Psychology behind Self-Sabotage in Romantic Relationships

24 June, 2018.

Retrieved from SIM Psychology Society News Site Mind

Self-sabotaging signs include having difficulty in trusting people, believing the failure in a relationship and insecurity in serious relationships. According to Raquel Peel, PhD lead researcher at James Cook University, people who self-sabotage, have insecure views of romantic relationships. They do not realise there is a negative belief of relationship deep-rooted in them. During the study, Ms Peel said that it appears a person’s past has a crucial role in how they deal with adult romantic relationships (Hartley, 2018).

After experiencing a daunting break-up when she was 19 years old, Kahlee Cummings sabotaged her relationships for ten years. When things got serious in her relationships, she focused on the negative aspects to end the relationship for self-preservation. Even though she is engaged to her ‘dream man’ now, Cummings fights the urge almost every day to sabotage her relationship (Hartley, 2018).

Knowing Your Demons
Attachment style refers to the characteristics a person forms based on the intimate relationship the person had with their caregiver (Levy, Ellison, Scott, Bernecker, 2011). There are various attachment styles.
Secure individuals are confident in exploring their surroundings and relationships. They are certain that attachment figures will be available and responsive when needed.
Anxious-ambivalent individuals are doubtful that the attachment figure will be available and responsive. These individuals are clingy and hesitant to separate from attachment figures.
Avoidant individuals tend to expect themselves to be refused proximity. Hence, they strive for emotional self-sufficiency (Rasco, Warner, 2016)

Conquering Relationships
According to Ms Peel, self-awareness is important. People need to focus on how they behave in a relationship. Common behaviours like lack of trust and criticising can be avoided to have a long-lasting relationship (Hartley, 2018).

​Hartley, A. (2018). Relationship sabotage is a rarely studied phenomenon, but now researchers look for answers. Retrieved from

Levy, K. N., Ellison, W. D., Scott, L. N., & Bernecker, S. L. (2011). Attachment Style, 193-203. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737208.003.0019

Rasco, D., & Warner, R. M. (2016). Relationship authenticity partially mediates the effects of attachment on relationship satisfaction,157(4), 445-457. doi:10.1080/00224545.2016.1229253

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