11 Ways To Stop Pushing Buttons In Relationships (2024)

If you’re pushing buttons in relationships, you need to learn how to stop. Of course, your partner does too. 

Button pushing is an issue that will turn you against each other until the romance dies an ugly death.  

In my role as a certified life coach, it’s a pattern I’ve seen destroy couples time and again.

That’s why I was so keen to get this article published. By following these steps, you’ll be able to put an end to button pushing in your relationship.    

Let’s dive right into it.

Pushing Buttons In Relationships
Image by freepik.com

1. What Does It Mean Someone Pushes Your Buttons?  

The ability to push someone’s buttons is generally regarded as being able to say or do the exact thing that would annoy them the most.

Don’t be surprised if your romantic partner is the one who can push your buttons better than anyone else in the world. Often, they can set us off way faster than even our parents or other close family members. After all, it’s those who know us most intimately who are best-equipped to pull at our heart-strings.

Button pushing is also commonly associated with the act of ‘triggering’ someone. This means to unlock someone’s emotional trauma, typically creating an explosive reaction. 

I recommend you learn more about how ‘triggering’ is related to your mental health by watching the video below. 

2. Understand Your Partner’s Triggers

It’s important to know that when a person is triggered, it’s rarely the words said or the behavior occurring in that moment that’s making them so angry. Usually, it’s the fact that this triggered something deeply upsetting within them.

That’s why something small and innocent can trigger an over-the-top response. In fact, it’s entirely possible that you’re pushing your partner’s buttons by accident. You might not understand why they’ve been getting so frustrated, and neither may they!

That’s why it’s important to talk with them and try to understand what’s causing this pain within them. 

This isn’t always easy. It might be some repressed memories lying deep in their subconscious. It may need the assistance of a mental health professional to get to the bottom of this. Still, this is a task worth completing for all couples struggling with regular conflict. 

Once you understand what your partner’s triggers are, you’ll find it way easier to refrain from triggering them.  

3. Why Would Someone Push Their Partner’s Buttons?

Now, it’s also possible that you’re pushing your partner’s buttons deliberately. As you sit reading this post in a quiet moment, you may wonder: “Why do I do that?”

Logically, we know we don’t want to hurt someone we love. Yet, in a lot of romantic partnerships, we find ourselves doing so anyway.

It’s important to understand why you’re doing this, as this is the first step to eliminating this behavior. 

So, let’s explore some common reasons. 

  • You’re doing it accidentally. As mentioned above, this is more common than you may believe. If you don’t know how to talk about what’s happening, it can continue throughout the length of the relationship.    
  • YOU have been triggered. When someone pushes your buttons, the rage can take over so quickly that it’s impossible to logically address what’s happening. All you know is your partner made you feel this enraged and you have to hurt them just as badly.
  • You would like more attention. Perhaps you feel neglected and hurting them at least gets you the attention you desire.  
  • You get your way. If button pushing tends to get you what you want, it can be tempting to keep doing it, even if it hurts their feelings.
  • You’re trying to take charge. Are you using emotional manipulation to try and gain power over your lover? 
  • You’re insecure. Those who have been bullied or abused in the past might get a kick out of doing the same to their partner. 

These reasons – the final four in particular – are all signs of a toxic relationship and need to be addressed immediately.

Still, as I said, identifying the problem is the first step to solving it. 

4. What Do You Do When Someone PushesYour Buttons? 

Button pushing in a relationship is often a back-and-forth thing. In most cases, both partners are pushing each other’s buttons.

So, how can you be one who breaks this vicious cycle?

Here are some ideas: 

  • Understand what is most likely to trigger you.
  • Recall the moments where you lost your temper unnecessarily. Be aware of what happened and why, so you can react better next time
  • Discuss these moments with your partner, so they can take more care not to trigger you.
  • Remind yourself you love your partner and don’t like hurting them.  
  • Practice anger management techniques when you feel your temper bubbling..  

This post on button pushing techniques and how to stay calm should help. 

5. What Are Some Of The Most Effective Anger Management Techniques?

Some of the most popular self-control methods include:   

  • Verbalising how you feel and what happened to make you feel that way. . 
  • Tell yourself what you need to do next. “I need to calm down”.
  • Take deep breaths 
  • Slowly counting to 10, or to 100 if necessary.  
  • Taking a “time out” away from the person upsetting you. 

Apply these methods at the first sign of these angry feelings arising within you. By doing so, you’ll find it much easier to prevent yourself from lashing out at the person pushing your buttons.

Believe me, you can expect this to do the world of good for your health and your personal relationships.  

6. Realize You’re A Team, Not Opponents

The desire to push your partner’s buttons often comes from a desire to win an argument.

Maybe, in a personal dispute, you feel a burning urge to be right and for them to be wrong. Perhaps you simply have to get your way, even if this will really upset them. 

In such situations, it’s important to understand that getting your own way isn’t the win you want.  

When you get that ‘win’ and your partner ‘loses’, they will most likely experience negative feelings. They may feel annoyed, bitter, resentful, taken for granted. That’ll only serve to stir up future conflict.

In most cases, the ‘win’ you both actually want is a happy relationship. You should be both on the same team fighting for that win, not fighting against each other. 

Aim for compromise at all times – and the reasons to deliberately push each other’s buttons go away pretty quickly.    

Related: Therapist Hacks – How To Stop Fighting With Your Partner

7. Learn To Communicate With Honesty

Is there something you would like from your significant other that you’re not getting? It’s crazy how often we fail to just ask for it.

If you can explain why something is important to you, and you can discuss the pros and cons together like adults, it can make things so much simpler. 

Encourage them to ask for what they want too!

This is far better than passive-aggressively pushing each other’s buttons, because you’re not getting what you didn’t even ask for. 

Button Pushing
Image by Freepik

8. Identify And Address Resentment

Are you taking your stress or pain from elsewhere out on your partner?

Of course, this is unnecessarily harming your partnership, yet it’s sadly all too common among couples.

This is because it’s not always so easy to identify when you’re doing this. 

In the heat of the moment, it might seem like it’s the mess they make in the kitchen (or whatever other thing) that’s making you so stressed. But, often, this is actually the straw that broke the camel’s back, perhaps after a hard day running your business or arguing with a family member.  

By identifying and dealing with other stresses in your life, you’ll reduce your urges to engage in button pushing with other people. 

9. Make Time For Affection 

When the ‘honeymoon period’ ends and the stress of real life takes over, we sometimes neglect to make time to show appreciation for our partners. It’s especially common once you’re married and trying to raise a family.  

This can lead to resentment, burnout, feeling unwanted and all these other things that could inspire people to take shots at their partner. This is the opposite of what you want from your relationship, I’m sure!  

So, do whatever it takes to create that positive personal time together. Get away from the house, leave the kids to play with a babysitter, have fun and make each other feel appreciated.

It’ll do so much to improve your mental health and your enjoyment of life. The idea of pushing your partner’s buttons really will seem silly when you’re both happy with how things are going.  

10. Work With A Therapist Or A Counsellor

The tips above might sound simple.

But it’s asking a lot of the average person to be able to do this, if they’re already in pain. The cycle of button pushing between partners is tough to break out of.

That’s why it’s often recommended for couples to communicate with a counsellor, coach or a therapist.

These certified professionals will be able to get to the bottom of what’s going wrong within your partnership. They’re trained to spot if someone is unconsciously sabotaging their personal relationships, and the hidden reasons why two people are treating each other poorly. 

They’ll be able to act as a mediator for you to talk through your differences – and most importantly – they’ll be armed with the perfect steps to get you back on a positive track.  

11. What Does Pushing Away Mean In A Relationship?

In some cases, button pushing occurs in a relationship, because one person wants out.

It is difficult to be honest about not wanting someone any more. Some people find it easier to self-sabotage the partnership in the hopes the other person will end it. 

If your partner continues to push your buttons, even after you’ve talked about it, you have every right to ask if they still would like to be together. 

If you’re the one doing the button pushing, this is a question you need to ask yourself.

If you still want this person in your life, you must find a way to stop this behavior. 

Any More Questions?

Hey there friends! I hope you could take something useful from my article on button pushing.

This advice holds true for best friends, business partners, parents and other family members too.  

If you would like to ask a question about button pushing or anything else related to personal relationships, feel free to do so in the comments below. 

It’s always great to hear from people who read my posts – and I’d love to read what you have to say on this topic.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.