Updated on 3/2/21
While you want to think your partner always has your best interest at heart and is your biggest supporter, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Insecurities can lead to an unhealthy relationship dynamic where your partner tries to sabotage your success.
They might try to hinder your progress toward reaching your goals, discourage you from working hard to get a big promotion at work, or keep you from embarking on a new fitness program to lose weight.
Rightfully, you want your partner to stand by your side, cheer you on and congratulate you when you’re thriving. So what do you do when your partner is doing the opposite, constantly trying to dull your shine? You don’t deserve that — here are some telltale signs that your partner doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Signs Your Partner is Sabotaging Your Success
At first, you might not realize that your partner is trying to sabotage your progress or success. But it might creep up on you, growing into something that you simply can’t ignore. You might realize that your partner doesn’t encourage you to follow your dreams (no matter how big or small) or if they make you feel guilty for being ambitious, working hard, or reaching your goals.
“When we talk about others sabotaging our progress or success, we almost immediately think of control,” says Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S.“ This control can come in a direct and obvious way or it can be in the form of subliminal control. We have to remember that control is not always accompanied by fear or force. It can also be present in subliminal ways.”
Some signs Catchings says you should be on the lookout for are:
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- Pinpointing insecurities and weaknesses
- Diminishing your successes
- Not being present when you accomplish something
- Not providing emotional support
- Talking about you in a negative way
Again, it might not always be direct or obvious behavior, so you need to be on the lookout for it, and trust your gut if you feel like something’s up.
Why Partners Sabotage
There are numerous reasons why your partner might want to sabotage you, consciously or unconsciously. According to Catchings, “Most times [the reason for sabotaging] is insecurity, fear of abandonment, or jealousy.” Fear of abandonment and jealousy stem from insecurity, so really, it’s likely that any sabotaging is stemming from your partner’s own lack self-consciousness.
They feel threatened
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for men in heterosexual relationships with women to feel threatened by a woman’s success, which can lead to sabotage. “Culturally, we see that some men do not like to see their partner succeed or move up,” says Catchings. This theory has been confirmed by studies that have shown that men are more likely than women to take a hit to their self esteem if their female partner succeeds at something. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every man in a heterosexual relationship, so take this with a grain of salt, but be on the lookout for signs of sabotage if you’re a woman during a prosperous time.
Lack of trust
“Another reason [for sabotage] might be the lack of trust,” adds Catchings. “Success might come with extra attention from others and this might scare some individuals, creating mistrust.” Again, though, this really boils down to insecurity. If your partner was secure in themselves and your relationship, they likely wouldn’t feel as much of a threat.
One more thing to note: your partner really might not realize they’re sabotaging you or harming you…but that doesn’t make it okay. Catchings warns, “Sometimes, the person might be unaware of his/her/their behaviors, but we must be careful and observant, since this can also be used as an excuse.”
What to do if Your Partner is Sabotaging You
Once you’ve seen the signs that your partner is sabotaging you, you can take action. “Recognizing the sabotage is just the first step. Avoiding making excuses for our partner’s negative behavior is the second one,” says Catchings.
When you love someone, it’s definitely easy to make excuses for them. But if you want to continue to grow and succeed, you cannot make excuses for the way they’re treating you if they’re constantly trying to bring you down.
Communication is key for dealing with a situation like this when you’re ready. You won’t get anywhere by staying silent or being passive aggressive. “Be honest and talk to your partner about what you see, think, and feel and be open and clear communicating the need for the sabotaging behaviors to stop,” Catchings says. “Be specific and ask for the support you need. If your partner is unable to understand your needs, communicate it in different ways.”
Know when to seek professional help
Your partner should want to support you and help you reach your goals. If they continue to engage in manipulative, controlling, sabotaging behaviors even after you have a serious discussion with them about it, it might be time to get a professional involved…if you decide you want to stay in a relationship with this person, that is.
“If the sabotage behaviors continue, look for help,” Catchings advises. “Seeing a therapist can be a great way to eliminate the sabotaging permanently.”
If you can’t get your partner to be on the same wavelength as you — after clear confrontation, communication, and maybe even therapy — it’s time to say goodbye. It’s not worth staying with a partner who doesn’t want you to be your best self.
Find somebody who will be your biggest supporter and cheerleader, because that’s what you deserve.
Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
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