Relationships shouldn't be your only source of happiness. That's what food and makeup are for. Just kidding. But relationships should provide you with abundant joy. If you're not as happy as you wish you were, it's possible that you're sabotaging your own relationship happiness. Either that, or your partner is just not the one for you. But that's a problem for a different article.
Self-sabotage is a common happiness killer. It's also a sneaky one. You could be doing it without even realizing it. Low self-esteem, low expectations, and painful past experiences can all contribute to relationship self-sabotage. When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw the ways self-sabotage tested relationships. One partner felt like nothing was working and the other felt like nothing they did was good enough. This kind of relationship is destined to fail, which may actually be your subconscious goal.
If you want to be in a meaningful relationship, you have to stop sabotaging your own happiness. Before you can do that, you have to recognize the ways you might be your own saboteur. This list isn't exhaustive, but it's a good place to start.
1. You Don't Trust
Trust is essential to a real, deep, meaningful connection. When your goal is to sabotage your own happiness in a relationship, one of the most common ways to do it is to keep your partner at that distrustful distance. When you trust someone, there's a risk involved. It means you give them the power to betray you. But it also means you give them the power to really see you, and to really know you. If you wrestle with trust issues, you're likely holding yourself back from your relationship's true happiness potential.
2. You Pull Back
Pulling back is especially frustrating for your partner. It's when you get close to someone, to a point, then fear causes you to pull back. You're hot, then you're cold. You're yes, then you're no. Pick a side already! It's hard and it can be uncomfortable, but if you want to stop sabotaging your happiness, you have to learn to live in those uncomfortable moments of fear until they pass. You can also be honest with your partner so you can work through them together.
3. You Start Fights
When things are going really well, do you turn into a huge jerk? Do you pick apart your partner's choices, complain about gifts, get mad over things that really aren't your partner's fault, or constantly bring up mistakes that you've already supposedly worked through? Newsflash: You're probably less mad at your partner and more afraid of losing them. Before you feel the urge to start some drama, look deeper at what you're really feeling. Your partner doesn't deserve that unnecessary drama.
4. You're A Bad Partner
There are a million ways to be a bad partner, and you've mastered them all. Forgetting birthdays. Not acknowledging accomplishments. Ignoring special occasions. Never giving compliments. Not being fair when you make decisions or try to compromise. It could be that you're just really stubborn, but it's more likely that you're sabotaging your happiness. With smartphone calendars, there's really no excuse to ever forget an anniversary. Ask yourself the real reason why you don't want to spoil or celebrate your partner.
5. You Never Commit
When you meet someone you might be able to have feelings for, do you put on the brakes right away? Do you refuse to commit, to call your partner anything other than your friend, or to stay faithful? These are classic signs of relationship self-sabotage. Sometimes your goal is to make your partner see how terrible you really are, or hurt them so bad that they won't ever have the chance to hurt you. It's deep stuff that's connected to deep emotional issues. If you've never had a meaningful relationship, or been faithful, you might also not feel like you deserve it. You do, I promise.
6. You're Emotionally Dishonest
You say "I love you," but there's no emotion behind it. Or you won't say it at all. Or show any emotion. You have to tear down the walls and get really intimate with someone for a relationship to go the distance. That's scary. It means putting yourself out there and risking heartbreak. You may think you're sly, but your partner will be able to see right through you. Tear down those walls, feel how you feel, and don't fight it. It's the only way to love. Oh, and never say "fine" when someone asks you how you're feeling.
7. You're A Hater
No matter who you date, whether it's the Queen Bey herself, Johnny Depp, or some other specimen of perfection, nothing is good enough. Your partner's hands are too big. Their job annoys you. You hate their friends. You can't date a Leo. There's always an excuse. There's always something wrong. It's more likely that the problem is you. If you don't want to be in a relationship, you don't have to feel pressure to date. If you're just scared, don't let fear ruin your happiness. You'll also end up ruining some really great relationships.
Self-sabotage is usually rooted in fear. You have to unpack that baggage before you take your next trip. But you can do it! You deserve love.