Intimacy is the underlying building block in every relationship in our lives, from the trust and intimacy experienced in a friendship to the romantic intimacy that allows for the passionate love with your partner. However, if this is so important, why are so many people quick to push those they love away?

We, as a being, are wired to want to connect with one another. In fact, psychologists will go as far as saying that social interaction and connection are necessary for our overall health and well-being. Not only does this prevent feelings of loneliness or depression, but studies show that denying ourselves true social connection is actually more damaging to our health than smoking, high blood pressure or obesity!

From a mental and emotional perspective, those who have regular social connection have a higher level of self-esteem, as well as lower levels of anxiety and depression. In short, social connections make you ‘feel’ better. If this is the case, why would we go to such lengths to keep people at a distance? Why would we actually push the people we love away, leaving us alone? The answer likely is a little more complicated than you would like to believe…

Here are 6 reasons why you push away the people you love most in life:

#1 – Self-Loathing/Poor Self-Worth

This goes back to the old saying that you can’t love another until you first learn to love yourself. If you see yourself in a poor or negative light, then you may actually use isolation as a form of self-harm. Recognizing that you feel poorly when you are experiencing loneliness, you believe that you deserve this pain and will drive people away specifically to cause it. This isn’t a reflection of the way you feel about the people in our life if anything you believe that they are ‘too good for you’. The only way to escape this toxic way of thinking is to start working on building your self-esteem and self-worth, recognizing everything that you have to offer this world.

#2 – Draining or Depleting Ourselves

We have all known that person that, the second they enter into a relationship, lose all sense of the individuality. They become the relationship, giving everything that they have including their time, energy and love. While this may sound like an amazing relationship, if you put everything you have into one person, it will leave you drained at even the thought of engaging any other relationships in life, often leading you to push away your family and friends. This is also incredibly common among new parents, giving their spouse and children everything. What many don’t realize at this moment is that the very thing with the power to recharge them is the connections that they are denying themselves.

#3 – Lack of Direction in Life

Have you actually taken the time to figure out what it is you want in this life? If you are wandering aimlessly through life, with no idea of what you hope to achieve, then you may actually be creating the very barrier that keeps you from truly connecting with others. If you don’t know what a successful relationship looks like in your world, then this image may be constantly changing. With each change, you find yourself pushing away those that may have previously fit that image in your world, but no longer quite stack up. It’s not that they have changed, or that there is anything wrong with the people who were once in your life. The only thing that changed is your own outlook. To establish true, lasting relationships you must first establish a clear image of what you want in a relationship.

#4 – Fear or Unaddressed Issues from Your Past

If you have experienced pain or rejection in your past, this can make it far more difficult to open yourself up to potentially being hurt again. You find yourself experiencing fear of being rejected or hurt, instead, guarding your heart against the world around you. The only way to push past this kind of fear is to address the pains that you are still holding onto, finally releasing these negative emotions and, in turn, making space in your life for love, friendship and connection.

#5 – Poor Examples of Relationships Growing Up

As young children, we look to the adults in our lives to demonstrate a successful relationship. If, however, this demonstration missed the mark, we learn that these flawed or toxic relationships are normal. For example, if a child grows up watching their parents pushing away everyone that comes close to them in life, then it will be drilled into their head that there is a reason, even if they don’t know what it is, to avoid intimacy and connection. They will drive people away because they have been taught that is what a normal person does. This can be corrected, however, it will require rewiring yourself, learning a different outlook on love, friendship, relationships, and connections.

#6 – Struggling with Depression

Mental illness has the ability to impact our lives in an extremely profound and yet negative way. Depression and social loneliness or isolation are two struggles that often go hand in hand, trapping us in a toxic cycle. Those who struggle with depression often isolate themselves from others, withdrawing to their own quiet corner. However, experts say that loneliness will, in turn, contribute to depression, driving those who are struggling even deeper into the darkness. If you don’t break free from this cycle, it will continue without end, trapping you and sabotaging attempts for true connection.