push pull relationships | Terezia Farkas | author | depression help | Beliefnet

You may be wondering what a ‘push pull’ relationship is and whether you’ve ever experienced one.

It’s a common dynamic that emerges in many relationships and is a typical example of game playing. One partner gushes over the other, full of praise and keen interest (the pusher). The other person (the pulled) enjoys the attention and gets lulled into a false sense of security. The person revels in the attention and feels special and valued. The pusher then seems to lose interest and pulls away causing the partner to immediately wonder what he/she did wrong.

This is classic push and pull and leaves a relationship full of tension and instability.

Some people thrive on this dynamic. But the truth is that no one’s emotions can withstand this kind of emotional roller coaster indefinitely. Sooner or later emotions become frayed and insecurities become insurmountable.

We all like a bit of a challenge in a relationship. But the push pull relationship can become emotionally exhausting. As the one pulled, you think you’re loved and accepted, but then the rug gets pulled out from under you. You start doubting yourself. What have I done? I thought the person liked me. I don’t understand why he/she changed his/her attitude and behaviour towards me.

The constant second guessing is no fun.

The perceived rejection causes the person pulled to do his/her best to regain the love and attention felt in the beginning. The person pursues the pusher. Doing this puts the pusher back in charge of the relationship, because the ball is now in the pusher’s court, so to speak. It’s a powerless place to be for an unsuspecting person who is just looking for love.

Learn to recognize this relationship.

The typical lifespan of the push pull relationship is about two years. Learn to recognize the dynamic and steer clear of it. Pushers are often afraid of commitment and put emotional barriers in place to control the status of the relationship.

Sadly, people who experienced a lack of love in childhood might be drawn to this familiar pattern of having to fight for love and become addicted to trying to get the pusher to change his/her ways, usually unsuccessfully. Such people fear abandonment and try harder to please the pusher, which ironically forces the pusher away even further.


Love should feel good, safe and wonderful not fearful, scary and hard work.


Thanks to  Mandy Kloppers , psychologist and author, for this blog.

Visit me on Twitter. Toss me a comment or two. I’d love to hear from you.

Twitter:  @tereziafarkas  #relationships  #selfcare  #healing
More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad