7 Sad Reasons Why You Push People Away

Get expert help overcoming your tendency to push people away. Click here to chat online to someone right now.

Pushing people away is something that we will all do at some point in our loves. It can be for a huge range of reasons – sometimes, a variety of reasons, even.

The way we feel can change from day to day, and the reasoning behind those feelings can shift, too, depending on what else is going on in our lives.

Here are some of the most common reasons you might be pushing people away. While this list isn’t definitive or exhaustive, it’s a good place to start.

Read through the reasons, question yourself, your history, your feelings. Use this article as a resource for self-exploration, and try to be honest with yourself.

While there are some very valid reasons behind pushing people away, it can be really helpful to work on some of them and try to move forwards more openly.

1. You have a fear of rejection.

If you’ve been let down or rejected in the past, of course you’re going to feel some hesitation around letting anyone in again.

Maybe you formed a close friendship, only to find out they were talking about you behind your back or sharing your secrets with other people.

Maybe a partner cheated on you, or someone you loved rejected you and left you feeling unattractive and undeserving of love.

Whatever it is that happened, your mind has convinced itself that there is a pattern. You like someone, therefore they’re going to hurt you.

How to tackle this:

While this is a rational feeling, it’s not very helpful. You can take steps to alleviate your anxiety around opening up to people by starting slowly.

Start talking to more people and share a little bit of yourself with them. It doesn’t need to be a deep, dark secret – it can be something small about yourself.

The more that you start this process with a few people, the more you’ll find you can trust people and nothing bad will happen.

Our brains look for patterns, so the more that you can trust in people and be happy about that decision, the more your brain will feel that this is ‘safe’ behavior – and the happier it will feel about you doing it!

2. You’re used to being alone.

For some of us, being alone is our safe spot. We’re used to it, we know how it works – so why would we want to let anyone in?

A lot of us worry that opening up to people might risk the lovely life we’ve created for ourselves. If we’re relatively happy with the way things are, why would we want to risk disrupting that?

We become used to doing things alone, to seeing the friends we always see, to spending time with people we already know – and it feels like enough.

If you’re used to being alone, you might not see the value in letting more people in.

How to tackle this:

We’re firm believers that you make your own happiness, and think that it’s healthy to stick by this and create a life you love.

However, there is no real harm in having more people around you if you like them!

Yes, you might be used to spending time alone, but you can allow yourself to meet new people or invite people in every so often.

Remember that this is on your terms – you can still take yourself on a solo dinner date, and hang out with close friends at the weekends, but you can make time to meet new people for an evening, or spend an hour on a first date.

If you don’t like it or it doesn’t feel right, you’ve not lost anything! You’ll probably find that you actually really enjoy letting your guard down and letting people in a little bit – one step at a time…

3. You’ve been hurt in the past.

A lot of us will have been hurt by someone in the past, and we’re now scared to let anyone in.

We push people away so that they can’t get close enough to hurt us – if they don’t know us well enough, they won’t have the ammunition to upset us, right?

The more we let someone see who we truly are, the more they can hurt us and use it against us.

If that sounds like something you’ve said before, you’re probably pushing people away for that exact reason. It’s normal and it’s very common, but it isn’t the healthiest (or happiest) way to live.

How to tackle this:

Not everyone you let in is going to hurt you. Read that again.

Yes, it might have happened before, possibly more than once, but it will not happen every single time you let your guard down.

As we mentioned earlier, your brain looks for patterns and then reacts accordingly. It is currently telling you that letting someone in equals pain.

The more you can do things that negate this pattern, the more your brain will start to realize that letting people in is safe and nice.

Start slowly, without revealing too much about yourself straightaway – you are in control of how much you let someone in, remember that!

4. You don’t like being emotionally vulnerable.

One of the reasons you push people away might be due to simply feeling uncomfortable with letting your guard down.

Emotional vulnerability can feel terrifying, we know. It can feel like a huge deal to let someone ‘see’ you and get a glimpse of who you are underneath the smile or the fun nights out.

It’s not always comfortable or familiar to really let your guard down and tell people how you’re feeling.

It can be scary to be brutally honest, and for some people it can take a lot of trying out to get used to it.

How to tackle this:

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable as long as we’re around people we’re comfortable with.

We’re not suggesting you pour your deepest feelings out to a total stranger, don’t worry!

Spending time with people we love and trust is a great way to build up confidence in letting your guard down.

Try confiding in people you trust, or admitting to feeling sad and asking for a hug or advice.

By getting out of your comfort zone with people you’re comfortable with, you’ll start to see it as less of a threat or fearful action, and more of a regular activity.

You’ll feel supported and stable, and will start to find it easier to let your guard down in front of your loved ones.

The more you practice this, the more you’ll get used to it – and the more open you’ll be to doing it with other people in the future.

5. You’re scared they’ll take advantage.

This is a really tricky one, and might stem from previous experiences.

Maybe you’ve let someone in before, only to find out that they’ve used it to their advantage.

Maybe they found out what you’re scared of and tried to use it against you, or maybe threw it back in your face during an argument.

If someone takes advantage of what they found out about you while you were being emotionally vulnerable, that is a reflection of them – not you!

How to tackle this:

Not everyone will throw things back in your face, and not everyone will make you regret confiding in them.

Try not to let this experience taint how you feel about opening up to other people in the future, as beautiful things can come from being more vulnerable.

For now, stick to sharing and opening up with your loved, trusted ones and rebuild your confidence in letting your guard down.

You’ll know when you trust someone enough to do this again.

6. You don’t know how you feel about them.

One minute, you want to pour your heart out to them; the next, you wish you could take it back and shut them out of your life.

If you’re not sure how you feel about someone, it can be very hard to figure out how much you want to let them in, and what makes you suddenly want to push them away.

How to tackle this:

Rather than giving all or nothing, try practicing opening up a little bit at a time.

A lot of us who struggle with pushing people away have a moment of ‘Oh, wow, I feel like I can tell this person everything’ – and so we do.

Then we instantly regret opening up and decide to shut them out and pretend we never let ourselves be that ‘seen.’

Instead of flipping from one extreme to the other, open up in small stages and give little bits of yourself away at a time.

You’ll feel less vulnerable this way, but you’re still letting people see how you feel and who you are. You’re in control and can just go at the pace that suits you.

7. You don’t like feeling trapped by the commitment.

You might feel as though opening up to someone instead of pushing them away is a big commitment.

In some ways, it is. But it doesn’t mean that you’re now tied to that person.

You might find that once you’ve let someone in, you feel like you’re a bit trapped, or like you’re now tied to that person.

This is normal but it isn’t very helpful in terms of forging healthy relationships.

How to tackle this:

Letting someone in doesn’t mean that you’re now bound to that person forever!

It’s okay to let someone in while you’re getting to know them, and then move on if things don’t feel right. It’s a commitment in some ways, but it’s not forever.

Rather than letting someone in totally, you can just go in small stages, as we’ve mentioned previously. This will make you feel less committed each time you’re honest about your feelings, and takes the pressure of the level of intimacy you feel you’ve created.

It means you’re free to do what you want based on how you feel – whether that’s with this person or someone else.

Of course, some of us push people away for very valid reasons that we might never be able to change.

Childhood trauma, for example, is something that a list like this will not help you work through – instead, you can seek help from a professional therapist and work through your experiences in a safe space.

Remember that some feelings, such as a fear, are there for a reason and should be acknowledged. Some feelings, like being anxious about past rejection, are ones you can take steps yourself to alleviate and work through.

Still not sure why you push people away or how to stop doing it? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

You may also like:

This page contains affiliate links. I receive a commission if you choose to purchase anything after clicking on them.

About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.