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This Is How You Lose Him: 6 Behaviours Of The Self-Sabotaging Woman In Relationships

Stephen Hussey

Most women intuitively understand that no guy can be manipulated, emotionally cajoled, or Jedi mind-tricked into staying in a relationship.

Yet at a subconscious level, men and women will engage in all kinds of behaviours to plug up their insecure fears that one day their partner might suddenly stop loving them, or run off with someone else, or decide to retire to a Tibetan monastery, scrub pots and remain celibate for the rest of their days.

But any of these possibilities could happen at any moment.

Our partner has to not only choose to stay once, but keep choosing to remain with us every single day.

So naturally some people get insecure at this thought and wonder “How can I make him stay, and make sure he won’t leave?”

If this is the question you’re asking, you just might not be mature enough for an emotionally healthy relationship yet.

People who attempt to ‘lock’ their partner in only end up sabotaging the relationship with their behaviour.

They either:

(a) Force the guy away (and repeat this cycle with every next guy that comes along).

(b) Create a relationship in which their man is filled with constant resentment and a bitterness over her suffocating behaviour.

Or finally, they may get a third option:

(c) End up with a guy as needy and insecure as they are.

The sad thing is, all of these possibilities can be avoided.

But to do that, you have to detect where you’re going wrong first.

Here’s a checklist of behaviours the self-sabotaging woman engages in that drives guys away:

1. She finds subtle ways to pull him away from his friends

Examples She runs his friends down, shows jealousy any time he hangs out with them, or suddenly gets in a pouty mood when he tells her how much fun he had on a night out with them.

If you push him from his friends, you’ll isolate him socially on a rock where it’s just you and him.

For a while that can feel comfortable. Then quickly it becomes annoying. Then suffocating. After enough months on ‘couple island’ with not a friend in sight, most guys will choose to throw themselves back in the ocean.

2. She gives him less love when he achieves success

ExamplesWhen he gets success, she tells him he’s ‘changing’ in a bad way, or that he’s too driven by money, or she becomes less loving towards him, acts insecure and worries excessively about him leaving.

Any of this controlling behaviour sets up a dangerous dichotomy in his head, where he thinks it’s a choice between his girlfriend and his career.

It’s not always the case that he’ll choose the career, of course, but the smart person in a relationship knows that when their partner does well, it’s important to celebrate “our success”, not resent “his success”.

Take the ride together, and no-one has to fear being left behind.

3. She tries to be placed before his family ALL THE TIME

Examples – You act personally affronted because he’s chosen to see his parents for a weekend, or get in a mood when he chooses to spend a holiday with his siblings.

If a guy is close with his family, and you become someone who threatens that, the family will notice fast. And once you turn his family against you, you’ve made some powerful enemies.

Besides, as I mentioned in last week’s post, when you find your partner doesn’t put you first all the time in a relationship, that’s actually a good thing.

4. She alienates him from any other female friendships

ExamplesTreating every other woman in his life, whether she’s taken or not, as a threat who needs to be pushed into the background as soon as possible. Interrogating him about any female who speaks to him. Acting overly suspicious.

If you make him think he has to sneak around or explain himself for spending any time in female company, he’s going to feel controlled and resentful.

I’m not saying all men are saints (nor all women for that matter) in the department of loyalty, but if you feel the need to cut off a partner’s friendships with the opposite sex, it either means he’s not a good enough guy for you to trust him (in which case, you have a big problem already), or you have issues trusting him to be loyal (which will only make him bitter towards you).

Be very careful of turning any conversation about his female friends into an interrogation. Take it from a good guy, we hate being made to feel like bad guys.

5. She makes it his responsibility to ‘cure’ her bad moods

ExamplesMaking it his responsibility to get you out of any bad mood and to fix every outstanding emotional, career, and family problem in your life.

It’s nice having that bed of comfort in a relationship, but if you lose the ability to cope with everyday life without him, he’s going to now feel like your 24/7 emotional babysitter.

There’s no bigger killer for romantic connection than feeling like someone is dependent on you in every way. Him wanting you is dependent on your ability to keep a sense of independence and control over your life.

6. She sacrifices her own plans to feel further intertwined with his life 

ExamplesForgoing important career opportunities, letting her own plans fall by the wayside, attempting to only live for him and not follow her own form of success.

Deciding to sacrifice your own plans for someone else is another form of subtly controlling your partner. It’s a way of trying to create a false sense of closeness and feelings of guilt in your partner by attaching yourself to their life, instead of living your own.

You forgoing your own interests in life won’t suddenly make you a bigger part of his. It causes you to lose all the interesting pursuits and facets of your life that made you attractive in the first place.

* * * * * *

Many people find themselves guilty of one or two of the above behaviours without realizing it.

The good news is, as soon as you consciously see these behaviours as the unnecessary and futile attempts to control someone else’s feelings that they are, you won’t feel the need to engage in them anymore.

So basically I’m suggesting that women try WAY less hard to keep their man and live a life so interesting and engaging that they have no time to even give a passing thought to what’s going on in his head.

What’s not to like about that?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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(Photo: Jason Clapps)

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35 Replies to “This Is How You Lose Him: 6 Behaviours Of The Self-Sabotaging Woman In Relationships”

  • Absolutely! If someone’s going to cheat or go they will do it anyway. Better to be so engaging, charismatic, sexy and genuinely just like and want the best for you and them, and together that the thought never enters their head. They are too busy having a good time and feeling support as a proper team.

  • Hi Steve,

    Some of these points remind me of the book, Why Men Love Bitches. I was torn about buying the book, at first, because of the title, but found out that the author used BITCH as an acronym for Babe in total control of herself. Being independent, taking responsibility for your own emotional experience, and wanting to be with a man because he brings value to your life, as opposed to needing him because you cannot live without him, are all points that she goes into detail about. I have been wanting to read it again! It is a fun read. :)

    These also remind me of codependent and abusive relationships. They would definitely become suffocating after a while. A person who is confident and secure will not want to waste their time in a relationship where the other person is forcing them to make him/her the only priority. That would be a boring, and dangerous life to lead. That being said, I have seen it happen all too often, as some of the greatest human desires are feeling wanted, and as though they belong. We bring all of our emotional baggage into our relationships with us, and so many things are unconsciously done that it is difficult to realize unless you can take a step back, and be objective, or have an outside eye reporting back.

    Thanks for sparking another dive into my psyche, this lovely morning!

    I hope you are well.


    1. Agreed Arianna, there are many good points in that book. Definitely worth checking out.

      I think there’s to much romanticizing of ‘obsessive’ and ‘intense’ relationships, which, like you say, are based on too much dependence and an unhealthy focus on one thing (the relationship), instead of giving the relationship its place amongst your other priorities as well.

      All best,


      1. If you haven’t read it, I would recommend it! I did a critical analysis of it a few years ago. Sherry talks about how the amount of value a woman sees in herself is projected outward, and breaks the book up with a bunch of “attraction principles”! It is an interesting layout. Definitely of the “pop psychology” genre. That being said, like a lot of dating books, one must use caution when proceeding. I don’t think that dating advice should be doled out in a one size fits all manner, but I understand that it can be difficult to avoid. It is nice take what resonates, and leave the rest. It is worth it simply for gathering ideas and quotes!

  • Steve,

    I have had a past boyfriend do this to me and I didn’t realize how isolated I was from my friends until I broke up with him since he cheated. I wonder if the ones most tempted to cheat are more insecure and are thus more suspicious about their partner?

    I used to have a friend who literally embodies most of your points. She hopes between boyfriends like crazy. Each time thinking she is going to marry that guy and eventually she pushes him away.

    1. I think you’re right, it’s partially true that untrustworthy people are less capable of trusting. But I also think jealousy can just come from being insecure in yourself and not feeling like you’re enough, so it doesn’t always mean it’s because you’re a cheater yourself.

      Thanks for commenting!


  • Many men do this too and it is best to leave people like this alone. Not surprisingly, insecure people are often the ones who cheat more or behave badly. Insecurity is a big killer in relationships and life too.

    I agree with all these points generally. But the female friendships and the putting family or career first can get a little tricky.

    Ideally, a couple would both have friends of the opposite sex and good relations with their families. Friends and family are both important and a relationship doesn’t come first all the time. When two people are in a healthy and balanced relationship, neither feels the need to spend ALL their time alone and automatically there is space created for other things–family, friends and careers. And when there is a crisis –a death in the family, a friend in trouble or a career deadline to meet–yes a relationship has to take a backseat temporarily and good partners are always very understanding of that. In fact most of them would make their partners go and help their friend or family and even pitch in themselves.

    But there are some nuances to this.

    What about guys who spend a lot of time *alone* with their female friends that exclude their gf or blow off plans with a gf to spend time with someone else when she is NOT ok with it ( a good gf will be ok with it generally but sometimes not)? This shows a man is not respecting his relationship/gf. It would be a deal breaker for me. I’m not demanding but if my bf left me alone on a night I especially took time out for him to play with his friends or hang out alone with a female friend (without even inviting me) I would be livid and that would be the last I see of him.

    A partner is a partner–friends have their OWN partners for meeting their primary needs and family ties are varied. You may love your cousin but you don’t live with them, raise children with them, build a life together with them. That is why a relationship has to be a priority because there are many aspects to it which you don’t share with anyone else in the world. And while it is important for us to spend time with family and friends–you cannot do it at the EXPENSE of your primary partner.

    Ideally, your primary will have their own life and this will create enough space for both to attend to their respective friends and families. A good partner will be supportive of your friends and family. But if your partner needs you and your friend needs you too–it is not a good idea to blow off your gf for helping that friend. (I’m talking about serious relationships/marriage not temporary casual partners).

    Also, a gf is still a priority over a female friend. Reverse the situation and ask any man if he is willing to be second to a male friend and I bet most men wouldn’t tolerate that. Many men don’t even seem to like their gfs having male friends around–they think they are trying to sleep with the gf. I think friendships with the opposite sex are extremely important but it is equally important to draw clear boundaries–which many men aren’t good at. Also, men tend to get friendzoned with women a lot and so you never know if your bf secretly wants to sleep with at least ONE of his female friends but can’t because SHE isn’t interested in him romantically. THAT is dangerous territory. Attraction can always spark between friends and so you have to be careful. I am not suggesting that a guy drop all his female friends but he will have to put at least some restrictions if he wants a healthy relationship. Prioritizing a female friend over a gf is NOT the way to do it.

    Also, some men have a lot of female friends–even more than male friends and sure that’s fine because some men connect to women better. But to me that sounds really troublesome because this ends up intruding on the romantic relationship simply because there are SO many women around him. Even if they are all cool and taken–there will always be one or the other secretly hoping and some women aren’t above manipulating men into leaving their gfs. I’m always suspicious of men who need too much female company or are unusually close with their female friends, especially their exes. Now, it is important to be cordial with exes and bitterness is actually worse than friendship but I believe an ex is an ex for a reason and that should be kept firmly in the past.

    I am again not suggesting that men cannot have female friends but it is good to socialize together. I am friends with the partners of my guy friends as well and it is all inclusive. I wouldn’t expect my guy friends to help me out leaving their gfs behind unless it was ok with the gf. Many affairs happen when a married man finds a helpless woman to help whom he prioritizes over his wife.

    Most men don’t even tolerate women putting their careers first–but you seem to suggest that women should be ok with men doing this. If this happens repeatedly–i.e. when you’re stuck with a workaholic–it is bad news. I have not seen a *single* relationship where a man has been ok with a woman staying late to work at *his* expense. They may not break up but there are always fights.

    I think each situation has to be taken case by case and though you say that relationships are a priority 95% of the time–it depends on the type of time!! If a guy blew off his sick wife/gf when she needed him to go drinking with his buddies–because, you know, a guy needs his fun time and he can’t be with her ALL the time–um..that would be a problem according to me.

    Anyway, I am not suggesting that if a guy behaves like this, the solution is to snoop on him, suffocate him, or display any of the behaviors mentioned above. No, that is not only equally bad behavior but it doesn’t work!

    The thing to do this to let guys like this GO. For ever. He wants to hang out with his female friend *instead* of you ?–sure, let him go and spend ALL his time with her, every evening. Make it easier for him and just drop out and find a guy who actually wants to spend time with you even when his best friend from college is around that you end up pushing him to go see her or invite her home for dinner. Or a guy who will spend time with both of you together so you can all have fun.

    1. Hi Kish,

      Very interesting points you raise here.

      The female friend one is a *very* tricky area, I agree. The point I was trying to make is that actively trying to alienate him from healthy friendships with women is a sign of a toxic jealousy that will only make you see you as insecure and controlling, making him long to be free again. I totally agree with you that guys should always put their girlfriend over other female friends, so that is the rule of thumb to follow. But neither of you should feel like you must sneak around to hang out casually with members of the opposite sex, or feel as though any time you do an interrogation will follow.

      It’s a fascinating topic though, possibly the subject of a future blog posts, since this idea of having girl/guy friends is a very sensitive issue in relationships, and people have very different rules about it in my experience.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Steve x

  • Hello Stephen, thank u for your amazing articles. It has helped me a lot, I v become a new version of myself. Can I ask a question? How can I get my boyfriend complement me,?(in a polite way)

  • Hi Stephen,
    I don’t know if my question will be a little off topic, but I wanted to know something. Here’s the thing: I am usually a friendly person with everyone until it comes to those situations where someone makes it really obvious that he is interested in you.I’ve met a guy that was trying to approach me with the help of his friends, and I acted quite cool because I didn’t like the fact that he was looking for his friends to help him. I was not interested and quite on my own for a while, but since I’ve been speaking to him and liked him a bit more I had hoped that a little chat would have helped. I still see he is interested but doesn’t make a move,as to wait for mine.I am shy in these situations where everything is very obvious because whatever I do I am afraid to show too much of my thoughts. Is there anything I could do to let him know that I am interested but still want him to make an effort and chase me?

    1. OMG! I’ve had the same problem before and wasn’t able to solve it. It just came to an impasse and the guys never ended up asking me out. A few tips I’ve learned are
      –you could flirt with him a bit more to show him you are interested in him romantically. (I have NO idea how to do this myself but apparently, teasing, joking, laughing, light touching, smiling, lots of eye contact and being a little more friendly compared to other guys can help).
      –some women just outright go and say–here’s my no. if you’d like to call or something else equally direct.
      –some women resort to dropping hints though I am not sure if this works. You could tell your friends to let him know that you are interested. Friends will usually help out in such situations.

      Just keep talking to him–talk more, share more. Keep the gates open. Who knows he might walk in.

      Frankly speaking, I get really put off when guys behave like this and use friends or indirect methods to approach the girl. I could never feel gut level respect for a guy like this. I’d much rather have a guy risk things and ask me directly. At least that way I will respect him, if he is genuinely nice and polite and who knows–attraction can really grow sometimes. Unfortunately, usually players have the confidence to just ask a girl out without any ‘help’.

  • “Our partner has to not only choose to stay once, but keep choosing to remain with us every single day. So naturally some people get insecure at this thought and wonder ‘How can I make him stay, and make sure he won’t leave?’ If this is the question you’re asking, you just might not be mature enough for an emotionally healthy relationship yet.”

    > I FAVOURITE THIS SO HARD. I feel like you could basically just say that and then stop talking, end of story. But I guess that wouldn’t make for a very lively blog, would it. ;)

  • Hey Steve. .i like it…8.5 on 10…i have some..esp the last one :o if I love soneone_ I may go to any extend to show I ll be there for them ..i realise there’s no need for that now. ..Thank God I’m learning new things from you.:)..can u write a topic where we can express the feelings in the above 6 situations…what words to say..in such cases…so. that it brings us closer to him …we express still the outcome is closeness. .is that possible? Being honest and authentic about how we feel? I hope u get what I mean; )

  • I was thinking about this article an hour ago ;) having my own space is quite attractive. I was assessing myself in the office if i am doing the right thing- and yes, i feel like i am on the right track…or am i? Hahaha- but i think, i am now a better version of who i was yesterday…the guy i will be ending up with would really be lucky ;) lol
    Thanks for reposting this article team! it feels good to be refreshed…and yes, hands down to stephen, you are a master;)kudos!

  • Hi Stephen
    This is a really interesting and well-considered article. I’ve been putting Matthew’s tips into practice for a while now since going on a women’s weekend, but I’ve noticed that having a full social life, friends, hobbies, and a successful career, whilst initially making me attractive to men, has ended up making them resent me and at worst, feel jealous. I’ve been careful to ensure I spend time with a man but not drop my friends, hobbies or work to accommodate him all the time, but for some reason, this isn’t working for me. I get put on a pedestal at the start of a relationship and the man seems to think I’m the most wonderful and interesting person he’s ever met, yet a few weeks or a couple of months in, he resents me for the very same qualities. It would be useful to hear your point of view on this…

    1. I guess in the beginning you’re fascinating to other people and they enjoy your company. Maybe you act different than other people they know do. But after a while they see things you have and they don’t. And that makes them resentful.

  • Hi Stephen,

    My boyfriend has mostly female friends, most of whom he slept with last year (before we met). There are at least 5 of them who text him regularly (like weekly), some others that contact him less often, and he responds and chats with them because he wants to maintain the friendships. IT ANNOYS ME TO NO END, but I don’t want to push him away by being the insecure, controlling girlfriend.

    He says that he realizes some of them are probably hoping to get together with him again, but he ignores it, because it doesn’t matter – he’s in love with me. I know that is true, but these girls are driving me insane. How should I deal with it?

    1. From a guys perspective, despite sleeping with those girls he ended up choosing you. At the end of the day, he comes home to you. Something about you that he finds very attractive and lovable that he chose to be with you and NOT the other girls. Subtle jeaoulsy is sexy but make sure it stays subtle. Make your ground firm: say telling him you don’t know how you would handle cheating or if you could stay in a relationship when your partner cheat” but trust that he loves and respects you enough that he wouldn’t do it. And if he does, then maybe he’s NOT the guy for you. Cuz wether you restraint him or not, a cheater will find a way to cheat.

  • Haha, that’s funny. I did none of the above and still lost him ^^

    1)When he wanted to go out and have fun with his buddies or brother and buddies, I tell him to have fun and enjoy the night. 2)When he told me about getting a scholarship to pursue his career in becoming a pilot, I was genuinely happy for him and told him so. In fact whenever he tells me he’s stressed about work, I listened and cheered him up with a picture of him as a pilot and that the hard work will pay off.

    3)He loves his mom and brother. Everytime he wants to spend time with them I encourage it and ask him to enjoy his time. I love to listen to him talk about his family, they are kinda funny at times, in a good way. Alas I didn’t get the chance to meet them.

    4)I don’t really care if he has female friends, just like he doesn’t care that I have male friends. Friends are just that, friends/good company. I trust him and besides, I know how to make him happiest anyways :P

    5)I know its not his responsibility to ‘cure’ my mood. When I am down, I tell him I need a little space to fix it myself. But if I’m down because of him, I tell him why I was upset and then after logically discussing I’m okay.

    6)I don’t forgo my interests in order be further intertwined in his life. I go for shopping, with or without him. If he wants to spend time with me when I am studying, I ask his permission to give me an hour to finish a chapter first and then spend time with him.

    Well I did everything right in this department I think, but still lost him. He broke up with me a year ago saying he has a lot to deal with right now and his family won’t approve a catholic girl. I’m still grieving over it to the point of near numbness. Lol just amusing

      1. You need to let the pain in your heart go. If you are meant to be together, he will come back. But at this time, you need to focus on yourself and what makes you happy. If you are not meant to be together, he made room for the one that will truly be yours and match your devotion.

    1. it seems that he was not for you. I’m also catholic and my faith and traditions are 100% part of me. Who loves me has to love also that. Don’t worry and be happy NOW coz we are meant for that :)

  • I had fun reading this, my ex-boyfriend was all of these, except maybe 6. Anyways. Great article to read not only for females, but everyone who is in relationship. :)

  • This is a really great post. Its interesting how one can drive a man away with certain behaviors without even noticing it. Which, in turn, will lead women asking themselves the question: ‘Why did he leave me?’.

  • Stephen ,

    Now I find my self having 2 of the 6 problems mentioned above , but you didn’t mention how to fix it ?
    My problem is him hanging out with his “single friends” I feel uncomfortable on what they do when they are together , his single friends are looking for a mate so how does that look when they are together with their guy friend who is already married ? How can I fix that issue of feeling this type of way? I do trust him ( in a way ).

    2nd . I always question him with the “females” this is a really big issue for me , he works with females and I am unsure what goes on while they are at work . How can I stop controlling or interrogating in this situation ? What can I do ?

    Please help, this relationship means the world to me .

  • well, it seems like a woman has to work so hard on herself til she finds a man, who respect her flaws. this article only shows that there are things like mental illnesses out there and this is not even mentioned in this article. someone who suffers from depression or other cant life her life all the time in the right way, maybe she cant even try and somehow wishes, that the MAN goes with her through these steps, because right now she just cant make it on her own. Even when a woman knows that right now she is not there yet and really wants to live her life but cant, the man who loves her will stay at her side….just saying…

  • Thank you for this great article. I am guilty of these behaviours, and yes it is not a mature way to live in a relationship. As a women I constantly feel vulnerable when think about raising kids alone. I feel that a man can be free, while a woman has more responsibility and needs to be safe for the sake of the children. We fear of being alone later with the baby or kid. How can I change my way of thinking? I feel strong enough to raise my kid alone, but it is not fair. I am afraid to have more kids. I feel vulnerable. If You would have any suggestion, I would be very thankful.

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