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When you get close to someone it can be a scary time as well as exciting, beautiful and wonderfully intimate. You feel connected, understood, seen and appreciated, and all the hormones!

This intimacy can bring up lots of feelings. We may have felt like we were lovable and worthy of love before, but now all of a sudden the other persons love feels overwhelming and you start to question it all.

Am I really lovable? Why does she or he love me really?

The spiral of self-sabotage begins.

In my own relationships, I noticed that I followed the same pattern of sabotaging when things got to that serious, overwhelming stage. I would show them my worst self. All my issues, all my craziness. My mean, angry side. I bared all. Probably testing them to see how much they could take.

If he is still here after seeing this. Then he loves me.


Self-sabotage is a behavioural pattern where we create problems in our life to interfere with our situation or long term goals.


Do you feel lovable? Do you feel worthy of being loved? This belief often stems from childhood and how we experienced love, specifically before we reached the teenage years.

Often when we get to a pivotal point in the relationship, things start to get serious. You both have these strong feelings and have discovered each other’s uglier secrets, the questions start to pop up:

Why is she still here? Why is she is choosing to move in with me?

So we self sabotage with those questions which stem from insecurity, and lack of self-worth. We push her away either by rejecting her completely. Or deliberately making a bad choice. We subconsciously choose people who are unavailable either physically, for example, a married man or long-distance relationship, or choosing an emotionally unavailable person or someone who treats you less than desirably so you have an excuse to exit later. This relationship is convenient and can reinforce your story you tell yourself  confirming:

See I knew it! I am not lovable, I am not worthy of anything better.

Your new love might be a popular, outgoing person who is loved by everyone he meets and this triggers feelings of insecurity, jealousy or resentment inside you.

Well does he really love me? Am I very special?

Your new love might genuinely love you and more comfortable than you with expressing himself. Your insecurities and feelings of lack of self-worth may then surface. You reject their feelings completely. This can manifest in a complete shutdown and rejection.

You are far too intense and obsessed with me. We just started dating!


It can be so useful to look at your own relationship with yourself separate and before you examine or enter a relationship with another.

You could make a list of all the things you love or at least like about yourself as if you were going to pick your own online dating profile!

Is romantic love even a different feeling from self-love or the love you have for your children? By compartmentalising this way we make it all so much more complicated.

It can be very effective to focus on unconditional love, and apply it to your romantic relationship, and try to love without demand and expectation.

You could look at all your past relationships and important relationships, for example with your parents, siblings and closest friends and try to see what they love about you. Or just ask them!

Focusing on the positive list this way instead of making a list of cons which we often do. A list of things we don’t want in a partner is often longer and easier to come up with. The same is true for yourself. It can be easier to list your own faults.

This is understandable as from an evolutionary perspective we are designed to look for danger. Our human brains are wired to look for negatives for survival.

“He looks suspicious because he has eyes close together” or “stay away from him, his penis is smelly and lumpy so he might have a killer sexually transmitted infection!”


  1. Awareness through cognitive behavioural therapy techniques. Where does this belief, thought and behaviour stem from. (Hint: look at your parent’s relationship with each other and yourself)
  2. Acceptance through a daily practice of mindfulness. Slowing down can help you focus.
  3. Your expectations about intimate relationships. Identify these and try to communicate them honestly.
  4. Stop the victim mentality and blame. Taking responsibility and practising mindfulness, forgiveness towards yourself and others.
  5. Be comfortable with being alone. Practice the above steps until they become natural, automatic before jumping into a new relationship or addressing issues in your current relationship.
  1. Self-love (acceptance and understanding of yourself) and self-care (spending time getting to know yourself through meditation and activities that bring you joy). Relationship with self is a priority.


One very powerful technique to address and cure self-sabotage is increasing self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Mirror work can help this process and it is an ongoing process. The person who triggers these feels might not be a new love. It could be a new friend or mentor, or anyone who makes you feel seen and appreciated. Especially if it was a long time ago that you felt that connection, or perhaps you were lonely for a long time.

Mirror work is powerful and can bring up emotions that may surprise you. All emotions are valid, welcome and accepted. Feeling sad, angry, ashamed or even disgusted is normal. If you hold space for these feelings they will slowly pass.

Women especially hold a lot of self-hatred and project that to their body or face because of the messages we receive from our society about how a perfect woman should be.

Through a regular practice of mirror work looking deeply into your eyes, you see the real you and you start to soften. You start to understand and accept why others may love you. You could take it a step further and tell yourself:

“I love you”

and see how that feels.

Thank you for reading! 

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I offer intimacy and relationship coaching via Skype and WhatsApp:

[email protected]

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