Maybe it’s a character from a romantic comedy, or your best friend from college. Maybe it’s you. Regardless, at one point of another, everyone has witnessed someone sabotaging their chances at love. While it’s common for people to want to find a lasting romantic connection, most relationships fail. As much as we may want to find an enduring commitment, ironically, we may also fear love. This often leads us to thwart promising relationships.
We might be aware that we can’t seem to make a relationship last, but maybe we blame outside influences — we just have “bad luck” or are attracted to “bad people.” What we don’t realize is that we may be sabotaging their efforts due to underlying factors. Here are some of the common reasons why we may subconsciously undermine our efforts to find love.
Many people carry around a lot of shame, and this makes it difficult to make a meaningful connection. When we feel shame, we may believe that we don’t deserve love. This then influences us to behave in ways that prevent the vulnerability necessary to fall in love. If we feel ashamed of ourselves, we may avoid love entirely, or push it away once we receive it.
Shame breeds low self-worth. This often leads to a harsh inner critic who both judges ourselves and others. The anxiety that comes with this internal voice makes it difficult to foster a loving connection because it causes us to make assumptions, focus on the negative, and misinterpret actions to reinforce our negative beliefs. It may come as no surprise that there is a correlation between self-esteem and relationship longevity.
People who feel like they aren’t good enough often respond by trying to be perfect. The idea is that if we can be without fault, we are above criticism and don’t have to fear rejection. Perfectionism is a common coping mechanism for people with anxiety, but it is a fruitless one. These unrealistic expectations make it impossible to tolerate the process of finding a mate. To date successfully means to risk failure and rejection and to be profoundly vulnerable and authentic. Not to mention, perfectionists are always looking for flaws in themselves and others. This harsh criticism can make being close to perfectionists exceedingly difficult.
Many of us struggle with trust. We may have had our trust violated by a caregiver from a young age. We may give our trust too freely out of a desperate need for love, or we may build walls to prevent people getting too close because of distrust. Trust is not something you simply give or take away; it is built. The best strategy is to remain as neutral as possible as the relationship unfolds and to let trust build as the connection does.
A lot of conventional dating advice hinges on the idea that we should hide who we really are when we first begin to date someone. However, this makes the focus on avoiding rejection or judgment rather than forging an honest connection. Unfortunately, the ironic truth is that this almost guarantees rejection, as we can’t hide who we really are forever. Being authentic and honest attracts people who are genuinely interested and builds a stronger foundation for a lasting relationship.
If you are struggling with finding and maintaining a strong relationship, you may benefit from individual or couples therapy in Palatine. Contact us today to connect with one of our therapists.