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with Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., MFT

6 Self-Sabotaging Patterns That Can Keep You From Finding Love

If you are seeking true love but have yet to find it, ask yourself whether you may unwittingly be putting roadblocks in your path.

Here are six self-defeating patterns in romance:

1) Believing that romance is scarce

Believing that all the good prospects are taken, or that finding romance is a long shot, can leave you feeling hopeless, cynical or helpless. As a result you may overlook potential opportunities or choose a relationship out of desperation.

What to do instead: Cultivate an outlook of abundance. In truth, finding the love of your life has never been easier. There are more single people than ever and more ways to meet them than ever. More than 250 million people this year will fall in love and begin a relationship. You can, too. There are millions of wonderful, available single people. You only need to meet one.

2) Viewing a relationship as a matter of survival

You may desire a healthy love but you do not need a partner to survive. When finding a relationship feels like a life-or-death proposition we may hunt desperately and choose unwisely. A survival mindset, especially accompanied by a scarcity mindset, can effectively block finding love or make the search especially tedious or painful. Feeling in survival mode often stems from a lack of self-acceptance. When you accept yourself with or without a partner, you are more likely to find a healthy relationship — and have fun in the search.

What to do instead: Give up your survival mindset. Recognize that you are lovable and sufficient with or without a partner. There are many ways to experience loving and being loved, including with friends, family members, pets and, perhaps most importantly, in your relationship with yourself. Having healthy non-romantic relationships and a healthy self-love both help draw healthier people to you. Healthy self-love along with a solid support system also put you on more solid ground once you find a relationship.

3) Pursuing unavailable people

If you have been drawn to unavailable, avoidant or inappropriate partners, there may have been hidden reasons.

Perhaps it’s a way of hedging your bets. If intimacy is frightening, it may feel easier to love an unavailable person. You get some feelings of love but avoid having to take the risk of being “all in” with an authentic love — which could hurt to lose. Pursuing unavailable people can also stem from feeling not good enough.

What to do instead: Recognize that “The One,” by definition, will want you. If someone doesn’t want a relationship with you, they are not the right person for you.

If someone is unwilling, unavailable or consistently sending mixed signals, you deserve better. Pursuing love and happiness are among your birthrights. You are unlikely to find love or happiness in relationships until you allow appropriate and available people into your life.

4) Ignoring your intuition

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people tell me that they walked down the aisle on their wedding day knowing it was a mistake. Their intuition was trying to tell them something but they ignored or rationalized it away. Not surprisingly, few of those relationships lasted. Many were a prescription for misery.

What to do instead: Hold your intuition as a gift worth listening to. Ignoring your intuition dishonors you. It can lead you to waste time and hurt yourself and others. Your intuition is priceless. Rather than ignoring your intuition, use it to help guide you to a healthy love. If something doesn’t feel right, talk with your partner, trusted friends, and/or seek therapy to clarify what you are feeling.

5) Settling

Settling for an unsatisfying relationship or incompatible partner often stems from feeling unlovable or fear of being alone. Yet staying in an unsatisfying or empty relationship keeps you from moving on to find a healthier relationship and partner.

What to do instead: Don’t settle. You deserve more than someone who is “better than nothing.” You won’t be happy for long if you settle. Settling can rob you of time, health and love. If you are in a relationship that is going nowhere, take the leap. Seeking someone you really desire and are compatible with is worth the time and effort.

6) Falling in love with love

Instant love works in Hollywood films but is often based on falling in love with love rather than falling in love with an actual person. If your overriding goal is to be in love, you may be so enamored by the heady feelings in an early relationship that you don’t get to know who the other person is or whether he or she is a good match.

Falling in love with love can happen in an instant and requires no cooperation from another person. But it is not real and rarely endures. Real love takes two people, and takes time to develop and cultivate.

What to do instead: Go for the real thing. Even if it may take time, falling in love with a person rather than with a fantasy of perfect love will bring far more contentment. Your time will come.

romance photo

Copyright © Dan Neuharth PhD MFT


Man looking for love by Pretty Vectors
Woman with mannequin by LightFieldStudios
Sunset couple by Dimitrisvetsikas

6 Self-Sabotaging Patterns That Can Keep You From Finding Love

Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., MFT

Dan Neuharth, PhD, is a marriage and family therapist and best-selling author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has more than 25 years’ experience providing individual, couples and family therapy. Dr. Neuharth is the author of If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. He writes two blogs for PsychCentral: Love Matters and Narcissism Decoded. He is licensed as a marriage and family therapist in California, Florida, Texas and Virginia. His website:

Please note: Dr. Neuharth's posts are for information and educational purposes only. These posts are not intended to be therapy or professional psychotherapeutic advice, and are not a replacement for psychotherapy. I cannot give psychotherapeutic advice about your individual situation outside of a therapist-client relationship. The posting of these blogs and the information therein does not constitute the formation of a therapist-client relationship. Please consult your physician or mental health provider for individual advice or support for your health and well-being. If you are in crisis, please call your local 24-hour crisis or mental health hotline or dial 911.

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APA Reference
Neuharth, D. (2019). 6 Self-Sabotaging Patterns That Can Keep You From Finding Love. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jul 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.