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You think you like them, and then you don't.
You want to be around him or her, but now they're the absolute enemy.
What is going on here?
Why do we push people away?
It can make you shake your head in confusion and ask yourself, "Why do I push people away?"
The problem is that it seems like this situation should be easy to understand, but it's often not.
And pushing people away can cause you immense pain if you don't realize why you're doing it.
So, to understand why you're pushing people away, you have to understand the core reasons underlying the behavior.
What follows are the most common reasons why we push people away.
1. Your Attachment Style is Holding You Back and Now You're Pushing People Away
How much do you know about attachment?
Do you know anything at all?
Attachment theory is an entire branch of psychology that explains how our early relationships affect how we connect with others in the present day.
These are the main attachment styles:
We're not going to go into detail about each one here, but what you need to know is this: how the people who raised you, your family of origin, treated you can affect how you treat people in your daily life.
This isn't a judgment call.
This is the reality of how our early relationships affect us.
I personally had to do a lot of therapy to understand how my relationship with my parents affected me.
What I learned is that I had an anxious-ambivalent attachment style, especially with women.
This had to do with how my mom connected with me when I was younger.
Again, this is not me judging her.
She did the best she could, and she was--and is--a great mom.
But what I had to learn is that I often got deeply attached to other people's stories and emotions. I tended to dig too deep, ask too many questions right away, and overshare my own feelings.
Now, I'm a deeply sensitive, curious person. But I didn't need to be up in other people's business right away.
So, ask yourself questions.
How do you typically interact with other people?
And how does that affect them?
Have you ever gotten any feedback that the way you relate to others is problematic?
Even if you didn't get direct feedback, have you noticed any behavior patterns when you push people away?
Is there a type of person you frequently push away?
Curiosity opens the door to understanding.
2. You Have Anxiety That Makes it Hard to Be Intimate With Someone (When Fear of Intimacy Enters the Equation)
Often, it's not about attachment style but about something rooted in your mental health.
And one of the most common mental health issues is anxiety, whether general anxiety or social anxiety.
The form of anxiety is less important than the fact that the anxiety is there, period.
And it doesn't have to be a diagnosed anxiety disorder for it to matter in this case.
It's whether or not anxiety is affecting your life and relationships in a meaningful way.
If it's preventing you from showing up in your relationships in a way that you want, then it matters.
You always have to come back to you and how it's affecting your life.
What's especially important to note is the special connection that anxiety shares with fear--and fear of intimacy / fear of vulnerability in particular.
These kinds of fears can easily lead to a fear of rejection.
And rather than be rejected, you push people away.
It's incredibly common.
A relationship could be going perfectly well.
You could be enjoying your time with another person.
But then, just like that, you push the other person away!
From the outside looking in, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
But that's the thing with anxiety and mental health issues in general. They don't need to make a whole lot of sense.
They often don't.
What you need to do is bring your mental health issues to awareness.
Nothing can be changed unless you are aware of it, and that can be hard work.
Just know this: if you have an intense fear in a relationship--or even just a strong fear--it's time to step back and reflect on what's happening.
Why are you feeling the way you're feeling?
Is it a fear of vulnerability?
Is it a fear of rejection?
And if it is one of those, are those fears well-founded?
In other words, are they grounded in reality?
Sometimes it's helpful to call in an outside perspective, a friend or family member who can give you their honest take on what they're seeing you do.
I know just how brutal anxiety can be, but it doesn't have to rule your life.
3. You Just Aren't All That Thrilled About the Relationship
I saved this one for last because I hate to blame other people for what is often a very personal issue.
I always suggest doing the work on yourself before you look at others as the source of your problems.
But the reality is that there are healthy relationships.
And then there are unhealthy relationships--or even worse, abusive relationships.
Abusive relationships are especially problematic when it comes to intimate relationships.
So I want you to stop and think for a second.
For the interpersonal relationships in which you have pushed people away, were they actually healthy, adult relationships?
Or was it a bad relationship that you were fortunate to escape?
Sometimes it's absolutely not you who is the problem.
It's the Other Person
You're allowed to push someone else away (figuratively, not physically) if they are treating you badly.
You only have one life to live.
Don't spend your precious time with someone who mistreats you.
Bad behavior, done over and over, is not acceptable.
Toxic behavior, such as gaslighting or physical or emotional abuse, is especially not acceptable.
If someone tries to justify using angry behavior against you, it's time to push them away and out of your life.
It's all about whether what other people are doing are behavior patterns or not.
Problematic behaviors tend to become problematic when it's a pattern of behavior.
Because there could be tons of reasons for why someone does something one time.
Humans are weird creatures, and we all have our bad days.
And we all have strange defense mechanisms that we may not be aware we are using.
But if someone you're in a relationship with is exhibiting a common behavior that is causing you pain, you need to seriously consider if you want to tolerate it or not.
In Conclusion: This Is Your Life, and It's Worth Understanding Why You or Someone Else Might Be Pushing People Away
We've covered the major reasons why you or someone else might be pushing others away.
Now it's your turn.
Really take some time this week to think about what you just read.
Are you a person who pushes all people away or only certain kinds of people?
Did the way a parent treated you when you were a child affect how you treat people now?
These questions are worth considering.
But at the end of the day, you need to come back to your experiences.
This is your one life.
If pushing people away is bothering you, do something about it.
Study your experiences.
And then make the necessary changes to be who you want to be.