5 Defense Mechanisms That Are Killing Your Relationship

Defense Mechanisms

As human beings, we use defense mechanisms from time to time whether we realize it or not. This is fine…until it starts getting in the way of your relationships.

Defense mechanisms are psychological techniques that we use unconsciously to cope with things like stress and anxiety. For example, if something highly traumatic in happens in your life you may mentally block out the memory without trying. These mechanisms are something we use to comfort ourselves. Humans use defense mechanisms to protect themselves from all sorts of scary feelings such as heartbreak, failure, vulnerability and more. However, sometimes these defense mechanisms hurt you more than they help you. Defense mechanisms often push others away, even if that’s not what you intend.

When you are in a romantic relationship, it’s a good idea to evaluate defense mechanisms that you may be using. If you feel that you are subconsciously pushing your partner away, take a step back and look at your actions from an outside perspective. If these five things sound familiar to you, you might be killing your relationship with your defense mechanisms.

1. Avoidance

No one is perfect. We procrastinate getting into things that seem difficult or stressful. Avoidance is a defense mechanism which is harmful, especially within relationships. When you avoid anything that causes anxiety, you are going to end up with a lot of misunderstandings. If something is bothering you, it’s always best to speak to your partner about the situations honestly. Half of the time your partner is completely unaware that what he or she is doing is upsetting you.

If the thought of confrontation makes you too nervous, you may find yourself ignoring the situation, unrealistically hoping that the situation with resolving itself. Most of the time the situation will not ever be resolved, causing you to bottle up your emotions until they explode. When you avoid communication with your partner you end up pushing them away.

2. Acting Out

Instead of using words to express yourself, do you find yourself using impulsive actions? Acting out sounds like a basic term used for children but it is also a common defense mechanism. If something your partner does annoys you and you throw something against the wall, this is a great example of acting out. If you exhibit this type of irrational behavior all the time you will overwhelm your partner. No one wants to date someone who is overly dramatic and if you constantly act out.

3. Projection

Projection is a defense mechanism where someone projects their own flaws onto someone else. Sometimes it’s easier to blame others for your own faults. Rather than admitting to yourself that you are disorganized, you blame your partner for being disorganized If you both are disorganized, you will place all of the blame on to your partner, allowing yourself to reason that it is all their fault.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to own up to your flaws. Recognize the things you need to work on and talk about these things with your partner. If you constantly blame your partner for things that you do as well, you will come off as an unreasonable hypocrite.

4. Regression

To regress is to go backward. Do you ever feel like you exhibit immature childlike behavior when you are under a tremendous amount of stress? You maybe displaying the defense mechanism of regression. If you are under stress, whether it relates to your relationship or not, you might notice yourself acting clingy. For example, you might get really upset when your partner leaves you for just a night or two.



If you act like it’s the end of the world when your partner goes out of town for the weekend, you will likely end up pushing them away. This type of behavior is not cute when it goes on for too long and will end up sabotaging your relationship.

5. Altruism

This defense mechanism is a bit different from the others because it doesn’t feature outright negative behavior like the rest. When you engage in altruistic behavior you use kindness towards others to defuse an anxious situation. If you feel that your partner is upset with you, you might start overcompensating with niceness. This type of defense mechanism will kill a relationship in a different way than the rest.

When you are overly nice to your partner every time you want to turn around a negative situation, your partner will begin to notice. This may lead to your partner taking advantage of you and treating you unfairly. In the case that you feel there is a problem in your relationship, it’s always better, to be honest, and talk about it with your partner, rather than trying to resolve it the least confrontational way possible.

By Lauren G.


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5 Defense Mechanisms That Are Killing Your Relationship

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