#5: Self-Destructive

Posted on July 9, 2013


Woman in casino playing cards

As a general rule, people who destroy themselves usually have no qualms about destroying the lives and relationships of others. I want you to remember that the next time you’re tempted to save someone who is intent on destroying himself.

Does the self-destructive person need help? Yes. Does the self-destructive person need love and empathy? Of course. This is why we get involved with them, isn’t it? Because we see how awesome they are and we’re hoping that we, somehow and in some way, can fix what’s wrong.

But the person who destroys him or herself is too overwhelmed and consumed with personal pain to form a healthy relationship.

A person who destroys him or herself will destroy you, too, because self-destruction is, in essence, self-centered. The drug addict will steal from you in order to get another hit. The alcoholic will lie to you in order to sneak another drink. The gambler will spend all of your money because he convinces himself he can win it back. The demons there are big and out of control.

Down here, in Georgia, I see a lot of bumper stickers that say, “Jesus Saves.” Regardless of your religious leanings (or lack thereof), it’s not your job nor your place to play Jesus. It’s not your job to save anyone.

Addiction centers exist. Fantastic therapists exist. Hotlines exist. There are plenty of resources available for a person who is self-destructive and wants to get help.

But convince yourself that you’re all the help this person needs, and the self-destructive person will take you down with them. This is why I tell my clients to stay away from any new relationship with a person who shows signs of being self-destructive.

If you’re in a deep, long-term relationship with someone who is self-destructive, I would highly advise you to get advice from a professional counselor on how you can support your loved one while maintaining the boundaries you need. This is a tricky and complex process that I’m not professionally trained in, so I’ll refrain from giving advice if this is the case.

A new relationship, however, is much easier to walk away from. Just like all of the other warning signs we’ve discussed this summer, signs of self-destruction are red flags. May you heed the warning.