You're in a great relationship where the two of you are both really happy. Everything seems to be swimming along well, and then bam. All of sudden, things are changing and you start to feel the security of your relationship slipping away.
Maybe you don't even realize why, but you're suddenly cranky with your partner all the time. Or perhaps you had been really looking forward to the future together, but you're suddenly making excuses to push them away.
Many of us are guilty of self-sabotaging our relationships in this way.
Elite Daily spoke to Fran Greene, licensed clinical social worker (LCSWR) and author of Dating Again with Courage and Confidence, about why we do it:
Self-sabotage is a band-aid for your heart. Perhaps you were cheated on in your last relationship. Because you never saw it coming, you made a promise to yourself that you would never ever let your heart get broken again. That's quite a tall order. So fast forward to now, and you met a great guy/gal. You find yourself falling in love and getting scared, so what do you do[?] You go into self-protection mode, which causes your relationship to tank and not move forward.
We think that by "protecting" ourselves, we'll avoid heartbreak again. But the reality is the self-sabotaging behaviors are often the very thing that causes heartbreak in future relationships.
"No one wakes up one day and says, 'Today's the day I am going to start self-sabotaging my relationship!'" says Greene. "But, it happens to so many of us without warning."
Read on for some hallmarks of self-sabotaging behavior and how you can help yourself avoid them.
1. You Keep Score
A good relationship is a true partnership, with both people contributing as much as needed. Sometimes, this may be equal. Sometimes, one person may need a bit more. But that's just how it goes.
If you're keeping score in your relationship, this is a sign that you may be self-sabotaging. Greene says if you "make mental notes of how much you do for your partner, how much money you contribute, how much of the chores you do, how much time they spend away from you" etc., then this could lead you to cause the end of the relationship.
Instead, realize that you both contribute as you need to, and keeping score can only lead to arguments down the road.
2. You Don't Know How To Prioritize Your Relationship
If you're always busy — like, always — this may be a sign that you're avoiding growing your relationship.
Sure, we're all actually busy: We have work or school, friends and family, and our hobbies. That said, if all of those things are taking precedence above your relationship, you may just be setting it up for failure.
If you find yourself constantly avoiding relationship commitments, stop and take stock of whether you are truly busy or whether you might be engaging in some self-sabotage. If so, course correct and give your relationship the time it needs.
3. You Don't Maintain Any Individuality
If you suddenly find yourself relying on your partner for every. little. thing. — you may be self-sabotaging. Also, if you find yourself wanting to be with your partner all the time, this could be a sign of insecurity, which may harm your relationship.
Greene says if you are "overly needy," in that you don't give your partner any room at all to be themselves, and you don't take any room to be yourself, this usually spells doom for the relationship.
Instead of letting yourself lean on your partner all the time, take a bit of space: Re-discover friendships you may have let drift away or re-start a hobby. Give your relationship the room it might need to grow.
4. You Are Overly Critical
If you find fault in everything your partner does, you could just be looking to start fights for a way out.
Greene says in this case, it's a bad pattern: "You are overly critical and no matter what your partner does, it is never good enough. And then you get hurt and disappointed when they don't take the initiative or they just tune out and shut down."
Instead of being critical, try appreciating the nice things your partner does. If you pay attention, you'll likely find more opportunities to compliment than criticize.
5. You Are Unreasonably Jealous
If you find yourself being overly jealous, you may be self-sabotaging your relationship.
Greene says getting into the jealous mode can cause you to start controlling your partner's life: "You need to know their whereabouts at all times, and if they don't check in with you on your schedule, you become more possessive."
That much jealousy isn't healthy and could lead to your relationship slowly dying down.
Work on your jealousy by reminding yourself that your partner is with you because they want to be — and that your jealousy won't help the relationship grow.
6. You Never Fully Commit
If you always "have one foot out the door," says Greene, your partner will sense it.
"You never fully commit to your partner no matter how much they want to get closer," she says. "For example, they want to introduce you to their family and you always put it off, or they want to take you to a work function and you say, 'I won't know anyone.'"
This could also show up through you not including them in your life — if you keep them away from your work, friends, or family.
If you think you might be purposely pulling away, try taking baby steps to let your partner in more. It'll help your relationship in the long-term and keep you from self-sabotaging.
7. Your Expectations Are Too High
If your expectations are too high, this will mean that you're always setting yourself up for disappointment in your relationship.
Whether your expectations are based on Hollywood or on other relationships you've seen in real life, it's still probably not healthy. Each relationship is unique, and you should be looking for ways to build your relationship uniquely instead of having unreasonable expectations.
Greene says expectations can definitely indicate a possible self-sabotage: "No one can totally and completely fulfill every need you have."
Try tempering your expectations. Instead of hoping your partner behaves a certain way and then getting disappointed when they don't, just appreciate the actions they do take.
We are all guilty of engaging in some self-sabotaging behaviors at one time or another. The important thing is to recognize them, and if you truly want the relationship to grow, work on making them better over time.