Relationship Sabotage; What it looks like, what causes it, and what to do about it.

Jennifer Bonn
Photo byJennifer Bonn

Relationship sabotage can come in many different forms and different degrees of severity. Even the best relationship can have moments when a little sabotage slips in. Let's examine first what relationship sabotage might look like.

The sabotage might be in the form of manipulation when someone tries to control decisions, actions, and emotions. It can be when someone uses isolation and tries to keep you away from friends or asks you to choose who you spend time with. It can also involve talking behind your back, trying to ruin your reputation or success, and starting rumors. Sabotage can also be when someone belittles you, calls you names, criticizes you, or makes you feel it is your job to keep them happy. It can also involve volatility when there is a strong, unpredictable reaction that makes you feel scared, confused, or intimidated. You feel as if you have to walk on eggshells. When someone has extreme reactions to small things or drastic mood swings there is a problem.

The saboteur may make excuses for unhealthy behavior and may deflect the responsibility to someone else. I have a friend whose husband is a recovering alcoholic. She wanted to understand his addiction so she could help him, so she asked him why he needed to drink so much. He told her it was because of her. I hope you will trust me when I tell you that this woman is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. She is also one of the kindest because when her husband said this she realized it was still an addiction talking and had nothing to do with her actions.

Some saboteurs are charmers in public, but a moody mess at home. I have heard the expression “The life of the party, the devil at home.” The reason a situation like this is sabotage is that the saboteur convinces people that he is wonderful, but those closest to him see a different story. When others tell you how lucky you are to be married to this person it can make you feel hopeless because you think no one will believe you if you tell them the true scenario.

What causes someone to act this way? Of course, there are many reasons, but narcissists tend to be saboteurs. They want to be right always, they believe they can do no wrong, and they will do whatever they need to in order to serve their needs. A narcissist is unable to be happy about your success.

Sabotage often comes from being hurt. Anyone can throw a verbal barb when they feel wronged or betrayed. It can come from low self-esteem and a fear of failure. It is a self-defense tactic. No matter what the reason is relationship sabotage is unhealthy behavior, so we need some ways to resolve it.

Communication is key. My husband and I have had issues before when one of us said something that we thought was harmless, and the other person perceived it in a completely different way. We agreed that we would communicate better if we were hurt by something we said.

Set boundaries for the behavior you will accept. Let a saboteur know where the line for unacceptable behavior is. Don’t blame yourself for their behavior.

Being in a relationship where sabotage happens can be draining and exhausting. You have to be strong and stand up for yourself. Reach out for help if necessary and never feel you are alone.

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I am passionate about running, parenting, education, and self-help information. I enjoy writing articles that will offer readers the information needed to help them in some way. I recently retired from teaching French and Spanish for forty years. I run every day and have done all kinds of races from 5ks to ultra-marathons. I have three children and three grandchildren. I write for several magazines in my area, I am a contributor and in charge of the Pinterest board for a parenting magazine called Screamin Mamas, and I have a second book about to be released through Loving, Healing Press called 101 Tips to Ease Your Burdens.

Kennesaw, GA

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