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October 21, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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Pushing people away


Well I have a really messed up background. My dad died when I was 6; the cause was the fact that he cheated on my mom, and mom snapped and killed him. She is still in jail. I never actually had someone to play a father figure role. In school I happen to be one of the top students. I've been good with girls all these years, until I was heartbroken in college - that's when it all changed. Right now I am successful with my career, but still I don't know what's wrong with me, and I was hoping you could help.

I was a normal kid in high school. I enjoyed chasing girls and it was nice at the time. Then at some point I met someone whom I loved so dearly. We dated for two years while I was in college. During my final year she decided to call it off because of some unfinished business with her ex-boyfriend. She broke up with me in 2011 and since then, I unable to date anyone for very long...a month or two and it doesn't work out. I feel that I am responsible for pushing these people away; I guess I protect myself and I've became too sensitive over the years. One stupid mistake a girl does makes me feel the need to distance myself from them. After they're gone, I always want to get back with them for some reason, but I think it's mainly loneliness.

I tried to overcome the whole thing, tried to meet as many new women as possible. My contact list is flooding with female phone numbers, but none of them want to be near me in any way. For example, last week I asked a beautiful woman I was almost involved with to delete my number and never call again, and said that I would do the same. A week later (which is now), I decided to contact her but she's not interested - and I don't blame her for that. It's all my fault.

Is it me, with all the negative thoughts running in my head, that's blocking me from having a healthy relationship?


Redd, 22-year-old man


Dear Redd,

When we are very young we form a view of the world that makes sense of our situation. In your case, that had to be influenced by your parents' tragedy. I don't know what childish beliefs survive from that time, but they could be things like "It is dangerous to allow someone to get close to you," or "people you love will hurt you."

These beliefs lay dormant while everything went all right. Then, your girl left you for her ex, and the childhood beliefs got triggered. Suddenly, you were reacting to your present, young-adult situations as if you were that hurt 6-year-old child. So, since then, any time a girl seems to be getting into that danger zone where you are vulnerable to possible hurt, you push her away. Does this make sense?

The way to deal with this is to work through the bad times of your childhood. This can be done through trauma counseling. I don't know what resources you have, if psychologists or other therapists are available to you and if you can afford their services. But if you can, the money you spend will the best investment of your life.

You might look up the Traumatic Incident Reduction Association and see if they have a "traumatic incident reduction" person in your geographic area. One session with that person could possibly allow you to improve the rest of your life.

Good luck,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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