14 things you don’t realize you’re doing that push people away

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You can’t please everyone, right? But some things and habits actively push people away from us. The people we really like. 

Some of these things are fairly obvious. Others, not so much. 

So, to help you stop this process, here are the most harmful things you do that might be pushing people away from you. 

1) Being overly critical

Do you like being criticized? Can you imagine someone telling you all the time you’re doing things wrong? That wouldn’t be much fun, would it? 

Constant criticism creates a toxic atmosphere where people feel like they’re walking on eggshells. 

It not only damages self-esteem but can also lead to resentment and hostility. Over time, people we constantly criticize start distancing themselves to simply protect their self-worth and mental well-being.

Most of the time, this problem arises because we can’t or won’t put ourselves in other people’s shoes. 

If we’d do that, then there’s no way we would torture them with our barrage of criticism. 

2) Being self-centered

Many people think they’re the main character in this world, and everyone else is just an NPC or a part of the backdrop.

Extreme self-centeredness makes others feel like they’re just accessories in your life. You make them feel like they aren’t valued individuals and that you just care about yourself. 

Should you care about yourself? Definitely, but you should also check in with other people and ask them how they’re doing and if they need help and support. 

It will make a world of difference in how people will start interacting with you in return. 

3) Lacking appreciation and gratitude

The unfortunate truth is that we take most people and things in life for granted. We only start to appreciate them when they’re gone. 

Failing to express gratitude and appreciation for others’ efforts or kindness can push them away because they eventually start feeling unvalued. 

Over time, they may even distance themselves to seek recognition elsewhere. How many marriages have broken up because of this? Countless!

To stop that from happening to you, there are luckily many easy ways to show appreciation, from compliments and hugs to remembering special occasions, gifting, sharing a smile, spending quality time together, etc. 

Take some time to value the people around you. They will be thankful and will value you back even more. 

4) Not listening

I was always a great listener. I could listen to people for hours. But like many others, my attention span plunged when I started using smartphones all the time.   

You may have noticed how difficult it is to hold a conversation with someone. Either you or them are distracted by notifications, taking photos, reading the news, checking in, etc. 

This failure to actively listen not only leads to misunderstandings but also represents a lack of empathy. 

When others perceive that you don’t genuinely care about their thoughts and feelings, they’ll also start distancing themselves emotionally.

5) Being envious

Let’s face it: no matter how successful we are, someone will always be more accomplished than us

That’s why expressing jealousy or envy of other people’s successes can strain our relationships. 

It can make people feel like they can’t share their achievements with you, leading to emotional distance.

But even if you don’t express your jealousy, you’re not helping yourself, as it just makes you feel like you aren’t worth as much.  

Keeping up with the Joneses will only bring you misery and financial despair. 

6) Being negative

I’m the first to admit that I was negative for most of my life. It’s hard being positive when you encounter one of the worst financial crises (2008) when you’ve just finished college. 

Still, a consistently negative attitude is emotionally draining for those around you. It’s also contagious and creates a pessimistic and discouraging environment, making it difficult for people to share their successes and joys. 

What happens then? 

They find more positive interactions elsewhere. Congratulations, you’ve successfully pushed them away.

Luckily, that didn’t happen in my case because most people I interacted with were in the same boat and were just as negative as me. 

7) Being unreliable

One of the worst traits you can have is being unreliable. Once you get that reputation, it’s very hard to repair it. 

In fact, chronic unreliability can fracture trust irreparably. People start questioning your commitments and doubt your dependability. This makes them keep their distance, both emotionally and physically.

Keep your promises and appointments, and above all, be punctual. There’s nothing that screams, “I don’t respect other people,” like making them wait every goddamn time.  

8) Being judgmental and condescending 

Another thing that pushes people away is thinking and acting like your way is the best way.

Speaking down to others or acting superior is incredibly demeaning. It creates resentment and repels people as they look for relationships where they’re treated as equals.

Many people also like to pass harsh judgments without considering the context, which makes others feel unfairly criticized and misunderstood. 

The result of that is withdrawal and distancing.

If you haven’t realized yet, every person is on a unique journey. Who’s to say your particular journey is the right one? Should everyone be like you? 

9) Being overly competitive

I’ve had a friend once who was extremely competitive. You bought a nice pair of shoes, and he’d go and buy better ones the next day. That’s just one silly example. 

It didn’t help his case that he was earning less money than others, which made the situation worse for him and was probably the reason for his competitiveness. 

You see, excessive competition turns every interaction into a contest. This naturally causes stress and discomfort. 

People start preferring to spend time with those who encourage cooperation and mutual support and not needless competition, leading to distancing in the relationship.

10) Being defensive

Some people just can’t take constructive feedback. They react to it defensively and create a hostile atmosphere where open and honest communication becomes nearly impossible. 

Others avoid providing feedback altogether to avoid conflict.

One of the primary reasons for defensiveness is the fear of being criticized, judged, or blamed. 

When people feel attacked or perceive criticism, they instinctively become defensive to shield themselves from emotional pain or harm.

Insecurity, cultural and societal norms, lack of communication skills, etc., are also reasons why someone becomes defensive and pushes people away.

As does the following:

11) Being too clingy

Are you clingy or needy? If so, I have some bad news for you.

Excessive neediness can feel suffocating because you depend on others for your happiness and self-worth. This drives people away as they want relationships that allow for more independence.

Some examples of clinginess are sending a flurry of messages or calling a friend incessantly, even when they’re busy or have other commitments.

Or insisting on spending every available moment together and not respecting your friend’s or partner’s need for personal space or time with other people.

Many people also feel envious or possessive when their friend or partner spends time with others or has close relationships.

12) Ignoring boundaries

In today’s world, people really love to set boundaries and have them respected. If you fail to realize this and don’t respect personal and emotional boundaries, it makes them feel uncomfortable and even unsafe. 

That’s why they may distance themselves from you to protect their sense of security and privacy.

Reading someone’s private messages, sharing highly personal or intimate details about someone without their permission, ignoring “no” or “stop,” and not honoring work-life balance are just some blatant examples of ignoring other people’s boundaries. 

13) Gossiping

Spreading gossip is also a blatant example of behavior that pushes people away. They start fearing that their private matters will become public knowledge. 

You know what their next step is? They avoid confiding in you and maintain a distance.

I know how much people love gossiping, but could never fully understand it. Do they not realize people do that to them as soon as they leave the room?

14) Being passive-aggressive

Passive-aggressive behavior is nothing to sneeze at. It can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, confusion, and worse. 

People may feel like they’re walking on a minefield of hidden tensions, prompting them to distance themselves to avoid these uncomfortable situations.

So if you’re often sarcastic, giving backhanded compliments, withholding information, gaslighting, shifting blame, sabotaging, making others feel guilty, giving silent treatment, etc., you’re probably not a good guy. 

Final thoughts

Apart from the reasons I just mentioned, it’s worth checking out if some of your subconscious behaviors are also pushing people away.  

It’s relatively easy to fix a problem once you know it’s cause!

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Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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