Dear Nicole: Why Do I Push Away The People I Love?

push away people i love

Dear Nicole,

I have a hard time committing to people. I thought I loved my boyfriend but then I started to feel suffocated so I ended things. The commitment felt bigger or more serious. And it isn’t the first time I do this. I’m worried that I self sabotage. Why do I push away people I love?

-Locked Down & Confused

Note: The question has been edited for length and/or clarity.

Hey, Locked Down & Confused! 

I hope this quarantine is treating you well!

It’s great that you are acknowledging that you might be self sabotaging your relationships. I think that’s the first step that you’ve got to take if you want to end this repeated pattern.

I think there’s many reasons as to why you might be overwhelmed or suffocated by your partners.

1) Fear of Intimacy 

Some people push others away more often than seems justified.

Sometimes it can feel like somebody loses interest even though things were going perfectly.

If you feel someone pulling away once your relationship has started to get a little more serious, it could be because they have a fear of intimacy.

2) Workaholic

When we bury ourselves in our work, it might be because we are unconsciously avoiding intimacy.

Many people who avoid intimacy do so because they’re trying to escape their feelings.

If you keep yourself busy all the time then it makes it easy to ignore those feelings because guess what, you never have to deal with them.

4) You Struggle To Communicate

Communication is key to any relationship!

In order to truly be intimate with someone you have to be able to support and listen to one another.

And it doesn’t just go one way.

You have to actively request what you want or what you need from your partner directly.

If you don’t communicate openly with your partner you won’t ever experience intimacy in your relationship.

5) Dismissing Emotions

Not everyone is an emotional person, which is A-okay, but are you someone who tends to dismiss your emotions rather than facing what you feel?

It’ll always be easier to avoid feeling pain, anger, and sadness, rather than articulating your emotions. You could be doing this because you’re afraid to express those feelings.

Or it could also stem from your upbringing. Maybe you weren’t encouraged or allowed to express your feelings.

If this is the case it might be harming your future relationships.

If you dismiss your emotions then it’s not really surprising that you most likely dismiss your partners.

6) You Push People Away When You Need Them

Depending on people doesn’t make you needy.

Sometimes we need the support of others. I mean who doesn’t need support right now in the middle of this pandemic?!

If you have a fear of intimacy you might be more inclined to handle everything on your own.

Do you tend to push people away instead of leaning on them?

Maybe it’s because you prefer to be suffer alone rather than be vulnerable with your own emotions.

7) Abusive Relationships 

If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, it can really affect your relationships going forward.

You got out of an unfortunate situation but that doesn’t mean that lingering harm is no longer present.

I think one of the hardest things is letting go of a harmful past and not letting it shape who you are or how you choose to act in the future.

That’s not to say that there’s no hope for you, it’s just something that you have to actively work on.

You might have lingering fears that your current partner is going to act the same way. So maybe you create an out for yourself before that happens.

Just a note that abusive relationships don’t have to simply deal with significant others, it could be between family members, friends, etc.

Maybe you had a tough upbringing which makes it difficult for you to get close to someone. Or once they start getting close to you it’s only natural that you feel inclined to push them away.

Why Do We Sabotage Relationships?

People who are prone to sabotaging relationships tend to push their partner away by saying they are busy with work or don’t have the time to be in a relationship.

You might also feel like you create unnecessary tension by starting arguments with your partner.

Or perhaps you stop putting effort into the relationship.

Text messages are minimal, you’re on your phone constantly when you’re together, maybe you no longer make time for dates?

Do you become super critical of the person you’re dating?

Now, they’re too short for you? They’re not accomplished enough? Oh, they drive the wrong type of car? Everything begins to brother you.

You might also question your significant others motives. Why are they trying to get close to me?

You are subconsciously trying to keep people at an emotional distance.

People who self sabotage relationships tend to pull away from their partner as things get more serious. They might even be unfaithful to a partner in order to sabotage the connection built.

You’re the one who is causing your relationship to fail before it’s even had a chance to truly grow.

How To Embrace Intimacy?

I think we might push away the people we love if we don’t know how to love ourselves.

You can learn to embrace intimacy. But it’s a process. There’s a lot of behaviors that have to be addressed and ultimately unlearned.

It’s not something you can fix overnight.

Sometimes people have a tough upbringing that makes it difficult for them to connect with people. The best way to embrace intimacy is to work on yourself.

What is it that makes you vulnerable? How can you overcome these feelings? How can you use them to your advantage?

I hope you can find happiness within yourself before entering a new relationship.

Ultimately, you have to be able to communicate your wants and needs and learn to embrace your emotions.

Best of luck!

Do you feel like you push away the people you love? Or have you had someone do this to you? Comment below! 

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