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“Why do I push people away?” – 19 reasons (and how to stop)

“Why do I push people away?”

Are you asking yourself this question?

Perhaps you’ve only recently come to the conclusion that you push people away.

Time and time again, when a relationship starts to get a little too close, you end up pushing people away and isolating yourself until they end up giving up and moving on.

But why do you do it, and is it something you can change?

Pushing people away isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s not something you want to do your entire life, either.

Here are 18 possible reasons why you might be pushing people away:

Negative Reasons

1) You Think People Don’t Want To Be With You

One of the most commonly self-destructive reasons we destroy relationships before they even truly begin is because we don’t believe that people want to be around us.

Think about all the times you psyched yourself out of a potential friendship because you thought something like:

  • “Why should they hang out with me? I have nothing to offer.”
  • “I don’t want to waste their time; I’m sure they have something better to do.”
  • “They haven’t messaged me because they realized how boring I am.”

This leaves you with a very small pool of potential friends; people who can completely accommodate your insecurities of being unwanted and who don’t mind constantly reassuring you and staying connected with you.

But this can be difficult for people to do, because friendships aren’t owed to you, and people don’t like feeling obligated to maintain an emotionally one-sided relationship.

However, just because they don’t want to go the extra mile to persist with that friendship doesn’t mean they don’t want to be with you.

2) You Have Trouble Focusing During Social Interactions

For some people, social interactions come naturally.

Being a people-person means naturally knowing how to connect with people, how to feign interest even when you’re not interested, and how to follow along with conversations and respond appropriately.

But some of us don’t have that skill, and social interactions are not only a learned skill but extremely difficult experiences to deal with.

When you don’t have the ability to focus or concentrate during a conversation, it can lead to tons of anxiety every time you talk with someone because you don’t want to seem rude or silly just because you can’t give them the correct response.

More and more people find themselves dealing with this issue as we transition to a digital world.

Some of us have gotten so used to chatting with people online — having the time to think of a response and being able to read messages over again — that we’ve lost the ability to converse in person, where responses are expected immediately and you have to maintain eye contact.

You might have so much anxiety with these seemingly normal interactions that you push people away just to avoid them entirely.

3) You Have No Energy To Live Life

Pushing people away isn’t always a matter of not liking them or not having the confidence to interact with them; sometimes we just don’t have the fuel to do the interactions to begin with.

Socializing with people takes tons of energy — the energy to smile, the energy to engage, the energy to talk and laugh and be a pleasing part of the experience — and that’s an energy that many people take for granted.

Some people — especially those who may be going through a rough patch — simply don’t have that kind of energy to spend.

No matter how pleasant your company may be, it can be a terrifying and exhausting experience for you because you have to force every action to avoid looking like a snob or a jerk.

It already takes all of your energy just to live life and do the things you have to do; you can’t imagine spending any extra energy you already don’t have on other people.

4) You Are Too Irritable Around Other People

When you’re not feeling great about life, it can be easy to become extra irritable around everyone and everything, and that’s not something you really want to do.

No matter how much you try to control your mood, irritation isn’t something you can keep to yourself.

Our tolerance for things that bother us becomes less and less as we become more unsatisfied, leading us to lash out in annoyance to people who don’t deserve it.

The more irritable you become, the more likely you don’t want to expose other people to your own grumpy, disgruntled personality.

Simply put, it can be exhausting embarrassing yourself with knee jerk reactions that you can’t really control, and you would rather give yourself the time to become a better version of yourself before subjecting other people to that.

5) You Don’t Think You Deserve Happiness

Dealing with low self-esteem and low self-confidence partly means not believing that you deserve any kind of positive experiences, and that includes befriending people who make us feel good about ourselves.

The core of self-destructive behavior is rejecting anything that might pull us away from our own self-destruction, and people who try to help us can be terrifying to that inner self-destructive voice.

We tell ourselves, “They don’t know who I really am”, or, “They don’t really like me because I’m such a jerk”.

Our self-destructiveness convinces us that we’ve never had happiness simply because we don’t deserve it, and so we should reject any source of happiness that comes our way.

This type of self-destructive behavior is brutal because it traps us in a cycle of our own self-pity and isolation.

It can’t be stopped until we snap out of it ourselves — which for some people is an impossible task — or someone willingly breaks through the walls we put up and reaches through to lift us up.

6) You Hate The Fear of Rejection More Than Being Alone

We get into relationships with other people because we know they add value to our lives.

Nobody wants to be alone; to grow alone with no friends or significant other, and to eventually die on your lonesome with no one to remember your name.

For many people, the idea of being alone is the ultimate fear.

But for those of us who push people away, there is a greater fear that outweighs the fear of being alone: the fear of rejection.

This is the fear of putting yourself out there and earnestly and eagerly trying your very best to get a friend or a romantic partner, only to be rejected and shot down.

This fear is deeply tied to our sense of value, because the harder we try to get people to like us, the deeper it hurts if they end up ultimately rejecting us.

We end up doubting our entire self-worth and wondering what we don’t have which everyone else seems to have: the natural, inherent likability that attracts friends.

People develop this fear when they have a traumatic experience with relationships in the past, and spend years in isolation, away from other people.

They still fear and hate the idea of being alone, but the fear of rejection is closer to their heart.

7) You’re Just Tired of Other People and Society

Maybe you’re not a recluse or an introvert.

Maybe you’ve had a lifetime of colorful friendships and interesting relationships.

Maybe you know how to be a social butterfly and you know what it takes to make a friend.

Pushing people away doesn’t always have to mean that you are incapable of building close bonds and relationships.

But for one reason or another, you’re just totally done with other people and society as a whole.

You’ve become disillusioned with the idea of being with other people and would rather spend all your time alone.

You hate the idea of possibly building a new relationship again and going through everything you’ve already done.

Simply put, you can’t stand society anymore, and there’s no better way to tell the world “I’m out” than to stop interacting with other people.

8) It’s Easier To Be Alone Than To Change Who You Are

You have issues; you know you do. It may be one of the issues on this list or it may be something else entirely, something completely unique to you.

Something about you is making it hard for you to connect with people, and you may be completely aware of what that problem may be.

But you just don’t care anymore. You’ve accepted that this is who you are and you don’t want to change for anyone else.

You would rather spend your weekends alone than trying to work on your known issues; it’s just easier that way.

Maybe you’ve already tried changing in the past, and you just couldn’t do it.

You couldn’t stop being irritable, or insecure, or worried, or anxious, so you just no longer try to fix any of it.

You’ve accepted that this is your reality, whether you like it or not, so you push people away before they have a chance to trigger those problems inside of you.

9) You Have a Deep Fear of Intimacy

Some of us are completely comfortable opening up our souls to anyone willing to listen.

We’ll share with them all our secrets, our pains, our histories, in the hope that they’ll connect with us and understand us at a deeper, more intimate level.

But there are others who reject intimacy entirely. You can’t stand the idea of someone getting that close to you, physically or spiritually.

The thought of being so exposed and so vulnerable to another person leaves you feeling terrified if not disgusted, and you don’t think you could ever find yourself truly opening up to another person.

You might have tons of friends and acquaintances; you have no problem with shallow and superficial interactions.

But the moment anyone begins to pry and learn more about you, you feel it as a total invasion of privacy and you push them away.

Positive Reasons

Pushing people away isn’t always a bad thing.

Sometimes it’s just who you are as a person; maybe you’re extremely busy or just naturally introverted.

Either way, you can’t help but seek out solitude, and that doesn’t always come off well for other people.

10) You’re Naturally Introverted and Other People Suck Your Energy

It’s not really personal. Other people thrive being in other people’s spaces while you prefer your own silence.

You’d rather be alone, hanging out on your own, instead of being out and about with people you don’t exactly like.

Being an introvert means you’re fiercely protective of your time and what you do with it or who you spend it with.

The idea of making small talk with a bunch of strangers (sometimes even friends) who want to discuss nothing but the mundane feels like an imposition.

It’s not that you hate people; you just really, really, really enjoy being in your own bubble.

Socialization is fun every now and then. After all, even introverts like you need time with people, too.

But unlike others, there’s only a certain amount of “people time” you can tolerate.

This can result in you delaying invitations, cancelling meet-ups, or avoiding people altogether.

From the outside, it looks like you’re snobbishly pushing people away when all you’re really doing is preserving your own space.

11) You Prefer Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs

Some friendships can be more demanding than others.

When you’re in a friend group, you’re not only taking into account one other person but a whole set of individuals with their own needs and wants.

Just because you’re friends doesn’t mean your personalities don’t clash, or that your needs, wants, and priorities are entirely the same.

This isn’t always fun, particularly if you have your own thing going on.

It’s not that you’re inconsiderate or inflexible, you just prefer putting yourself first before others.

You don’t really want to deal with other people and their own idiosyncrasies.

Maybe you’re a vegan and all your friends are meat lovers.

Maybe you prefer spending Saturdays watching a movie while they all enjoy partying in some club. Instead of arguing with your friends to do what you want, it’s much easier to just do them yourself.

At the end of the day, you’d rather spend time with yourself knowing fully well you’re not forcing anyone to do whatever they don’t want.

This gives you the freedom to breathe, let go, be yourself, and enjoy the moment for what it is.

12) You Are Your Best Self When You’re Alone

When you’re around people, you feel like you have to take on a persona that’s not quite who you are.

In the spirit of friendship, you find yourself doing things you normally wouldn’t do like participating in gossip or taking recreational drugs or maybe something as simple as laughing at jokes you typically don’t find funny.

The point is, being around people means participating in unwritten social obligations.

To appear agreeable, we have to do things we’re not always comfortable with.

If you’re an introvert, this won’t always come easy to you because you own your individuality. You don’t want to get swept up doing something for the sake of fitting in.

You’re not really pushing people away; you just refuse to give in to peer pressure.

Instead of being compelled to do something or become someone you’re really not, you choose the quiet bliss that is solitude.

13) You Can’t Stand Toxicity and Drama

Gossip, drama, and feuds are all non-existent in your own personal life.

But somehow the people around you seem to be living in some kind of TV show: every time you meet your friends, they always have the latest scoop on someone or happen to be experiencing that one big dilemma.

From family troubles to partner issues to work hang-ups, there’s always something going on.

Just listening to that can be extremely draining, and you don’t want to lose your zen by getting caught up in whatever storm people are conjuring for themselves.

Choosing to be alone means choosing peace.

You understand that the world is already noisy as it is so you choose to live your life in silence and preserve that stillness instead of engaging in petty topics and cat fights.

14) Superficial Interactions Bother You

There’s something about small talk that you just can’t stand.

It’s not that you’re looking to discover the secrets of the universe or discuss great literary masterpieces 24/7, you just want to talk about something less… superficial.

And yet the people you know and the friends you have can’t help but talk about the small things that give meaning to their own empty lives.

It’s not just the personal stories, either.

The proliferation of streaming channels like Netflix and Spotify, for example, has made it even more challenging for people to develop unique interests.

Instead of spending their time understanding what they like and finding something they’re passionate in, they spend their days binge watching shows from 10 years ago.

Having a favorite show and listening to some random band have become acceptable personality traits.

You don’t have to be “interesting” anymore because that’s what everyone else is doing anyway. That might work for others but it’s not something you really want to engage with.

15) You Grew Up Being Emotionally Independent

Through the years, you simply learned how to stand on your own two feet with no one else supporting you but yourself.

This translates into a somewhat cold demeanor and people can’t help but mistake that as arrogance or avoidance.

In reality, you’re just used to being alone, without the need for validation or empty companionship.

Consequently, this also means you prefer high-value relationships than superficial ones.

Having this sense of security makes you pickier about the company you keep and not everyone will be understanding of that.

16) You’re Totally Confident and Content With Yourself

Not everyone understands the fact that some people are just perfectly happy in their own company.

In a world saturated by likes, pings, and notifications, people can’t help but feel like they always have to be tethered to something.

Whether it’s other people or just the internet, being “on” all the time tends to make people overactive and a little too much to be around.

And this is the complete opposite of who you are. Unlike others, you don’t have the need for constant stimulation.

You don’t need to be engaged in a conversation because you find meaning in the silences.

You don’t try to fill in conversations for the sake of squashing out the quiet because you’re actually content in it.

Other people might think you’re a little crazy for thinking this way and that’s totally fine. You’re comfortable enough that you actually like being alone.

17) You Think Deeply and Thrive In Your Own Silence

Who has the time to sit around and listen to people talk about this girl from work or that angry boss or this crazy thing that happened to them this morning?

Not you. You’re preoccupied with things that actually matter to you.

Being out and about can be pretty distracting. When we’re constantly engaging in superficial talk with others, that takes away energy you could be spending thinking about more complex ideas.

And that doesn’t mean you’re pushing people away: it just means you work best alone, like so many amazing writers, thinkers, and inventors who take time away from civilization to really unearth greatness.

18) You’re Happy With the People You Already Have

Meeting new people can be particularly intimidating — or at least that’s what most people like to think about introverts.

If you’ve found your tribe and feel content with the relationships you already have then it’s only natural to push back some of the new interactions you’re getting.

From a stranger’s perspective, you might appear a little unfriendly and unwelcoming when all you really feel is just contentment.

When you find satisfaction in your current relationships, you’re less likely to go out and about seeking new friendships.

Being uninterested in strangers doesn’t mean you’re an unsocialized snob. In your case, it might just mean you’re secure in your own personal relationships and simply don’t feel the need to cultivate new ones.

Why Pushing People Away Isn’t Always A Bad Thing

Pushing people away doesn’t always mean that you’re a social pariah.

Sometimes all it is is a reflection of your individuality. If you’re a lone wolf who simply enjoys being alone, then there’s no reason to feel bad for preferring solitude over the company of others.

At the end of the day, pushing people away requires a sort of balance: are you doing it because your social skills need work or are you intentionally isolating yourself because you feel secure in your own person?

Understanding the difference can make you feel more at peace about yourself and your position in the world.

Now that you understand why you push people away, you’re probably wondering how you can learn to stop doing it.

While it can be beneficial to push people away at times, more often than not, you, unfortunately, push people away who can bring positivity and love into your life.

And it’s important to realize that it can cause a lot of pain and heartache for those loved ones that you push out of your life.

Here are 9 things you need to do to stop pushing people away in your life

1. Are you rejecting help from people around you?

Ask yourself: Has anyone offered to help you recently?

Who were they? People close to you? Or even fellow co-workers?

Now think about why you didn’t accept their help.

Do you think it makes you look less strong and independent?

Do you hate giving any sort of authority to others?

It’s important to realize that accepting help from others doesn’t make you weak or timid.

In fact, embracing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

Brene Brown says it best:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

Humans are social creatures. We rely on each other to get by.

And accepting help is an important way of recognizing the social contract we have with each other.

And when you learn to accept help from others, you’ll be more likely to offer help to others yourself.

2. Make an effort with your loved ones

Who are the most important people in your life?

Do you accept help from them?

Do you make an effort to communicate with them and ask them how they’re going?

Strong relationships don’t just happen. It takes time to nurture and cultivate them.

Even if it doesn’t seem natural to you to involve yourself in other people’s lives, it’s important to do so with those you consider closest.

Humans are social creatures, and the support and love we get from our loved ones give us strength and confidence.

If you want to stop pushing people away, then you need to make an effort with the people that matter in your life.

3. Take a step back

It’s important for anyone to take a step back and reflect on their emotions and behaviors.

I’m guessing that the first half of this article may have helped you identify why you’re pushing people away.

And that’s important to understand.

But it’s also imperative that you take some time for yourself to digest this information and reflect on your feelings.

This will help you understand yourself, and the more you understand yourself, the more you can learn to calm yourself down.

And I’m willing to bet that if you’re feeling calm and peaceful, you’ll be less strong in pushing people away.

If you’re an introvert or an empath, taking time away for yourself may help you to recharge batteries.

Understanding your energy requirements will also help you understand when you should allow yourself to let people in and when it is better for you to push them away.

4. Reflect on your current relationships

When you do take time away for yourself, also take that time to reflect on who is important to you.

Most importantly:

Ask yourself what they might think of you because of your behavior that is pushing them away.

Then you can decide what relationships you want to work on, and what relationships you’d rather kick to the curb.

You might not have the energy reserves to foster many close relationships, so choose a few that you know are worth it to you and that will enhance your life.

Take the time to analyze what you could do better in the relationship, and then make a plan to take action to do so.

5. Consider your behavior

Did the first half of this article help you realize why you may be pushing people away?

Could it be a feeling that you’re subconsciously acting on?

For example, maybe you are prone to comparing yourself to others, and as a defensive mechanism, you push people away because you know they’ll make you feel bad about yourself.

Once you realize your motivations for acting the way you do, you can then work on rectifying it.

If it’s excessively comparing yourself with others, then you can take a step back and stop yourself whenever you find yourself comparing yourself with others.

Remember:

The best way to change your attitude is to first change your behavior.

This quote from John C. Maxwell sums it up best:

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

6. Learn to say yes more.

You’ve probably in a routine of saying no to almost any request.

But if you start to yes more, it changes your mindset more than you think.

Furthermore, you’ll also push yourself outside of your comfort zone to get involved in new situations with new people.

You’ll develop new relationships, new friends, and new ways of looking at life.

And it’s not just learning to say yes, either.

Perhaps you regularly don’t answer the phone whenever it rings.

Or you don’t text people back. Or accept invitations.

If you want to stop pushing people away, then you need to make an effort to change these behaviors.

And your whole issue of pushing people away really could be solved by a simple change of your current behaviors.

7. You don’t always need to avoid conflict

Many people who actively push people away from their lives also tend to avoid conflict in the hope that they disappear.

Look, it’s understandable. Many people don’t enjoy conflict.

While you may not have the emotional stability to deal with a passionate disagreement, you can learn to calm yourself down and approach any conflict in a non-confrontational manner.

Maybe you do get emotional and worked up when conflict arises.

The problem?

That only serves to make things worse and reinforces your desire to stay away from future conflict.

The truth is, it’s important to confront issues in your life rather than bury them.

Otherwise, those issues will bite you back in the long run.

If you can learn to be calm and collected in the face of conflict, you’ll be better at dealing with conflict and facing your issues head-on.

8. Avoid being a people-pleaser

Many people who avoid conflict are also people-pleasers.

You don’t want to upset anyone and you forget about your own happiness because other people’s happiness is more important.

This is a tiring way to act, and it could be a catalyst for you pushing people away because you don’t possess an unlimited energy supply to satisfy everyone.

It’s important to learn that you’re not responsible for anyone’s feelings but your own.

Yes, everyone should be polite, but you need to develop your own boundaries. Know when you’re moving into the territory of people-pleasing and avoid getting stuck there.

9. Avoid pretending

You may say to yourself that you’re fine because you’re not engaging in any conflict or arguments and you haven’t got any complications in your life.

But is that how you really want to live?

We only get life once, meaning that staying in a place of comfort and security for your whole life may lead to regrets down the track.

And relationships with others are an enormous source of fulfillment and meaning in most people’s lives.

In fact, an 80-year Harvard study found that the quality of a person’s closest relationships is the biggest indicator of genuine happiness.

So if you’re googling “why do I push people away” and you’ve read the whole article up until this point, then I’m guessing that you want more out of life. You want to develop more close relationships and stop pushing people away.

And the best way to do that is to start small and move from there.

It could be saying “yes” more.

Or it could be calling up your closest friends and asking them how they’re truly going.

Whatever it is, take action however small it may be, and then move forward from there.

Remember:

Changing your daily habits is the best way to make a positive change over the long-run.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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