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← Why do we sabotage love? | Raquel Peel | TEDxJCUCairns

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Showing Revision 18 created 02/14/2019 by Mirjana Čutura.

  1. Why do we sabotage love?
  2. The saying goes, "Love is grand,"
  3. so it seems strange that many of us
    set out to sabotage it.
  4. As it stands, there is a distinct
    lack of knowledge to explain
  5. why some people having successfully
    initiated a relationship,
  6. embark upon what appears to be
    a path to destruction.
  7. They meet that great person,
  8. then they find faults, become untrusting,
  9. and assume the relationship will end,
    without much evidence.
  10. People seem to pull the plug
    on a relationship too quickly
  11. as things become serious or difficult,
  12. no matter how perfect
    the potential partner might be.
  13. Is this you?
  14. Or maybe someone you know?
  15. Perhaps it's the person sitting
    right next to you.
  16. Well, I suspect there
    are a lot of people out there
  17. who are or have been
    a romantic self-saboteur.
  18. And that is why I've decided to pursue
    a PhD on this very topic.
  19. So yes, that is a bit of a journey.
  20. To understand self-sabotage
    in romantic relationships,
  21. I have conducted two studies.
  22. In the first study, I interviewed
    psychologists from all over Australia
  23. who specialize in romantic relationships.
  24. I really wanted to understand
    what self-sabotage looks like in practice.
  25. After months of interviews,
    I came to one conclusion:
  26. people do tend to behave
    in similar ways or patterns
  27. as they move from
    one relationship to the next.
  28. In the second study,
  29. I wanted to understand how people
    in relationships behaved and why.
  30. So, to that end,
  31. I surveyed over 600 people
    from all over the globe.
  32. My participants varied in age,
    cultural background,
  33. and sexual orientation,
  34. but yet they answered
    in very similar ways.
  35. So, from those interviews and surveys,
    I have compiled a list of behaviors
  36. which are very destructive
    in a relationship.
  37. Four of these behaviors stood out
  38. as they have been previously identified
  39. by a well-known psychologist
    and researcher, John Gottman.
  40. These are criticism, defensiveness,
    contempt, and stonewalling.
  41. He calls this "The Four Horsemen
    of the Apocalypse."
  42. How fitting.
  43. So these might tell you how someone
    might sabotage a relationship.
  44. As to the why, it seems that people
    sabotage relationships
  45. for one main reason:
    to protect themselves.
  46. That makes sense;
    that is a valid way to be.
  47. So, there you have it - you now know
    what sabotage looks like in relationships,
  48. how it might be done, and why.
  49. But hold on, things are never that simple.
  50. I suspect there is a lot more
    to why people sabotage love.
  51. So, what I'd like to do today
  52. is to walk you through
    some of the responses
  53. from people in my study.
  54. When asked to explain
  55. why they can't maintain
    successful, long-term relationship,
  56. this is what my participants have said.
  57. Take this one:
    female participant, age 25.
  58. "I am always afraid
    it's not going to work
  59. or I am going to get hurt."
  60. Another example:
    this male participant, age 41.
  61. "I have a fear of getting hurt
    by being the one broken up with."
  62. Now, we know that people
    who are motivated to self-protect
  63. tend to have difficulties
    with self-esteem.
  64. Self-esteem is how we perceive ourselves
    and our own self-worth,
  65. but this concept is highly validated
    by social interactions.
  66. Let me show you another example:
  67. this female participant, age 34.
  68. "I avoid people who like me.
  69. I think there is something
    wrong with them."
  70. (Laughter)
  71. People with self-esteem difficulties
  72. will self-sabotage
    because they experience fret.
  73. Again, they do it to protect themselves.
  74. So overall,
  75. self-saboteurs hold
    insecure views of themselves,
  76. others, and relationships.
  77. And this is usually due to having had
    difficult relationships in the past,
  78. growing up, say, with their parents,
    peers, or romantic partners.
  79. This is really tough to escape,
  80. and for self-saboteurs,
    this is even harder.
  81. I have another example:
    male participant, age 35.
  82. "My high expectations of people
  83. hold me back from maintaining
    a successful relationship."
  84. Now let me tell you,
    the way people choose to self-sabotage
  85. will be uniquely tailored
    by their past experiences,
  86. but no matter how unique,
  87. their journey is often met
    with a twist of fate.
  88. People who regularly self-sabotage
  89. will finally become
    a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  90. So they tell themselves
    they cannot do a task.
  91. Their claims will translate
    their performance into real outcomes.
  92. It's like staring into a crystal ball,
    knowing exactly what's going to happen.
  93. I have more examples:
  94. female participant, age 25.
  95. "I put myself in relationships
    which are doomed to fail from the start
  96. as I have fear of being abandoned."
  97. Another female participant, age 25.
  98. "I know that me trying to maintain
    a distance like that
  99. is one of the reasons
    my relationships always fail."
  100. I have countless examples just like this,
  101. but one of them is actually standing
    right in front of you.
  102. Hello, my name is Raquel.
  103. I am a recovering romantic self-saboteur.
  104. This is a photo of me in my hometown,
    Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.
  105. Before meeting my husband,
  106. I found myself in a pattern
    of self-sabotage.
  107. After years of studying
    psychology and researching,
  108. I now know that it could be
    because I was abandoned at birth
  109. and left for dead at a public hospital.
  110. I spent months at the hospital
  111. because I was premature
    and very, very sick.
  112. But later, I was actually adopted
    by the nurse who took care of me
  113. and her husband, an Air Force surgeon.
  114. So I'm really lucky,
    and I have amazing parents.
  115. But this early life experience shaped me.
  116. I assume that people in a relationship
    with me would eventually leave me.
  117. I also assume that all my relationships
    will fail, without much evidence.
  118. Consequently, I am often thinking
    how best to protect myself,
  119. and I count on the Four Horsemen
    of the Apocalypse to do the job
  120. with criticism, defensiveness,
    contempt, and stonewalling.
  121. Just ask my husband.
  122. (Laughter)
  123. But let me tell you, it doesn't work.
  124. If I have not been able to convince you
    of the irony of self-sabotage just yet,
  125. let me try one more time.
  126. We do what we do to protect ourselves,
    but we get hurt anyway.
  127. Maybe in a less public or obvious way,
    but we get hurt nevertheless.
  128. This whole dynamic is like living
    inside a Sam Smith's song
  129. "Too Good at Goodbyes."
  130. "I'm never gonna let you close to me
    Even though you mean the most to me,
  131. Because every time I open up, it hurts."
  132. Does that sound familiar?
  133. Yes, yes it does.
  134. That was me in relationships.
  135. But the way out of this cycle
    is to actually find safety
  136. in the person that you love.
  137. We need a safe haven to got to
    so we don't have to protect ourselves.
  138. I now have that with my husband.
  139. Let me show you some photos.
    I just couldn't resist.
  140. Isn't he gorgeous?
  141. Yes.
  142. So, a lot of people come to me and ask,
  143. "How did things change to you?
    What happened?"
  144. I have been conducting research
  145. into what works to maintain
    long-term relationships.
  146. So I have combined what I have learned
    into three tips for you.
  147. But before I tell you,
  148. let me just say we should not be pursuing
    every relationship that comes our way.
  149. I would like to tell you
  150. to pursue those relationships
    that have the potential to work -
  151. they are good.
  152. And what's standing in your way
    is just self-sabotage tendencies.
  153. So for those,
  154. tip number one: insight.
  155. Take a really good look at yourself
    and your behaviors in relationships.
  156. Ask yourself:
  157. Are you someone who needs
    a lot of reassurance from your partner?
  158. Are you someone who gets nervous
    when things get too close?
  159. Are you someone who counts on
    the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
  160. to protect you?
  161. If yes, you could be
    a romantic self-saboteur.
  162. But please don't shoot the messenger.
  163. I know these are very
    uncomfortable questions.
  164. I just needed to think about it.
  165. I have told you my reasons
    for wanting to protect myself.
  166. What are yours?
  167. Tip number two: expectation.
  168. Think about your expectations
    of your romantic partners.
  169. Do you expect they should know
    what you are thinking or want
  170. all the time?
  171. Do you get frustrated
  172. when they're not living up
    to your expectations or standards?
  173. Are your expectations even realistic?
  174. And tip number three: collaboration.
  175. We need to figure out
    how to collaborate with our partners
  176. and how even to be vulnerable together.
  177. Are you and your partner in the same team?
  178. Do you talk to your partner
    about your relationship goals?
  179. Do you see you and your partner
    together long-term?
  180. Now, those tips
    are not an overnight solution
  181. or a one-size-fits-all solution.
  182. So it's got to take a lot of work
    and a lot of patience, believe me.
  183. And there might be a lot more
    that you need to implement
  184. than just these three tips.
  185. But this is a good start, okay?
  186. Because after all,
    a lot of what I've talked here today
  187. is nothing new.
  188. What is new is turning
    the lens on yourselves
  189. and starting to figure out
  190. what you can do to maintain
    long-term and healthy relationships.
  191. Change is really hard, but not impossible.
  192. I have been on this journey now
  193. for eight years, eight months,
    two weeks, and three days.
  194. So, if you are someone who needs
    to break the pattern of self-sabotage,
  195. please be kind on yourselves.
  196. It's natural to want to protect yourself,
  197. but the way out of it is to have insight
    into who you are in a relationship,
  198. your expectations
    of your romantic partners,
  199. and how best to collaborate with them.
  200. Because after all, if you know
    who you are in a relationship,
  201. your partner will also have a chance
    to get to know you,
  202. and together you can break
    the pattern of sabotage.
  203. Let me finish by saying this:
  204. love will never be easy,
  205. but without self-sabotage,
    it is a lot more reachable, believe me.
  206. Thank you.
  207. (Applause)