How To Stop Pushing Your Partner Away, According To An Expert
Sometimes, you spend so much time and effort into making a relationship work that you don't realize you're actually doing yourself a disservice — and that your actions aren't having the desired effect. It's a complicated truth, and when you try to hold someone very close, you may end up pushing your partner away.
"Often people don’t mean to push people away at all, in fact what they want is the exact opposite!" Melanie Shapiro, LICSW, who specializes in traumatic experiences, tells Bustle. "However, sometimes the exact actions that one takes to get closer does the opposite of what they want them to mean. This happens mostly because they fear their partner will leave and abandon them — and they are insecure about the relationship, their commitment, and their partner's reliability and interest in them."
When this happens, you can become more and more demanding of your partner without even meaning it. You may constantly text or call them, tell them how much you care, try to do things together but, really, what you're looking for, is for them to validate you and make you feel more secure in the relationship. Unintentionally, you may be draining your partner's emotional resources until they end up pulling back from you.
"Often my clients have described it as an 'empty well'," Shapiro says. A lot of the time, if we notice our partner taking a step back, it may be because they feel like they're at the end of their tether.
But that desire to pull your partner in — which ultimately ends up pushing them away — can be a difficult one to control. You may do it without even realizing it, it may feel like a compulsion, or maybe you know that you're going too far but you can't stop yourself. If this is the case, Shapiro suggests four steps to stop pushing your partner away.
1. Make Sure You Actually Like Them
First, think about how much you really like this person. "Before you get invested in someone make sure YOU like them," Shapiro says. She points out that you can get so caught up on whether they like you enough, whether they've called back, and whether someone wants to be with you, that sometimes you don't stop to think if you even want to be in this relationship in the first place. Make sure that you're in this relationship because you actually want to be with this specific person, rather than just because you're seeking validation in general.
2. Take Time To Evaluate Their Actions
A lot of times, you maybe pushing someone away because you keep second-guessing them. Yes, they say they like you, but you need to check again, just to be sure. To combat that, try to think about the character of this person.
"Judge if this person is reliable, does what they say they are are going to do, and if they've proven they are trustworthy," Shapiro says. If they seem like someone who deserves your trust, try to give it to them.
3. Trust Yourself
It's not just about trusting your partner, it's also about trusting yourself. If you feel a little voice telling you that you're repeating past mistakes, listen to it. "It these actions feel familiar in a way, and your gut is telling you to relax, take a break," Shapiro says. She also says that you may realize that this person reminds you of someone else, like you're trying to repeat an old relationship — pay attention to that feeling. It may be that you don't actually like this person, but you're just trying to fix old wounds.
4. Be Confident
Finally, try to be confident that you've made the right decision. "If they ... prove to be reliable, trust that they mean what they say and that there is no need to continue to reach out to get validation," Shapiro says. "Let it stick and sink in." Once you can internalize the fact that they are trustworthy and that you've made the right decision to be with them, try to let the relationship flow.
"Allow them to be the person you want them to be and do the same in return," Shapiro says.
It can be difficult to control the urge to pull someone so close that you ultimately push them away, but it's important to take a step back and try to gain some perspective. Look at what you really want out of your partner and the relationship. If they've earned your trust, then it's time to give the relationship a chance to grow.