief can have you sabotaging your relationships.

The fear of abandonment often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your subconscious is on high alert for any behavior that hints that the other person doesn’t love you or is going to leave you. So you interpret all of their behavior through the lens of fear.

What you focus on G-R-O-W-S! What you fear is therefore often drawn toward you.

If you feel unworthy of love, it may be incomprehensible that someone will stand by you – no matter what. So you question their motives, or you doubt their loyalty, or even worse, you test them to see if they’ll really put up with all of your bad behavior.

This behavior places your lovability in someone else’s hands thereby abdicating your power in the relationship.

The Hopi Nation in Arizona has a fable about Creation that we find is helpful in understanding the true nature of your struggle:


Creation said: “I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality.”

The eagle said, “Give it to me. I will take it to the moon.”

The Creator said, “No. One day they will go there and find it.”

The salmon said, “I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean.”

The Creator said, “No. They will go there too.”

The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.”

The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the earth and find it even there.”

Grandmother who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes said, “Put it inside of them.”

And the Creator said, “It is done.”


You are the most powerful force in your life. When you abdicate that power by expecting that someone else will fill you or fix you, then you are stuck because only you have the power to feel whole.

Self-sabotaging behaviors will have you waiting by the phone hoping to hear from someone you long for when there is someone else who would climb mountains to be seated next to you.

  1. Resistance To Dating And Meeting New People

We hear so many excuses to why people don’t want to date:

  • All the good ones are taken.
  • Men online are only looking for sex.
  • There are no quality men where I live.

The biggest excuse we hear about why people don’t have the relationship they want is this: Lack Of Time.

If you spend ZERO time invested in getting the love you want, then having love is not a priority. It won’t magically happen when you least expect it and you won’t find love when you stop looking for it.

These beliefs ultimately come from the fear that your heart will be broken.

You fear that the person you’ve chosen will reject you. You fear that this time will be just like the last time. You fear that you won’t get the love that you long for with a person that really gets you.

Whatever the reason for why you are not out in the world meeting new people, know that those reasons don’t serve you. They do nothing but stand in the way of you reaching your goal.

You must work to overcome your resistance. Your subconscious mind is committed to keeping things the same in order to keep you safe. You must overcome this inertia and break out of your old patterns so you can get the love you want.

Resistance is exactly what we go to the gym for. When your resistance to change things comes up it is because you are holding yourself back from a place you haven’t yet been, .

And being in a whole new place is a good thing!

You want to feel resistance because this means that you are stretching and growing in your life. Treat resistance as your growth meter – instead of allowing it to hold you back, use it to push forward into unchartered territory.

It is when you let your resistance win that you find yourself stuck in your old patterns. When you let your resistance win you are allowing your self-sabotaging beliefs to be true.

You can overcome your self-sabotaging behavior by feeling compassion for the little child within you who was simply attempting to feel loved and safe.

Nurture self-love and self-compassion and ultimately step through the doorway of fear to a new way of being in your intimate relationships.

If you’re tired of sabotaging your relationships and are ready to take a new approach to lasting love, join us for a Soulmate Strategy Session. We’ll help you create a personalized plan for breaking your negative patterns in love and finding your soulmate.

About the authors

Love Coaches Orna and Matthew Walters

Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.

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