How We Can Sabotage Our Own Long-term Relationships

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My last entry for the blogger of the month contest involves 10 behaviors which can and will sabotage long-term relationships.

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1. Do many of you begin long-term relationships where the positive outweigh the negatives only to find that, with the passage of time, the negatives begin to mysteriously outweigh the positives?

2. When your long-term relationships end, are you often confused as to why they ended?

If you can honestly answer “Yes” to one or both questions, it’s quite possible you are sabotaging your own long-term relationships! The following represents 10 common ways people manage to sabotage their long-term relationships.

1. NEED TO CONTROL - People with control issues have to know exactly what their mate is doing and their mate’s whereabouts at all times. These folks “track” their partners’ movements and try to convince their partner that they’re doing this because only they know what’s best for them. Behind the need to control is a fear of losing control and a fear of losing their partners. They forget that it takes two to tango and that their partners might occasionally have totally opposite needs. This is when the trouble starts.... when their partner begins to resent being controlled and expresses independent needs. Very often control freaks are powerful people in their workplace and they can’t seem to curtail their need for control in their personal relationships. When their partner is finally fed up with being controlled and decides to leave, the control freak is mystified. Control freaks sabotage their own long-term relationships by insisting on running the show.

2. INSECURITY - We all have insecurities. Maybe we don’t think we have the best body. Maybe our noses are a bit too prominent. Maybe we don’t feel popular enough. But, we live with these insecurities, knowing full well that everyone is insecure about something. However, people who sabotage their relationships because of their insecurity need constant reassurance that they are attractive enough, smart enough, desirable enough or whatever. Their insecurity eventually scares their partners away because their partners get tired of ALWAYS having to reassure them that they won’t leave. After a while, demanding reassurance from a partner becomes a drag and a half. The insecure person will often be jealous of their partner’s other relationships. The insecure person will apologize for things where no apologies are necessary. The insecure person will obsess about the most minute changes in their partner’s behavior. The insecure person will be confused after their partner leaves. Insecure people sabotage their own relationships by demanding unreasonable reassurance from their partners.

3. FEAR OF INTIMACY - People who fear intimacy will form long-term relationships and will be comfortable in them as long as there is some distance involved. The minute their partner wants to spend more time with them or wants to take the relationship to the next step, the person who fears intimacy will retreat suddenly. This will confuse their partners tremendously because their partners will never know where they stand. Eventually their partners will leave the relationship because they feel something was missing. Yet, the person who fears intimacy will often say, “I gave him/her as much as I could. I bought my partner presents. I was faithful. I really cared for my partner. Why then am I alone again”? Commitment phobes sabotage their long-term relationships because of their fear of intimacy.

4. DEFENSIVENESS - Defensive people often feel under attack even when not challenged. If something bad happens to them, they will often react defensively and put the blame on their partner. Or, if their partner asked them to do something and they didn’t do it, they will immediately become defensive and accuse their partner of expecting too much from them. The first thing a defensive person will do is challenge their partner if their partner is being critical. He or she might even put their partner down, accusing their partner of either being stupid or of not listening. After a while, their partner gets weary of having to walk on eggshells and bolts. The defensive person has no idea how he or she sabotaged their relationship by being too defensive.

5. BUYING AFFECTION - Folks who think they need to give a lot in order to find love in return were probably given conditional love as children. Because they only received approval by doing things for others, they feel as though they need to buy their partner’s approval by doing things instead of just being themselves. At some point, they do so much that they literally smother their partner with attention and affection and their partner feels a need to escape from their clutches. When their partner eventually leaves, they tell themselves that they were used unfairly by their partner instead of asking themselves how their behavior contributed to the situation. The truth of the matter was that they sabotaged their own relationships by smothering their partners with unwanted attention.

6. NEGATIVITY - People who are negative often come from pessimistic families. Their parents were always depressed so they grew up being depressed. People who are negative don’t believe in good outcomes. If their long-term relationships are going well, they are convinced something will change and they will be abandoned eventually. They also believe that by not expecting too much they won’t be disappointed. Negative people have trust issues because they don’t trust that they deserve to be happy. The problem is that their negativity even about little things tends to drag their partners down. After all, who wants a partner who is always pessimistic? Eventually, their partners leave because they themselves become depressed by being around a negative partner. Negative people sabotage their long-term relationships through their negativity.

7. SELF-CENTERED BEHAVIOR - People who are self-centered need to be the center of attention. Often these people were either neglected as children or were overindulged by their parents. Regardless of the source of their self-centered behavior, it is this very behavior that makes it impossible for them to have lasting long-term relationships. Their partners begin to feel as though they don’t matter because people who need to be the center of attention forget that their partners have needs too. Self-centered people always manage to turn the conversations back to themselves. I’m sure you can well imagine how frustrated partners can become when they wind up in a long-term relationship with someone who ignores their needs and always puts his or her own needs first. Very often their partners will end their relationship with self-centered partners by saying, “You know it’s not always about you.” Self-centered people sabotage their long-term relationships by not caring about what their partners do or think.

8. ADDICTIONS - Addictions can involve alcohol, drugs, food or anything for that matter. Addictions control people and make people difficult to live with. Imagine being with an alcoholic, for example, who is still drinking like a fish. After a while, as a partner of such a person, you will feel as though you are taking second place to your partner’s addiction and you might actually tell your partner, “You need to choose between the booze and me.” It takes a very strong person to be involved in a long-term relationship with an addict. Addicts sabotage their relationships by their addictions.

9. THE NEED TO WIN - People who need to win must have the final say in everything. They are competitive by nature and they don’t care about anything besides always being right. People who need to win are sore losers. They can’t bear to have their partner win anything, even a minor argument. Their partners feel after a while that they are in a competition and not in a relationship. When challenged, people who need to win will always come back fighting. Their partners will grow weary of the constant arguing over insignificant things and will leave. People who need to win will wonder what they did wrong when their partners leave. They sabotaged their relationship by needing to have the upper hand at all costs.

10. BETRAYERS - Sadly enough, there are some people who simply cannot be trusted and who never want to be held accountable for their actions. Betrayers never take the blame for their own actions. If confronted about something they did which violated their partner’s trust, they will try to wiggle out of things by saying they never agreed to something in the first place. If they do something and are caught in a lie they will actually blame their partners for causing them to lie. Betrayers are secretive because they fear that if they are up front with their partners their partners might leave. They try to take advantage of their partners by telling them what they want to hear. Eventually, after repeated acts of betrayal, their partners have enough and bounce. Betrayers don’t realize that they drive their partners away by outright lying, lying by omission or by their secretiveness. Betrayers are among the worst relationship saboteurs because they sabotage their relationships again and again by betraying the very people they want to keep.

All of us probably recognize ourselves in one or more of these categories. The trick is for us to recognize how we are sabotaging our own long-term relationships and to try to change these behaviors. I am the first to admit that I suffer from major insecurity and that I have sabotaged some long-term relationships by showing that insecurity too much in the past.

What do you think?

Where do you fit in here?

Have you ever sabotaged your relationships by any of the above-mentioned character flaws?

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment or give me a


  • gummybears: I can say yes to about five of those from my last relationship. where do expectaions fit in? because I also had an expectation that would never be fulfilled, thus creating a negative atmosphere. I guess it could go under negativity, but it started with an unrealistic expectation....
    great blog! makes me think!
  • Genieinabottle: Thanks gummybears.. I guess I forgot to include the category of unrealistic expectations.. if that category were added, I would certainly have to say "yes" to that one - lol. Most of my long-term relationships ended because of my unrealistic expectations. The funny thing is that, even if a partner told me not to expect this or that, I have built-in expectations when it comes to long-term relationships, and, if anyone falls short of those expectations, my relationships don’t last. I’m glad my blog made you think.
  • Sigi: guilty of "need to control and "insecurity" . I try to work on that,the control freak part is the hardest to work on ...
  • Genieinabottle: Sigi, I’m guilty of insecurity and to some degree of buying affection. I’m sure the buying affection is related to my insecurity. I’ve been trying to work on this via therapy for three years. I probably was always insecure, but Andy’s suicide just intensified the problem. My ex was a control freak and a betrayer. Can you just imagine how the two of us didn’t get along? I wanted him so badly that I made sure I did everything to please him out of insecurity. I also tried to "buy" his affection by giving him gifts and being a tigress in bed. And, neither of my strategies worked because he had to run the show and he wasn’t capable of fidelity and lied all the time. My fiance is just like me, somewhat insecure and tends to try to buy my affection. I wonder if two people who are too much alike in these ways will make it.
  • Johnny Nicks: Some detailed solutions might be nice :) I have given you a green one anyway.
  • Genieinabottle: Johnny - Thanks for your vote of confidence! I could provide some solutions but that would involve creating an entirely new blog and the solutions I come up with might not work for everyone!
  • Sigi: Genie, you can write a second part to the post with all the solutions!
    I think you have a good chance to make it from what you told us so far :)
  • Genieinabottle: Hi Sigi,
    I can sure give it the old college try.
  • Jude: I’m guilty of all but 3...
    Ugh. :/
  • banshee: Jude, you have a lot of company. Time and maturity can take care of these things to the extent that you can more easily catch yourself before you act on those feelings. Therapy can help too. At least that’s my experience.

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