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Aunty Bella: Mr. Relationship Saboteur



Aunty Bella is our agony aunt column on BellaNaija. We launched this column in the early days of BN and periodically feature issues sent in by BN readers. We hope the BN family can offer insightful advice as well.


Dear Aunty Bella,
How do I stop sabotaging potential relationships?

I am a dude staring 30 in the eye who’s addicted to my personal space/single-ness/being alone. I am not ugly by most scale (over 6′ tall), not particularly uninteresting, and quite matured mentally. You know that one guy that the guys (even though they are all older than I am) run to for relationship and everything else-related advice; that one guy you like talking to in your fiancé’s clique who seems more mature than the rest? Well, I am that dude, I think.

My best friends are tired of hooking me up, many ladies are tired of flirting with me, I am tired of my own unresponsiveness. I am not gay. Though I love being independent, I am an amazing team player (I have been told). I carry my own weight and can help you with yours. I am part of many people’s support system. I see missions through, so I don’t think it’s commitment issues. I don’t sleep around either. The only thing I remember was being told to face my studies as a young teenager, though I don’t think it mattered much because I still flirted with girls aplenty after that. Never goes beyond that though, I sabotage subconsciously if they try to escape this zone. Even now that I have ‘permission’, I’m still not doing anything. In the last couple of years, the urge to be with someone has been getting stronger, the lonely pangs fiercer but still I sabotage.

Is this just a phase? (Though I have been in it all my life plus my heart was never broken) or are there people out there that are/were just like me? I believe the first stage to solving a problem is knowing what it is and I really do not know. I hope I shared enough information to help give an informed opinion.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Horst Petzold 



    December 1, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Stop sabotaging. I hope I understood enough information you shared to help give an informed advice.

    • [email protected]

      December 1, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      I am the female version of this!!! If i didnt know better i would have said i wrote this and changed the sex.
      I recently chased an amazing guy away for no just cause..and i hide under the guise of building a career. I’m the friend everyone gravitates to and talks to. Yes i do crave sometimes to have ‘my person’ and be in a relationship, but when a person starts to get close i unconsciously begin to desire my space and chase them away.
      I’m learning to be more accommodating

  2. MEE

    December 1, 2014 at 11:25 am

    My Dear you do know part of the problem and you have pointed it out, which is great. I am female and a bit like you… while i was in school I was constantly told to focus on my studies and the fear of my parents did it. I would flirt with guys but never allowed it to get serious as I thought they would invade my space and request time that I could not afford to give. I am done with Uni now and my mum keeps asking me about the ‘one’. I still meet men/guys but I have noticed that I still can’t seem to share my space and get tired after a few weeks . After uni most mothers expect marriage. As for me I’m more determined to start and grow a business than marriage at this point. I still have that mentality of focusing on my studies but rather is focusing on my business idea now BUT I am very open now just haven’t found the right person.

    I think you still see these women as a form of distraction, which is not really good. You need to try and re structure your mind and tell yourself you have done well for yourself and need to let go. you do not have to go all in, take baby steps but try as much as possible to get involved or acknowledge someone else or maybe you just haven’t found the ‘one;. The key here is being able to balance your needs. You have always chose yourself and your goals above others, you now have to learn how to put others first.

    • lovable

      December 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      well said

  3. miss rouge

    December 1, 2014 at 11:28 am

    story of my life. how did i overcome it?
    take a leap, find a nice girl who shares your values and just go for it. dont overthink it
    dating is fun even if it doesnt work out, in the end you’l be glad you tried.

  4. Don't Care

    December 1, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Honestly, I don’t think you have a problem. I just think you haven’t met”the one”….yes, i believe in “the one”. Truth is, you’ve accepted that there’s something missing in your life and you’re ready to fill it up. But since it hasn’t been working with the girls you’ve met, it simply means you haven’t met the right person or maybe you’re being to picky. IDK. Anyway, If you’re spiritual, pray about it, look for her and keep an open mind. Good luck

    • AA

      December 1, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      I agree with you……There are some people that fall in and out of love easily, ..I think he’s one of those people that don’t give their hearts easily away, but once they do, It’s really very deep and probably forever….So , I feel there’s nothing wrong with you, Though maybe you need to be more open minded, you have to come out of yourself …I believe in God’s timing, I feel you have not met her yet, …Just keep being the best you, and when it’s time, she will probably work into your life,,, then act o!…Dnt hold back…all the best!

  5. Jo!

    December 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Call me 080…. *wakes up from trance*

    • IsThatWhyWeAreHere?

      December 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm


    • John

      December 1, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      You call me +447559…..388

  6. kilode

    December 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Me feel this na poetry ooo, as i no get the real koko… when you meet the one you will stop sabotaging… shey that advice is inline with the small gist i gather from your write up sha

  7. libak

    December 1, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    you have been able to define urself, your goods, bads and others…now this is a good thing in itself but could be bad…what happens with this is you have excuses about not getting into a serious relationship all the time, telling yourself “this is who I am(citing the long list you have on your head)” anytime issues like that spring up and then you don’t bother. for a week or so, try to clear your definition of yourself from your head, I have been thought that you came to life on a clean slate, why have the wrong stuffs written on it ayt…if you are that serious about getting into a relationship, then write up new stuffs about yourself, not how you think you are but how you should be (relationship wise), read and study it so much, that when you meet some girl, the sabotaging explanation that you have conjured is upturned by this new stuff….it takes time, but love is worth it…i never love ooo but am sure its worth it… i hope this makes sense to you

  8. Adaeze Writes

    December 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Well…it all has to do with the mind. I too faced my studies in school and didn’t really have time for relationships and stuff (my mom was a strong pioneer of this cause). After school I started working and I somehow found out that growing my career became more of my goal as I refused to think of relationships and all but now, I think I’ve found a middle ground and I’m intent on balancing the two.
    I think you should get out more, study people, ladies mostly and find someone suitable for you. She’s out there!

  9. Mimi

    December 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    To add to yourself analysis, I think you also subconsciously don’t want to be hurt, so you don’t let them in. You probably good at analysis people and situations. My advice is decide on what you NEED and want ( notice the emphasis on NEED), find someone who has those qualities and then let you self be vulnerable with them ( this you probably be the hardest part), Do note the longer you are alone for the more set in your ways you will be, and the bigger a shock someones else way of leaving and thinking will be for you.

    Hope it this helps

  10. Tosin

    December 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Why should you stop sabotaging potential relationships? Enjoy yourself o jare. Better things in life than some ‘relationship’
    If you want more sistah-ly advice and you’re truly tall dark and handsome like that, 555-1111 I may be able to help you further.

    • Tosin

      December 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      Who writes “the lonely pangs fiercer” though? What are you, some cheesy poet?
      Zoom in on your lonely pangs: Do you want a hand-to-hold, person-to-talk-to, screaming babies, or a shag or two? Could background/Television noise help? Hanging out with strangers at the club or some group activity? No?
      Ok. If you’re the marrying type? Go to church or ask you momma to fix you up and don’t sabotage – that’s all. If you’re not, then keep doing what you’re doing.
      Don’t let me see you back here again 🙂

  11. NVMW

    December 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Brov, I’m just like you!
    1. I love my personal space / privacy to a disturbing level.
    2. I like women but a great deal of the time, I pass on them.
    3. The women I do date I’m intensely interested in at first and later on just migrate back into my personal space.
    4. If you ask me what makes me happy, I would most probably tell you its my job (provided that its interesting and full of learning).
    5. I’ve an uncanny ability to predict people so often time before 30 mins is up, I feel like I have already “lived” through them and there is nothing else to see.
    6. The Women I really like, I would rather have as friends (of course, after several failed advances, they get hurt and stop getting in touch with me).
    7. I fear marriage for me would be a mix of boredom, misery and the perfunctory kiss.

    I’m not worried or unhappy or desperately searching for true love; I just want to understand why I’m this way. I have flirted with musing on my personality (INTJ), reading countless relationship books, tried to love people so hard in hopes that I would ( . . . kindle a fire?) Yet nothing. What is wrong with me?

    • Tosin

      December 1, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      So you’re self-absorbed and honest. Enjoy your life.

    • [email protected]

      December 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      You a man to has accepted status quo and decided to leave it as that which is sad……extraordinary people are those who dare to cause a change, do stuff differently , try other routes etc.
      the fact that you see your future marriage is that light is sad because our lives move the the direction of our predominant thoughts

    • [email protected]

      December 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      who has*

    • belle

      December 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Awwww… My heart went out to the poster after reading this. Now I’m a lady, beautiful (not bragging) and I can say I understand u cos av been there, maybe I still am, and it’s not a good place to be in, but I’ve put it down to the fact that I haven’t met ‘the one’ yet as I believe that no force on earth can stop me from meeting my own husband.

      Like you, I can’t work up a feeling for most of d guys that ask me out and those I admire r probably too laid back emotionally like you to reciprocate so I don’t bother with them. I have had past relationships, tho I wasn’t heart broken.
      I cherish my space (something that sprung from being a bookworm) and I can’t bring myself to share it with someone I don’t feel right with otherwise I will be miserable n unhappy.

      Well av resorted to living life happily, making friends, keep busy with my work instead of worrying when I get them lonely pangs n to keep praying for the right one cos I can’t wait to meet him n only God control that meeting.

      Pele, here’s something u can do: try to loosen up from the confines of ur space, go out more and meet more women n be interested in really knowing them, amongst them you will probably find one who sparks something in you, plus if you believe in God pray hard cos this world is more spiritual than you think. Best wishes

      On a second thought, perhaps we should meet. Who knows.. hehehe. If interested ask BN for my email or place a request under dis comment or better still drop your email n I’ll reach out… might not harm you making a new friend 🙂 cheers!!

  12. kate

    December 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    sorry for your uncomfortable situation. am happy you know you have a problem. ndo.

    • Daizzy

      December 1, 2014 at 4:19 pm


  13. omobisineme

    December 1, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    It seems like I have been writing to aunty bella. I was also told to face my studies in uni, now that I have graduated I dont know how to be in a relationship. I attract alot of men but it just seems like I am the one chasing them away. I tend to lose interest after a week or even less of talking to the guy. I met a guy 3 months ago and I thought I finally found the one(that would open up my heart to love) but he told me I chased him away before the relationship started bc I wasnt professing my like for him in public enough. People like us, when we fall in love, we love hard making heartbreak difficult to handle. After this guy, I am afraid of going to my old ways of not giving too many guys a much. P.s. What happened to the letter to aunty bella over the weekend. The one about the guy keeping malice? I wasnt done reading the comments

  14. sum1special

    December 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Dear writer, you still havent found the one, when you do you ill forget about all of the things you talked about.

  15. Annie Mbz

    December 1, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Stop the,it is all about me idea and start living a life of sacrifice. knowing fully well that the next person is as important as you can do the trick.

  16. anonymous

    December 1, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    The person who advised you to stop defining yourself as a self sabotager and redefine yourself is right.
    I used to be this and not just with relationships but with everyone. I could never allow any one in ( this happened after a few incidents though) and couldn’t even sit down to accept compliments.
    I woke up one day and decided I was back to my friendly, warm, sexy and extremely acceptable self that loves and gives and my dear when the thought that I’m a self sabotager or someone with insecurities tries to creep in, I just ignore it like someone ignores shouts that are not his or her name and I’ve been having fun.
    So dearie, stop saying you’re a self sabotager and say, I’m easy, open, warm, chivalrous and the right woman will come soon. And please, stop searching and have fun.

  17. Audrey

    December 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Seems to me (from all the positives you listed about yourself) that you feel self sufficient and so you don’t need anyone else . it maybe subconscious. When you meet a woman, first of all don’t expect her to be just like you I.e. character wise. second, even after the interest wanes, don’t quit just yet,you should keep going for sometime.its not all rosy in real relationships.At a point, the interest will resurface. If it doesn’t after a long period, move on.Once again, that’s how its done in real relationships.Good luck.

  18. D

    December 1, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Ok…I don’t know why people sound so judgemental with both the poster and NVMW. Knowing and accepting yourself for who you are, contrary to some statement., does not make you self absorbed but self aware. I came from a family where once we turned 18 my parents started asking us (both boy and girls) who were going to marry and yes they are Nigerians so there was no face your book sermon here but I knew even then that I had to marry someone that could hold my interest but most importantly for me my problem with men was/is that I am super independent (my parents fault). Tell us we can’t do something then we will set out to prove you wrong. We set goals and go about achieving them. So for me, meeting a guy that I could respect was the issue. I had 1 bf that cheated on me the thing did not really pain me because I did not respect him because all he did was get what he could from me. I knew respecting a guy would not come easy. Did that not mean, moi gots a problem???Nope…I was self aware and as such when my husband came and I found myself respecting him not because of position (he did not have any big position) but because of the way he treated me. Respect came naturally, I knew I had found the one. So dear poster, you do not have a problem, the truth is you are yet to find the ying to your yang. Don’t try to settle because of boredom or loneliness, you would end up unhappy, be patient and more importantly be open. Although I found my husband when I was sooo not open infact I had chosen to exit the whole dating scene for awhile and lo and behold it was then he chose to appear. It sounds like you both do not have women that hold your interest for long and that is not good marriage material, you want a woman that holds your interest most of the time and this has nothing to do with sex but the mind (yours and your partners) i.e mental things!!!

  19. Ivy

    December 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Dear Mr. Relationship Saboteur, here is my email address – [email protected]…..let me help!

  20. mytwokobo

    December 6, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Dear OP, my advice is to stop being self-centered. I am not saying this to be harsh or judgmental but because i can identify with 80% of all you said. Someone said it quite nicely above, that the longer you are on your own, the harder it is to break your cycle and share your space with others. So the remedy is to be more engaging and learning to share that space,with others, starting with your friends. This could include things like inviting them over to dinner and preparing a meal for them, being involved in charity work, just basically doing stuff that is ‘other’ centered.
    Cos, at the end of the day, on your death bed, all the awards, and things we achieved in our careers isn’t going to be as important as the relationships we had. If you are narcissistic (as I know I can be), learn to be more interested in other people .
    Finally, loving others is a choice and I can assure you that there is more joy to be found in giving than receiving. Also, do not do anything out of pressure. God is not sleeping and is more than willing to guide you if you would let Him. All the best.

  21. henry

    May 30, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Please, how do I post a question?

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