Whether it’s romantic or platonic relationships, it happens to the best of us. You want to be close, but constantly keep people at a distance. You may start asking yourself: “Why do I push people away?

Let’s look at some reasons why we may push others away, and how you can work past them.

You’ve been hurt before

Your hesitation is normal, and you are not alone. Abusive or toxic relationships can tear away at the trust you have for other people. This can make it hard to open up to others, let alone tell them your deepest feelings.

With any trauma, healing takes time. Be kind to yourself and proud that you’re trying to get back out there.

Start with low-key chit chat, like talking about your day or errands you have to run. When you feel more comfortable, you can try connecting with people on more personal topics, outside of work or school.

You feel like a burden

You may push people away because you don’t feel like you’re worth others’ time and energy. This problem relates to low self esteem and self compassion. 

Low self esteem can stem from other mental health struggles, like depression or anxiety. It can also trace back to your childhood, when your inner voice was shaped. A negative inner voice can eat away at your self confidence, making it hard for you to form connections with others.

Get over this hurdle by building your confidence! Mantras work really well.

Try writing a list of your good qualities and keeping it somewhere visible. This will remind you that you are an amazing person, and help you keep your good qualities in mind.

Credit: Marina Wood via SlideShare

When you remember what’s great about yourself, you’ll have less trouble believing that others actually enjoy spending time with you!

You’re drained

Honestly, you may want a close friendship or relationship, but may be reluctant to put in the energy to maintain one. Relationships take work; they aren’t all positive, and if you aren’t in a good place to begin with, they can drag you down.

One way to stop pushing people away is to tweak your daily routine. Recognize where you can use your time more wisely, so that you don’t lose energy on unimportant things. For instance, maybe you can fit in quality rest instead of zoning out to TV. 

Cut down on things that you use as distractions, and find ways to do chores more efficiently. This way, you’ll have more stamina to communicate with friends and build up relationships. 

Use your extra energy to reply to texts, put effort into conversations, and show friends that you want to be there. You may find that fostering relationships feels like a rewarding use of energy!

You’re realizing what you want

Sometimes we let the wrong people into our lives without realizing it. As hard we try to form a solid connection, something is just a little off.

Our friends may be low-key toxic, or maybe they just don’t have the same interests as we do. We may not always realize why, but a mismatch leads us to slowly stop replying to texts, say no to hanging out, and start distancing ourselves.

That is okay! Not every person you meet will fit well into your life, and you are entitled to back away from relationships that aren’t helping you.

Instead of getting discouraged or beating yourself up, keep an open mind to new relationships that may appear in your life.

The timing is tough

A new job, harder classes, family problems. All of these can interfere with your relationships.

You may stop replying to a dear friend’s messages or put hanging out with them on hold. In turn, they may take this as a signal that you aren’t interested and start to step back.

If you are truly interested in keeping them in your life, give them a heads up. This doesn’t have to mean that you tell them everything personal or give an elaborate excuse. 

You can just tell them that you’re sorry if you stop replying as often, but you’re going through a busy time. This communicates that you’re still interested, without pushing them away completely.


It can feel shameful and lonely to become distanced from others. Especially if you have no idea why you’re pushing people away.

When you push people away but really need human connection, feel free to reach out to Supportiv. Here, you can chat with peers about your emotions, struggles, or just life.

Hit ‘Chat Now,’ enter what’s on your mind, and you’ll get connected to people who understand.