6 Signs You're A Relationship Self-Sabotager


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?

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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