It’s hard to admit, but we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to romance. Instead of nurturing relationships, our actions often sabotage a relationship, leaving us confused and lonely.

Have you ever suspected that you might be sabotaging relationships?

As a Jewish matchmaker, I’ve studied relationships and the “do’s and don’ts” of successful ones. Many years ago I read a humorous (yet accurate) breakdown on how to sabotage a relationship. I haven’t found the original article but I’ve recreated it below. Although written tongue-in-cheek, if you see these red-flag behaviors in your partner, you should rethink the relationship. If you see them in yourself, it’s time to dig deeper and get to the root of what might be described as commitment phobia – or worse, pathological behavior.

1. Lie. This is simple and effective. To optimize results, lie about something important to your partner and arrange to be caught in the lie. Additional points are awarded for keeping the lie going as long as possible before discovery, which increases the feeling of betrayal. Lying about sex gets double points. Lying about being married gets triple points. Lies of omission (“not telling the whole truth”) with excuses and rationalizations get gold stars. 

2. Avoid self-knowledge. This is a more elegant strategy best presented in a bold sweep of denial with a distraction aimed at oneself. This tactic is most effective when combined with tactics 3 and 4. Self-destructive or addictive behavior has also been found very effective in avoiding self-knowledge. When combined with an attitude of helplessness, this strategy has been proven effective in attracting “rescuers” or “white knights” on whom you can then practice strategies 4 and 3, in that order.

3. Blame the other person. If anything goes wrong, hey, it must be their fault, right? This tactic eliminates the need for messy things like healthy communication and compromise. If your partner is introspective and responsible, turning the blame table will often make him/her seriously consider whether or not it’s their fault, and once you’ve planted that seed of doubt, water it religiously.

4. Disclaim responsibility. This is a little more complex than strategy 3 and often includes what is called “codependency”. The classic way to play this strategy is to cater to the needs of your partner while repressing your own. This allows resentment to build up and then you can justify your anger by regurgitating all the things that you “do” for your partner. Repeat the mantra, “If you loved me, you’d know what I want.” In its most refined state, this strategy makes the other person responsible for setting the direction, pace and content of the relationship, for which you can them blame them if your own expectations or needs are not met. Using strategy 2 to avoid knowledge of these expectations and needs gets double points.

5. Push. This is an art, albeit a crude one. When combined with strategy 6, pushing can quickly achieve spectacular negative results. Remember, when pushing, only your satisfaction counts! It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and you’re a pit bull. Push to get what YOU want – hold your ground and ignore the protestations and boundaries of your partner.

6. Play on insecurity. This is an old favorite. Using your partner’s sexual insecurity as a weapon and combining it with strategy 5, is a four-star winner. Attempting to control your partner by manipulating them through their insecurities is a sure-fire self-sabotage tactic.

7. Avoid intimacy. The easiest trick to avoiding “real intimacy” is to confuse intimacy with “rubbing slippery bits together”. Substitute the words “sex” and “love” for each other in conversations with your partner. Practice strategy 8 often, supplementing it with strategy 2. Decide whether action or words are more likely to be vague and misconstrued, and then go with what gives you the most plausible deniability later. Study sales techniques for pointers. Charmers and people who can “talk a good game” excel at this technique.

8. Don’t talk. Talking has been known to lead to real communication if practiced carelessly. Communication can impair self-sabotage, and in certain cases will halt or reverse it entirely. If you must talk, use cliches and quotations from popular songs as much as possible, or fall back on strategy number 1. Double points for avoiding all discussion of sexual matters and fidelity so that any perceived agreement of monogamy is wishful thinking and completely deniable. If all else fails, the silent treatment is a tried and true way to sabotage a relationship.

9. Blur the lines of monogamy. Remain technically faithful to your partner while breaking the spirit of whatever agreement you have whenever possible: flirt, be consistently late and then vague about your whereabouts, comment favorably about members of the opposite sex, choose an attractive co-worker and gush about his/her positive qualities. Be overly friendly with your partner’s opposite-sex family members and friends. Remember, you can’t be caught cheating if you aren’t actually cheating. Go beyond the pale by drafting a safer-sex agreement with your partner and then breaking it, contracting a communicable disease about which you do not tell them. For a coup de grace, add strategy 6 and tell them it wouldn’t have happened if they had been satisfying you like they were supposed to.

Click here for a previous article on relationship sabotage.