Pretty much everyone has been burned in the friendship or relationship game.
We’ve all been hurt by people we thought would treat us better, and so often, this makes us retreat back into our shells and keep others at arm’s length.
But this isn’t the only reason for pushing people away.
Sometimes, it’s also caused by poor self-esteem or a feeling of failure. Other times, we worry about hurting others, so we try to keep them at a safe distance.
Sometimes, we just do it without even knowing any reason why. But there’s a way to tell.
If you display these ten behaviors, you’re unintentionally pushing people away and setting yourself up for a life of isolation.
But recognizing these behaviors can also be the first step in turning things around.
1) Being high-strung
What does it mean to be high-strung?
Basically, it means you’re nervous and easy to upset. You’re probably also perpetually in a state of emergency, rushing to do things and always emphasizing how important your tasks are.
This can be really hard for other people to deal with. This is definitely a reason you might find you’re pushing people away.
And while it might not be intentional, it still has the same effect.
Essentially, your neuroses infect other people, and they find that you stress them out.
I know all about this because my father is incredibly high-strung. If anything ever distracts from his well-detailed plans or slows him down for any reason, he can get really upset. And the feeling is contagious!
It’s hard to spend time with people who are always stressed because they stress others out, too.
2) Always being angry
Some people walk around with huge chips on their shoulders or a tendency to break out into a rage at the slightest provocation.
And no one wants to spend their life tiptoeing around or walking on eggshells.
So, how do folks deal with angry people?
They tend to avoid them. They don’t want to deal with such intense negativity around them, and they certainly don’t want to worry all the time about setting them off.
Are you one of these angry people?
If you are, you’re very likely pushing people away, even if it’s not intentional.
Sometimes, anger is justified. Most of the time, though, anger is a response to a feeling of helplessness.
So, if you can learn to accept things you can’t change, you might be able to get a handle on your angry outbursts.
3) Being a rock or an island
If you’re constantly trying to do things your own way with no help from others, guess what happens?
People will leave you to it.
In general, that’s what happens when you constantly refuse help or input from others.
And it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
Why would people stick around only to be turned down and pushed away again and again?
Then, when you suddenly do find yourself looking for help or human contact, there’s no one left around.
I know you may want to prove yourself or keep control of your projects, but remember that no one is truly an island. We’re all connected in a web of interdependence that’s inescapable unless you truly become a self-sufficient hermit.
So, if you can learn to accept help and input from others, you’ll build connections that will help you out when you need it.
4) Getting frustrated easily
I have this friend, Chuck, who is normally really happy and fun-loving.
He knows literally thousands of jokes and loves to entertain others.
But when he’s out and about in the world, things are really different.
With his friends, he’s pretty happy and cheerful. He seems like a totally different person when he has to interact with strangers.
He seems to find the whole world a source of frustration, and the way he reacts to it can really put people off.
Sometimes, he gets frustrated, walks off, and just disappears. Other times, he explodes in anger suddenly and unexpectedly. And sometimes, he seems unable to cope.
While he’s pleasant with just his friends around, he can show these behaviors in front of other people, and it’s a lot of work. It tends to push people away if they don’t know him very well.
5) Flaking out constantly
What’s flaking out? Making plans and then not following through, or making commitments and then not honoring them.
We all know people who do this, and you know how it feels.
Suppose you’re supposed to meet someone at noon, and they don’t even send you a message until half past to tell you they can’t make it after all.
Sure, you could forgive this and not think twice about it if they had a good reason and don’t do it often.
But if you have a really flaky friend who constantly cancels or doesn’t turn up, it sends the message that you’re not all that important to them.
And if you’re the one who’s always faking out? You’d better believe that this behavior can be pushing people away.
6) Being cheap
I know we all get paid different amounts and have different financial commitments.
No one really expects perfect financial equality between friends or associates.
But if you’re never paying your fair share, this is something that can really irk people and push them away from you.
Think about it.
If you go out with people after work and you never have cash, you’re always saying you’ll get the check next time. But next time never comes.
Or if you spit the bill with a group of friends, but you chronically underpay, how are people going to respond?
I’ll tell you – they’ll feel like you’re taking advantage of them and will eventually distance themselves from you.
7) Always arguing
I like a good debate as much as the next guy.
It’s a great way to explore the value of your own ideas and expose yourself to other people’s thoughts.
But I’ll tell you what I don’t like doing – arguing all the time!
I know a lot of people who seem to argue automatically, though, even when they don’t seem to know or care much about the topic of conversation.
I mean, it’s one thing to play the devil’s avocado (did I spell that wrong?), but it’s quite another to just argue for the sake of arguing.
Hey, some people might love arguing day in and day out, but I think it’s a behavior that typically pushes most people away.
8) Complaining constantly
If you don’t argue about things all the time, you might complain constantly instead.
Don’t think this lets you off the hook.
People who complain constantly just reek of negativity, and they’ll quickly find that most people don’t want to be around that all the time.
It’s pretty self-explanatory.
One thing to point out here, though, is that not all people understand complaining in the same way. I know this first-hand because I’m often accused of complaining by my partner when I don’t feel like I am.
When I say, “It’s rainy today,” I’m just making an observation of the weather, but it can be interpreted as complaining.
So it’s not just what you say but also who you say it to that can bother others or push them away unintentionally.
9) Taking but never giving
If you’re a taker and never a giver, this can really turn people off.
Healthy relationships, not just romantic ones but relations of all kinds, should be balanced.
But when one person is doing all the giving and the other is doing all the taking, it doesn’t seem happy or healthy, at least not to the giver.
Imagine one person always complementing the other but never getting any back, or someone who’s always ready to help but never gets help in return when they need it.
Those givers are going to feel spent and also more than a little used.
The truth is that everyone can and should both give and take in their relationships if they want them to stay positive.
10) Never initiating
What’s one more thing you might be doing that could be unintentionally pushing people away?
How about something you’re not doing?
If you’re a person who never initiates socializing, you’d be surprised how easily that pushes people away from you.
You might go out to parties you’re invited to or meet people when they ask you out, but you’re never the one who does the asking.
Well, this can make a lot of people feel like you’re not putting enough effort into the relationship, and eventually, they’ll stop putting in effort, too.
If you display these ten behaviors, you’re unintentionally pushing people away, whether you realize it or not.
I hope this list helps you, and if you see any red flags on your own behavior, you can make an effort to turn things around.
Change your focus and some of your behavior, and you’ll be able to draw people back to you.