Psychological defensiveness can be defined as an emotion where one displays an excessive rejection of criticism. Defensiveness is predictor of martial divorce because it prevents a person from receiving honest feedback from others – feedback that would be useful in resolving conflict or promoting closeness. The defensive person rarely takes personal responsibility for an issue or problem; instead they
- blame the other (for instance,it is not my fault; you shouldn’t have looked at me that way)
- protest that anybody would respond in a similar manner (for instance, I am normal; everybody in my family would do the same thing) or
- put you down to invalidate the criticism (for instance, what do you know, you are a woman)
Defensive people rarely grow in relationship because their goal is to protect their fragile ego instead of becoming a better or more effective person, or improving communication or understanding of their partner.
If you are defensive, try being more open-minded to honest criticism from others, especially people who love you. Remember that you are human and imperfect; admitting mistakes will not necessarily lower you in the eyes of loved ones; it often increases their feelings of connection and closeness to you.