Why Relationships Fail: Overcoming Defensiveness

When it comes to the complexity of human relationships, there is one common thread that seems to unravel them all: defensiveness. This elusive and often subconscious behavior is responsible for a significant portion of relationship failures. Unfortunately, it seems that defensiveness is an inevitable response when faced with certain situations. Despite the initial allure and charm of a person, the reality of true intimacy means that we will eventually encounter aspects of their character that are less than perfect. These discoveries can lead to a sense of unease and discomfort. This can trigger defensiveness and ultimately contribute to the breakdown of the relationship.

The intricacies of our daily routines, from the way we handle our precious belongings to how we recount a tale, may seem like trivial details. However, these seemingly minor actions can give rise to vexation and misunderstandings in our intimate relationships. The crux of the matter arises when we, as partners, attempt to question our significant other’s actions. Our significant others may become angry or despondent because of this. Thereafter, the impassioned plea of the lover in distress inevitably becomes, “embrace me for who I am.” A plea that foreshadows a dangerous path ahead.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that it is an immensely unfair demand to be asked to be loved just as we are. Instead, with a modicum of self-awareness and honesty, we should only ever expect to be loved for who we hope to be. For who we are at our best moments, for the good that is in us. The spirit of true love should require that whenever there is feedback, we turn gratefully to our partner and ask for more. We should continuously search to access a better version of ourselves. We should also see love as a sort of classroom in which our lover can teach us one or two things about who we should become. 

Most times we often take a defensive stance in relationships, and this is not a mere coincidence. It comes from a deep-seated fear of ridicule and abandonment. However, it’s important we muster enough courage to express our apprehensions to our partner. They might be touched by our vulnerability and anxiety. And this may help us realize that our fear is not of criticism per se, but of our inability to handle it with equanimity.

True love is not so fragile. It can weather the occasional storm, and even emerge stronger for it. It’s not about being perfect, but about being able to acknowledge and process the imperfections that we all possess. It’s about being able to have difficult conversations without fear of judgment or retribution.

So, when seeking a partner, it’s important to look for someone who is not defensive. We should rather find someone who’s open and willing to learn and grow. Someone who can see the beauty in imperfection and embrace it with open arms. For it is only in this way that we can truly experience the robustness and resilience of love.

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