You might be in love, but that isn’t enough.
I have always been my own worst critic. I’m harder on myself way more often than anyone else could be. I imagine many of us are hyper-critical in relationships because we share a common trait; fear.
The presence of fear is the strongest obstacle a relationship can face. A few weeks ago, I was caught up in a hate-watch session of the hit A&E show, Married at First Sight. On it was a couple who had been matched for obvious reasons. They were both attractive (and attracted to one another) and still held that bold ambition for their young lives.
What they also had in common was the acute awareness of how being abandoned in their childhood affected them as adults. For Tres, it led him to crave love, both as a giver and a receiver. But his wife, Vanessa allowed fear to keep the invisible wall up. The more Tres would try to pull her close and assure her that he wasn’t going to give up on their marriage, the more she’d shut down. At one point, she even left the house.
Their fights mirrored some of the insecurities we all have carried into relationships.
Self-sabotaging a relationship often happens in the smaller details that we don’t notice until it’s too late. But they all have fear as the root cause. Here are a few examples of the ways we sabotage relationships.
1. “I know she could do better than me.”
I’ve had feelings of self-doubt because I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. Projecting those inadequacies onto my significant other drove a wedge between us.
There’s always going to be someone more handsome, richer, smarter, more athletic, funnier. The reality is your significant other chose you because she loves everything that you are. If she didn’t appreciate what makes you special, she wouldn’t still be with you. Honor her choice by being the best you can be and toss away the conditions and limitations you put on yourself.
2. Saying you’re ready when you’re not.
When you meet someone who knocks you off your feet, you want to cling to that euphoric feeling. However, not everyone that you love is meant to be with you.
We mess up relationships when we act on feelings and emotions way too soon. Some relationships are purposely supposed to take time to develop. Within the journey, we’re going to unknowingly become better people. If you leap too soon, you’re going to hurt that person and inevitably ruin the ‘what could have been’. Don’t allow the fear of loneliness to become a burden.
3. Saying ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no’.
In a relationship, you never want to make it seem like you’re rejecting your significant other. Men tend to give in to a lot of things we aren’t okay with. Over time, the resentment will build up. And if you keep being afraid of disappointing your partner, that one little request (that isn’t so little to you) might turn into a gigantic blow out.
One thing we all have to be more comfortable with in relationships is establishing boundaries that don’t alienate our better halves. It’s okay to say you don’t want to do something and not have to defend your why.
4. Not being vulnerable enough.
One of the toxic expectations of manhood is keeping our feelings in check. Some guys aren’t into public displays or electronic displays of affections. Some guys aren’t affectionate much at all outside the bedroom. Why? Because nobody taught them that gestures of love aren’t relegated to the physical.
Vulnerability is how you foster a deep emotional connection with a person. I used to fear wearing my heart on my sleeve because I thought it’d give women a vantage point. You may think not being vulnerable gives you the upper hand. Although, in the long run, fear of being hurt becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re only damaging your own future.
5. Not asking for what you want.
There’s a IG meme that says something like you’re not asking for too much, you’re just asking the wrong person. So much of our unhappiness in relationships stem from having standards and needs go unmet. We settle because in the myopic perspective, we love them so it’s no big deal. Wrong! You have to be confident in advocating for your happiness. It’s unhealthy to let a significant other use guilt as a way of shaming you or forcing you to sacrifice what’s important to you as an individual.
Self-sabotage is a hard habit to break. We don’t always intentionally do it. The collection of habits and thoughts are lying dormant within us. They only rise to the surface when someone who means something comes along. Sabotage is a by-product of fear. However, the day you dismiss the default setting of being scared is the day the universe will reward you with the greatest love of all.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.