Last week, my friend invited me to hang out because she wanted to talk with me.
Actually, she needed relationship advice because she was one step away from breaking up with her boyfriend whom she honestly loves.
I asked her what the problem was and she said, “He gets defensive when I tell him how I feel and I just can’t put up with it anymore.”
Now, the reason she asked me for advice is because I once dealt with a defensive man and she knows it.
That man is now my husband, and even though it did require a lot of hard work and effort from both sides, we managed to overcome that defensive behavior, and now we function better than ever.
When we started dating, I knew I was dealing with an emotionally closed man on a certain level, but I thought he would be able to open up once we get to know each other better.
However, that change didn’t happen so easily.
You know, it’s a very difficult situation. You love someone and you’re convinced that person loves you, too, but still, they build a huge wall between you and don’t allow you to come too near to them.
Your loved one is stonewalling you and shutting himself down and you just stand there, feeling powerless to do anything about it.
It seems like you’re walking on eggshells around him and it’s deeply ruining your mental health.
It’s simply a feeling I would never wish anyone to feel, not even my worst enemy. You’re aware that your relationship is falling apart and you simply feel powerless to deal with it.
“He Gets Defensive When I Tell Him How I Feel” – 14 Ways To Cope With It
I want to share with you these little things that helped me deal with my defensive man. I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too, just as they were to me.
So, if you want to get through to your man and save your relationship, just keep reading below.
If he got suddenly defensive when you confessed your feelings to him, then you definitely need to slow down because maybe, he thinks that things are going way too fast and isn’t feeling comfortable about it.
Okay, you dropped the ball here, but it’s definitely a fixable situation.
You just need to admit that it all came too soon and that you should get to know each other better before you start talking about your feelings again.
Keep in mind that his defensiveness doesn’t mean that he has rejected you. It may mean so many things, but in most cases, a man behaves defensively when he doesn’t feel ready to talk about his feelings.
In order to solve the problem, find the root cause of his defensive response
So, the first step to solving that defensive barrier your man has put between you is to find the main cause of his defensive behavior. You need to conclude what triggers it before you’re able to fix it.
Once you realize the cause of his behavior, it will be a lot easier for you to find a way to fix it. This is indeed the first step toward saving your relationship.
You have to show understanding to your man, especially if you’re in a long-distance relationship. It’s particularly difficult to make a long-distance relationship work with a defensive partner.
However, you need to show him that you’re there for him no matter what. Prove to him that even though you don’t always understand his reasons for some of his actions, you’ll always support him.
Don’t judge him
Remember, you need to be less judgemental and more understanding and patient if you want to break down the walls in your relationship.
I know this is a very difficult situation for you because you try really hard, but you can’t understand why your partner is behaving so defensively. I was you once, and trust me, I know how much it hurts.
However, even though you don’t understand him, sometimes you must behave as you do and don’t judge him.
One day, when you overcome all of this and you manage to get your man to open up, you’ll be glad you didn’t give up on him.
Stop nagging about it all the time
Understand this; just as you can’t make someone love you, you can’t also make them say it to you.
And, you shouldn’t because that is something they need to do themselves and only because they feel the need to confess it to you.
Forcing it and nagging about it all the time won’t do you any good. Also, you need to understand that there are some people who can’t open up easily.
Your man is probably one of them, and that’s why you need to have a gentle approach with him.
If you want to talk about something that is bothering you, try to work it through a healthy conversation, and try to understand if he refuses to talk about it at that moment.
If not, then after a while, your man will be tired of your behavior, which will probably lead to a breakup.
Confront him, but…
I know his defensiveness is bothering you and you have every right to confront him about it. Talk with your defensive boyfriend because everything can be solved through honest and healthy communication.
Ask him to explain to you why he’s being so defensive to you every time you start talking about your feelings.
If he honestly cares for you, he won’t allow you to wonder about it anymore and suffer because of his behavior.
He’ll be direct and honest with you and explain the reasons for his behavior. Afterward, you should try to achieve a compromise and work on ways that can help you overcome this issue.
Don’t say things out of anger that you may regret afterward
His behavior will most assuredly piss you off very often, but try to control yourself in those situations.
Don’t allow yourself to say some things in those anger outbursts and tantrums that you’ll probably regret later.
Every time he gets defensive, you should pull back also. Think about the relationship you have with yourself and how this is damaging it and also hurting your mental health.
Pull back for a little while. Have a wellness day, do something that usually calms you down, or hang out with your best friends. That’s always the best therapy for every love sorrow.
Warn him that his defensiveness is ruining your relationship
When you confront him about his behavior, you should emphasize all the bad consequences it has for your relationship.
Also, tell him that you’re worried that it’s damaging your relationship to the point it won’t be easily repairable.
Tell him that you’ve even been thinking about a breakup because you just can’t put up with it anymore.
That will probably make him change his behavior, of course, if he loves you and wants to keep you in his life.
Lay down all of your weapons
No, you aren’t surrendering, but there is definitely no need for weapons. This is not a war, and your relationship is surely not a battlefield.
The thing is that you simply need to know when to pull back in the relationship and give your loved one some space.
This is definitely one of those moments. You shouldn’t make too much drama about it. The thing your partner needs the most right now is understanding.
Neutralize the threat
Once you find out the root cause of his behavior, you need to work on neutralizing it. So, what does this exactly mean?
For example, if your man is behaving defensively because of the scars from his past relationship that still hurt and haunt him, you need to help him heal from it and prove to him that you would never do something like that to him.
Last week, my husband started to behave defensively again after so many years and I confronted him about it immediately.
He said that it’s all in my head, but last night, he admitted that it was because he has put on a little weight and was worried that I don’t like him anymore and that I would probably leave him sooner or later.
To be honest, it hurt my feelings because it made me feel that he still doesn’t know me well or that he doesn’t believe in my feelings for him.
But, I tried not to be judgemental, and I didn’t mention anything about it.
The threat I had to neutralize was his low self-esteem, so I immediately arranged a meeting with a nutrition coach and asked him to give us a diet plan. Yes, you’ve read it well, I’m on a diet now, too.
That was the best way to show him that he’ll always have my support in everything.
Also, I started to compliment him more often just to show him that in my eyes, he’s the most beautiful and gorgeous man in the entire world.
Let him speak when he feels ready for it
I already said that you should never force anything, especially when it comes to romantic relationships and expressing feelings. You need to leave him to do it himself once he feels completely ready for that step.
If he has stayed with you after you have confessed you love him, that means he loves you, too, but isn’t ready to say it or doesn’t know how to tell it to you.
If things were the other way around, if he doesn’t feel the same for you, he would leave after your confession.
Sometimes, men just need a little bit more time than we do to accept their feelings and say them out loud.
Couples therapy would help for sure
Unfortunately, he probably isn’t even aware of how his defensiveness affects you and your relationship.
That’s why the best thing would be to confront him about it and warn him of all the bad consequences it has for your relationship.
Couples therapy saved my relationship, and I’m almost completely sure it would help you save yours. Now, you just have to talk your man into it and find the best couples counseling.
I’m sure you’ll both benefit from it and your relationship will start blooming again.
11 Possible Causes Of His Defensive Behavior
As you already saw, the first thing you need to do is find the root cause for your partner’s defensiveness. Find what triggers his defensive behavior so you can help him overcome it.
The true (and unfortunate) fact is that most men are actually afraid of love and commitment.
If you’ve admitted to him that you love him and he immediately got defensive, it’s probably just an impulsive reaction.
Perhaps he does feel the same for you, but he isn’t ready to accept and acknowledge his feelings. He is aware that it would lead to a more serious relationship, and he probably isn’t ready for that yet.
His defensive behavior shouldn’t make you break up with him immediately. Give him some time and you’ll see that he’ll reach out and ask you to talk about what happened.
He’s suffering from low self-esteem
Men who struggle with low self-esteem are, in general, emotionally closed-off. It’s particularly difficult for them to maintain a healthy relationship with someone.
They feel as if their flaws and imperfections make them unworthy of being loved.
That’s why you need to show him that you also have imperfections, and teach him to embrace those not so good sides of himself instead of allowing them to undermine his self-confidence.
Men with low self-esteem are constantly seeking approval and validation from their loved ones. Trying to be understanding of his traumas is the best way you can help him right now.
He was hurt before
Another cause of his defensive behavior can also be his emotional scars from his past relationship. If you’ve already talked about your past, then you can tell if this is the case for your man’s behavior.
This means you need to help him overcome his hurt feelings and deal with his emotional baggage from the past.
This isn’t something that can be done overnight, so take a deep breath and arm yourself with patience because you’ll definitely need it.
You also need to prove to him that your feelings for him are real and honest, and that you could never do something that might hurt him on purpose.
Long story short, you need to prove to him that you aren’t like his ex and will never be.
Or, he simply doesn’t want to hurt you
Maybe all of this seems just a little too soon to your man. He probably has some feelings for you, but he doesn’t have enough time to define them yet.
Your boyfriend probably still isn’t sure that he loves you and simply doesn’t want to lie to you. Give him time to sort out his feelings and I’m sure he’ll reach out sooner than you think.
I also want to tell you that we all should learn from our own mistakes. I shouldn’t be the one who admits my feelings first to my then-boyfriend-now-husband in the first place.
And, this goes for you, too. I learned that women should always wait and let their partners admit their feelings first.
Unfortunately, that may be a red flag that he doesn’t love you
If your boyfriend builds a wall between you every time you try to talk about feelings and things that are bothering you in your relationship, it’s a possible red flag that he doesn’t love you the same way you love him.
He probably cares for you, and the only reason he is doing this is because he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.
Maybe he just wants to be completely sure of his feelings before he admits them to you.
It actually isn’t a bad thing.
It might mean that he’s falling in love with you and that very soon, he’ll be able to say those five little words out loud, “I’m in love with you.” However, until that moment comes, you’ll have to be very patient.
He’s simply a vulnerable man…
If you also have the problem with the “He gets defensive when I tell him how I feel” issue, perhaps you’re simply dealing with an emotionally vulnerable man.
He’s just using his defensiveness as a defense mechanism to cope with hurt feelings. The barrier he built between you is actually his protection in case you want to hurt him in any way.
He’ll always feel unsure about your relationship because that fear of you getting his heart broken will always be present.
It’ll be particularly difficult for him to start trusting you, and we all know that there is no love where there is no trust.
Or, maybe even an emotionally unavailable man
Oh, if this is the case with your man, it’ll be extremely difficult to overcome his defensive behavior. However, it’s possible, but you’ll both have to work very hard for it.
Emotionally unavailable men never want to speak about their feelings. They keep everything bottled up inside, and it’s pretty difficult to get through to them and make them open up to you.
He won’t be comfortable when you speak about your own feelings either because he just doesn’t know how to respond to it.
You’ll never be able to build that emotional intimacy that is truly essential for a healthy relationship.
He needs more time to process both your and his feelings
The fact is that men aren’t that open when it comes to talking about emotions and things like that. They need more time to be able to connect with their partners on that emotional level.
The only thing you can do in this situation is leave him alone. A little bit of quiet time will do him good because he’ll be able to reconsider your relationship and sort out his feelings.
Perhaps you came out with your confession of feelings too soon and he simply didn’t expect it yet and don’t know how to respond to this situation.
If this is the case, then this quiet time will also be good for you because love is a very serious emotion and it needs to be processed very carefully.
He has poor communication skills
We’re all aware of the importance of healthy communication for a successful relationship, and if your man lacks communication skills, it’s definitely a reason for his defensiveness.
He probably does love you, but he simply doesn’t know how to express those feelings to you. The thing is that he doesn’t want to disappoint you because he thinks that a simple ‘I’m in love with you’ isn’t enough.
Of course, you should work on improving communication in your relationship. You need to get your man to open up to you and talk with your man more effectively.
However, you should also give your man some time to prove his love for you with actions.
Perhaps he’s a man of action and simply believes that words mean nothing if they aren’t backed up with actions, which is truly right.
Maybe you’re simply dealing with a narcissist
I remember I talked with one of my friends about problems I was having with my boyfriend and how he gets defensive when I tell him how I feel, and she immediately said that I was dealing with a narcissist.
It really seems to me that it has become pretty normal to call someone a narcissist these days. She suggested that I should end that relationship immediately.
Well, it only made me decide to end our friendship.
Even if my husband, then boyfriend, was a narcissist, I couldn’t let him go just so. Honestly, I could never let go of someone I love no matter what.
I know it’s wrong to try to change someone, but I would simply try to point out to him how his narcissistic behavior is ruining every relationship in his life.
If you’ve noticed that your man has narcissistic traits, that’s actually what you should do.
Don’t give up on a person you love. He can change his narcissistic behavior and he will do it for your love. You just have to be there for him and support him along the way.
The problem might also be in you
You need to understand that you can’t build that emotional connection immediately after you start dating. If you try to do it, your man will probably build a defensive barrier between you.
This doesn’t mean that it’s too hard to connect with a man on a deeper emotional level. The fact is that it only requires more time.
If you want to talk about things that are bothering you, you should ask him to meet up and discuss it.
Don’t try to do it over social media or text messages because these kinds of things really need to be discussed face to face.
Before you start talking about your feelings, you must first take some time to get to know each other better. That’s the only way you’ll have a healthy relationship.
I think the sentence my psychotherapist has heard like a thousand times is, ‘He gets defensive when I tell him how I feel.’
My boyfriend’s defensiveness was a huge barrier in our relationship and I simply didn’t know how to deal with it anymore.
He was a very kind, loving, and protective man, but every time I started talking about my feelings, he would just shut himself down.
I couldn’t get through to him no matter how much I tried. And, I really tried hard. Fortunately, couples counseling helped us a lot and we managed to overcome it and stay together.
We’re now in a loving marriage, and he doesn’t have a hard time acknowledging and talking about his emotions anymore.
The famous psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, developed a theory called ‘The Four Horsemen Of The
Apocalypse’. In that theory, he states that criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling are the most destructive factors for any kind of relationship.
The fact is that defensive behavior can harm the connection between partners, which can really be fatal for a relationship.
The first time you sense that defensive vibe from your partner, you should take it seriously and try to figure out what is provoking it.
I hope my advice above will help every girl who is dealing with a defensive boyfriend. The last piece of advice I’ll give you is to always listen to your heart.
Keep also in mind that there is no obstacle that true love can’t overcome. If you honestly love him and your heart is telling you that he loves you, too, it’s worth the fight. Trust me, it’s worth every effort.