Why You Are Pushing People Away and How to Stop

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This article helps you understand everything about pushing people away, why you do it and how to stop. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you suddenly feel too vulnerable around people and want some distance, this is for you.

Have you ever started getting close to someone, maybe a friend or a partner, and suddenly things change? Did they start looking for ways to push you away?

Were they avoiding communication, being unusually rude, creating both physical and emotional distance? Do they generally begin doing things they weren’t doing before and you don’t understand why? This article is for you as well.

When people start keeping their distance, it’s only normal to feel confused and sad. This hurts more when the relationship seemed to be going smoothly and then things changed. It might feel like they calculated it.

Or are you the one pushing people away because you feel overwhelmed? Do you suddenly feel bare, scared, and confused? Do you begin looking for a way to leave them before they leave you?

This can be classic signs of past trauma. You begin to worry that maybe you’ll never have that friendship or intimacy you desire. This article can be of help.

As long as you’ve identified the problem, everything else becomes much easier. Learning how to let people in can be a challenge especially for introverts or people who have been hurt before.

Why It Happens: A Defense Mechanism?

Most people who avoid others do not do it because they aren’t exactly fond of people. Except you are antisocial, or there is some other reason, no one completely likes being left alone.

Generally, people appreciate relationships and all the joy it can bring. It’s no doubt that relationships sometimes come with challenges. However, the willingness of the parties involved to fix it goes the extra mile.

So, what could be the reason for pushing people away? And why is it hard for you to stop? It is important to understand your own psychology before taking a step forward. People push other people’s way for fear of intimacy.

Now, this can happen subconsciously. An individual doing this may not completely be aware that they are but can see the signs when they are already too far in.

Fear of rejection is another reason people push other people away. Let me give you an example.

You’ve been called weird your entire life, felt like you never fit in, spent most of your time alone. Suddenly there’s someone out there who is trying to become a friend. Your brain automatically goes into flight or fight mode. Why are they trying to get close to you? What happens when they do. Would they still want to be with you?

These thoughts swarm your head and trick you into thinking everyone out there is an enemy. But from a certain perspective, you think you’re saving them the stress of knowing you.

Introverts for one tend to suffer from the idea of having people know them. They are very protective of their space, their thoughts, and their vulnerability. When they feel too vulnerable around people, it makes them feel weak.

Suddenly they begin rethinking all the moments they could have stopped the progression of a friendship. Does this mean they do not like their friends? Not at all. Introverts can be over thinkers and this isn’t always a good thing.

But why exactly does it happen?

1. Self Esteem Issues and Overthinking

People who have self-esteem problems may find themselves pushing other people away. This could be because they feel they are not worth the friendship and effort from other parties.

They can also feel like they aren’t in the best position to sustain any form of a long-term relationship. So, they shy away from any form of intimacy.

There could be the lingering thoughts of them suddenly not likely you anymore, or you hurting them. You might also imagine them leaving you for someone else. And you generally do not want to be a burden to them.

People with anxiety disorders, depression, and other forms of mental health conditions tend to suffer from these nagging thoughts often. It makes you feel you aren’t good enough so why bother?

Sometimes it does not matter how much you like the person or how happy they make you feel. Once these thoughts invade your mind, you can’t see past how it’ll work. Why would they choose you? What makes you special? These are questions you begin to ask yourself.

People have these thoughts triggered from past relationships they didn’t even know they held on to. It might also be from analyzing other people’s relationships.

2. Fear of Intimacy

Fear of intimacy is one reason for pushing people away. It’s a defense mechanism built to avoid the hurt and sadness that comes with people in relationships.

In certain cases, people tend to bury their feelings and assume they’ve moved on from their past relationships. This is evident when a past relationship left them sad and broken. Most times, however, it still lingers in their subconscious.

What this means is, you project all the sadness onto the next relationship. You become very guarded, paranoid, and nonchalant when developing a new relationship.

To protect yourself, you might become guarded even when there is no obvious reason to. You’ve been hurt before; you don’t want to be hurt again.

It’s normal for people like this to feel that pushing people away keeps them safe. It makes it impossible for them to get hurt. If you feel they are getting too close to you, you start manipulating the relationship.

Manipulating the relationship is to ensure you don’t hurt them or hurt yourself. However, that’s exactly what you end up doing. It’s usually common to think “if I push them away, I save them the stress. I save myself from being hurt”

You go all out in protecting yourself by avoiding any form of intimacy. When people try to get to know you, your flight response goes into gear. You unconsciously avoid friendships, romantic relationships, and more.

When faced with it, you’ll do everything to make the other person see how you aren’t good enough for them.

3. Attachment Issues

Different people have different attachment styles and this can push people away.

Adulthood is usually the result of childhood. Most times we do things as adults because we picked it up subconsciously as children. However, it’s completely illogical to blame everything we do as adults on our childhoods.

This is because there is a chance of identifying a problem and fixing it. Giving yourself that chance ends up protecting you, helping you heal and move on.

If you were raised in a home where your parent or your primary caregiver wasn’t present in providing your intimacy needs or providing emotional support for you, it can lead to an avoidant attachment style.

When children grow up in a home where they have responsive caregivers who pay attention to their emotional needs, they tend to have a more healthy attachment style.

If this isn’t the case, in adulthood it can be difficult to develop close relationships with people. This is because you are afraid of being shut down just as your parents or caregiver did. Sometimes you are interested in a relationship but are oblivious to how to express it.

This is why you keep your relationships as casual as possible. You tend to flee when you feel things are getting a little too intense for you to handle.

Attachment styles can leave you either keeping your distance from your partner, or it can leave you being overly clingy for fear of abandonment. Both can lead to a total disaster.

Pushing people away isn’t the only way to get people to leave or give up on you. Being obsessively clingy can be just as unhealthy.

Understanding the different attachment styles is encouraged to know which you might be.

4. Cynicism and Paranoia

If you’ve ever been hurt and betrayed before, it’s only common to think everyone will do that to you. Illogical, but still a common thought.

If you’ve been lied to, cheated on, taken for granted, etc, it makes it difficult to trust other people no matter how pure their intentions may be. This is why you resort to pushing people away.

Everyone who has had their trust broken can testify it is difficult to repair. Sometimes even impossible. It can even lead to paranoia and fear of intimacy. Again, giving rise to your anxiety.

Trust can take a long time to build but it can take a second to break. People healing from hurt need their time in other to trust someone again.

However, having a dogged lack of trust in people who have never given you a reason to doubt them can be a way to push them away. The truth is, no matter how hurt you are, projecting it on an innocent person is never a good idea.

Nobody wants to suffer for a crime they didn’t commit. Always being on guard around them can be draining and would not lead to a healthy relationship.

Yet another reason why you must heal before proceeding into another relationship. Perhaps you feel the problem is you and now you’re faced with having to hurt someone again.

You think pushing people away is a way to save both of you. But sometimes it can transfer the hurt from one person to another.

How To Stop Pushing People Away

If you’ve found yourself pushing people away for one reason or another, here are ways you can stop.

1. Understand Things Take Time

Quality over quantity is important in aspects of our lives and relationships aren’t exempted.

You might feel all alone, no friends, no love or anything of the sort in your life. This might trigger you into wanting to rush things. But if you do, you’ll be right back where you started.

When you get into a new relationship, avoid being too clingy or too avoidant. Instead, be more observant and understanding. Any other way isn’t considered healthy.

Do not let your anxiety trick you into going for something that’s going to hurt you. Or avoiding something that could make you happy. Journaling can be of help.

Instead of focusing on where you want to relationship to be, or how you were hurt in the past. You might want to focus on a number of other things.

Let your focus be on how you feel when you are around certain people. If you genuinely like them and if you do not. Notice how you are around them. Are you truly yourself or do you have to pretend to be who you’re not?

Focus on behavioral patterns, not just for them but for you as well.

2. You Do Not Need So Many People in Your Life

Some people are more outgoing and tend to have more friends. However, others have a smaller circle of friends (introverts for example). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

People who are more extroverted are inclined to being around more people. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either.

So if you’re looking forward to opening up to more people, make sure you’re doing it for yourself. If you are looking to connect to a smaller circle of people, then do just that.

When you notice your relationships with people you value taking a sour turn, especially because if you, then you might want to fix that. There are various ways to.

Being more in the moment, acknowledging their feelings, and being there for them. Avoid projecting your emotions from your past relationships onto them. If these are relationships you do not care for because they drain you, then let it go.

There’s absolutely no reason to struggle to maintain relationships that drain you. It just gives you another Avenue to get hurt. And ignore people who are actually good for you. Remember to pace yourself.

3. Talk To Someone

Sometimes all you need to do is talk about it to your friend or your lover. Help them see why it is difficult for you and that’s why you push them away.

Talking about it with your partner is a great way to make the burden a lot easier. It doesn’t only mean you’ve accepted your problem but you’re willing to share it.

Help them see why you find intimacy scary and why you find it difficult to trust other people. Tell them about your past experiences and how it affected you. And how you wouldn’t want to project that on them.

Help them see that the reason you do this sometimes is not because of you but because of them. You don’t feel good enough. You fear betrayal and you push people away because you are scared.

Tell them when something makes you feel uncomfortable or triggers a certain emotion. But remember that they have feelings too so let it down on them gently.

Maybe you’ll like to rake it slow. So, tell them that and work with it.

4. Be Kinder to Yourself

Therapy helped me realized that most of the problems we face are because we aren’t kind enough to ourselves. We starve ourselves from happiness because we feel we do not deserve it.

If you do not treat yourself kindly, it doesn’t matter how well others treat you. A very popular saying on social media goes “if you don’t love yourself, no one else will”

But I think that’s completely wrong. People can love you even when you do not love yourself. But you’ll never know what to do with this love. How to respond to it, how to accept it, how to feel you’re worthy of it.

Hence bringing us back to the part where you need to love yourself. Another way you can do that is by creating balance.

Instead of going all out by overcompensating for pushing people away, take a deep breath. Being clingy is not the solution to pushing people away. You have to create a balance that works for both parties.

Talking and sharing experiences naturally, confronting conflict with logic, sharing your emotions. These are great ways to start.

Remember you do not want to be dependent on your partner. Neither do you want them dependent on you? Your fear of rejection can leave you taking to your heels after every conflict.

Understand that relationships have challenges. As long as you and your partner are willing to work on it, then you’re on the right track.

5. Talk To a Therapist

If you’re having bouts of anxiety and depression that could be leading you to push people away, then you might want to talk to a therapist.

Maybe you still aren’t sure why you avoid intimacy and resort to pushing people away. You crave deeper intimacy but in the end you ruin it because of fear and anxiety.

Taking to a mental health professional can help you identify and navigate these reasons. The good thing is that you can get help through online therapy at your own comfort.

All you need to do is take that chance.

What If You’re the One Being Pushed Away?

It can be very painful when you notice a partner or a friend is trying to push you away. But you must understand that sometimes it’s not you, it’s them. And until they fix it, no amount of anything you do can change them.

The best way to get the right answers from them is by talking it out. Let them know how what they do affects you and know where this problem stems from.

They could be depressed or anxious because of something in their lives. This is where communication helps build the bridge of understanding.

If you notice you have a lot of disagreement and you aren’t connecting properly anymore, then ask them why. Know what’s going on in their heads and let them in on what’s going on in yours.

Give them a chance to express their feelings and express yours as well.

Here are other ways you can be of help

Let Them Know You Are Here for Them

A great way is to help them identify their triggers. What you can do to calm these triggers. It could be a little more of any of the 5 languages.

Maybe that would make them feel a lot more secure in the relationship. When they start retracting into their shell, just as they do before pushing people away, call their attention to it.

Let them know you’re here for them and the best way is to ensure it is by helping them with what they need. Not what you think they need.

…. But Do Not Overdo It

It is important to create balance when reassuring your friend or partner who is fond of pushing people away. This is because if you do it too much, they’ll become dependent on it.

Anytime they do not get this reaction from you, they may overthink it and that becomes a problem. A simple reassurance is all you need.

It’s also a means of helping them adapt. Knowing they do not need your validation to survive. They are a person of their own and in control of their lives.

Therapy And Understanding

If you feel you need to visit a counselor together then by all means do. But you have to be understanding that this is a psychological issue for them.

Going all up in their faces and demanding they open up to you would make them run. They might never want to talk about it, especially to you again. And eventually, push you away.

Let them understand that you are here for them and you are willing to be patient as they recover. Give them space when they need it. Be a shoulder to cry on and unwavering support.

Generally, pushing people away tends to stem from fear of intimacy. Talking about it to people you love and a therapist is a great way to go.

Aleruchi Kinika
Aleruchi is a photographer, writer, designer and an INTJ female. She enjoys telling stories and delivering messages through words, photographs and designs.

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