The Subconscious Way You Sabotage Your Relationship

When you point your finger at someone, how many are pointing back at you?

unhappy couple Dekazigzag / Shutterstock

Projection is dangerous in relationships.

Most people don’t know what psychological projection is. Yet, we all feel it when it happens in our relationships

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Here is how you subconsciously sabotage your relationship and let your emotions run wild.

According to Everyday Health, "Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions." When you project, you subconsciously place your feelings onto someone else.

In my world, we are told to turn the advice we just said to others around to ourselves. In other words, when we point our finger at someone we have four fingers pointing back at us. That can be a powerful opportunity for growth.

We often do not ask ourselves questions; we just feel this compulsion and we throw it outward.


I’ll use my experience, as an example, because it is so blatant. I experienced what felt like a huge “projection” towards me when an ex-boyfriend used a Buddhist quote as a jab and encouraged me to "let go."

When you get angry at someone for “not letting go” while you are leaving messages and texts, letters, and posts for that person, who isn’t letting go? The one that is feeling the emotions, dealing with and moving on, or the one that is leaving unwanted letters, texts, and posts?

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This is so very clear when I write it as such, and yet he, like so many others, cannot see it.


In his mind, he was using the quote to give me advice about “letting go” without seeing that his actions are those of “ hanging on.” A Buddhist would “let go” and move on peacefully and not continue to try and convince someone of something.

They would not give this advice when clearly they are doing that very action.

Projection can be a dangerous thing in relationships; we are so attached to the belief that what that person is doing is hurting us, and we are so blinded by that story that we cannot see the elephant (or bull) in the room!

I let go when I ended it, and I’ve been dealing with my own feelings and emotions, taking care of myself, and protecting my heart. I had no contact and no compulsion to convince. I did take responsibility for my share, I own my own mistakes.


This is the part that those who project want to avoid: their own part in it. It’s often too painful, so they direct it outward.

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Projection can be dangerous in many ways really, but mostly because we blame and shame, and try and guilt a person to see things our way. It is a way to avoid pain. It festers and will eventually come out again.

This causes drama, hurt, and huge holes in the trust system. It also creates an unsafe place for the person to express themselves and for issues to be worked out. It can very well destroy a relationship.

Projection is dangerous in relationships because we don’t take time to look at our own part in a situation and we are using it as a weapon.


How can that not be dangerous? In this case, what could have been a more peaceful and eventually loving interaction turned into an unsafe environment and severed any type of connection.

It’s always a good idea to stop yourself from taking those strong feelings (feelings are a response from our thoughts) and inquiry into them before we project them onto the other person.

Taking ownership of our feelings, emotions, and strong mental beliefs and giving them a good “house cleaning” before we move on, is a healthy way to interact with our romantic partners. Actually, it is a good way to interact with the world.


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Lisa Hawkins is a dating and relationship coach and counselor with 26 years of experience in personal growth and development, psychology, and human behavior with an emphasis on relationships.