I sabotage all my relationships

-- Question for John --

Every time I feel that I am close to someone or someone wants to get close to me, I panic and do something to let them down. I sabotage all my relationships. Now there is someone I like, but I keep hurting him as much I want to be with him. In the past I’ve never been hurt, and my favorite joy was to keep hurting people I knew they wanted me for a relationship, and play with their feelings. What should I do?

-- Answer from John --

My first guess is that this pattern — based on fear — was setup somehow from your past — probably in childhood. It actually is rather normal for most people to have fears from childhood that keep them from fully exploring intimacy in adulthood. Your case may be fairly intense, but is as open to positive transformation as any. It would initially benefit you to examine the source of this fear — whether from childhood or anywhere else. This might be assisted by a counselor — or by dedicated reading of appropriate books.

The next and more vital step is to commit yourself to transforming this pattern. This may include healing old wounds that result in these current fears — and building up your courage in the present moment, no matter where the fears come from, to explore the vulnerable side of yourself and open to positive intimacy.

The ability to build that kind of courage is not so much a matter of forceful “strength” — but is rather a product of the inner strength that results from you learning that you can care for and soothe your own innermost feelings like fear and hurt.

In that regard, the strongest thing you might do is to immediately start learning how to do this.