(not sure if this question belongs here, let me know if there's a better stack exchange category for it and I will happily take it down)

I'm currently working on a story that involves a main character who's biggest flaw is her self-doubt, low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence. Whatever you want to call it. I'm thinking that she will show this deep self-doubt by pushing others away because she fears they'll learn too much about her and end up not liking her, an easy thing for her to believe if she doesn't like herself.

Does anyone know of good examples of characters like this? I know there are plenty out there but I'm having trouble thinking of many. I just want to look at and think about what a character like this does to slowly push the ones she loves away so that I can hopefully find some inspiration in how my character might do this throughout the novel.

  • I'm not sure this question belongs here either, but I'm also not sure which close reason it would fit under, if any. I'll defer to the judgement of the community.
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 25, 2020 at 22:31
  • This falls slightly under "what to write" for me, but could still be answered as more of a trope-focused question.
    – Sciborg
    Oct 25, 2020 at 22:37
  • 2
    As one who has experienced being "pushed away" in real life by a close friend, it is usually subtle. Basically, they stop opening up to you and they get out of spending one on one time with you. "I'm too busy right now," "I'd rather not talk about it," "I'm really tired, maybe later," and when you ask what's going on in their life or how they are doing: "I'm fine. Nothing much." etc. Really all you have to do to distance someone is to not let them into your life in the important ways (usually so subtly they don't notice at first), even if you still are seeing them "socially".
    – MarielS
    Oct 26, 2020 at 4:33
  • 1
    @MarielS I'd upvote that as an answer.
    – DWKraus
    Oct 26, 2020 at 4:59
  • @DWKraus I put it as a comment because the question in the original post is asking for literary examples, whereas I'm just sharing a bit of personal firsthand knowledge. I suppose I could move it to answer form if ya'll think it would still be within the scope of the question (It probably would if just the title is concerned?)
    – MarielS
    Oct 26, 2020 at 16:35

3 Answers 3


Very simply, have the character avoid any conversation or contact at all. Instances of this can easily be peppered throughout. Indicate also how this affects the people being closed out. Sitting in silence when gathered is a strong indicator, especially if the characters thoughts loop around how to get away. Sarcastic comments during interactions and making excuses, no matter how ridiculous they sound, to leave. (That’s what I do anyway 😏)


When writing a romance novel, A way you might think of a character who is developing feelings for another, one might think of it in a way that it is your first crush, This may sound odd, but it is a way of thinking in denial. Also one might think this is just a phase, if you need more help let me know!


I think the best approach is not for her to push away the ones that she loves, but to push them away before they can get that close to her to begin with.

I'm writing a character like this. She's been bullied for all of the time she's been in school (the narrative starts when she's 17), and so every attempt to get close to her is taken as a scheme to glean more fodder for another round of bullying.

So when she is approached by a boy who is romantically interested in her, she is harsh and abrasive.

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