You have someone in your life, male or female, who comes close to you, and then drifts further away. This person approaches you on his or her terms, gets involved, and then runs for cover while you’re left feeling abandoned, doubtful of yourself and in pain.
Welcome to the push-pull cycle. Where the partner comes in, withdraws, comes in and withdraws again, all to your detriment.
Why the hell is this happening? Why does this man/woman do this? I bet you’ve said all of those things, more than fifty times in your own head.
In my twenties, I experienced this for a bit with a guy. I ended up cutting it off, and we became friends right away. Thank god. He was a much better friend, then a sexual partner and boyfriend, and I was happy to offer friendship. Years later, he kicks himself and says how beautiful I am and wonderful. We are still friends, years later! We’ve been there for each other through a lot. It’s pretty awesome.
Trust me– I see how he aged and how I aged. He regrets it. He was afraid I was too free-spirited for a committed relationship. It turns out I wasn’t, but at least we could be friends … and for 15 years!
If you are reading this page and landed here like me, you probably are the one who is being pushed and pulled away. You probably feel really bad about yourself, wondering why this person would do this to you. You probably feel down about yourself, wondering what you did wrong. You probably feel downright crazy.
Wipe your tears, get your sexiest outfit or– whip out your razors boys, and stop blaming yourself.
Learn what’s what with this push-pull character
1- The person may be anxious
Getting close is scary for the push-pull person. Getting close feels like he or she will lose their own identity in the middle of your relationship. The push-pull person is afraid of being lost in the closeness of your relationship.
If you pursue this person, he or she will run.
Don’t pursue the push-pull dude or babe. Let the person be.
You may even be making things worse if you are needy and clingy.
This person needs to deal with his or her anxiety and try to work through why he/she is so terrified of a relationship.
Give the person space.
Now– you have probably tried this already and what’dya know?
The person comes back, pushes and pulls away again… even after your efforts. Anything you do is perceived as “trying to be pinned down” by this person.
What do you do then?
You tell the person, figure out your issues with commitment and come back to me when you know. Say, I’m willing to hear you out and work with you if you want to work on your issues and have a relationship with me.
If the person isn’t willing to work on him or herself, then that person is the problem.
2- The person may just be selfish
A person may not be anxious. He/she may just be selfish OR, the person could be both.
Some people push-pull because the person wants you on his/her terms– in doses that work for the person, not you. That individual doesn’t want to commit, but wants some aspects of you, or some parts of you in his or her life. The person wants to take advantage of some of you … but not offer all of him or her heart to you.
You may not know if the person is really anxious or really selfish or both. The only way to really know is if your partner tells you– “Hey I am anxious … I feel smothered. How can you help me have some space but maintain the relationship?”
Most likely someone won’t admit he or she is selfish, sadly. You just figure it out… eventually, on your own.
3- You may be pursuing too much
You may be trying too hard to make it work, causing the person to duck constantly, after intimacy. You may be pushing for it too hard … been there, did that.
HOWEVER– this person should be willing to tell you you’re crowding him/her, in order for you to adjust your behaviors. Working together is key. The problem is, many of these push-pull types don’t want to work with you to make the relationship happen because more often than not, the push-pull person doesn’t want to make the relationship work at all. The whole “idea” of the relationship scares them.
Like I said above, you can give the person space and he/she may come back around, only to retreat again.
4- It’s not you– but you can change your behavior
The push-pull garbage comes usually from anxiety. Leave the person alone. Go out with someone else. Walk away. If the person really cares, he or she will address their anxiety issues and approach you sharing what is needed in order to break the push pull cycle.
If you are willing (like I was) to adjust and compromise, the only factor remaining is how willing this person is to work on it as well.
Just by retreating and not crowding this person is already breaking the cycle. The next half belongs to the person who keeps running away. This person needs to own his or her sh*t and figure out why it is so scary to be with someone. Why it’s frightening to get involved with someone. This person needs to want to make the relationship work and want to explain his or her needs, so you can adjust your behavior as well.
The problem becomes when someone is simply push-pulling because of selfishness– or using you for certain things he or she wants or needs.
In that case, the relationship can never be repaired because the person really doesn’t care about you at all– just how you fulfill certain needs he or she has.
So, moral of the story?
1- Don’t pursue. Let the person come to you.
2- If he or she doesn’t come around– chances are the person has major issues OR took advantage of you OR isn’t addressing his/ her anxiety
3- Be good to yourself. Date others. Don’t get down on yourself because someone else has issues!
4- If you give the person space and they come back around and pull away again– tell them no more. Not until they are ready to face the music (their issues).
5- There is nothing wrong with you– as long as you are willing to compromise and work on yourself– you are great. The other person has work to do!
This is a hard situation. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself. Remind yourself how great you are … the other person may not be all that great anyway– wink.