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rosebowlhorn's avatar

Need Advice On Why Women Sabotage Relationships?

Asked by rosebowlhorn (21 points ) March 2nd, 2009

The fact I’m turning to the internet, and some strangers for help, should tell you just how desperate I am.

I’m in love with a wonderful woman and have been dating her for close to a year now. She’s got a few problems that require medication. The most troublesome is the fact she takes seroquel for mood swings and for sleeping. Obviously I knew this relationship would be a rollercoaster when I signed-up for the gig so I’m not thinking about bailing on her and walking away. One doesn’t choose to have a mental illness and cannot help it (unlike those who get an illness due to a lifetsyle choice)

In the past she has told me that I treat her better than anyone she’s ever been with. She’s told me that I’m her angel and came into her life for a reason. Here comes the BUT…. BUUUUUUT…. when things are going really well and we start to really get close there comes a time when inevitably she will do her best to sabotage the relationship and try to ruin it.

For instance she’s had a tough two weeks where she was unable to go to work or even leave the house. I was there every day making sure she ate and was ok. I’d sit with her and take care of her until 1am or so when she would finally go to bed. During those two weeks we got closer than ever. Once she got over that spell and got back to work she’s been distant with me and not very affectionate.

Other instances would be when I purchased her expensive appliances and items for her home. At the time she loved them and was so happy. Only to be followed a few days later by a text that would read, “please stop buying me these things because it makes me uncomfortable” or “let’s slow down and take a break” Prior to going to San Francisco for vacation she had cold feet and didn’t want to go. She told me to take someone else. She ended-up going and we had a great time!!! She even said it was the best vactation she’s ever had. A few days later she gets her walls back up and she pulls away and we grow apart.

I’m not her first victim. When we started dating she told me that she divorced a guy who was wonderful to her and she regretted it. He got married again a few months ago. But the fact she dumped a guy who treated her wonderfully should have sent-up red flags for me. She def seems to have a history of sabotaging relationships that are good for her.

One of her biggest issues is the fact she has racing thoughts throughout the day. She’s told me many times the more she thinks about things the worse she gets (anxiety-wise) and she has trouble reigning-in these thoughts. Inevitably when she has these racing thoughts all sorts of doubts and imagined problems come into play which I feel leads to many of our problems.

My question to you all is (men or women) have you had any experience with this (either by your own doing or someone else’s) and if so how did you handle it?? I apologize for this being a novel….but it felt good to vent. Thanks!

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24 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Welcome to the collective.

First, in general, women do not sabotage relationships.

People—of either gender—can exhibit the behavior you describe for a number of reasons:

They may have a fear of intimacy.

They may have poor self esteem and not believe they “deserve” to be treated well on some unconscious level and thus sabotage the relationship.

They may be immature.

My question is why are you willing to put up with being treated so badly? Your wonderful woman clearly has a lot of problems. A couple of options would be to ask her to get some therapy around this issue or the two of you could try couples therapy.

A time may come, however, when you need to decide if she is unable or unwilling to get better whether it is worth it to you to go through these ups and downs.

Good luck to both of you. I suspect this is not an easy fix.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

this is a pretty easy answer, women are inherently evil.
I might add, the ancient greeks believed women were put here for the soul purpose of annoying men.

rosebowlhorn's avatar

Touche. I didn’t mean to single women out. I know men do it as well. She is going to counseling but cannot get in until the end of the month. Why do I stick around?? Well, I’m happy 75% of the time and she is a good person who I love. I guess I don’t feel right walking out on someone until I’ve exhausted every option. I do have hope for her and us

shilolo's avatar

Sounds a lot like borderline personality disorder. Hot, cold, hot, cold…

As the NIMH says:
People with BPD often have highly unstable patterns of social relationships. While they can develop intense but stormy attachments, their attitudes towards family, friends, and loved ones may suddenly shift from idealization (great admiration and love) to devaluation (intense anger and dislike). Thus, they may form an immediate attachment and idealize the other person, but when a slight separation or conflict occurs, they switch unexpectedly to the other extreme and angrily accuse the other person of not caring for them at all.

jrpowell's avatar

Honestly… She needs to sort her stuff out first. You can’t change her.

I know that you love her. Do you think anything will ever change? And is she willing to look for help if she knows you are always going to be there?

Maybe a break is best. Is this something you want in a long term relationship? Being happy 75% is still having things suck 25% of the time. I couldn’t do it.

nikipedia's avatar

I know this isn’t the nicest read on the situation, but…is it possible she doesn’t really love you the way you love her, but sticks around because she appreciates your caretaking efforts?

rosebowlhorn's avatar

Thanks Shi…. she was diagnosed with mood swing disorder which is why she’s on seroquel. But I know people like her who sabotage relationships who aren’t mentally ill. I’m just wondering what others have done in the past to deal with this. Should I just sit her down and have a tough talk with her??

rosebowlhorn's avatar

Thanks John…. well I know you can’t be happy 100% of the time so I guess 75% is good enough for me LOL maybe I need the help

rosebowlhorn's avatar

Hey Niki, oh trust me…. I’ve thought about that. I might agree with you were it not for the fact she’s told me several times how she ended a marriage to a great guy and has regretted it ever since. She has a history of sabotaging relationships with people she loves. She’s admitted that to me

nikipedia's avatar

I feel like in general when you deal with people, what they say is irrelevant and how they behave is everything.

Does she act like someone who loves you? Does she go out of her way to do things to make your life a little bit better? Does she get excited when you call her? Does she make you a priority? Is she concerned with your thoughts, feelings, comfort, etc?

Your story reminds me of a situation I was in a few months ago. I was dating a man who really liked me. There was nothing wrong with him, and in fact we got along pretty well, but I just didn’t have that spark with him. So I tried to date him and it just didn’t work.

What resonates with me is the gift thing. He would buy me these outrageous gifts, and on the one hand, I did appreciate his thoughtfulness, and I felt obligated to be grateful toward him—but on the other hand, it made me extreeeeeemely uncomfortable, and I told him as much and asked that he stop buying them. I can see from what you’re saying that I probably sent him a mixed message, but in my mind, the message was very clear.

This isn’t necessarily what’s going on with your girl, but it’s one read on it. Either way, I wonder if counseling (for you) might not be helpful in order to get some perspective—and I hope things work out. You sound like a truly compassionate and thoughtful person and I would hate to see you get burned or jaded. Good luck.

ubersiren's avatar

You are such a great guy to stand by her like that.

I don’t think “women” sabotage relationships. Yours may be, though, and it could partly be her illness, or maybe she’s confused. Or maybe she wants out but doesn’t know how to break it to you.

I don’t think you should continue to be her boyfriend if she is putting this much stress on you. It is fantastic that you are helping her, but buying her hundreds of dollars of home appliances and decor isn’t helping the relationship.

You can still stand by her as a friend, you know. Don’t sacrifice your sanity for love- especially if the recipient of your affections isn’t appreciating you. If you decide not to be exclusive for a while maybe you could tell if it is that she just wanted out, or if it was related to her condition.

Also, I’m gonna go there. For your own sake, and I’m not judging, you’d be best to remove yourself from your situation and make sure she isn’t just using you. People with mental problems can exaggerate things resulting in some major drama. It forces everyone he/she knows to be heavily involved and often trapped in his/ her life. Don’t feel like you are “obligated” to stand by her. I know you feel like you love her more than anything and you don’t want to lose her, but if you lose yourself, there’s no point.

Cardinal's avatar

Maybe they are just evil (not all, just a few and you have one).

elijah's avatar

I’m going to come from the opposite direction (as the people above have had great answers that I can’t add to).
This woman sounds a lot like me except she seems to have larger swings. It sounds like she has symptoms of depression. Sometimes when people are on the upside, everything is great. The problem is the downside of the swing. Her head is telling her things that most people would know are rediculous. She isn’t doing it on purpose. Anxiety is so scary. Everything feels like it’s falling apart. Maybe on of these times you have been there for her might still be the reason she is still alive.
I’m not trying to justify her behavior, and I’m not saying that you have a responsability to deal with it. I’m just saying she may not be sabotaging your relationship, not on purpose. Have her talk to her doctor. She may need different meds or a whole different kind.

hearkat's avatar

Sometimes people with low self-esteem feel in their core that they are defective and unloveable. They can not imagine that anyone could possibly love them as they are, so the seek the negative. But when they supress their fears and allow themselves to enjoy the beauty of being in a loving relationship, it is amazing but unfamiliar, and so the fears come to the surface again, resulting in the mood swings.

I have been on both sides of this insecurity dance, and it is incredibly frustrating. I knew rationally that everyone is loveable, including me… but I couldn’t believe it. As I improved my self-confidence, I entered into a relationship with a man whose insecurities were truly maddening, and despite a deep love for one another he could not get beyond his fears, so I had to let him go.

I took a couple years to work on myself after that relationship. I am proud to say that I love myself now, and therefore believe that I am loveable. I no longer look in the mirror and see the “damaged goods” of someone who was treated like someone else’s garbage when I was just a child.

A person has to truly want to change, and to believe that they can succeed, in order to be willing to do the work. Does this woman seem truly motivated to work things out? It is possible to stay together, but you have to accept that you can not fix it for her, and she has to accept responsibility for her own issues. Patience and encouragement are all you have to offer… but they are the actions chosen by unconditional love, and few have the integrity to offer it.

So that is the question you have to answer… are you playing the part of the “Knight in Shining Armor” and perpetuating the dysfunction in some way because of your own issues that you may be trying to deny? Or do you truly love her unconditionally enough to stay by her side through this? If she isn’t already in counseling, she should be; and you may want to consider couples counseling and even your own sessions to examine this closer and find your answers.

Good luck.

rosebowlhorn's avatar

Thanks for the advice everyone. I’ve seen her daily for two weeks, and we see each other about 4 times a week, so I know she’s not dating anyone else. Am I being used?? I doubt it since she fights me every time I try and do something for her. I know the difference between manipulation and what not.

For some strange reason she just gets really uncomfortable whenever we hit a point in the relationship where we take it to that next level and grow. You can set your clock to it. As we were flying home from vacation the whole way back I said to myself “come Monday she’ll start building the walls back up”. It took until Wednesday but I was right.

Maybe there is something wrong with me, I dunno. All I know is I love her and I can’t make myself bail on her the minute things get rough. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering how she is…. what she’s doing…. and wondering if I should have stuck it out just another month or so. Or maybe I just want to see where this trainwreck is headed?? I dunno…. all I know is I read every reply and took it seriously, so thanks!

casheroo's avatar

I feel you are describing the beginning of my relationship to a T. I was also on Seroquel.
I would not say she is using you, because I cannot determine that without knowing both of you personally.
I understand that you don’t want to walk away because of her illness, but she has to want to help herself to get better. She will continue this cycle until she gets the proper care she needs, most likely therapy to find the root of the problem. That’s just my opinion. It worked for me, and the man I was with stuck by me and got me through it. I figured out what I needed to get better and had a great support system.
Do not stay just because she may “need” you, stay because you want to.

rosebowlhorn's avatar

Hi cash…. tell me more, please. She is going to start counseling in two weeks. She is taking steps to get better. Did you used to sabotage relationships?? If so… why?? The problem is her mind races and thoughts come in waves. The more she analyzes things the more she invents problems that don’t exist, and magnifies those that do. She ran-off a guy she was married to and since has regretted it. At times she tries to run me off as well…. usually when things are going real well. I just don’t get it

casheroo's avatar

Yes, I used to sabotage relationships, I don’t exactly know why. I had very bad PTSD, and it just manifested itself into depression and anxiety. Eventually it took over my life, but I was always in therapy or on medication.
I finally learned to just talk about what happened, and I went through experimental therapy for my severe anxiety. I stopped taking medications because I was pregnant and went to therapy once a week. My previous relationships were affected because I would cheat on every boyfriend, because I had a fear that they would cheat on me, or didn’t actually love me so I could show them that I didnt actually love them first. Quite silly.
Basically, I grew up. I took responsibility for my actions.
I don’t know what clicked, but I dont overanalyze everything, don’t obsess over the little things.
Maybe your girlfriend just needs to grow up like I did. I haven’t had therapy or medications for years now.
Everyone is different though.

hearkat's avatar

@casheroo: I can relate to a lot of what you say. Pushing someone else away is usually a preemptive strike, as it were… the person feels that there’s no way the relationship can possibly succeed, so they irrationally find ways to ruin it, because it feels better to be the one doing the dumping than the one who’s been rejected. In your past, you did it by cheating.

In my past, I did it by focusing on the other person’s faults – which were often the same things that I disliked about myself! I was on the receiving end of that situation with my most recent relationship attempt, but since I have a much stronger self-esteem, it didn’t devastate me the way it would have in the past. I was able to see exactly what was happening, but apparently he is not yet ready to work on himself. After a year of having my patience tested, I’ve had to let go. I feel that he is very close to a breakthrough, and we had incredible potential, so it makes me sad and frustrated.

@rosebowlhorn: It sounds as though you do really care for this woman, and your willingness to stay with her is admirable. Just always be mindful of your own well-being. It is easy to get enmeshed in the drama and to lose sight of your own goals. So as I said, remember that these are her problems, and do schedule time for yourself alone and with other friends/family to help you stay you.

rosebowlhorn's avatar

thanks, cash!! I do seem to have a “Mother Theresa” complex in me working. I do think there’s a part of me that enjoys fixing people. Maybe I’m sticking it out because I feel like I can help her and I want to be there when she does get fixed so we can have a life together. I do seem to attract women who need to be rescued, and I volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House where I’m needed. What if she’s fine and I’m the screwed-up one?? LOL

I love her. We don’t choose who we love, our hearts do that. So I have two choices 1) abandon her and feel horrible that I left her and spend the rest of my life wondering “what if” 2) stay by her side and be there for her until all avenues have been exhausted. I’m probably an idiot, but I’m choosing door # 2 LOL Thanks for your advice

wundayatta's avatar

@hearkat and @casheroo know whereof they speak. I question whether your girlfriend has the right diagnosis. Racing thoughts are one symptom of bipolar illness. She could be someone who is rapid cycling (going up and down in days, or even in hours). However, even if it is BPD, there are a lot of similarities. What’s clear is that the meds are not helping. Getting into therapy is great, but getting the correct meds is even better.

Anyway, as @hearkat said, she doesn’t think much of herself. If you’re shit, then you don’t deserve a relationship. Anyone who wants to be with you must be crazy. Can’t they see how fucked up you are? Can’t they see you deserve to be in a gutter, or maybe even dead?

So, of course she pushes you away. When she’s up, she can do anything, and will like you. When she’s down, she can’t tolerate anyone loving her, because she thinks she is unloveable. For the same reason, she can’t stand the gifts. She feels she doesn’t deserve them.

If she is rapid cycling, her manias are of an unfortunate sort, for they cause a lot of anxiety. She imagines a lot of things that aren’t necessarily true. She probably thinks she knows you better than you know you. She probably thinks you are tricking her somehow, and you don’t really love her. It’s all a big con. She doesn’t stop to think how that idea doesn’t make much sense.

Does she drink or do any other self-medicating drugs? How is she in bed? Is her love-making desperate and aggressive? Or is she turning you away when you know she needs comfort? I apologize for asking such personal questions, but they really help in understanding what might be going on.

I’m not a doctor. I’m a person with bipolar disorder. My questions and speculations are based on my experience. I attend a group of folks with bipolar disorder, and I hear a lot of stuff. For one thing, no one has ever told me a good Seroquel story, so I’m skeptical about the effectiveness of that drug. But then, they think it’s BPD, and not bipolar, so that could explain why she has it.

If it’s bipolar, then seroquel does little to control her mood swings.

So, what should you do? For what it’s worth, she really needs someone to keep her believing that she’s not totally worthless. She needs someone to urge her to get care when the meds aren’t working. She needs someone to fight with her idea that she is worthless. She won’t believe you, and she’ll fight you on that opinion, but if you remain steadfast, then somewhere inside her core, it will make a difference.

She is not doing this on purpose. She is not trying to manipulate you, at least, not in the way people are used to thinking. She is trying to manipulate you to dump her, so she can feel that she is right—she is worthless.

I don’t know what to tell you, except you should talk to my wife (you can’t). She stood by me as I slept with other women and yelled at my kids and tried to make her hate me. I wanted, almost desperately, to be kicked out of my family, and sometimes, to die. She didn’t let me go. I hurt her badly, but she still didn’t let me go. She’s known me for 20 years, so maybe, somewhere inside, she believed there was a “good” me, and that the person she was seeing was only temporary.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that she did stand by me. It took a year, constantly tinkering with the meds, and getting talk therapy, and now, for the last two months, I’ve felt like my old self. Our couples therapy has really been helping us to get back in love with each other. (I’m not sure what my personal therapy is doing, but I keep on going.)

A lot of people are telling you to cut and run. They say you don’t need this burden. I can’t tell you otherwise, but I can tell you that if you stick by her, it will matter a lot. It may not help her get better, but it will matter. I would ask you to think about why you love her, and what you love about her? Is there enough there to see her through this? It could be a few years before she stabilizes (if ever), and she’ll have to be on guard the rest of her life.

As to being with her, I would certainly cut back on the gift-giving, if not cut it out altogether. If you do give her something, you must explain, in excruciating detail, why you are doing so; what is motivating you; what it means to you. If you don’t cover all your bases (and this goes for every compliment), she’ll think you’re deluded.

She wants to be comforted. She needs to be comforted, but I’ll bet she doesn’t feel like she deserves to be comforted, or to have any help. As a fellow sufferer of mental illness, I hope you’ll stick by her. As a practical person, I can’t advise you to do that.

All the above is just pure guesswork. It could be partially or completely wrong. Only you can tell if it makes sense. I wish you the best of luck. You’ll need to be very strong to stay with her.

jake61's avatar

I started a relationship with a woman not to long ago that had some of the same traits. She would imagine a perfect relationship and be let down each time. The man never living up to her ideals she imagined. She would start to notice the man not living up to her ideals so she would begin to sabatoge the relationship. It even affected her in bed. It was a mechanism to not let herself be hurt again by defeating every relationship before they started.

I told her to see a reggresive hypnotist to see what the problem was. The doctor told her she did not need to be hypntized but had a physic block and to forgive her father and exhusband. It turns out she has had a very bad life. A life of mental torment. The mother and father divorced when she was 6. The mother would not let her go with the father whom she preferred. The mother chased the father after the divorce. The mother used her as a tool to get back at the father. later when she left home and married the mother chased her and lived with her and her husband. The husband abandoned her after ten years. I told her her mother seemed to be a real rough bit*h and she seemed to be the cause of everything. That she needed to forgive her mother most of all. We are still seeing each other and working on the problems.

jake61's avatar

I might add that my gal does have a good trait or two that helps her. She sees something in me and although she wants to call it off every once in a while, she never does. She sticks to me like glue. Sometimes she turns around in as little as 12 hours. She also knows there is a problem and wants to get rid of it.

I can see a lot of potental in her and stay with her. It is like we are destined to be together. I think we will make it and have a good life one day. By the way I am a widower of 61 and she is 54 and lives in the Ukraine. I think she is ready to move here with me.

If it was me in your shoes I would take her to be evaluated. See if she has a past problem affecting her, then see about getting her off the meds. You do not want them blocking progress or causing additional problems. All meds have side affects. These days doctors are not as good as they used to be. A lot of times they take the easy way out and just push pills. The pills alone could be making her have racing thoughts or anxiety.

Make sure she is not in a victim mentality. Sometimes they will wallow in it and never get better. Her saying that about her ex husband makes me wonder if she is not wallowing in a habit of self pity. No self worth or confidence in that.

Find out if the self destructive behavior is a disease or her being self destructive from a past victim mental problem.

Does she ever talk about getting better or does she say she wants to be better? You are still together so I think maybe she does not want to make the same mistake again?

One way to find out if it is mental problem is if she blanks some things out. A lot of people with psychic blocks blank things out. In other words, when you get around their problem, like to close emotionally, they blank out some things they say or do.

Good luck.

finallyhere's avatar

Oh boy. This question REALLY hit home. I had to do a double-take to see if I didn’t write this question. I was in YOUR position for so long so I know EXACTLY what you are going through. I was with a woman like this for 5 years. I, too, thought that I didn’t want to wonder “what if” and got on this train until it fell off a cliff with ME in it.
I know you won’t listen to me because I know how strong the desire is that “some day” things will be right. I lived for “some day” and guess what??? Some day NEVER happened. Let me tell you how it all progresses since I’ve already been there and already have a couple years under my belt of personal therapy to understand this situation.
Here is what happens. The LONGER you are with them, and the LONGER they feel you are “awesome, great and everything they hoped for” the bar is raised as to how they will continue to “test” how much you love them. Be careful. When the bar is raised, it gets ugly. My partner said all the same things yours says. I understand fear of intimacy, mental illness and what they go through, and I was also VERY compassionate. However, you cannot choose to be there for her at YOUR detriment. This WILL destroy you emotionally and spiritually as it does NOT get better. I love the person on here with mental illness that says he is grateful his wife stayed with him but if you are a practical person to not do so otherwise. That says it all. It’s a ONE WAY relationship and in the long-term it ONLY benefits one person while it drags you down until suddenly you wake up one day and are depressed yourself beyond anything you’ve ever recognized in yourself….
My partner was on meds, therapy, group therapy and was doing all the right things. Now she is WORSE than ever, cannot work, on disability, and in order to “test” my love for her…and to “push me away” she was unfaithful once (at first) and YES I forgave her ONCE…after all, it was just “poor her” trying to sabotage “our” happiness. Ultimately, her misery becomes “ours” and it takes two people to make a relationship work. Here, there is one person doing everything they can to make it work (you)and your partner doing everything they can to destroy that. In the end, you are both miserable and you will need years of therapy to get over this. I learned you cannot save another person and you can only save yourself. At the end of the day, life is TOO SHORT to live it for “some day” IF and WHEN things get better. If someone does not love you NOW the way you DESERVE to be loved, do you want to wait 20 years or never? to see “if” and “when” things get better? Cut your losses and cut them quickly….but I know you won’t do that as I didn’t and I know how powerful the “idea” of what your life could be like together keeps you going…...it’s all “what ifs” and it’s never a reality…..I don’t mean to be negative but I’ve been there and survived it….that in itself is a problem. A relationship—a healthy one——is not something you should have to SURVIVE. It’s something you should WANT to live through….I assure you this won’t work. But if you believe in miracles, hey they can happen.
Also, she cheated on me AGAIN afteR I forgave her the first time…..things had to get so UGLY and so OBVIOUS and I was already so DESTROYED that it’s when I realized “I should get out.” The train crashes eventually, just make sure to get out at an earlier stop before that happens:)

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