7 signs you’re subconsciously holding yourself back from falling in love

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Ever felt like love is a puzzle you just can’t solve, no matter how hard you try? 

Trust me, I’ve been there — staring at the ceiling at night, wondering why it seems so easy for others but so complicated for me. 

The truth I had to face? Sometimes, the only thing standing between us and love is, well, us. 

In this article, let’s explore the 7 signs that you might be subconsciously holding yourself back from falling head over heels, and how to finally let love in. 

Because you deserve to experience the joy and wonder love can bring.

1) You’re still stuck on your ex

I’ll admit it — I’ve been in this situation before, without even realizing it. 

There was this incredible guy, attentive and kind, who showed a genuine interest in getting to know me. But instead of diving in, I hesitated. Why? 

Deep down, I was still clinging to the idea that my ex might come back into my life

Sure, I told myself I was over him, but who was I kidding? Every song on the radio, every familiar place, took me back to “us.” 

Here’s the hard truth: if your ex isn’t a part of your life anymore, and you find yourself dedicating even a sliver of your thoughts to them, you’re not fully over them. 

And that emotional limbo you’re in? It’s like a hidden barricade, keeping new love at arm’s length. 

When you find yourself stuck in the past, you’re also holding yourself back from a future that could be full of love and happiness.

2) You self-sabotage

We’ve all heard that little voice in our heads whispering doubts just when things start to go well. That voice isn’t just annoying — it can be a love life saboteur. 

Self-sabotage is the emotional equivalent of tripping yourself just as you’re about to cross the finish line of a race you’ve always wanted to win. But why would we do that to ourselves? 

Well, for some, self-sabotage is a defense mechanism — a way to protect oneself from the emotional vulnerability that love demands. 

For others, it might be rooted in past heartbreaks, betrayals, or even childhood experiences that have taught them love is conditional, unreliable, or even dangerous. 

It’s important to remember that if you’re engaging in self-sabotage, you’re not alone and it’s not because you’re flawed. 

It’s a survival strategy that your emotional system thinks is helping you — but it’s time to teach it some new tricks. 

Understanding that you’re self-sabotaging is the first step to letting go of these old habits and opening your heart to the love you truly deserve.

3) You’re afraid of being vulnerable

Ah, vulnerability — the very thing that makes love so beautiful and yet so terrifying. 

I’ve grappled with this one myself. The root of my struggle? Low self-esteem. 

I found myself convinced that if someone really got to know me, the ‘real me,’ they’d no longer find me appealing. So, I’d put up walls, give half-answers, and steer away from conversations that required me to reveal my true self.

Being afraid to be vulnerable often comes from a place of not feeling good enough

We worry that showing our authentic selves will lead to rejection, so we put on an emotional armor to protect us from the imagined hurt. 

But what we’re really doing is robbing ourselves of the opportunity for deep, meaningful love — the kind that accepts and celebrates you, flaws and all. 

Conquering this fear starts with acknowledging it, and gradually letting your true self be seen. Because believe me, you are more than worthy of a love that knows and embraces the real you.

4) You have a cynical view of love

Sometimes, life events can make love seem like nothing more than a fairytale — an illusion that people chase but never really find. 

If you find yourself nodding, know that it’s understandable to feel this way. Perhaps you grew up in a home where love was a battle, not a partnership. 

Or maybe you experienced heart-wrenching breakups that left you feeling as though love is a scam, a bait-and-switch that promises happiness but delivers only pain.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that this cynical perspective on love can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

When you believe that love is doomed, you inadvertently contribute to that doom by making poor choices in partners or by not fully investing in your relationships

The good news? You have the power to change this narrative. There are countless happy couples out there, living proof that love can be beautiful, enduring, and real. And you, too, can have that kind of love. 

It starts with choosing to believe in it again, and being willing to invest in a relationship with the care, commitment, and optimism it deserves.

5) You’re always busy

If your calendar is always packed and you find yourself saying, “I just don’t have time for dating right now,” it might be worth pausing to consider why that is. 

Love, like any worthwhile venture, demands time and emotional availability. If you’re swamped with commitments, the underlying reason might not just be that you’re ‘too busy.’ 

Instead, you might be filling up your time as a way to avoid the vulnerability and emotional investment that come with a romantic relationship.

Being busy isn’t inherently bad, of course. Perhaps you’re focused on career growth or personal development, which are important pursuits. 

But if part of you longs for a romantic connection and you find that you’re chronically unavailable, it might be time to ask yourself if you’re subconsciously sidelining love. 

Making room in your life for a new relationship might mean rearranging priorities, but the rewards could be well worth the effort.

6) You prioritize perfection

Are you someone who’s been waiting, maybe for years, for that ‘perfect’ partner? You know, the one who’s got it all — looks, brains, career, and even the same hobbies as you? 

While having standards is important, there’s a fine line between having preferences and holding out for an unattainable ideal. Reality check: no one is perfect. And guess what? Neither are we. 

Chasing this dream of the ‘perfect’ mate can blind you to the potential partners right in front of you. 

These are real people, with their own quirks and flaws, who can offer you authentic love, companionship, and emotional support. 

Sometimes the best things in life aren’t scripted or planned. Love often arrives in the most unexpected packages, from directions you hadn’t even considered. 

So if you find yourself dismissing potential love interests because they don’t meet every criterion on your list, it might be time to reassess. 

7) You overthink everything

Oh, the mind is a powerful thing, isn’t it? It can convince us of all sorts of things — including reasons why love might not work out. 

If you find yourself dissecting every text, replaying interactions, and worrying about hidden meanings, it’s likely that you’re not giving love the emotional soil it needs to grow. 

Love is often more about feeling than thinking. Sure, a balanced relationship needs both, but overthinking can rob you of the beautiful spontaneity and trust that make love so special.

Why do we do this? Sometimes it’s a defense mechanism. By overanalyzing, we feel like we’re in control of a situation that is inherently unpredictable. 

It’s as if we think we can ‘logic’ our way into or out of love. But love doesn’t work that way. It thrives in moments of vulnerability, in the irrational and inexplicable, in the leaps of faith that defy reason.

So the next time you find yourself overthinking a budding relationship, take a step back. Ask yourself: What am I so afraid of? Am I giving this relationship the emotional space it needs to unfold naturally? 

Love is often a gamble, but it’s one worth taking. Put aside the calculative thoughts for a bit and let your heart lead the way.

Breaking free and opening your heart to love

If you’ve been nodding along as you read this article, recognizing some of these 7 signs in yourself, know that you’re not alone. 

Many of us subconsciously hold ourselves back from the joy and fulfillment that love can bring into our lives. 

It’s often easier to stay within the boundaries of our comfort zones, even when those zones are actually keeping us from the happiness we deserve.

The good news is, it’s never too late to break free. Whether you’re stuck on an ex, sabotaging potential relationships, or overthinking every interaction, remember that self-awareness is the first step toward change. 

The journey to love starts with you — by accepting yourself, flaws and all, and being willing to open your heart even if it means risking pain. 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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