In a push-pull relationship, both parties are terrified of two things: intimacy and abandonment. You believe intimacy is what leads to abandonment, so you go into protection mode and you put up a wall to keep yourselves safe.
You fear abandonment because you’ve experienced it before, either in your childhood or in a previous relationship.
When the root problem is a romantic relationship from the past, it’s easier to recognize it, but when it has to do with your childhood and your relationship with your parents, it can take some time. Usually, everything is connected.
In your subconscious mind, love and vulnerability equal to pain, loss and suffering. So why would you want to go through that again?
The thing is, deep inside you, you know you’re seeking the very love you’re afraid of getting.
It’s a paradox: you’re desperate to love and to be loved, but as much as you crave love and intimacy, you’re also terrified of it.
Neither of you really wants out of your turbulent relationship because it matches your beliefs about love and relationships.
Think about it. For the cycle to last, both parties need to be involved and play their role. An emotionally healthy, stable person wouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior long-term.
We attract our partners based on how emotionally healthy or unhealthy we are. If we’re afraid of intimacy and abandonment, we’ll attract people who manifest the same qualities.
If we don’t believe we’re worthy of love, we’ll attract people who also believe they’re unlovable and who feel the same way about us. Their behavior will prove us right and reinforce how we think and feel about ourselves.
This means that you settle for people who treat you poorly because you don’t think you deserve better. You don’t believe you deserve the real, deep, true love that your soul is looking for. You don’t believe you’re worthy of a relationship that meets your emotional needs.
Often, many of us can develop unrealistic expectations of what love looks like. In some cases, we want complete dominion over the other and in some we expect the romance all the time. Some of you might have grown up with parents who are controlling or have parents who fight all the time, split up often and then get back together to repeat the cycle. Some of you might have parents who were not there be it emotionally or physically. In these instances, you might come to expect to be a controlling partner or exert control over your partner. You might also expect the other party to disappoint you by not being there all the time.
Whether realistic or not, these are your expectations that you have acquired over time. Even when they do not benefit us, we somehow find a way to meet these expectations whether by our own actions or finding people that will behave according to how we expect them to.
The bad news is that very often we cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. We hang on to lousy relationships, bad situations and toxic people thinking they are good for us or that we cannot go on without them. Yet, at the same time, we push away people who might actually care for us.
Here is the good news however, your past experiences do not have to dictate your adult relationships.
You do not have to stick by these expectations, you can move forward from them. It may take time and I will not profess to be able to help you deal with a lifetime of attachment issues in this short article but hopefully you can see that you are not broken, just work in progress. You are not destined for a lifetime of loneliness. By acknowledging what your attachment issues are you can go beyond them and stop pushing people away.