The month of February is Valentine’s Day and all about love. But did you know that many people actually push love away? Sometimes it’s intentional, other times not, and some people do it on a daily basis. Why is that and what are some of the signs?
Vinay Saranga M.D. is a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry. He says the five ways people push love away are:
· Withholding: Many times, people in a relationship let their fear of intimacy change who they are to their partner. This is a form of pushing away love because you’re withholding who you really are. This often happens unintentionally, making it difficult to pinpoint, but it’s important to notice if feelings begin to change.
· Shutting Down: Shutting down is an internal defense system that cuts us off from our feelings so that we don’t get hurt. Because we form our defenses early in life, past hurts that led us to feel self-protective only limit our relationships. Shutting down includes avoiding sweet moments, resisting affection, or avoiding eye contact. When this happens, it’s important to accurately evaluate the situation to determine if your feelings are based on external circumstances that are out of your control or your own defenses.
· Being Overly Critical: Being overly critical is the more extreme side of shutting down. This is where you may point out all of your partner’s flaws and start selectively listening, only to hear the negatives being said. When you notice this happening, remember that no one is perfect and focus on what you love about your partner.
· Form Over Substance: Love is a many splendored thing and it’s important to keep it real. Being in a relationship takes work every day and you have to show love to your partner. Form over substance is a way of pushing love away because you’re more inclined to substitute routine for romance. To keep the romance alive, you need to be willing to give and receive love.
· Picking Fights: Relationships aren’t immune to conflicts and disagreements. Picking fights refers to provoking your partner more frequently or out of nowhere. This is creating a conflict where there isn’t one to illicit a negative response or push your partner away. Before taking something to your partner, make sure it’s a legitimate conflict and not something you’re picking apart.
“If you notice that things aren’t what they used to be with your partner, see if one or both of you are pushing love away instead of giving and receiving it,” Saranga says. “If this is the case and you have trouble resolving it, definitely seek the help of a professional relationship counselor who can help.”
Thank you to Dr. Saranga for contributing this advice to GWM.