You can’t help but feel like you’re being pushed away.
They leave when you enter the room, and when you do manage to speak their responses are terse and even a bit lacking.
It hurts when someone you love acts like this, but trust me—it doesn’t mean you’re going to lose them.
In this article, I’ll give you 10 things you can try when someone you love is pushing you away.
1) Don’t stop loving them
It’s almost never the case that someone who has been acting distant has actually stopped loving you back.
Trying to “give them a taste of their own medicine”—which is to push them away in turn or to try to stop loving them—would only make things worse.
It isn’t easy to keep loving and caring for someone who isn’t reciprocating, but I insist that you try nonetheless.
Besides, if you do truly love them, then you’re not going to “punish” them just for being a little distant.
Remember: People can’t be warm and loving 24/7 a day, 365 days a year. Not even you.
2) Do give them space
What they want right now is distance, so it’s best to simply let them have it.
Doing this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost them. If anything, trying to insist on being around when they clearly don’t want it will make them want to leave for real.
Some people just want some me-time every now and then, and others get burnt out by being around the same people all the time.
So give them space. It might be what you both need.
3) Encourage them to open up to you
Although I said distance is normal, some people simply don’t distance themselves from people without good reason.
Maybe there really is a problem of some kind—if not with your relationship, then just with them (depression, losing a job, etc).
It’s a good idea to encourage them to open up to you. The operative word is “encourage”. Make sure you aren’t pressuring them to do so!
And should they share it with you, make sure to actually listen to understand and to keep things private between the two of you.
There’s a non-zero chance that what they might have to say might upset you… but this is their moment, not yours. You’re here to listen, not judge.
4) Let a relationship expert guide you
When someone you love pushes you away—and they do it deliberately—nine times out of ten there’s a problem.
When you’re already at this point, it’s important that you get guidance from a relationship expert. Friends and family can give you hugs and comforting words, but they’re not trained professionals.
I found my coach on Relationship Hero.
I recommend them because all their coaches actually have a degree in psychology so you won’t just get canned “pop-psychology” advice you can easily get on the internet.
My coach helped me when I was struggling with my relationship years ago, but I still keep in contact with her up to this day for regular “relationship checkups.”
It feels good to take charge of your relationships for once, and just knowing that you won’t have to do it alone ever feels great.
Check out Relationship Hero now to find the right coach for you.
5) Step back and observe
When someone is pushing you away, it’s only natural that you might wonder if there’s something you did wrong. Sometimes that might be true, but sometimes it simply isn’t you.
Perhaps they’ve been pushing everyone else away!
I once knew someone who pushed people away when they got too close because they recently experienced trauma.
It’s for that reason that I recommend stepping back a bit and observing how they interact with others, as well as how they’ve been carrying themselves in general.
6) Give them the benefit of the doubt
It’s easy to think the worst when someone that you love pulls away. You might think they’re cheating on you, or that they don’t trust you.
But as tempting as it may be, avoid rushing to such a conclusion.
Maintaining that trust when they are doing very little reciprocate won’t be easy, but it’s necessary if you want to keep the relationship.
You can easily ruin your relationship by not even trying—and if it is already that bad, assumptions will make things even worse!
7) Remember: it’s not about you
Keep in mind that however you may feel about them distancing themselves from you (and maybe others), ultimately they’re doing this because of things they’re feeling and thoughts they’re struggling with.
It’s not your problem to solve—not that you can in the first place—so try to avoid making it about you.
Don’t be offended and too hurt when they push you away.
Don’t wonder what’s wrong with you and why they’re treating you like “garbage”.
Most of all, don’t make them feel guilty for making you feel bad.
So why not help them instead?
Try not to think about what you’re getting out of this relationship and instead focus on what you’re putting in for them.
8) Patience is a must
Patience, trust, and good communications are some of the pillars that relationships rely on, and relationships crumble without all three.
It might seem hard to grasp a better tomorrow, and you might be tempted to try to make things better as soon as you can.
But some things simply need time to tide over and heal. You just can’t rush people through crises.
As tempting as it might be to say “oh, get over it” or “when are you going to snap out of it?” or “How dare you push me away?!”… DON’T.
Patience and understanding are what they need, so give it to them if you love them.
9) Learn to detach if necessary
All throughout this, remember that you shouldn’t neglect your emotional well-being.
This doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning them, of course. But do feel free to have some space to yourself—it’s not easy to keep loving someone who’s pushing you away.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you should every night (although if that makes you happy, go ahead), but it simply means you have to put your mind somewhere else.
Too much introspection can kill you, and I must say it can’t help you at this point when they’re pushing you away.
But of course, don’t forget to communicate that you’re doing this. You can tell them, for example, that you need some space and will not be able to respond for a while.
Because you’re not doing this to have a “revenge” on them, but you’re doing this because that’s what’s healthy for both of you.
10) Be ready to walk away
Unfortunately, sometimes things just aren’t going to work out no matter how hard you may try, or how much patience you are willing to give them.
Their personal issues might be too much for either of you to handle, or maybe they realized that they don’t want you in their life anymore.
It hurts and you might want to fight for it, but if it’s been going on for a while despite all your attempts to make things right again, then let it go.
But of course, keep in mind that this should be the last resort, and even if you walk away, you can always keep the door open for them.
Reasons why someone you love pushes you away
It’s worthwhile, perhaps, to discuss why people would push their loved ones away. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does cover the most common reasons why.
Some of these are easier to “solve” than others, and it’s very possible that they might struggle with several of these at once. Maybe even all of them.
1) Fear of intimacy
Some people back away because they are afraid of people getting too close to them. They might be okay friends or partners until you hit that point and… BAM! They push you away.
It will be painful to find yourself being pushed away, only to see them being “happy” with someone else. You might feel like you were just being “used”
They have developed this fear for a reason. Some might have had traumatic experiences where people took advantage of their trust. There’s little you can do here other than help them get help.
2) Low self-esteem
Another thing that can make people push their loved ones away is low self-esteem.
It burdens them with thoughts like “what if they’re just pretending to like me?” and “I’m not good enough for them so I might as well be alone.”
You might wonder “what? How can they think that? I cared for them so much!” but the thing is that true self-esteem comes from within.
Your love and support is like a band-aid on top of that. It helps them deal with it, or stop them from getting any more hurt, but they don’t cure the wounds that already are.
3) Trust issues
Some people simply find it hard to trust others, and are always suspicious of other people… even those who love them.
People who have issues trusting people often go hot and cold. Once they notice something “suspicious” or “off” about you, they stay away and get distant…even if you’re the most loving person on earth.
These people tend to question the things you do for them, wondering if there’s an ulterior motive behind your actions.
They also tend to be more possessive and clingy until the moment that they decide to push you away.
It’s difficult to be with someone who has trust issues. Your relationship would be better if you get guidance from a coach over at Relationship Hero.
4) Personal crises
And then there are those who simply need some personal time and space away from others—even from the person they love— because of some kind of personal crisis.
They might have lost a loved one, or found themselves buried under miles of debt, saw their favorite sports team lose, or perhaps they got hit by a midlife crisis ahead of schedule.
Most personal crises end within months, but some can continue to drag people down years, if not decades after the fact.
But this is something that you can actually talk over between the two of you at the very least… unlike the other two, which might need professional guidance.
5) Idealistic conflict
If they’re putting some distance between the two of you, specifically, there’s a chance it’s because of a conflict in ideals or beliefs.
Perhaps you used to hold the same beliefs but they had, for some reason, changed their mind and now her ideals are opposed to yours.
Or perhaps they saw you do or say something that is opposed to her personal beliefs and made her uncomfortable around you.
It can be hard to get them to open up to you, especially if they’re afraid to get a hostile reaction from you, but this is also something that you can work out between yourselves.
6) Social exhaustion
And of course, there’s always social exhaustion. There can be several different ways this can come into effect.
Sometimes people simply get tired of being around the same people for months or years on end. If you’re in a long-term relationship, this is probably the case.
Sometimes people get caught up in life and no longer have the energy to spare on their loved ones.
Think about if they ever had much time to themselves in your time together, or if their living situation has become especially rough as of late.
Sadly, it’s not that easy to bring this cause under control. Only time will make everything go back to normal again. For now, you just have to ride it out.
Getting shut out and pushed away by someone you love is unpleasant, this is especially so if you don’t know why.
But it’s not the end of the world.
You can always ask and do your best to be supportive.
Chances are that they’re facing their own demons and they’re probably not trying to actually hurt you.
What they need the most from you is your love and support.
They might not be able to give you back the same right now but perhaps someday you might see your places reversed.