My entire life I pushed people away. As a young child, I was a handful to say the least (think mean, angry, bully-ish, rude...). Yup, that was me. Young child grew into young adult me: I was moody and often shut down when things weren’t going my way. I would always be ‘testing’ my friends to see if they would ‘care enough’ to see my feelings. One day I intentionally didn’t reach out to my friends to see if they would reach out to me first. Let me tell you, it was the worst experiment.
That young man then got married. And when my wife didn’t show up the way that I wanted I went back to my old ways. I shut down again. I would grow cold and distant.
Does this sound like anyone in your life? Are they easy to like, like that? Does it feel like they want a connection with you? The easy answer is no. So why did I do that? I did it because I was constantly evaluating if I was desired by the people around me. Did they want me around? Was I important to them? Would they call me back?
I wanted connection, but I didn’t know how to get it effectively.
With new skills, I have learned how to better understand what was happening within me. I have had to un-learn thoughts and learn better ways to get to the connection that I want in my relationships. It has changed the dynamic in my marriage without a doubt and it has even impacted many of my friendships. Next time you see your spouse pushing away, try to find that cry for connection.
If you find yourself pushing away when you really want to be close, slow down. Stop what you are about to say or do. And let them know what you really want. It feels risky, but it works way better.