Do you feel the need to push those close to you away? Are you or have you ever been guilty of this? If so, how did it affect your relationships with those you cared about?

Honestly I can say that this was a behavior of mine a long time ago, way before I even started learning about relationships, and I’ve been on both sides of the problem. Luckily for me I stopped doing it but this is something I see other people do all the time.

Pushing away someone you love or care about is often a refusal to deal with some internal issue of yours. It could be a variety of different things that trigger the problems depending on the type of relationship you have but it all boils down to a just few core problems.

One of the core problems is a lack of emotional intelligence. It is not knowing how to express what you are feeling and often it is not even knowing what you’re feeling.

This problem leads to other problems and they quickly start compounding on you. However unconscious the choice may be, at some point you decide not to deal with your feelings.

This choice leads to creating a boundary where you don’t want to acknowledge your problem, let alone deal with it.

This boundary you create pushes people away from you. You do not let them in. You harden. Afraid or unwilling to show your vulnerability.

We as men are taught not to show vulnerability because it is a sign of “weakness”, but this does not work in close, intimate relationships. In fact it has the opposite desired result. There is a desire inside you somewhere that longs to be close to people and this whole process works against getting what you want.

At some point you need to accept personal responsibility for the problem you are creating for yourself and you need to take steps to break the cycle.

A great first step is to see the problem, to recognize you are doing the problem, to see it in action. Recognize you are throwing up walls and barriers to outsiders from getting in.

A great second step is to call it out and openly admit to the person you that you are creating these barriers to keep them out and explain to them that that isn’t what you really want. Creating conversation to expose the barriers allows that person in.

The next best step is to continue the conversation and openly explore your feelings by discussing them in a calm, rational and inquisitive manner (yes, be curious about it all). What is happening that creates the feeling you do not like? This creates the level of vulnerability that is an essential part of intimate relationships.

Putting a name to the feeling is the next step. What do you call this feeling? Is it a combination of feelings? What is it exactly? Identifying it is the key to the last step.

Finally you need to realize that there are other ways to feel about the problem, ways that result in you creating the outcomes that you want.

Once you’ve identified the feeling you can think about what the opposite feelings would be. Create a list of other possible ways you could feel about the problem. Once you have a list you can begin to imagine the different realities that come along with each choice and then you can choose which outcome you actually prefer.

This is emotional intelligence. Choosing how you feel about something rather than just going on with your first reaction.

When you can fully embrace this process of understanding yourself, you can help others to understand you too. Embracing this simple process is the path to emotional intelligence, emotional freedom and to creating long-lasting, healthy relationships.

~Matt Adams