Sometimes, when I'm working hard, on my laptop, 10 tabs open, focused on a goal, I'll find myself irritated that my cat is walking on my keyboard, sitting on my notebook, or entwining herself among my legs. My first instinct is to push her away so I can just get DONE with the stuff on my list.
Then I realize, I love that she comes to me for attention. I want her to keep doing it and if I push her away when she asks for attention, she's not going to come to me anymore. I will become the person that pushes her away; not the one that gives her love.
Psychologist, John Gottman, calls these interactions bids for emotional connection. Each bid can be reacted to in a variety of ways but they boil down to 3 simple categories:
  1. turning towards - receptive & reactive
  2. turning away - ignore
  3. turning against - aggressive
Each of our relationships are like this. In every interaction, we are defining who we are to the world and so, what anyone can expect of us.....and it's so important when we do this "contracting", we know what we want because we might just end up pushing the cat away when it was the laptop that should have been closed.

For more information of Gottman's findings, check out this article.