I first read about a psychological theory called “masochistic equilibrium” on self-help guru Karen Salmansohn’s website; the idea of “masochistic equilibrium” is that a person’s natural comfort zone might actually exist in a place of discomfort. For instance, if you were in a lackluster long-term relationship that lacked physical intimacy and connection, and meet someone who wants to kiss and make love, it will inspire anxiety and may trigger self-sabotage in order to regain a sense of what’s comfortable. Or say your parents fought like cats and dogs, and yelling and insults became your idea of a relationship template, then to be in a peaceful and harmonious relationship will cause uneasiness and distress, and you’ll be bound to feel as Salmansohn says, “twitchy;” a sense of ill-ease will create the desire to lower love levels and happiness back to a percentage that feels familiar. Or if you parents were extremely platonic and you never saw them being physically affectionate, a relationship void of hugging and kissing will feel more “normal” and comfortable, anything else will provoke nervousness and potential sabotage.
There are many celebrity examples of relationship and non-relationship related self-sabotages from Britney Spears’ head-shaving to Tiger Woods’ mistress merry-go-round, famous people often feel guilt and isolation in the bubble of stardom and seek to damage their public personas in order to recalibrate. Other recent examples of celeb-sabotagers: Amanda Bynes’ crazy spending and spiraling, Paula Deen’s questionable racial remarks and Lindsay Lohan’s kleptomaniac tendencies and repeated DUI offenses.
Cheating, criticizing (or fault-finding) and rushing into or retreating from relationships are all signs of self-sabotaging behavior. Self-sabotage often results when people feel they don’t deserve their new love, job or level of fame and fortune; it becomes a self-protective behavior in order to avoid pain or rejection that might result from making yourself vulnerable or relishing in success. Many times a new job or romantic interest can trigger a stress response and feeling any sort of threat can create the backdrop for self-sabotage. Avoiding emotional hurt is often the root cause of self-sabotaging and/or protective behavior.
People often intentionally choose partners who they know will disappoint them or leave them as a method of self-sabotage. Or people choose to stay in unsatisfying relationships because an authentic and loving relationship would be far too scary. Other ways in which you could be making your relationships primed for failure:
1.) Believing You’re Unlovable
2.) Searching for Your Clone or Mr./Ms. Perfect
3.) Thinking Your True Self will Scare Someone Away
4.) Resistance to Vulnerability or Intimacy
5.) Taking No Responsibility for the Relationship
6.) Giving Too Much or Too Little
7.) Fear of Rejection or Loss of Freedom
8.) Desiring to be a Martyr or Victim
9.) Striking First (Hurting Someone Before They Can Hurt You)
10.) Acting on Insecurities (Jealousy, Neediness, Over-Sensitivity)