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Common Self-Sabotaging Behaviors For Anxious Daters (And How to Work Against THem)

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

The beginning of dating someone new tends to be very triggering for anxiously attached daters. Their mind begins racing with worst-case scenarios, and it feels impossible to be present for life between dates.

As a result, they engage in self-sabotaging behaviors that hold them back from finding the relationship they want.

Self-sabotaging behaviors are things people do consciously or subconsciously that end up pushing people away. If you want a serious relationship, it may be confusing to hear that you are trying to end what you want most.

But self-sabotaging behaviors aren't necessarily rational; people create them out of a desire for safety.

If you push someone away, they can't hurt you. If you control a situation, nothing can go wrong. If you do everything you can to keep the person you're dating happy, they won't leave you.

While the promise of safety is enticing, those behaviors sabotage your chance of finding a great partner.

The solution? Becoming aware of your self-sabotaging habits and actively choosing to change them.

There are a few common self-sabotaging habits of anxious daters and several ways you can work against them today.


Do you go on dates and notice everything that happens? Do you observe their tone of voice, body language, and everything they say? Do you feel suspicious of your partners and like the shoe will drop any minute?

If so, one of your self-sabotage behaviors is hyper-vigilance. You feel you have to be hyper-aware at all times in case something goes wrong.

While this feels like a way to keep you safe, it can also affect your ability to be present with the person you're dating. It also makes it harder to trust people.

How to work against this:

Learning to live in the present is your best bet to combat hyper-vigilance. Begin practicing grounding exercises like naming everything you can see around you or box-breathing.

Also, work on re-training your brain to notice more positives than negatives. List what went well on dates (even if you don't want to see them again) or things your partner does that you appreciate.

Trying to control everything.

You tend to be the one to plan things. You try to gather as much information as possible to know what's happening. You want to be in control because it feels like your comfort zone.

But relationships are two-way streets. You can't possibly control everything, and you may disrespect or build resentment with someone if you try to.

How to work against this:

Try letting the other person plan dates or pick which restaurant to eat at. Find small ways to give up control rather than everything all at once.

Also, when you hear the voice inside your head telling you that if you don't control things, you'll be out of control, challenge it. A lot of things are uncontrollable in life. What matters more is feeling prepared to handle what comes your way.


There's nothing worse than coming home from a date you felt went well but spending the night thinking of all the ways it could've gone better if you'd just acted differently. Or, worse, assuming they'll never call you again because you weren't ___ enough.

Self-judgment is when you tear yourself down when things don't go as planned or you feel anxious. The voice inside your head says, "they probably don't like you because your style is the worst."

But self-judgment only exists because of a person's insecurities; they're not rooted in facts.

How to work against this:

One of my favorite exercises with my coaching clients is making a list of all the mean things they think about themselves. Then I tell them to imagine their niece or a 10-year-old version of themselves saying something similar.

What would they say to that child? How would they show them love and support?

Because once you figure that out, you can begin challenging your thoughts so you can be a bit nicer to yourself.

Playing victim

Two things can be true: we can experience shitty events AND not let them hold us back.

You may have dated a truly awful person or had parents who neglected you, but it's your responsibility to work through that, so you don't stay stuck. Staying in victim mode will only end up hurting you.

How to work against this:

If you went through intense trauma that feels too overwhelming to handle on your own, consider seeing a therapist or counselor.

You can also work on pinpointing unhelpful dating patterns. Write down your dating history up until now. Include how relationships started, red flags you ignored, things you didn't like about the people you dated, and how the relationships ended.

Anything that repeats is a dating pattern you have more control over than you think.


It's great to want to make people happy, but if it's at the expense of your well-being, it's probably a people-pleasing habit. You go above and beyond for others to gain acceptance and validation.

People-pleasing also manifests as dating people you feel need to be fixed or rescued. If you have a history of attempting to change people who are struggling, then you most likely feel like your role in a relationship is to rescue people.

How to work against this:

Remember that asking for help and having people meet your needs is okay. If you don't feel the effort is reciprocated, you may resent your partner. You show up as your best self for the people in your life by feeling like your best self.

You can also work on creating boundaries with people. Start by noticing when you're tired, burnt out, or resentful. Pinpoint the behavior of the other person (or your own) that makes you feel that way.

Then, explain to the person how you're feeling, why you're feeling it, and that the behavior causing your feelings can't continue.

Example: "I'm feeling tired from work today, and I can't come over to help you organize your kitchen."


If you struggle with feeling insecure and overthinking when you date, check out my free dating anxiety journal prompts.

If you want to move towards feeling confident and secure when looking for love, grab your copy of my 30-day dating guide, "From Anxious to Secure."

Pin this for later:

if you get anxious on dates, these might come up as self sabotage actions that are keeping you from finding a healthy partnership


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