1. Grieve: People frequently self-sabotage new relationships by not fully grieving and letting go of past ones. Keep at the top of your mind that a new relationship will not be healthy if you are using it to escape the emotional misery of a divorce or breakup. Allow yourself to fully mourn not only a recent disappointment but also one that may be far in the past yet still stings. And too, it can be helpful to process other types of emotional losses before you enter new relationships. Consider what hurt you or what you didn’t get in childhood but deserved and needed. Acknowledge these experiences so as to become more self-aware of what you need going forward. Letting go will clear the path to finding the right match for yourself for the long-term, not someone to temporarily build you back up or to take you away from heartache.
2. Build Self-Esteem: Recognize if you have spent your dating and coupling life outsourcing your self-esteem to relationships. If you have not worked on knowing yourself and feeling good about yourself then you may be vulnerable to choosing your partners as a way to feel some sense of self-worth. This means you are entering your relationships from a disempowered position. This makes you vulnerable to being mistreated and hurt, which will only further fuel your self-esteem deficit. Take some time to work on strengthening yourself without the crutch of a romantic partner. In my workbook, Building Self-Esteem, I offer specific strategies to grow self-worth.
3. Eliminate Toxic Attachments: Another way people unintentionally sabotage their romantic happiness is by continuing to pick the same types of toxic partners, over and over again. Recognize your attachment history. What kinds of people are you drawn to and what themes seem to present themselves in your romantic relationships? Are you drawn to people who bring out your best or worst self? When you date, consciously attach to healthy, kind and emotionally attentive individuals as opposed to withdrawn and inconsistently loving types of personalities.
4. Build Intimacy Skills: Research suggests we are drawn to people who have communication and intimacy skills that match our own. This means if your skills are lacking in this arena then you likely will end up with a partner who is also at a deficit. Take time to build your communication and intimacy skills. Teach yourself to not only know your preferences and dislikes but to also directly communicate them to the people in your life. Learn how to be comfortable with being yourself. Know how to establish boundaries with people. In my book, Getting Close to Others, I offer specific strategies around growing your intimacy skills for dating and partnering.