There's a guy I know who's the walking definition of intimacy issues. It's not just my personal opinion either. He knows it and readily admits it. No matter how many good women he meets or even dates, he seems to find some sort of way to ruin the dynamic, whether it's platonic or romantic.
If I were to put on my relationship coach hat, I'd say that his past childhood abuse (including sexual abuse) has a lot to do with it. Plus, I think a lot of us, as women, tend to underestimate what a man's first heartbreak is really like for them. Unlike many of us who are resilient when it comes to finding love after loss, many men may experience a first love and a spouse with maybe someone in between. This means three love relationships tops. So, if they don't properly heal from their break-up(s), that too can keep them at bay when it comes to…trying again. Ultimately, they are so scared of being hurt and/or fully trusting someone and/or giving their all that they would rather sabotage—meaning, deliberately destroy—the good that's happening than take a chance that it could all work out for their good.
The good thing about the man I'm referring to is at least he knows he's got an issue. If you're not sure—or you know someone who fits the bill but seems to be in complete and total denial about it—here are some pretty telling signs that "he" is not alone in the relationship sabotaging department. That you—or that someone you know—is right there along with him.
1. You Make Mountains Out of Molehills
Don't sweat the small stuff. It's a simple sentence that is packed full of wisdom. Unfortunately, relationship sabotagers always seem to miss the memo, though. Basically, unless their significant other is perfect—and that's according to the oftentimes totally unrealistic expectations they've set for them—a sabotager is going to constantly critique and nitpick until they pick their relationship totally apart.
To them, they're simply not settling for less but what's really going on is they aren't happy. As a result, they expect others to fill that void. When they are disappointed, they make small things big issues. Plus, since relationship sabotagers suck at forgiveness, it's like watching a few snowballs eventually turn into an avalanche. Or a molehill turn into a mountain.
2. You Look for Problems That Aren’t There
Typically, people who create problems where there really aren't any have some deep-rooted trust issues. It could stem from their childhood (check out "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries with Toxic Family Members") or a previous relationship that went badly. As a result, whether the sabotager realizes it or not, they are borderline paranoid. Basically, they look for signs that their current partner isn't who they say that they are or that the relationship isn't on the up and up.
They decide someone has betrayed them when there are no receipts; not a single one. There is no such thing as human mistakes; everything is a huge character flaw. If their partner is late, they're hiding something. If they hang up the phone when they walk in the room, they're sneaking around.
For a relationship sabotager, they don't know how to relax. They seemingly aren't "happy" unless they are manufacturing some sort of problem—or bracing themselves for one.
3. You Are All Problems and No Solutions
If there's one thing that irks me about social media (and trust me, there's plenty), it's that there's a lot of time devoted to complaining about stuff but not nearly as much energy devoted to coming up with solutions for the complaints. Instead of (more) people taking advantage of the enormous think tanks that are at their disposal, they'd rather bitch and moan. Problems? Oh, they've got time for those. Solutions? Now it's "crickets" in the atmosphere.
The same thing applies to relationship sabotagers. They'll tell their significant other something like, "I just don't feel appreciated in this relationship" or "Something feels 'off' between us" but when their partner asks them to expound or provide suggestions or recommendations to make things better, all the sabotager offers is a Kanye shrug or a blank stare.
People who are all problems and no solutions start off being draining and end up becoming toxic. Healthy individuals want nothing to do with toxic people. Period.
4. You’re a Walking Pressure Cooker
There's someone I used to be fairly close to that I had to end things with. As funny and bright as they were, they were also pop-offs—the kind of pop-offs where you never really knew when their storms were coming. Anything from a phone call to a tweet to something they heard at work could take them from 1-1,000 in under 30 seconds and, unless you were on their side, you ended up catching the heat too.
You know what another term for pop-off is? Emotionally unstable creatures. Although having a pretty bad temper is one sign of being emotionally unstable, so are moody individuals, folks who refuse to admit when they are wrong, people who have a sense of entitlement, commitment-phobes, folks who expect you to read their minds and meet their needs no matter how unrealistic they are and also individuals who refuse to look at things from other perspectives and points of view.
If you are this kind of person, just ask anyone who is close to you and they will tell you that dealing with you is a lot like being in the presence of a pressure cooker. No one wants to feel pressured all of the time. It's just one more way to completely sabotage your relationship.
5. You’re Constantly Wanting Him to “Prove” His Love
Speaking of pressure. Ugh. I'll personally raise my hand in this class and say that when you get to a point in your personal growth and development where you love yourself, you're not spending a lot of time conjuring up ways for someone else to "prove" their love to you. In the beginning of a relationship, you look for signs that someone's character is on the up and up but still, they don't have to really prove anything; they're either a good person or…they're not.
To me, the more productive approach is giving someone the space and time to express their love instead. In order for a man to do that, first you have to be lovable (some women make it hard to be loved because of all of the other stuff that we just discussed) and second, you have to allow things to evolve into love.
This brings me back full circle into why someone having to prove their love is a form of relationship sabotage. People need to prove themselves in order to establish the genuineness and validity of something. If the guy you are seeing knows that's what you are constantly looking for, not only does that basically mean that you don't trust him very much, but it also tends to feel like everything is a test. No one wants to be tested all of the time.
Be careful. If tests are what you're all about, you could be the one who ends up failing—miserably so—in the relationship department.
6. You Think All Men Are the Same
I believe that it's a man by the name of Larry Dixon who once said, "If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary." Agreed. And since all of us are unique with our own individual purposes to fulfill in this life, no two men are just the same.
Unfortunately, I hear more than a handful or two of women who speak to the contrary of this. One guy dogged them out and so their resolve is that all men will. One guy broke their heart, so they keep a wall up because they think that's every man's mission.
If you're the kind of person who goes into relationships with the mindset that every person is just alike, therefore, you're gonna treat them that way…not only are you being extremely unfair but you're setting your relationship up to fail no matter how awesome he is. How? Because you're probably gonna treat each guy like they're the same and, not only is that putting too much pressure on them, but, if they have a good sense of self, it will become offensive as well. Who wants to be in a relationship with an offender—of any sort?!
A wise man once said that if there's one thing all of your exes have in common, it's you. If you notice any of these patterns in your relationship, while it might be hard to accept, there's a huge chance that things keep not working out, not because of "them" but because you have a real knack for sabotaging things.
Which is it, sis?
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