I was doing my normal Instagram scroll when I came across a list of things people do to self-sabotage relationships. The first few were pretty obvious. It listed things like rejecting compliments, not asking for help, procrastination, etc. But it was when I read a specific one that I felt attacked.
“Opening up and attaching to others prematurely.”
Whew! They can @ me next time because the way they called me out and snatched my edges was just plain rude. You see, I’ve spent my entire 31 years of living doing this exact thing. It has been the detriment of my entire dating life. I always knew it was self-sabotage in relationships but I couldn’t recognize when I was doing it in the moment. It was such a default reaction that I never caught it until the relationship was over and I was looking in retrospect. What does opening up and attaching prematurely look like?
My cycle would go like so…
- Meet a guy I found interesting
- Go on a date and decide I like him
- After the date, begin to get anxious about all my flaws and how I need to protect this relationship so it won’t end like my past relationships
- Explain to the guy in the first few weeks why I fear this ending because of my abandonment issues and explain to him my triggers and how he needs to avoid triggering me
- He says calm down and just let it flow. I say okay but I’m still extremely anxious fearing abandonment so my overthinking is in overdrive
- We talk often and in every conversation, I find a way to let him know how some action he might have done is how a previous relationship ended
- He reassures me and we move on
- Anxiety and over-sharing is repeated for the first month. He then either gets tired and gives up because I’m spilling all of my insecurities onto him or our romance fizzles out.
And this has been a synopsis of Ashleigh’s dating history people.
Too Vulnerable Too Soon is Self Sabotage in Relationships
Your pattern may not be mine but do you see how my opening up way too soon sabotaged many of my previous dating experiences? What’s funny is, I didn’t come to this conclusion after reading this post. I came to this conclusion after ruining another relationship. It happened this September and I honestly was over myself. I scheduled an appointment with my therapist immediately and she pointed me to a book called Attached that changed my life. This book teaches on attachment styles and how depending on your style, your level of attachment needs to be different when getting to know someone. I was so over me that I didn’t stop there, I also read Boundaries in Dating. This book teaches you how to set healthy boundaries while dating to avoid getting hurt.
When we refuse to allow ourselves to fully experience the dating experience due to our need to map out if this relationship can last, it’s usually a defense mechanism. You’re trying to control and/or gauge the probability of this relationship working so you can avoid getting hurt. So instead of focusing on having a fun time getting to know someone, you’re focused on all the reasons this might not work. Then you tell yourself, “If I tell them all my issues and flaws up front then they can decide if they want to run for the hills now and that’ll prevent me from being hurt down the line”. So you pour all this stuff on them and they’re caught off guard because they’re having a great time. They didn’t think all this stuff was necessary because they just met you. But they don’t want to be a jerk so they try to continue dating you and not say anything.
But here’s the issue with being fully vulnerable with someone too soon.
Issue 1: When you open up that much, it’s inevitable to attach to that person because you just gave them a piece of you. A piece that you can’t get back.
Issue 2: Once you reveal your flaws, you become self-conscious. You become anxious, fearful, and insecure. This is self-sabotage because it has an adverse effect on what you were originally trying to do. By attempting to avoid being hurt, you have hurt yourself in the process.
I finally gained a level of self-awareness on how to stop doing this nonsense and I want the same for you. I get it, when you meet someone new you get excited. You want to pour your whole heart out because you want this to work. Here was does work.
- Pace Yourself: Pouring your heart out is fine but in doses and to the person who has earned your heart. If you pace yourself, you’ll avoid being too vulnerable with someone you don’t know enough to trust with that part of yourself. That person isn’t safe yet and you won’t realize it until after you’ve already opened up.
- Set Boundaries: When you set boundaries, you’re in control and not the other person. I wanted the men I dated to not trigger me. That’s too much responsibility to give someone. Instead, you should set boundaries to lower the risk of being triggered.
- Reaffirm Yourself: When you’re used to relationships not working, you start blaming yourself. This leads to you feeling self-conscious and forgetting how great you are. When those thoughts that you’re inadequate creep in, affirm yourself. Replace those thoughts with positive talk to yourself. They like you for a reason.
- Lead With Your Strengths: Stop leading with your flaws thinking it’ll give them an out sooner. Lead with how amazing you are and let the chips fall where they may. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Focus on the Now, Not the End: Stop trying to guess when this relationship will be over. Focus on the fun and getting to know this person. You don’t know the end from the beginning, only God does.
Wale once said in a song “I wanna like, enjoy the luxury of not knowing each other forreal.” It took me a long time to understand what he meant and why he said that. When we first meet someone and they first meet us, we get a clean sleight. We can fully be ourselves without experiencing judgment from something we’ve done in the past. Now that I’m aware of my self-sabotaging habit, I intend on being conscious the next time I date because I deserve that experience. I deserve to enjoy not knowing that person and them not knowing me. Vulnerability is beautiful when you’ve known someone long enough to trust them with your flaws. Don’t continue to hurt yourself by trying to avoid hurt. Go in it knowing that you’re a great catch and that no matter your flaws, the right person will remain there. They deserve to get to know you, not your insecurities. I challenge you to live in the moment and stop the cycle of self-sabotage. You deserve the love you’ve been fighting so hard to get.