Subconscious Sabotage...Ever had a feeling someone you were seeing was slightly reckless with your fledgling relationship - but for no good reason? [All names and personal details change for anonymity] Henry, 32, was flummoxed by some of girlfriend Eve’s behaviour over six months together. On the one hand she seemed as into Henry as he was to her. They went out - drinks, dinner, films - three, or four times a week.
Those nights were special and Henry was smitten. But at times Eve, 33, acted inexplicably. She'd "accidentally" double-book herself and it was a panic waiting to see if she could extricate herself from seeing the second person. Or Eve would drop plans at the last minute on a Friday claiming exhaustion. Henry was mystified as her weeks were highly structured as a radiographer. So why should one week be more exhausting than another and why only "discover" this exhaustion at the last minute?
Henry drew a hesitant conclusion that Eve might be jeopardising their relationship. But he also had this contradictory feeling that she didn't seem to realise it. How could someone jeopardise a relationship without realising it, he wondered?
I suggested that some subconsciously sabotage a relationship, that otherwise seems to be going well and the penny dropped. His gut feeling was right. I explained that a person like Eve usually won't acknowledge they’re doing this until they’re challenged to explain their behaviour. And they do this because, say, their feelings are ambivalent, they're not quite ready to commit, or they're insecure and don't know how to discuss such things.
Instead of taking a niggling-her approach when she sabotaged plans - that Eve laughed off - I suggested he instigate a classic where-do-you-think-this-relationship’s-going chat. He was to highlight what's been good and that he cares for her, followed by gentle challenging over these incidents. Henry didn't get the answer he wanted as Eve was ambivalent towards the relationship but he did get an answer. And that was better than feeling sabotaged.
An edited version of this was published in The Times