Love Survey - Do You Recognize Your Outer Child Relationship Sabatoge?


The following questions survey some common Outer Child patterns that sabotage our love relationships.  Being able to spot them in yourself and in your partners is a first step in overcoming them.  Many of the questions apply to single people since Outer Child is so adept at blocking intimate relationships.  But Outer Child is equally deft at draining the love, passion, and security from your long term relationships.  Whether they apply to singles or couples, they all apply to the universal dynamics governing the human relationship.  You can post your own ideas for survey questions to help future generations identify their relationship patterns. If you have catchy phrases for them, please share them – they might help to plant awareness in other people’s minds.             

Self esteem by proxy

Q. Does your Outer Child seek self-esteem by proxy?  Does it chase after someone who possesses the confidence and self-esteem you wish you had? 

Q. Does your Outer Child select mates who are narcissistic extensions[1]?  So you try to acquire specialness by acquiring a person who makes you look good?  

Q. But does looking up to him put you in the one-down position?  “I always pick guys who are a little beyond me.  But then I get insecure because I don’t feel good about myself and can’t imagine how I’m going to hold onto them.” 

Q. Would your Outer Child ever join a club that would have YOU as a member? 


Abandoholics anonymous

Q. Does your Outer Child have an abandonment compulsion[2] where you keep choosing

people destined to drop you in the end?  “Here I am again, being dumped like yesterday’s trash for a guy I’d climb Mount Everest for.”

Q. Do you go through cycles of love, then pain, and then abandonment?

Q. Have you ever been abandoholic? Are you addicted to the love-pain chemistry of abandohol?   

Q. Does your Outer Child confuse insecurity for love?  Are you most in love when you feel most insecure?

Q. Does your Outer Child get bored and ‘feel no chemistry’ if someone is really interested in you? 


Moth to flame

Q. Is your Outer Child drawn like a moth to abandonment’s flame?

Q. Does your Outer Child get attracted to people who pull away when they sense you getting attached to them?

Q. Conversely, does your Outer Child pull away when you sense someone getting attached to you? 


Emotional thrills

Q. Does your Outer Child turn your relationships into ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy?’ “When she didn’t seem to feel turned on, I died a thousand deaths, and when she’d want me, I’d be in heaven.” 

Q. Does your Outer Child thrive on the emotional thrills of this roller coaster?


Relationship phobic

Q. Is your Outer Child Abandophobic

Q. Is your Outer Child’s secret strategy to avoid the chance of being abandoned by avoiding relationships all together? 

Q. Do you pursue love-objects that are so out of reach that by obsessing about THEM, you avoid risking a real relationship?  “My Outer Child isolates me.  It tricks me into chasing guys who are more fantasy than reality instead of working on a relationship with someone.” 

Q. Does your Outer Child avoid rather than try to resolve your relationship issues?  Have you secretly given-up?  Are you eating instead?   


The aphrodisiac of fear

Q. Is your Outer Child an abandophile?  Do you feel most turned on when someone threatens to leave? 

Q. Is insecurity your Outer Child’s favorite aphrodisiac?

Q. Are you at your most seductive when you fear losing someone’s love?  “My Outer Child practically LIVES at Victoria Secret’s when I’m trying to win over some guy’s affections.”


Emotional candy

Q. Can your Outer Child resist the emotional candy of pursuing the hard-to-get? 

Q. Is your Outer Child attracted only to the unavailable? 

Q. Does your Outer Child idealize abandoners? 



Q. Does your Outer Child carry a torch for an old flame? 

Q. Does it use someone from your past to block you from loving someone in your present?  

Q. Does your Outer Child try to get over someone by getting on top of someone else[3]

Q. Do you unfavorably compare your new partner to your ex?


Pink clouds

Q. Does your Outer Child believe to the kind of love you’re supposed to fall into? 

Q. Is your Outer Child blind to the other type of love? 

Q. Do you believe in love at first sight even when it’s delusional? 


Looking a love-horse in the mouth

Q.  Does your Outer Child look a love-horse in the mouth?  In other words, does love show up but your Outer Child isn’t ready for it? 

Q. Does your Outer Child get you to feel indifferent toward emotionally available lovers?  

Q. Is there someone you might see every day who might be a realistic love-partner, but he or she remains emotionally invisible to your Outer Child?  Most of your friends met their life partners this way:  “Bill’s office was next to mine and we became good friends. I could tell he cared for me but I wasn’t interested at first.  It went on for years until one day, we connected and we’ve been together ever since.”  But you believe it will happen differently for you. 

Q. Does your Outer Child have trouble recognizing the low key dynamics of a healthy, secure relationship? “We get along too well, I miss the intense passion swings.  I get bored too easily unless a guy is making me insecure.”


All the wrong places

Q. Is your Outer Child still stuck in outdated values and myths left over from high school about who is the ‘perfect catch?’  “I still seem to be looking for that cute guy, even though the cute ones think they’re cute and so do other women and they wind up leaving me for someone else.”    

Q. Is your Outer Child still ‘looking for love in all the wrong places?’


Love challenged

Q. Is your Outer Child love-challenged?  

Q. Does your Outer Child feel engulfed when someone loves or needs you?  “That’s when I get turned off – the minute she starts to need me.  I can’t handle the emotional responsibility of a relationship.”

Q. Does your Outer Child lose passion because your partner becomes too available? “Sex is great when I’m pursuing someone, but when I’m sure of her, it peters out.”

Q. Can your Outer Child tolerate being loved?


Taking emotional hostages

Q. Does your Outer Child turn your partners into your emotional hostages?  Do you expect them to pay for other lovers’ transgressions? 

Q. Does your Outer Child develop unrealistic expectations of your partners? “I try to act independent, but my emotional baggage makes me demand too much attention even when I try to be aloof.”

Q. Does your Outer Child give love sometimes, but there are always too many strings attached?



Q. How does your Outer Child react when it’s part of a triangle[4]?             

“My girlfriend has an ex boyfriend she is still friends with and it makes me nuts.”

            “I resent the fact that my wife really only cares about the kids.”

Q. Are you being triangulated? 

Q. Do you always seem to be in a triangle? 

Q. Are you driven to create triangles by seducing lovers who are already married or partnered?  “I always seem to be ‘the other woman.’

Q. Does this kick up your competitive juices and keep you hooked? 


Emotional suction cups

Q. Does your Outer Child have emotional suctions cups that involuntarily pop out when you get insecure toward someone? 

Q. Does your Outer Child aim these suction cups at your lovers and scare them away?  “When I get interested in a guy, I try to hide the insecurity, but they can tell when I get needy because they cool off toward me.” 


Love junkie

Q. Is your Outer Child a romance-addict? 

Q. Does your Outer Child get addicted to lovers instead of attached?

Q. Does your Outer Child go into denial and tell you it’s not addiction, it’s love?’  

Q. Would your Outer Child fail an emotional sobriety test? 

Q. Does your Outer Child pursue new love-challenges to stay high on infatuation? 

Q. Does your Outer Child pursue unavailable lovers and get strung out on abandohol? 

Q. Does your Outer Child use infatuation to medicate depression? Does it use infatuation to medicate boredom?  Does is use infatuation to distract you from not knowing what to do with your life? 

“When I’m in love, I’m suddenly bursting with energy. My life suddenly has meaning and purpose.  When I lose the love-feelings, I go right back to the doldrums.”


Stockholm syndrome

Q. Does your Outer Child refuse to let go even though your partner neglects, abuses, or rejects you?

Q. Is your Outer Child caught up in a traumatic bond? You’re bound together by pain and fear?

Q. Does your partner use intermittent reinforcement to keep you hooked?  “My guy finally called me on my birthday, but he didn’t get around to it until five till midnight. I couldn’t help but feel overjoyed even though I knew he was giving me short shrift. I’d made him so powerful!” 

Q. Does your Outer Child crave a love-fixe when your partner is most rejecting? 


Spare tires

Q. Are you anyone’s spare tire – not his main wheel.  You’re in the trunk in case he has an emergency?

Q. Has your Outer Child ever let someone dangle you on a string?  “It just isn’t mutual with her.  She’s the center of my thoughts, but I’m just her backup – someone to make her feel secure enough so she can keep looking for Mr. Right.” 

Q.  Have you ever become someone’s love-slave? 

Q. Does your Outer Child provide your partner with a security net but there’s no net beneath YOU?  

Q. Does your Outer Child wallow in the false hope that your partner will change?  


Quirky love maps

Q. Do you have a quirky love-map[5]

Q. Have you had such a difficult go of it with relationships that your love-map no longer matches anyone else’s?  “Thanks to my crazy childhood, my love map is designed to send me on wild goose chases where I always wind up back at the beginning: alone.” 


Can’t shift into forward

Q. Does your Outer Child keep your relationships stuck in neutral?

“We couldn’t get closer but couldn’t be apart.”

“I was afraid to commit and afraid to break up.”

Q. Does your Outer Child find partners who keep you at arm’s length?  “My boyfriend didn’t want us to move in together. He wanted to continue dating, like, another 20 years.” 


Looking to trade up

Q. Does your Outer Child have trouble making a commitment?  Do you lose interest too easily? 

Q.  Is the grass is always greener over the fence?

Q. Does your Outer Child have bigger is better syndrome?  “I’d be intoxicated with the most beautiful woman, until I’d notice someone even more spectacular across the room and I’d have to pursue her.”

Q.  Is your Outer Child always looking to trade up?   


Love insurance

Q. Does your Outer Child need to have the edge in order to stay secure? 

Q. Do you choose people who couldn’t possibly want to leave you because you have more to offer them than they you?  “The down side of needing the edge is that he doesn’t have enough going for him to keep me interested for the long haul.” 

Q. Is this your Outer Child’s way of trying to get love-insurance?


Emotional challenge

Q. Does your Outer Child need an emotional challenge to feel attracted?  “I’m a competitive guy and need the chase.  If she’s interested too fast, I’m done.”

Q. Does your Outer Child have conquest-fever? 

Q. Does your Outer Child play hard-to-get to attract partners who have conquest fever? 


The lying gut

Q. Does your Outer Child make it dangerous to ‘follow your gut’? 

My gut is on backwards.  When it says ‘She’s too boring,’ it probably means she’s perfect for me – Boring means she just doesn’t make me insecure enough.”


“When I feel attracted, I’ve learned to avoid the guy like the plague because it usually means he’s emotionally dangerous – a serial abandoner or something.”  


Pick pick pick

Q. Does your Outer Child become over-critical of your mate? Does it find fault to create a wedge between you?

Q. Do you use criticalness – this wedge – to gain emotional control?  To control the relationship?  To control your partner?  Is this unconscious?

Q. Or conversely, does your Outer Child become over-tolerant of your partner’s criticalness and controllingness? 

Q. Does your Outer Child project your inadequacies onto your mate? 

Q. Does your Outer Child become hypercritical and angry just because someone tries to get close – close enough, perhaps, to inadvertently bump against your old, hidden abandonment wounds? 

Q. Does your Outer Child project your vulnerabilities onto your mate?  “I trusted him enough to let him in and I started loving him with my whole heart.  But my heart had been wounded.  So when we got close to each other, it triggered this incredible fear and I kept accusing him of abandoning me.”


I love him, I love him not

Q. Does your Outer Child have trouble dealing with ambivalence?  “I know ambivalence is a normal part of a realistic relationship, but once it sets in I become a perfectionist and can’t tolerate the flaws.” 

Q. Does your Outer Child try to end it as soon as the pink cloud lifts and you see the person realistically? “I can’t seem to get to the second stage.”


Power surges

Q. Does your Outer Child have the need to be right? 

Q. Does your Outer Child prefer ‘being right’ over ‘being happy?’ 

Q. Does your Outer Child get caught up in push/pull dynamics in a relationship?

Q. Does your Outer Child fight to win a power struggle; or conversely, does it surrender too easily? 


One extreme or other

Q. Does your Outer Child make your relationships too top heavy?  Who’s usually on top? “My Outer Child is such a people-pleaser; he makes the other person all important,  doing everything for THEM.   I don’t act important enough in my own right. I become unimportant to them too.”

Q. Does your emotional pendulum swing between fear of abandonment and fear of engulfment, rarely resting in the middle?


Insecurity blues

Q. When someone withholds love from you, does your Outer Child act out by throwing emotional tantrums?

Q. Does your Outer Child take your insecurity out on YOU?  Does it make you hate yourself?  Does insecurity cause you to lose adult control of your life? 


Not by choice

Q. Does your Outer Child keep you single-not-by-choice? 

Q. Does your Outer Child keep you coupled-not-by-choice?  

Q. Are you working at it or have you given up? 

If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, take heart and use the outer child program.  Tap into the recesses of your motivation and exercise your capacity for change.  Stay determined and goal-directed and you will find a lasting relationship.


[1] From Richard Robertiello MD.

[2] From Peter Yelton

[3] Eat pray, love

[4] The issue of the triangle was conceptualized by friend Betsy O’Shea

[5] Term borrowed from Tian Dayton