No matter how badly you want a relationship to work out or how happy you are with your partner, if you’ve been hurt before it is like a chemical reaction. You push people away. If you want to find happiness again, you must learn how to stop pushing people away.
Whether you’ve been dumped, cheated on, or even betrayed, getting close to someone again can make your subconscious work in overdrive to prevent you from being hurt again. It is a form of self-preservation.
It is our mind’s defense mechanism. We push away the people that make us the happiest or that we love the most. We are terrified of getting hurt again.
Even when it isn’t rational or logical, sometimes we feel like we just can’t help it. We hurt the people closest to us before they can hurt us. We leave them before they can leave us. And it sucks. When you push people away, you are sabotaging your own potential happiness.
[Read: Here’s how to learn to trust again when you’ve been hurt]
Why you push people away
When we fall into the trap of self-sabotage there are hundreds, if not thousands, of possible reasons for it. Maybe you were cheated on or lied to or had a rough childhood. Maybe you have trust issues or have been left before.
When you’ve been hurt in any way, your mind and body expects it to happen again. It is only natural to protect yourself from going through the pain you went through before.
We don’t want to risk that pain and heartbreak again, so we push people away before they can do it to us. The thing is, even without red flags or any practical reason, the fear lives within us. [Read: Why do I push people away? The reasons behind your behavior]
For instance, for five years I had a dysfunctional boyfriend. On and off but he repeatedly lied and cheated. After that I was single for a while, years actually, and thought I had taken enough time to move on.
Although I was over him, the pain I went through was still fresh in my mind. It prevented me from getting close to anyone else. Even if I met someone who gave me no reason to doubt them, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to be vulnerable because I didn’t want to go through the same pain.
[Read: How to learn to be vulnerable again and welcome life]
I didn’t let myself truly be happy because it would hurt more if my heart broke. That’s what we do. We keep people at a distance. When we get close to the happiness we truly want, we push people away.
In reality, this is a disservice to ourselves. We are trapped by the pattern of our past and halts the potential of our future.
We don’t push people away because we are heartless or mean. It may be due to some selfishness. We are terrified. So, we protect ourselves by hurting those that truly care about us.
Thankfully, this isn’t permanent. You can break out of this cycle and learn how to stop pushing people away.
How you push people away
While some of us push people away right before things get really good, others barely let their walls down at all.
Some push people away when things get too serious. Others push people away when they see even a glimpse of suspicion or fear. You could be in a great relationship, but if your partner shares their fears for the future with you, instead of sharing yours as well, you run in the opposite direction.
[Read: How to let down your guard and get to know new people]
You might overreact to small arguments or start a fight out of nothing. You might even ghost or start flaking on plans so that you can force them to end things with you now before you become even more invested.
In this way, you are your own worst enemy. When learning how to stop pushing people away, recognize your behavior. Because these fears often settle into our subconscious, and we may not actively realize what we’re doing before it is too late.
#1 You’re controlling. Telling your partner what to do whether it is obvious or manipulative is the perfect way to push someone away. It creates a rift. The intimacy and trust are broken and forces the relationship to run on control.
This is your way of never taking a risk or possibly letting them hurt you.
#2 You’re jealous. Jealousy can be a natural thing, but when it is out of control it can really push someone away. Think about Ross and Rachel from Friends. Ross’s irrational jealousy of Mark, Rachel’s coworker, drove them apart.
His jealousy didn’t come from anything Rachel or Mark did but from his past relationship with Carol. His fear of being left for someone else led him to the end of his relationship. [Read: How to fix the hidden reasons of jealousy and fix it]
#3 You’re cold. This is something I have picked up on in my life. In my earlier dating years, I was touchy-feely with whoever I dated. I loved to hold hands and cuddle, but after being hurt I noticed myself being more stoic and cold.
Instead of hugging someone back or giving in to a kiss, I always held back. This was a defense mechanism so I could be sure that I wasn’t giving too much of myself and possibly be rejected.
#4 You don’t think you deserve it. Once hurt, your self-esteem breaks down and you wonder if you really deserve to be happy. So, when you meet someone that could really make you happy, you let that uncertainty and low confidence take over.
It shows your new partner that you aren’t confident in your connection and can make them think you aren’t in it. [Read: Do people always leave you? How you may be sabotaging your relationship]
#5 You keep things to yourself. When you have been dumped, you overanalyze everything. You wonder if bringing up a difficult subject is the straw that broke the camel’s back. You don’t want to start a fight or do anything to possibly upset your partner.
Instead of that protecting your relationship, it drives a wedge of resentment between you. It leads to misunderstandings, tension, and pushes them away.
#6 You’re paranoid. Always worrying when the other shoe is going to drop causes you to live in fear instead of enjoying the moment. If you are always scared of when you’re going to break up or when the next fight will be you’ll never truly be happy, and that behavior pushes others away.
#7 You test your partner. When you are scared of being hurt, you try to have as much knowledge as possible. You want reassurance that your partner will never hurt you or leave you.
One way people do this is by testing their partner with trick questions, manipulation, and unfair expectations. Making your partner choose between their friends and you may make you feel confident at the moment. It will inevitably be the ultimatum that took your relationship from healthy to codependent. [Read: How ultimatums can end relationships instead of bring you closer]
How to stop pushing people away
If you notice yourself doing these things to push people away when you’re scared, learn how to stop pushing people away and embrace love.
You deserve to be happy, but if you can’t take that risk, you will always be one step away. Instead of pushing people away, try these things to avoid sabotaging your happiness, and truly be open to love. [Read: 20 common reasons why you feel insecure and care more than other people]
#1 Tell your partner your fears. Instead of stewing in your own mind, let your partner in on your thoughts and feelings. Let go of the idea that they will leave if they see the real you. Clue them in on your past and how it has affected you and how you navigate relationships.
Let them know you have trust issues or a fear of being left. This will help them understand you better and help them better navigate your future relationship. If they know where you’re coming from, they can be more patient with you.
#2 Do you want your partner or a partner? This is a major question that you really need to consider. You may be falling into the pattern of pushing people away because none of them are really right for you. This happens when you are looking for any relationship instead of the right one.
#3 Don’t hold back. I know it is scary to let someone in on your fears and feelings, but if you don’t, you risk them moving forward without you. If you can’t open up to someone they may not feel safe opening up to you which inevitably pushes them away. [Read: 15 signs you’re the one pushing people away and what you can do about it]
#4 Practice positive thinking. Whether it be exercise, meditation, or listing positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror every morning, these things can help grow your self-esteem. Remind yourself that you deserve love and happiness and that you are not damaged or unlovable.
#5 Recognize the signs. Recognize your behavior and patterns and stop repeat actions in their tracks. Think about what triggered this behavior. Consider how you’re feeling and why you are feeling that way instead of acting out of fear. [Read: How to be a better person with 10 small changes]
#6 Go to therapy. Therapy is the best way to work through your past and how it is affecting your present and future. It can help you analyze your behavior and guide you in the right direction.
[Read: Adopting these positive personality traits can change your life forever]
Learn how to stop pushing people away. Then, open your arms to finally embrace your full potential for happiness.
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