Have you ever experienced a situation where you think you are growing closer to your partner, before suddenly acting in what seems calculated ways to push them away? There is a greater emotional and physical distance between you, less interest in each other’s needs, tense communication and sometimes even unkind words.
There is a lot of hurt and confusion that can come in this sort of relationship dynamic, especially when one side deems it to be progressing nicely. If you feel like you are shutting down when a relationship builds up to a more serious phase, you should know that change is possible. However, it is important to consider the reasons why it happens before anything else:
- Fear of intimacy – pushing people away is one of the ways of avoiding intimacy. This is a common mechanism of defence for people who have the fear of being hurt in a relationship. If you have a past relationship that hurt you, the consequences can manifest in many ways, among which worries about repeat rejection in the same manner. Your subconscious might hide such fears, even if you think you have healed. They will come over in the form of an instinct to protect yourself from rejection. And even if the actions happen on a more unconscious level, the result is the same – you drive your partner away, for the sake of self-preservation and avoiding intimacy.
- Attachment problems – attachment style of avoidance can also play a role in pushing people away. This theory has to do with one’s early years of life. If your primary caregiver/parent was not emotionally close during your childhood, you may acquire an avoidant attachment style. This is characterized by suppressed needs for intimacy and closeness, as you have learned to be self-sufficient from a young age. You cannot stand when a relationship gets too intense.
- Low self-confidence and self-esteem – people who are not confident in themselves and struggle with low self-esteem are also prone to pushing others away. Perhaps you think that you will let them down, or that they don’t like you that much, or that they will leave you for someone better later on. You think yourself not good enough for them and so you push them away instead of working on a relationship. Many people who have bigger issues with self-confidence think that they don’t even deserve a healthy relationship, even though that is never true.
- Trust issues – if you have been betrayed in a previous relationship, it is common that you will have trust issues. If someone cheated on you, you may have a hard time repairing your broken trust. This can cause a lot of bumps down the road of any relationship, in which partners don’t invest extra efforts to convince each other of their true feelings and intentions.
So how do you change all that and let people in your life?
- Start slow – if you wish to build a close relationship, you should never rush things. Evaluate the real issues stopping you from achieving that and work on them with your partner.
- Talk about it all – good communication is the most important pillar of any relationship. And while it may seem scary discussing such problems with your partner, it is the only way to make progress with your relationship with them.
- It is a balancing act – if you are too eager to prevent the impulse of pushing others away, you could end up in the other extreme of becoming too needy and not respecting your partner’s boundaries. You have to strive for balance and interdependence – to support each other, without depending on them entirely.