Defensiveness Can Secretly Kill Your Relationship

Defensiveness can secretly kill your relationship

The way you protect yourself from feeling hurt can silently kill your relationship. When you shield yourself by being defensive, apathetic or distant, your relationship dies a slow death.

The way we protect our relationship can be the very thing that ruins the relationship. Many want to avoid the issues in their relationship to deny the problems exist. Yet the problems can end up surfacing in other ways that harm the relationship.

Without acknowledging the pain that was felt towards their partner, much acts out with passive-aggressive behaviour, cheating, or verbal abuse to shield themselves from the hurt.

Perhaps you are the kind of person who wants to feel loved, so you end up enduring unpleasant things in your relationship until you lash out or seek revenge. Somehow you end up taking out your anger on your partner, rather than dealing with the issue that caused you to feel hurt.

Pushing down your hurt feelings can become the silent trigger that kills the relationship. If the hurt feelings do not get expressed, then this causes them to become acted upon in ways that harm the relationship. Hurt can turn into anger, revenge, or punishment in order to release the feeling.

Are you destroying your relationship by becoming defensive?

Defensive responses are generally used to avoid feeling pain

If you become defensive, even if it’s just to protect yourself from getting hurt, you are not allowing your partner to understand how you feel, but came across as attacking or critical towards them.

If you put up a wall to avoid feeling hurt, this prevents your partner from understanding your feelings.

Defensive responses are used to avoid feeling pain. Couples end up reacting to the defensive behaviour by becoming stuck in the blame game while dismissing the underlying feelings.

14 Ways you destroy your relationship

1. Attacking the person

According to John Gottman, attacking the person’s character by using criticism destroys relationships. Whereas raising a complaint about a problem takes the blame away.

2. Avoiding issues

Do you avoid raising issues until the problems escalate out of control, rather than solving relationship problems when they occur?

3. Fault finding

Do you find fault in one another, rather than look within yourself at the part you play in the relationship?

4. Hiding your vulnerability

Are you protecting yourself from feeling hurt, so that you appear cold, aloof and distant by pushing love away?

5. Avoiding conflict

Avoiding conflict

You avoid expressing yourself to keep the peace.

6. Hurting each other

Instead of addressing the hurt, couples end up hurting one another by getting back at each other.

7. Jealousy, mistrust, and insecurity

Are you preoccupied with insecurity and jealousy by creating things in your own mind that do not exist in the relationship?

8. Making your partner accountable for your feelings

When your partner forgets to call, you feel abandoned and expect your partner to make it up to you.

9. Needing constant reassurance and attention

Needing reassurance or attention constantly from your partner can push love away.

10. Gaslighting

You deny that you have a problem by undermining your partner so that they doubt their perception of reality.

11. Sweeping problems under the carpet

You tell your partner to get over problems in your relationship by sweeping it under the carpet and pretending it does not exist.

12. Punishing each other

Holding onto anger and resentment causes relationships to stay stuck.

13. Giving up yourself in relationships

You go along with pleasing your partner and sacrifice yourself, needs or wants.

14. Stonewalling

Are you killing your relationship with silence as a way to hurt your partner instead of expressing how you feel?

How to stop sabotaging your relationship

It’s like covering a bullet wound, the damage will not repair itself, without taking out the bullet to heal. If you do not repair the wound, then the underlying hurt turns into anger and resentment that becomes the silent killer in your relationship.

Many escape the hurt with ways that create more hurt, rather than resolve the issue that caused the hurt.

Sometimes it feels more comfortable to ignore the issues. Ignorance is bliss, they say, or is it? Sometimes noticing a problem can cause anxiety which tells us that a problem needs to be resolved. Ignoring the actual issues creates bigger problems to fix.

Many attempts to protect their relationship by avoiding issues and not expressing themselves, which works against the relationship and themselves.

Protecting ourselves from our feelings can be the secret weapon that destroys relationships. Sometimes we do not want to face how we feel towards our partner but act upon hurt feelings with ways that sabotage the relationship, instead of sorting the issue out. At other times, when insecurities or jealousy surfaces, the person can become reactive to control their relationship so that they do not have to feel this way.

Suppressing how you feel about yourself and putting your feelings onto your partner for them to make you feel better about yourself is like loading a gun that kills your relationship.

When our feelings surface, they can get in the way of understanding our partner and cause us to have blind spots or become tunnel visioned when hearing each other. So that we may think that our partner caused us to feel a certain way, by projecting how we feel onto them, so they are seen as being critical or rejecting, instead of acknowledging the part of ourselves that feels critical and unworthy of love.

You can repair your marriage by acknowledging your feelings instead of putting them onto your partner, whereas reacting can escalate the problems. When this is difficult to do, many seek the expertise of a counselor so that they do not lose grip on themselves or each other.

Nancy Carbone
Marriage & Family Therapist
Nancy Carbone is a relationship therapist with over 18 years experience working individuals and couples. She trained at the International Masterson Institute in New York for relational trauma and personality issues. She has Masters Soc Sc ( Couns), BSW and BA (psych) from Australia. She writes about relationship topics and mental health matters. Nancy was awarded top 100 blogs world wide.