The Unconscious Saboteur

Find out if you are unconsciously sabotaging your relationship.

Do you feel the need to create situations where the people you care about have to prove they love you? Do you allow your family and friends to intrude on your time with your man? Do small disagreements turn into long, drawn-out fights? You might not realise it, but you could be sabotaging your relationships.

Cheryl Sol, a clinical psychologist with more than 15 years experience helping individuals and couples work towards psychological health and wellbeing, elaborates on the ways women unconsciously sabotage their relationships.

TESTING… 1, 2, 3
‘When we test someone it is usually not about them, but about an issue in our life that we aren’t recognising,’ Sol says. ‘So someone who has been abandoned or rejected may unconsciously assume that this will inevitable happen to them.’

The tests will involve scenarios where make others prove they won’t let you down, reject you or make you feel less important than anyone else. These scenarios, Sol adds, will continue to play themselves out until your feelings of abandonment or rejection are confirmed.

‘When we set a test for someone, it is always on a level at which you know unconsciously that they will let you down or you will go on testing them or pushing them until they do.’

Sol’s next example is possessiveness. Possessive behaviour involves a degree of insecurity and a fear that everyone who is important to you will leave. But it is ultimately this behaviour that pushes those around you away and leads you to confirm your original fears that ‘everyone leaves me’. However, what Sol says is overlooked is that you were an active participant in making them leave.

‘Some people look for fights,’ confirms Sol. ‘If you had a family life with a lot of conflict it can be that drama is part of your daily life and the relationship feels dead or lacking enough emotional intensity without the rows.’

She continues that little things are unnecessarily blown up into big things. You may have unconsciously cultivated a personality that is energized by always having someone to fight with.


Another example of pushing someone away is to be ‘unpleasable’.

‘When we are in "no-win" situations we often try harder for a while,’ Sol explains. ‘When we realize there is no pleasing this person and that they will always find something wrong, we usually give up on them and move on.’

To the saboteur this only amplifies the voice in their heads saying, ‘You are just not willing to please me’ or ‘You don’t care enough about me to want to do what makes me happy.’

Sometimes people who exercise this kind of unconsciously destructive behaviour don’t know whether they want to be in the relationship or want to end it. Sol explains that they are caught between these two different fears and project it onto their close relationships. In the end, it is the other person who is forced to take responsibility for the final outcome.

‘Become more conscious of your behaviour,’ concludes Sol. ‘Are you acting this way because you really want the relationship to end and don’t know if you can break it off or even how to do it? Or are you afraid of intimacy?

‘A relationship, like anything else, can only take so much damage before it falls apart.’