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Having to deal with a partner that pushes your buttons can be incredibly frustrating. However, if you are in the habit of pushing your partner’s buttons, then you need to learn to stop.
Pushing a partner’s buttons within a relationship can make it difficult to remain calm, let alone have a productive conversation. As a couple, you will end up turning against each other, which will have a negative effect on the relationship.
Most people today would advise you to leave a relationship with a partner that pushes your buttons and move on to a new chapter in your life.
But Psychologist and author Dr. John Townsend disagrees with this opinion and says, “Your button-pusher is not someone you would easily and casually leave. You are intertwined at many levels. It is worth the trouble to take a look at the ways the relationship you had and want can be revived and reborn.”
John Townsend’s book “Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?” looks at the root cause of why difficult people are the way they are and he offers strategies that will promote love and understanding within the intimate relationship.
So by arming yourself with the right tools to deal with button pushers, you can learn to manage an emotional reaction in the heat of the moment, take a deep breath, and figure out how to communicate more effectively with your partner.
Signs of a partner that pushes your buttons
Recognizing when your partner is pushing your buttons can be a difficult task, especially if the emotional trigger leaves you feeling angry or upset.
However, there are some definite signs to look out for to help you recognize that your partner is pushing your buttons.
1. Provocative Comments
Dealing with a partner who consistently makes statements intended to trigger strong emotional reactions or discomfort in you is a definite sign of a partner who pushes your buttons.
These comments often touch on sensitive topics, personal insecurities, or past grievances, aiming to push your buttons and provoke a reaction.
Recognizing such comments is crucial in interpersonal relationships, as they can lead to conflict, hurt feelings, and strained connections.
2. Ignoring Your Boundaries
Ignoring boundaries can be incredibly frustrating when someone continually dismisses or crosses your personal boundaries and space.
It might involve them invading your privacy, pressuring you into situations or conversations that make you uncomfortable, or simply disregarding your expressed need for personal space.
This behavior can lead to feelings of discomfort, violation, and even emotional harm within your relationships.
A partner who ignores your boundaries is considered to be pushing your boundaries. If this occurs constantly, it can be considered abusive behavior.
3. A change in your partner’s normal behavior
This can signal that they are feeling defensive and trying to protect themselves. If your partner is usually calm but suddenly becomes more defensive, this is a sign that they are feeling attacked and may respond by pushing your buttons.
They may be in a bad mood or have hard feelings about something.
4. Passive Aggressive Behavior
Experiencing passive-aggressive behavior can be quite frustrating. It involves someone expressing their discontent or anger indirectly, through subtle sarcasm, backhanded compliments, or evasive actions.
Instead of having the courage to address issues openly or just drop them, they choose to mask their feelings, which can leave you feeling confused and upset.
Button pushers use passive-aggressive behavior.
5. Making fun of you
Button pushers often resort to making fun of you as a means of pushing your buttons. This behavior involves teasing, mocking, or ridiculing you in a way that targets your vulnerabilities, insecurities, or sensitivities.
By making light of your concerns or weaknesses, they aim to provoke a reaction and potentially gain a sense of control or superiority in the interaction.
6. Bring Up the Past
A partner who pushes your buttons often employs the tactic of bringing up the past as a way to push your buttons and intensify emotional reactions.
This behavior involves resurrecting old mistakes, arguments, or sensitive topics, even when they are unrelated to the current situation.
By doing so, they aim to reopen wounds, provoke feelings of guilt or resentment, and create discord.
Manipulative guilt-tripping is used by button pushers as a tactic to push your buttons and gain the upper hand in a situation.
This behavior involves using emotional manipulation to make you feel responsible for their negative emotions or circumstances, even when you are not at fault.
They may employ phrases like, “If you cared about me, you would do this,” or “I sacrifice so much for you, and you can’t even do this one thing.”
Button pushers who want to get their way by making you feel guilty will use guilt-tripping. In these situations, you end up saying yes when you actually mean no.
8. Dismissive Behavior
When someone is pushing your buttons, they often employ dismissive behavior as a means to provoke emotional reactions. This behavior involves belittling your thoughts, feelings, or concerns, often accompanied by phrases like, “You’re overreacting” or “It’s not a big deal.”
By downplaying your emotions or brushing aside your legitimate concerns, they aim to invalidate your experiences and elicit frustration or anger.
Recognizing when someone is using dismissive behavior to push your buttons is vital for maintaining self-esteem and emotional well-being.
9. Convenient Forgetfulness
Selective forgetfulness often comes into play when someone is determined to push your buttons.
This behavior involves conveniently forgetting past agreements, promises, or shared experiences, particularly when those memories could support your perspective or needs.
By engaging in selective amnesia, they attempt to rewrite history, creating confusion and frustration for you.
10. You experience physical or emotional responses
When you feel yourself responding negatively, it is important to notice this and identify its source. If you can identify what your partner said or did that pushed your buttons and triggered you, you can respond more effectively.
Physical sensations in your body can indicate someone is pushing your buttons and can include a tightening in your chest, an increased heart rate, or feeling flushed.
These are physical signs that you are feeling triggered and defensive. This can be useful in that you can use these sensations to identify the source of the trigger.
A change in your mood can include feeling upset, irritated, or angry for no apparent reason. You may feel yourself becoming more withdrawn or feeling like you want to be left alone. This often indicates that your partner is pushing your buttons.
Your response to a partner that pushes your button
You may feel like you’re not being your true self, or you’re acting out of character, or you’re just not feeling like yourself. This can also be a sign that you are being triggered and defensive.
Your buttons may have a lot to do with your past, a negative experience you may have had, your sense of self, and your limiting beliefs.
When your buttons are pushed, it is often helpful to step back and take some time to link deep feelings within you to what your partner has said or done.
Discovering the real issue behind why you are feeling triggered and overcoming your own beliefs can often set you free from button pushers
It is worth noting that in toxic relationships people’s buttons are pushed deliberately as a form of control and for a reaction.
It is important to set appropriate limits in such relationships to limit feelings of distress from intentional button pushers.
Understanding why your partner pushes your buttons
Once you’ve recognized that your partner is pushing your buttons, it can be helpful to understand why they are doing this.
People typically push each other’s buttons because they feel threatened and want to protect themselves. Once you’ve calmed down, you can use this information to respond more constructively and productively.
- Ask yourself why your partner is feeling threatened and what you can do to reduce this threat.
- Do they want more communication or more space?
- Do they feel that you don’t value them or their needs?
- Does your partner know that they are triggering you and pushing your buttons?
By understanding why your partner is pushing your buttons, you can respond more effectively and help reduce the tension between you.
You can also use this information to better understand yourself and your emotional triggers.
How to deal with a partner that pushes your buttons
Next time your partner pushes your buttons, take responsibility for the way you feel and react calmly instead of taking it personally. Taking things personally makes it harder to find constructive solutions.
Here are some techniques that will support you:
Mindfulness is the act of being fully present and aware of your surroundings and your emotions. It involves observing your thoughts and feelings as if they are happening to someone else, as opposed to being caught up in them.
By doing this, you can learn how to respond to your partner and your emotions in a more measured and effective way. Some strategies you can use to practice mindfulness include:
Practicing controlled breathing can help you get into the present moment and help calm your body down, reduce stress, and remain more focused. If your body is calm you will be able to respond more productively when your buttons are pushed.
There are many different types of meditation that you can try, which will help you get in touch with your emotions and thoughts. When your buttons are pushed, you will be able to respond more calmly to them without being pulled into negativity.
Journaling can be a great way to express yourself. It can provide you with a safe space to let go of negative feelings and emotions and allow for healing.
2. Alone Time
When your partner has pushed your buttons and you have been emotionally triggered, it is helpful to spend time alone and take an in-depth look at yourself. Ask yourself why you are feeling triggered. Be vulnerable with yourself and look within.
- Are you feeling abandoned?
- Are you feeling rejected?
- Are you feeling that you are not good enough?
- Are you being reminded of something from your past?
Discovering how you are feeling and why you are feeling a certain way when your buttons are pushed and you react emotionally without thought can bring healing to the wounded parts of yourself.
3. Communicating more effectively
Communication is what can make or break a relationship. While it is important to understand your partner and respond to them more productively, it is also important to communicate your needs and feelings effectively.
If your partner is pushing your buttons, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it intentional?
- Am I interpreting what was said correctly?
- Why do I feel so triggered?
- Is my reaction serving me in the best possible way?
- How can I look at the situation differently?
At this point, you are probably feeling very vulnerable and not thinking about the consequences of what you are saying. The less you say, the better until you calm down, can effectively communicate with your partner, and can authentically and vulnerably express to them how you are feeling.
4. Understanding and accepting your emotions
Every relationship will have disagreements and arguments. What matters is how you and your partner deal with these issues.
One of the best ways to deal with these situations is to understand and accept your emotions. By understanding your emotions, you can determine what they are trying to tell you and how to respond and move past them.
Use your senses
This can help you unlock the emotions you’re experiencing and identify the root cause.
Identify the feeling and its source
Once you’ve identified the feeling, ask yourself what situation or person triggered it. This can help you understand the root cause of your emotions, and you can then work on how to move past them.
Write it down
Journaling can be a great way to process your emotions and come to terms with them. This can also be a good way to communicate your emotions to your partner.
5. Building trust with your partner
Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. To build trust with your partner, you need to communicate your needs and feelings and respond to them in a positive and constructive way.
Allow yourself to be more open and vulnerable, as this can also help you build trust and a stronger, healthier relationship.
You can also build trust by being empathetic and trying to understand your partner’s perspective and where they are coming from.
6. Learning how to compromise
Compromise is essential for a healthy relationship. It can be difficult to learn how to compromise, though, especially if you are feeling attacked.
Understanding your emotions and why you feel the way you do can help you reach a place of compromise with your partner.
Before you start compromising, it is important to discuss the situation with your partner and negotiate a solution. This can help you reach an outcome that works for both of you.
Look at the big picture when you’re trying to reach a compromise. Focus on the long-term benefits of the solution rather than short-term sacrifices.
7. Finding a therapist
If you’re struggling with communication, trust, or your emotions, it can be a good idea to seek couples therapy. This can help you better understand yourself and your emotions and make it easier to communicate with your partner.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does it mean when someone “pushes your buttons” in a relationship?
When someone “pushes your buttons” in a relationship, it means they have a knack for triggering emotional reactions, often negative ones, by saying or doing things that touch on your sensitivities or unresolved issues. It’s important to address these dynamics constructively.
2. Why is it important to understand why my partner pushes my buttons?
Understanding why your partner pushes your buttons is crucial for fostering a healthy relationship. It helps you identify and address underlying issues, improve communication, and work together to build a stronger connection.
3. Can a partner intentionally push your buttons?
Yes, some partners may intentionally push your buttons out of frustration, manipulation, or as a defense mechanism. It’s important to differentiate between intentional and unintentional button-pushing and address the root causes accordingly.
4. How can I communicate with my partner about them pushing my buttons?
To communicate effectively with your partner about this issue, choose a calm moment to express your feelings and needs. Use “I” statements to avoid blame and ask for their cooperation in finding solutions together.
5. Are there positive aspects to a partner who pushes your buttons?
Yes, there can be positive aspects to a partner who pushes your buttons. They can serve as mirrors, helping you grow and address unresolved issues. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between growth and emotional well-being.
6. What are some strategies for dealing with a partner who consistently pushes my buttons?
Strategies include self-awareness, emotional regulation, open communication, setting boundaries, seeking professional help if needed, and working together to understand and address the underlying causes of button-pushing behavior.
The bottom line is that our buttons get pushed in close relationships and with family members, and we cannot always just walk away from these relationships.
A healthy way of dealing with button pushers is to have more effective and open communication, understand why they are feeling attacked and defensive, and then look within and find trigger points within yourself that need healing.