Does Being Defensive Hurt Your Relationship?

being defensive in a relationshipRecently, one of the readers asked the following questions:

“I recently responded to a girl’s dating profile. I wrote a nice, witty, and interesting first e-mail to her. I signed it with my name and underneath wrote: “p.s. “outgoing” is one word” ;)” just to tease her about writing in your profile that she was “out going”.¬†¬†Her reply was very short: “Pointing out errors in your first e-mail is not the best way to charm a lady… good luck with that.” She seems to have completely disregarded everything else I wrote and the compliments I gave her about her profile and just focused on that little part at the very end, taking it so personally. Is there anything I can do to correct?”

This is a great question, because this points out one common quality in men and women that is natural yet so unattractive and common ¬†– being defensive. We inherently don’t like to be¬†accused or criticized of things in just about every situation, including the online dating world. Our initial, almost instinctive response to any type of personal criticism, however constructive it might be, is striking back. Many people are way too¬†uptight, and they¬†take everything way too personally.¬†They get defensive way too quickly at any hint of criticism in¬†our direction, even when¬†that¬†criticism is rather insignificant.¬†There is not much you can or should be doing about dealing with them, except not beating yourself up for not being able to get along with them when you try to meet them or date them.

So, in this case – should the guy try to fix the situation with the girl who seems to have gotten offended? Well, let’s consider his options:

(a) He may consider writing back to her¬†and apologizing. However, this is going to make him sound so silly and “beta”. What would he be apologizing for? He really hasn’t done anything wrong. If he were to apologize, and she were to accept it, what kind of dynamic will be set¬†between the two of them from then on? Will he be expected to walk on eggshells in their future conversations and worry about every little thing he says or does as to not offend her again?

(b) He can try to prove his point, tell her that he was joking and that she shouldn’t take it so personally. Unfortunately, this will usually lead to her¬†ignoring¬†him, or following up with another defensive e-mail, where¬†she will try to prove why he is wrong and¬†she¬†was right¬†getting offended. That ill only escalate the negative vibe.

(c) Not doing anything and just moving on. This seems to be¬†the best option out of all or at least the least worst option. It might even¬†end up being¬†a blessing in disguise¬†that the guy didn’t have to spend too much time and his emotional energy before he found out that that girl was so hypersensitive and so potentially hard to get along with.

Of course, it’s just as important that you make sure that you are not one of those defensive, hypersensitive¬†people, who can’t take any advice or negative feedback. Being able to take criticism gracefully without getting offended and without responding with something like “Well… so are you!” is critical in showing your confidence and maturity and to having a healthy, long-term relationship. After all, no relationship is free of disagreements and conflicts. Being defensive turns those frictions into often unnecessary fights, instead of bringing the two people closer together. Remember, especially if you are a guy who really wants to appear masculine and confident – ¬†confident people are not threatened by criticism. They are open to it and they know how to handle it, so if you are not quite there yet, it’s well worth learning.

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Practical, effective dating tips and relationship advice.
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  1. Yes, becoming more patient in your responses is a gradual process that takes work and discipline, but it sure is worth it, as it will allow you to learn how to choose when and how to react and whether to react at all to the things you don't like to hear rom others.

  2. This is so true, but easier said than done. I have actually be trying to curb my defensiveness, but often I just can't help but be that way, especially when I feel that I am falsely accused of something by my girlfriend that I haven't done. What does one do in those situations except taking a deep breath and/or running off to calm down?

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