What Sabotaging, Blaming, and Pulling Away Have in Common in Relationships


I've found in my life that one of the most frustrating aspects of being in relationships with others is negotiating competing feelings. For example, I love my partner so much and then the times when we argue or have other types of relationship "misses", I feel so frustrated and annoyed that it takes everything I have to turn toward our relationship instead of away from it. The times when I can't find the strength, logic, and/or trust to turn toward our partnership, I can engage in other patterns that are not helpful at all--but it doesn't mean I don't love my partner or don't want to reconnect. I see this in my practice with couples all the time. We've talked recently about self-sabotage, self-abandonment, and relationship triggers. Today I want to pull all of those concepts together.

I see a number of patterns in relationships that keep us from being able to truly resolve arguments and repair disconnection. These include but are not limited to:

  • sabotaging positive interactions and good relationships

  • abandoning yourself and putting your partner's needs first, always (and then forgetting who you really are and therefore losing the true essence of your relationship)

  • pulling away when interactions get intense or you feel like you are being attacked

  • blaming, criticizing, and pursuing your partner relentlessly (this may include following them around the house or constantly texting or calling when they want space)

  • having a huge argument and sweeping it under the rug without any discussion, processing, or resolution with your partner and allowing things to go back to "normal"

And what do these patterns have in common?

They are all misguided ways we attempt to find true connection in relationships.

The truth is, we all just want to connect, but sometimes we don’t know how. We use old skills that may have worked in the past but don’t work anymore. Our actions end up hurting us and others as we flail to find a way to feel some kind of connection in relationships. We are searching for security, but if we've known insecurity in other relationships or our childhood, we get derailed as we play out old scenarios where our needs weren't met and we didn't feel wanted, loved, or cared for.

Sometimes we don't want to rock the boat in our relationships. Or, we want to rock the boat so much that there is no way our partner could ignore our pleas for conversation and connection (even if it comes in the form of arguing). And other times, we are so overwhelmed by our feelings and our partner's feelings that we completely shut down, check out, and mentally and emotionally leave the conversation, effectively abandoning our partner in the process.

But here's the thing: relationships don't have to be this way. They can be different. Better. Connected. Communicative. Open. Honest. Brave. But we need to know ourselves in order to change our relationships.

I'm pretty sure at this point, you know how much I believe in our ability to heal ourselves and our relationships with others. And how important it is for us to feel fulfilled. The work isn't easy, but I believe it's worth it. I believe it will change your life, because it totally changed mine.

I'm really excited to share a new project with you. I've been hard at work brainstorming how to support folks in learning about their attachment and relationship patterns in a way that will foster both immediate and long-term change. In my blog, I've talked about how important it is that we are aware of our automatic emotional and behavioral responses because they impact the success of our relationships, our happiness, and even our kids down the road.

So here's what I've come up with:

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This group is going to be AMAZING (did I mention I'm excited?). For four weeks, we will connect over an online platform (Brady Bunch style!) to talk about our own patterns using an attachment framework. We will hold each other accountable, we will gently challenge each other, we will provide loving support, and we will do the hard work to show up differently in our relationships.

In between the calls, I will provide worksheets, journal prompts, and individual exploration "homework" so you can get the most out of the experience. We will also have a private facebook group where we can connect between calls, and I will be checking in there regularly to offer resources and support.

There are only 8 spots available in this group. I'm keeping it small so we can really dig in and not feel overwhelmed by trying to get to know too many people, and so everyone can get airtime on the calls (if they want to).

You can go here for all the details about the group, and of course you can reach out to me at any time if you have any questions.

Here's to more connection, self-compassion, understanding, and love in all of our lives.