When we hear the words “sabotage” or “saboteur” most of us will conjure up some image of an evil person out to gain a personal advantage over another and yet we do it to ourselves all too often. We generally sabotage our efforts unintentionally and at the unconscious level. When we think about how we do this in our relationships it is something that takes place over a period of time and often resulting in heartache and disaster.
Next time we meet someone new, they might accept these sabotaging behaviours at first and some people may actually be attracted to them. However, over time, these very same sabotaging behaviours that were once attractive become intolerable and the upset party leaves the relationship, usually citing reasons that have little to do with what was really going on.
Because the saboteurs don’t do what they do with conscious awareness they are frequently confused and have no clue what happened. Then they meet someone new, go out and do the same thing all over again.
It can be humbling and sometimes a huge relief for the saboteur to learn there is hope and to learn it may be something they can change about themselves to bring an end to the cycle of torment and heartache. When the saboteur finds the courage to tackle this problem head on, the rewards can be transformational.
So, let’s take a quick look at what some of these behaviours might be and how they come about.
When we come into the world we are like a blank canvas. However, all too quickly, we learn negative childhood patterns of behaviour to get what we want and when the child brings these behavioural patterns into the adult relationship the icing comes off the cake. We learn these behavioural patterns from our parents and other role models in our childhood and, unless these behaviours are dealt with, we bring them to our relationships.
Many people believe their relationships fail because they didn’t choose the right person or they should have done something differently. It’s often easier to look for a reason outside of ourselves which means we blame someone else. When we choose to be truly responsible for the results we get we will take a look inside ourselves.
Have you ever found yourself or someone you know complaining about their partner and say something like – No matter what I do, I can’t win or, perhaps no-one has a long-term relationship anymore.
It’s not easy to face up to the fact that it may be you who is sabotaging the relationship just as it’s not always easy for your partner to tell you that what you’re doing is getting up his nose. When this happens the relationship becomes toxic and what was once tolerated, evolves into an emotionally allergic reaction in the partner of the saboteur.
It is a brave person who accepts this responsibility and when you continually find yourself in failing relationships, you have to wonder if it is you.
Sabotaging behaviours can be many and varied and you can be sure the behaviours will be tainted with some or all of the following –
- They are not intended to create the damage or upsets they do
- The negative impact on a relationship evolves over time
- They may often be subtly hidden and expressed as a different issue in the relationship
- They may be more tolerated at the outset of the relationship and become toxic over time
- When the untoward behaviour is challenged the saboteur partner may be offended or become self-righteous.
So let’s take a look at what this may look like. Here are some common sabotaging behaviours which, over time, evolve into disrepair and result in the end of the relationship.
Insecurity – anxiety, possessiveness and jealousy are sure signs of insecurity. Fear of an anticipated loss will cause the saboteur to resort to detrimental behaviour. New partners of anxious people may initially be attracted to their need for reassurance. These people are called Rescuers. Rescuers get their needs of the ego met when they come to the aid of the saboteur. Eventually the Rescuer begins to feel hopeless because he is not able to sustain this behaviour – to be the white knight and take care of the insure person. This works both ways of course and is never gender specific.
The end result is the partner of the saboteur begins to feel invalidated and useless – so they leave to find greener pastures.
Needing to Control – My Way or the Highway – these controlling people feel compelled to micromanage everything. This happens not only in their relationship but can also be carried over to a work situation. Sometimes people adopt this course of action through fear of being controlled by others. Initially they may come across as being very kind, however, over time their behaviour becomes suffocating. Thy can become dictatorial and make life hell for the other person.
The need to win – at any cost. Working through this can open your eyes to your winning partner and, being aware of what is happening, can give you some peace of mind. However the endless battles that ensue will eventually destroy any relationship.
Pessimism – the Negative Nellie. We are not born pessimistic – this is a learned behaviour. While many people may have done it tough, some people look on it as a badge of honour. These people only ever see the downside of everything.
Winnie the Pooh and his eternally sad friend, Eeyore, are a classic example of this. The fact is the dripping tap will eventually wear away the stone and sooner or later the positive minded person will decide he or she has had enough.
Addictions – these are aggressive and competitive lovers. They are self-destructive seductions masquerading as desirable behaviours and they lull people away from the straight and narrow, the values and beliefs that maintain the viability of relationships. Addictive behaviours can have their appeal at the outset, however, over time the addicts slowly withdraw that passion that attracted the partner initially and transfer that passion to something else. It is important to understand addictions can not only be substances but also relationships, material possessions or ideologies. At the end of the day the journey of the addict ends in irrecoverable loss.
Breaking Trust – Betrayal is the most damaging of all the sabotaging behaviours. People who habitually fail to honour their word break hearts and destroy faith. Trust is the foundation of everything that really matters and when it’s gone – it’s gone.
So why do people pursue these destructive courses of action? Why do people get into relationships with these sabotaging people.
Generally someone will be attracted to a saboteur initially to fulfil a need. However when the saboteur’s behaviour becomes unbearable, the partner will leave in order to survive. Leaving may not mean leave the house but you can be sure it will mean leave the relationship.
The good news is that these sabotaging behaviours can be healed if the saboteur is genuinely committed and brave enough to be totally honest with him/herself and take on the responsibility for the sought after outcome. The reward will be a greater feeling of confidence and the ability to succeed in every relationship they pursue.
The 7 step blueprint that will show you how to overcome those sabotaging behaviours.
- Awareness is key. By just being aware means you are ready to take the next step.
- Find the root cause. Once this has been discovered, you are in a position to address and eradicate the issue.
- Locate the triggers – those things that set off your sabotaging behaviour. When you can recognise your triggers you’re half way there.
- Know when you’re strong and know when you’re more vulnerable – those triggers have a way of going off when you’re tired, hungry or just out of sorts.
- The person is not their behaviour. When you know what sets you off, stop and take a breath. Do something else. Have a vision of who you want to be and focus on the future.
- Get an accountability partner – hire a coach. Having someone to keep you accountable and support you is like gold – no more: it’s like a diamond and we all know diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
- Stay focussed – be patient with yourself. The person you have chosen to become is still emerging and the old you will want to test you every so often. With practice comes mastery.
And remember – you always get what you focus on so focus on what you want.
Love to hear your views.