Stop pushing people away: Why you do it and how to stop

Pushing people away can impact your relationships. So, find out why you push people away and how to stop doing it.
Pushing people away
Find out why do you keep pushing people away. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 16 Nov 2023, 22:23 pm IST
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We are constantly surrounded by noise, demands or pressures, so you may occasionally want to retreat into your shell and hide away from the world. However, if you feel like distancing yourself from others regularly, it is likely that there may be a deeper reason. Read on to know the causes of pushing people away and what to do.

Constantly pushing people away creates distance and strain in a relationship. It becomes challenging to establish and maintain a deep, meaningful connection when there is a persistent effort to keep others at arm’s length, says clinical psychologist Mehezabin Dordi. Consistently pushing people away can also erode trust. That’s because when others feel rejected or shut out, trust in the relationship diminishes, making it challenging to build a foundation of mutual understanding and support.

Unhappy couple
Are you pushing people away? Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the signs you are pushing people away?

There are some signs that indicate you are pushing people away. Recognising these signs in yourself is the first step toward building healthier connections. Here are some:

1. Limited or poor communication

If you consistently provide short or disinterested responses, it may stem from a reluctance to engage emotionally. This can make others feel undervalued or even unimportant in your life, the expert tells Health Shots.

2. Isolation from others

Excessive time spent alone might indicate a desire to avoid social interactions, possibly due to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety or a fear of being vulnerable with others.

3. Avoiding vulnerability

The reluctance to share personal thoughts or feelings may arise from a fear of judgment or rejection. This can hinder the development of close, meaningful connections.

4. Frequent cancellations

Constantly cancelling plans may be a subconscious way of avoiding commitment or deeper emotional involvement. It signals a resistance to investing time and energy in relationships.

5. Negative self-talk

Continual self-criticism and negative self-perception can create a barrier in relationships. Others may find it challenging to connect with someone who doesn’t value themselves.

6. Defensive behaviour

Reacting defensively to feedback may discourage open communication. Others might be hesitant to express their thoughts if they fear a defensive response, hindering the growth of the relationship.

7. Lack of empathy

If you consistently show disinterest or lack empathy towards others’ feelings, it can create emotional distance. Empathy is crucial for building connections and understanding others’ perspectives.

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8. Over-reliance on independence

While independence is healthy, an extreme insistence on self-reliance may discourage others from offering support or feeling needed in the relationship.

Why do you push people away?

There are some psychological factors that can contribute to pushing people away.

1. Fear of rejection

People who fear rejection may distance themselves from others as a defense mechanism. This fear can stem from past experiences of rejection, creating a self-protective instinct to avoid potential emotional pain, says Dordi.

2. Low self-esteem

People with low self-esteem may struggle to believe they are worthy of meaningful connections. This lack of self-worth can lead to self-sabotaging behaviours, pushing others away as a reflection of their own negative self-perception.

upset couple
Trust issues may be why you are pushing people away. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Trust issues

Past betrayals or trust violations can lead to difficulties in trusting others. This mistrust may result in a reluctance to form close relationships, with people choosing to push others away to avoid potential betrayal.

4. Social anxiety

People experiencing any form of social anxiety may fear judgment or negative evaluation from others. This anxiety can manifest as avoidance behaviours, such as pushing people away to alleviate the discomfort associated with social interactions.

5. Unresolved trauma

People with unresolved trauma may struggle with forming secure attachments patterns. The fear of vulnerability and potential triggers from past trauma can lead to a pattern of pushing people away as a means of self-protection.

6. Communication difficulties

Ineffective communication skills can hinder the expression of thoughts and feelings. People may push others away due to an inability to convey their needs or understand the needs of those around them, leading to misunderstandings and emotional distance.

How can you stop pushing people away?

To stop the pattern of pushing people away, you can follow these tips.

1. Self-reflection

Understand the underlying reasons for pushing people away. Reflect on past experiences, fears, and insecurities that may be contributing to this behaviour. Journaling, therapy or talking to a trusted friend can aid in self-reflection.

2. Develop emotional intelligence

Enhance your emotional intelligence by recognising and understanding your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. Practice mindfulness, pay attention to your emotional responses, and try to identify the specific feelings driving the desire to push people away, suggests the expert.

3. Improve your communication skills

Improve your ability to express thoughts and emotions effectively. For building and maintaining relationships, you need to give importance to communication. Practice assertiveness, active listening and expressing vulnerability. Seek feedback from others to understand how your communication style may impact them.

4. Challenge negative self-talk

Address negative self-talk and beliefs that contribute to low self-esteem or fear of rejection. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations.

5. Set healthy boundaries

Understand the importance of setting boundaries to protect your well-being while maintaining healthy connections. Clearly communicate your needs and limits. Learn to say no when necessary, and recognise that setting boundaries is a sign of self-respect.

You can also go for a therapy, as a psychologist or counselor can help you explore deeper psychological patterns and provide support in making positive changes.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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