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Why Do I Push People Away? 37 Signs, Reasons & Ways to Stop Pushing

If you regularly question ‘why do I push people away,’ there’s a good chance you need to do some deep digging. Only then can you stop pushing them and reconnect instead.

why do i push people away

We’re all surrounded by constant noise, demands, and pressures, so it’s no wonder that you occasionally want to retreat into your shell and hide away from the world. However, if you feel it regularly, there might be a deeper reason. If you often sit and wonder “why do I push people away?” it’s time to delve into the question for clear answers.

For instance, many people often feel overwhelmed when they’ve spent time in crowds. They go home drained and want to hide away for the rest of the evening and recharge their batteries with a little Netflix. This is probably something many people understand. [Read: Signs of anxiety – how to read the signs ASAP and handle them better]

However, it is different if you feel like you want to hide away all the time. If that’s the case, you could be suffering from depression or a general low mood.

Sometimes we push people away because we want the other person to run after us and lavish attention upon us, yet it rarely works. Usually, we end up pushing them away, only for them to take the hint and actually leave us alone.

Talk about backfiring! [Read: Mind games in a relationship – why play, when it’s okay, and how to stop it]

Why regularly pushing people away is problematic

While it’s fine to want to retreat into your own space for a short while and not socialize, it’s a problem when you do it regularly.

We’re not supposed to live this life alone. Humans are sociable beings and we need others around us to support us and pick us up when we’re down.

If you’re constantly isolating yourself and all you want to do is hide away, ask yourself why you do this – why do you push people away? What reason can you think of?

We’re going to delve into some potential reasons shortly, but do a little pre-soul searching and see if anything obvious pops up.

When you go through hard times, you need people around you. You might think you can handle everything alone but you shouldn’t have to.

Life is far more enjoyable with a support system around you and if you’re always pushing people away, you’re not giving yourself the chance to understand that point. [Read: Asocial vs antisocial – the similarities end with the name]

Knowing the signs you’re pushing people away can help you fix the problem

Regularly pondering “why do I push people away” isn’t going to get to the heart of the problem. Instead, you have to be aware of all the signs you’re doing this, so you can learn to correct your behavior. Here’s how to know that you’re the issue, not them.

1. You often get into arguments over small things

Basically, you’re really sensitive. And that’s more of a personality flaw than a trait because certain things shouldn’t be a big deal in life.

The more you argue with people over trivial drama, the more you’ll push them away.

2. You never apologize

Everyone messes up. We all make mistakes or false judgments and we can be very wrong about a lot of things. If you don’t own up to those things and apologize, you’re going to push people away.

Nobody wants to be friends with someone like that. [Read: 17 sweet ways to genuinely say you’re sorry]

3. You complain a lot

Firstly, this is really annoying to people trying to find positivity in life and their surroundings. You’re dragging them down and turning the mood sour.

Would you want to be around someone who ruins all good things with complaints? Probably not.

4. You have low self-esteem and let everyone know

This is like complaining, except you’re only complaining about yourself. People get annoyed by this.

When you always have to remind people they’re not crappy or ugly, resentment forms. You’re actually pushing people away by doing this all the time. [Read: Signs of low self-esteem and 5 ways to increase it]

5. You’re very negative

Once again, nobody wants to be around a Debbie Downer all the time. It’s irritating and it ruins all the fun. If you’re constantly pointing out faults and flaws with everything you do together, your friends will stop inviting you. [Read: How to know if being negative is ruining your life]

6. You only talk about your own problems

Everything is always about you and your issues. While it’s perfectly fine to vent to friends, it’s not okay to do it every time you’re together and then not listen when they need help.

That pushes them away and makes them feel like you only use them. Plus, they’ll only form negative associations with you this way and that alone will push them away.

7. You’re not there for anyone

So you expect everyone to come running when you’re upset but you hardly reply when your friends are having a hard time. Firstly, this is kind of selfish. Secondly, it’ll push people away because friendship isn’t a one-way street.

If you make it one, don’t be surprised when you end up alone. [Read: 15 signs of a bad friend & how to know if you are one]

8. If something doesn’t go your way, you get upset

This is a huge issue with being spoiled and not being able to accept that things aren’t always in your control. Think about when your friends decided on something you didn’t agree with.

If you make it a habit to freak out when you don’t get your way, you’re pushing people away.

9. You never initiate conversations or hangouts

It’s always their job. And when they don’t do it, you may even get a little passive-aggressive. Telling them something like, “Finally you ask to hang out! It’s been forever.”

The thing is, your friendship works both ways. [Read: Fun things to do with your best friend and create lasting memories]

10. Trash-talking others

This could even be the other people in your friend group. But overall, if you trash-talk people regularly and that’s really all you do, you’ll push people away.

They’ll begin thinking you also talk crap about them and nobody wants that. [Read: Ways to stop annoying the people around you]

11. You’re controlling

Telling your partner or your friends what to do *whether it is obvious or manipulative* is the perfect way to push someone away. It creates a rift.

The bond and trust are broken, forcing the relationship/friendship to run on control. This is your way of never taking a risk or possibly letting them hurt you.

12. You’re jealous

Jealousy can be a natural thing, but when it is out of control it can really push someone away. The thing is, jealousy often runs on fear and that’s never something you want to allow to take over your life.

If you’re constantly having attacks of the green-eyed monster, you’re quickly going to push people away from you. [Read: How to fix the hidden reasons of jealousy and fix it]

13. You’re cold

Sometimes, we start our dating lives being quite touchy-feely and wanting to hug all the time, but then, something happens, usually heartbreak or betrayal. At that point, it’s normal to pull back a little. It’s a way of protecting yourself from future hurt.

However, doing this simply forces people to think you’re cold and that’s not something you want to be in either friendships or relationships.

14. You don’t think you deserve it

This is especially the case in romantic relationships. 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. [Read: Do people always leave you? How you may be sabotaging your relationship]

15. You keep things to yourself

When you have been dumped by a friend or lover, 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 friend or partner.

Instead of protecting your relationship, it drives a wedge of resentment between you. It leads to misunderstandings, tension, and pushes them away.

16. 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 the next fight will be you’ll never truly be happy, that behavior pushes others away. [Read: Combat your relationship paranoia in simple steps]

17. You test people

When you are scared of being hurt, you try to have as much knowledge as possible. You want reassurance that people will never hurt you or leave you.

One way people do this is by testing with trick questions, manipulation, and unfair expectations. Making someone choose between their friends and you may make you feel confident at the moment, but it will inevitably be the ultimatum that ruins everything. [Read: How ultimatums can end relationships instead of bringing you closer]

Why do I push people away? The common reasons why

Your reason for pushing people away is personal to you, but there are a few common reasons too. By asking yourself “why do I push people away,” you can identify what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

This isn’t a healthy habit to have, even though we all do it from time to time. Perhaps by doing a little deep thinking, you can identify a healthier way to handle situations that arise. [Read: 15 signs you’re the one pushing people away and what you can do about it]

1. You’ve had a past negative experience

It’s normal to try and protect yourself if you’ve had negative experiences in the past. For example, in a romantic situation, you might push someone away from you despite the fact you really like them.

Someone getting close to you triggers the fear of being hurt again, especially if in the past you were badly taken advantage of or cheated on by a partner.

The only way to deal with this problem is slowly and carefully. Take your time, let the person in your life know that you’re dealing with past baggage if needed, and give yourself credit for attempting to get back out there.

It might feel like a risk, and you probably want to run away and hide, but not everyone is the same as those you met in your past. [Read: How to trust again and give someone your heart when you’re scared]

2. You feel like you’re becoming a burden and don’t want to bring others down

If you have particularly low self-esteem, you’re likely to feel like you’re not worthy of the time and attention of other people. In this case, you withdraw from situations or push people away, because you don’t want to burden them.

You are not a burden. You are more than worth the time and attention of everyone in your life. If you weren’t, they wouldn’t be around you!

If you’re asking yourself “why do I push people away” and this is your identified reason why, focus on your self-confidence and self-worth as a first port of call. [Read: 18 tips to start building self-esteem and winning in life]

3. You want someone’s attention

Many people can hold their hands up for this one – we’ve all done it! Sometimes, we push people away because we want them to prove to us that they want to be in our lives. It’s a dangerous game because it often backfires. Nobody is a mind reader.

In this case, focus on being more open and honest with your feelings and communicating them to the person in your life. By doing this, you won’t have to play games and risk them walking out of your life for good. [Read: People always leave you? Stop self-sabotaging your relationships]

4. You lack energy and the timing is tough

If you’ve been through a particularly tough time, it’s normal to feel emotionally drained. In that case, you might push people away from you because you just can’t be bothered to deal with them or the associated drama they might bring.

In this case, give yourself time to handle whatever is causing you to feel that way. Rest up a little. Once you’re feeling better, you’ll notice your tolerance and energy levels will increase. [Read: Am I a bad friend? The bad friendship skills that push people away]

5. You don’t want these people in your life

It could be that you’re deliberately pushing people away from you because you just don’t want them in your life. But there are better ways to handle this situation.

Perhaps a clean break or a better level of communication is needed. Simply pushing people away from you can cause confusion and emotional upset on their part. Regardless of why you don’t want them in your life, nobody really deserves to feel that way.

6. You’re particularly stressed out and pushing people away seem easier

Apart from a lack of energy, sometimes we push people away from us because we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. We have no clue how to deal with the situation.

As a result, we hide in our own shells to ride out the storm. However, it’s probably far better to seek help from other people. They might actually be able to support you through a difficult time. [Read: Really quick stress busters to help clear your mind]

7. You’re suffering from possible depression

If “why do I push people away” is something you often wonder and you can honestly say that you’re feeling low and unsure of why, there is a possibility that you might be suffering from depression.

If you believe this to be the case, go for a chat with your doctor. You do not need to feel this way. There is a lot of help and support out there. [Read: Why we need to breakdown the stigma of mental illness]

8. You don’t want to hurt people

Sometimes, we wonder “why do I push people away” but really, it’s down to our fears of hurting them. Ask yourself why you think you’re going to hurt them. It probably comes down to a lack of self-worth.

What reason do you have for hurting them? There’s probably nothing but you’re thinking this way because you don’t trust yourself to be a good friend or partner.

It’s time to start believing in yourself and your ability to connect with others. [Read: Fear of commitment – 47 signs, why’s, and ways to get over your phobia]

9. You struggle with concentration

Juggling a personal life, friendships, relationships, career, and “me” time can be difficult. But if you’re worried that you don’t have the concentration span to deal with it all, you do!

All this means is you need to prioritize your time a little more and focus on the important things in life, i.e. relationships and friendships. Work can wait a little.

10. You think that people don’t want you around

This is another spin on feeling like a burden. Sometimes we push people away because we feel we’re not wanted and don’t want to hear them admit it.

In this case, it’s very likely that you’re stuck on a past experience that’s causing you to feel that way. Or it could be that your self-esteem is just too low. Build yourself up and realize that people do want you around! [Read: How to stop having negative thoughts that drag you down]

How to stop pushing people away and reconnect

Now that you’ve realized you may be the problem, you can actually do something about it. Here’s how to fix things and bring those people back.

1. Admit that you were a pain

Approach them and just tell them you understand that you were acting like a crappy person. This will be hard and your pride will be a little bruised, but just do it.

2. Admit to any wrongdoings

Come right out and apologize for hurting them and doing wrong things to them. You’d be surprised how much a good apology will do for getting people back.

Just say sorry and explain that you’ve learned and will do better. [Read: How to apologize for ghosting a friend and repair the friendship]

3. Work on bettering yourself

The main problem with pushing people away is that it involves a host of other issues. It’s not just that you’re keeping people away from you, it’s that you’re full of toxic energy that oozes onto them.

So, work on becoming a more positive person – someone people actually want to be around. [Read: 22 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]

4. Be present and excited to be in each other’s lives

Don’t just go hang out with people and then spend all the time on your phone. Be present in their lives. Be excited to talk to them and catch up.

Having someone like that will make them want to stay. [Read: How to be present – the guide to find your inner zone of calm perfection]

5. Don’t expect them to come back right away

If you’ve messed up and done too much to push them away, they may not want to come back. Just continue to show them you’ve changed and you’re a different person now.

But ultimately, it’s their choice. Don’t ever expect someone to return just because you want them to. Remember to focus on your life and making things better for you. [Read: Why people are always leaving you and how to stop sabotaging your relationships]

6. Explain your fears

Instead of stewing in your own mind, let your friend or 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.

7. Do you want your partner, or do you just want a relationship?

This is a major question that you really need to consider in romantic relationships. You may be falling into the pattern of pushing people away because none of them are really right for you.

This often happens when you are looking for any relationship instead of the right one. [Read: What does it feel like to be in love?]

8. Don’t hold back

We 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]

9. Practice positive thinking

Whether it be exercise, meditation, or reciting 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.

10. Recognize the signs

Recognize your behavior and patterns and stop repeating 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 these small changes]

When should you consider 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.

But, when do you know you’ve reached that point?

This is a personal decision, but it’s one should you certainly reach out to if you feel it will help you. If you’ve tried a few of the items on the list and you’re still struggling with letting people close to you, speak to a professional.

By figuring out your issues, you can start to change learned behaviors and look forward to a brighter future. [Read: Adopting these positive personality traits can change your life forever]

Start welcoming people into your life, not pushing them away

In many cases, we push people away from us because we want to see if they care enough to come back. It’s certainly something many people have done and then wished they hadn’t.

This type of reverse psychology rarely goes the way we expect it to. Nobody else thinks in the same way as you. We’re all unique, and we all interpret actions and words slightly differently.

Be honest and stop pushing well-meaning people away from you. Life is about relationships and connections!

[Read: How to get closer to someone – 15 traits that bring people closer to you]

Wondering “why do I push people away” is quite common. But understanding the reasons why can be quite complex. It’s time to do a little soul-searching.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...