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4 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Relationship and What to Do About It

Most of us want to have a successful relationship, and yet there are behaviors that we engage in that are surefire ways of wreaking havoc on our relationship.

A likely cause is that we didn’t know that our behavior was unhealthy and destructive. For this reason it’s important to reflect on our actions and assess whether they’re harmful to our relationship. So examine these sabotaging behaviors and determine whether you’re making any of these mistakes.

Not Addressing Past Hurts

If you enter into your relationship with un-addressed issues from prior relationships, whether with romantic partners or family members, they can come up and be damaging to your new relationship. You can be setting yourself up for failure if you don’t address these past issues. And it’s even worse if you’re thinking that you don’t need to address them, as it’ll be harder for you to see how they’re affecting your relationship. Keep in mind, that when people perceive their partners as having more emotional baggage, they value them less as a romantic partner, and are less committed to them.

So develop a plan to address your past hurts. Whether you make the decision to talk to the person you’ve been holding onto thoughts about, begin journaling, or choose to talk to a professional. Determine what’s best for you.

Having Unexpressed Needs

Being in a relationship and not expressing your needs may very well lead you to feel unfulfilled. And having unexpressed expectations will likely lead you to be regularly disappointed in your partner because he or she will never be able to live up to expectations that only you know, which could also be unrealistic.

So, talk to you partner. Explain your needs. You might not get everything you’re asking for, but there will be a conversation and you’ll be clear on what needs will be met. And let your partner in on your expectations. You may come to realize that you have unrealistic expectations of your partner and/or your relationship. Be sure that your expectations aren’t coming from your comparison with other relationships.

Holding Onto Relationship Myths

Most people, at some point in time, have embraced a relationship myth. Whether thinking that conflict is bad for a relationship, that their partner can complete them, or will know what to do and say to make them happy, that relationships must be 50/50, or if you’re truly in love passion will never fade. If you’re holding onto these myths or any others, it’s bound to negatively affect your relationship.

It’s important to take the time to evaluate your thoughts about your relationship and assess whether they are healthy and accurate. You may also want to talk it over with someone you trust who has been in a long-term healthy relationship.

Not Communicating Effectively

Healthy and clear communication is essential in every relationship. If you’re expecting your partner to know how you feel, you’re passive-aggressive in your communication, yell when you’re unhappy or make any other communication mistake, you’re building a shaky foundation for your relationship.

Examine how you communicate with your partner. Ensure that your goal is always to have him or her clearly understand your thoughts and feelings. Actively listen to your partner and repeat back what your partner is saying to confirm that you understand him or her. And be sure to assess what, if any, changes you need to make to communicate more effectively.

As it’s possible that you could be sabotaging your relationship and not even realize it, it’s important to regularly reflect on your behavior. Examine if your actions are strengthening your relationship or harming it.


Booth-Butterfield, M. & Sidelinger, R. (2009). “Starting Off on the Wrong Foot: An Analysis of Mate Value, Commitment and Partner “Baggage” in Romantic Relationships”. Human Communication. A Publication of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association. Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.403-419.

4 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Relationship and What to Do About It

Natalie Pizzolla, LMSW

Natalie Pizzolla, LMSW, is a Personal & Professional Relationship Coach at Finer Connections. She's passionate about helping people improve the relationships in their lives. In her 10 years of experience Natalie has counseled individuals and families, coached staff, worked in advocacy and managed programs and departments. In addition, Natalie married her husband 3 months after meeting him and is still married almost 6 years later. Natalie's writing comes from both her professional as well as personal experience. For more information: Find Natalie on Facebook & Twitter.

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APA Reference
Pizzolla, N. (2018). 4 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Relationship and What to Do About It. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 15 Oct 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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