Although often subconscious, there are several reasons someone might want to sabotage a perfectly healthy relationship. One big reason is low self-esteem and self-worth, according to clinical psychologist Maggie Dancel, Psy.D. If you're worried your partner may like you enough, you might subconsciously act out or push them away so you don't have to feel the sting of rejection. Stirring up relationship drama can also be a way to keep your partner interested, Dancel tells mbg: "Individuals may not feel that they can get better, so they settle for any attention, affection, and connection, negative or positive."
On the other side of the spectrum, some individuals might fear commitment due to what the relationship will mean for their independence, leading them to self-sabotage the relationship in order to keep their distance and maintain a sense of freedom.
"Much of the reasoning behind someone self-sabotaging a relationship has to do with an individual's attachment style," Madeline Cooper, a psychotherapist and clinical social worker specializing in sexuality and relationships, tells mbg. Your attachment style is the way you deal with relationships, which is learned from our earliest childhood relationships with caregivers. Individuals with anxious attachment styles often desire intimacy and fear rejection because of experiences of abandonment in childhood, which can lead them to project these negative outcomes of the relationship onto their partner. Individuals with avoidant attachment styles often avoid closeness and intimacy because their childhood taught them to be self-sufficient, which may lead them to delay commitment or demonstrate a dismissive nature.
Because the desire to self-sabotage is so linked to our attachment style, people can often self-sabotage relationships subconsciously by repeating the relational patterns that we learned as children. "We repeat behaviors over and over again because the negative cycle is familiar," Dancel says.