The Guardian

Why do I push people away? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Jay Watts

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in The Taming of the Shrew. ‘They pushed each other away and then refound each other more times than many of us have had hot dinners.’ Photograph: The Ronald Grant Archive

There are few things as difficult to navigate as the space between ourselves and others. Get too close, and we feel suffocated; move too far apart, and we feel abandoned.

Pushing people away takes many forms. It might involve being verbally or physically aggressive, or, just as destructively, shutting them out emotionally. Pushing people away shows someone still matters to us. Indifference, after all, is a greater form of insult.

Pushing people away is intimately related to desire. For the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, desire is always incomplete because it comes from outside. Lacan situates psychic development in relation to the question “Che vuoi?” (“What do you?”).

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