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Pushing People Away Psychology (Detailed Guide)

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This detailed guide will discuss the psychology behind why some people habitually push people away and what do they get by doing this. It will also highlight the underlying and deep-rooted causes of this behavior and some ways in which this pattern can be switched to secure attachment.

Why People Push Others Away

People may have an unhealthy psychological behavior of pushing others away due to numerous reasons. Some of them are listed below:

  • To get more love and attention.
  • They may feel threatened, so this behavior gives them a false sense of self-protection.
  • To avoid and manage conflicts.
  • To cope with feelings of unworthiness, rejection, or abandonment.
  • Fear of vulnerability
  • Need for freedom and autonomy

People Push Others Away In Hopes of Getting More Love and Attention

Pushing people aways can arise from an avoidant attachment style, developed at a young age due to how the caregivers and parents attended to the child.

Some children only got attention from their parents when something went wrong. The parents liked to be ‘fixers’ if the negative emotions came up, or due to their own busyness, they didn’t prioritize the child. The child learns shortly that if he pushes the parents aways, they’ll keep loving him. He could actually get more of the parents by making himself less available to the parents. 

In adult relationships and friendships, this results in the push-and-pull game where the more emotionally unavailable partner is pursued and has more power.

These people have a hard time accepting good in their lives because they repeatedly learned that being content and happy leads to abandonment.

People Push Others Away When They Feel Threatened

When people feel frightened and threatened, they push others away to get a false sense of self-protection and control. One of the drawbacks of this behavior is the unhelpful stories about oneself projected on others when they are too consumed with what others think of us. Hence, this behavior exhibits as the scapegoat entrapping the person in their own unhealthy sense of self.

Pushing People Away To Avoid Conflict

People who lack the emotional maturity to handle conflict are more likely to invalidate the environment. They would be most likely to steer away from the situations and people that may trigger their buttons. These people have developed learned helpless behavior towards informing their wishes, needs, and boundaries. They behave like a child who is not being heard, even as an adult with other adults. This shows a learned communication pattern of discarding the entire bond rather than telling how they actually feel.

“Fawning” is a maladaptive way of creating security in the connections to get others’ approval. This is more evident in the trauma survivors; they are more prone to ghosting in relationships because of the fear of conflict and authenticity. Fawners also have perfectionist tendencies with unrealistic expectations for their relationships. If they can’t manage others’ perspectives of them, they tend to bail. They usually keep their insecurities, feelings, and vulnerabilities concealed.

Pushing People Away to Cope with Feelings of Unworthiness, Rejection, or Abandonment

Pushing people away is one of the ‘reactivity’ management styles. The person is most likely to blame themselves or treat themselves as the cause of rejection. These feelings are usually working against their own selves. Being critical of your own self and your own qualities leads them to sabotage the situation. Hence, they makeup and exaggerate their own perceived shortcomings and then resort to pushing people away. By this behavior, they hope to protect others from their own self because they assume that it will leave them in rejection or abandonment if they reveal their genuine feelings. So, they find it safe to push others away, even though they may not actually want to.

Pushing People Away Due to Fear of Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the foundation of real and genuine connections, be it friendship or relationships. It allows others to see you as you are, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Pushing people away indicates that they are afraid to let their guards down and show others the ‘real’ self. They are convinced that if they saw them in actuality, they will no longer want the connection.

Pushing People Away Due to Need For Freedom and Autonomy

Some people may push others away because they may feel their freedom and boundaries are being overstepped; they feel it hinders their independence and individuality. Those who feel their self-actualization is only possible when they’re alone, they’re more likely to push people always in fear of losing their autonomy.

How To Stop Pushing People Away and Develop Secure Attachments

Some of the useful ways to help you stop pushing people away include the following:

Practice Positive Affirmations

  • I am worthy of accepting the good in my life.
  • I am enough.
  • It is safe to love and be loved.
  • I can take care of myself.
  • I am strong when I am happy and loved.

Practice Mindful Meditations

Accepting The Good In Your Life

Imagine all the blessings in your life that are waiting for you–whatever you deem good: loving connections with family, friends, and colleagues, delicious food, opportunities of surprise and joy, unexpected presents of time and money, connectedness with nature, aesthetic surroundings and unending creative supply of ideas for writing and art…

Sense and fully feel the reaction to this idea just waiting for you to exclaim, “Yes!” Note how hard it is to accept these blessings offered to you wholeheartedly. Challenge yourself to accept at least 5% of these blessings, one day at a time, progressing it eventually.

Over time, you’ll explore the increasing percentage –to accept it with an open mind and arms that you are deserving of the goodness of this life.

Healing the Inner Child

Try to sit with the idea of your younger self and telling them: 

“I am the adult you’ll become, and I’ll take care of you. I see you, and I feel you; you have gone through a lot at such a tender age. I empathize with your pain and understand your suffering. I will keep you safe and make sure nothing hurtful happens to you ever again.  I love you… You can count on me to be your guardian angel.”

Some people can actually heal themselves by picturing and talking empathetically with their inner child.

Accept Your Self

The ultimate goal is to accept yourself completely and wholeheartedly. Be honest but not judgmental, practice self-love and compassion, and find a direction to grow. When you fully accept yourself without avoiding any aspect of yourself, you’ll be more open to experiences with others.

Own Your Story Unapologetically

Carry and tell your story unapologetically. You need to realize and own the things that hurt you and how they impacted you. Counseling is a safe place in which you can practice your vulnerability and explore your inner self.

Journaling Your Experiences

Pay attention to how different people have made you feel. Explore your experiences in group activities like exercise, and hobbies, to discover how you mingle and gel with different personalities and find what works best for you and what triggers you.

Try Counseling

Counseling and therapy can help you learn to be aware of your fears, insecurities, and anxieties. Buttons are only pushed when you have those buttons. Try to know your growing edges and work with your therapist to find the resolution of those patterns. Authenticity and vulnerability is the key to a good working alliance in therapy. Make sure to find a therapist and setting you are more comfortable and secure in. This will help you explore your attachment styles and triggers; with this, you’ll find a way to transition into a secure attachment style.


The detailed article discussed the psychology behind why people are in the habit of pushing others away and the sense and feeling they gain out of this pattern. It also highlighted the underlying and deep-set causes of this behavior and some useful ways to switch this pattern to a secure one.

Pushing people aways is a common unhealthy psychological behavior found in some people. They may push others away because of the fear of getting too attached to people. This behavior is the defense mechanism of people who use it to protect themselves from abandonment and rejection. 

If you are someone who pushes people away or knows somebody who is in this habit, please let us know in the comments below how you handle this behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Pushing People Away Psychology

Why do people push people away?

People push others away because of several reasons. They may feel the other people deserve better, and perhaps they waste their time and energy on you. These problems are related to low self-esteem and self-compassion. It can also be due to a difficult childhood when your inner voice was being shaped. A critical inner voice can make the connections even harder.

What is it called when you push someone away?

If you are someone who pushes people away, then you are said to have abandoned child syndrome. This can be caused due to physically or emotionally absent parents or abusive childhood experiences.

People with this condition avoid environments that have a high social stimulus.

Why do I push away the person I love?

Some people may push the one they love away from them because of insecurities and low self-esteem. You may think they are too good for you, and they deserve better. It is also a manifestation of fear of intimacy and letting your guards down for somebody. You may have this nagging thought they would abandon you once you let your walls down for them. Thus, the fearful attachment style exhibits such behavior.

What do you do when someone is pushing you away?

When someone is pushing you away, you may try out the following ways:

Focus on yourself, but don’t take the behavior personally.
Ask them to open up and give them a safe space so they can talk freely.
Be confident in your own space.
Be more compassionate and considerate towards their needs.
Be there and stay there; it will soothe their insecurities and fears.

Can someone leave you if they love you?

Yes, some people can leave you even if they love you. The reason does not necessarily involve your worthiness in their sight, but it has much to do with their own psychological and emotional state. People may leave you even if they love you because of the fear of abandonment, intimacy, or lack of independence. 


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