He Gets Defensive When I Tell Him How I Feel (13 Problematic Reasons)

by April Maccario

Not everyone knows how to handle other people’s feelings, and sometimes your boyfriend may not even be aware of his defensiveness every time you express yourself to him. Not getting the answer you want from a person is different from them outrightly being defensive. Before telling him how you feel, ask yourself what you want out of the conversation.

Do you want to feel better or gain reassurance? Or is there something, in particular, you want to hear him say? Not giving you the answer you want doesn’t make him precisely defensive, if there's something you're looking to hear - ask a direct question about it first. Asking a direct question doesn't mean he won't still be defensive; it just makes it easier for you to know. 

Also, it can be very suffocating to be with someone who gets defensive at the slightest opportunity; you could just be talking about something that upsets you or a boundary he crosses, and then he turns it around or gives excuses for crossing them. You may let it go the first couple of times, but after a while, it'll become unbearable. 

If you’re in a relationship, and you’re are tackling a partner that is always ready to attack you, it’ll help to understand why he does this. It might just be one of the following reasons. 

13 Reasons For His Defensive Behavior

1. Impulse

Defensiveness is in the impulsive nature of a person, it's a way to keep our guards up with words to protect our position or defend what we did. Sometimes, it's an overprotective mentality we have over something that doesn't even warrant it. Your partner might be acting out of impulse and is unaware of how this makes you feel and makes him seem.

Relationships are about letting your guard down with someone and sharing your vulnerabilities. If he can not take correction from you, admit to a mistake he made or listen to your feelings without making it solely about him, something is wrong. Defensive behavior shouldn’t be ignored, try to talk to him about it.

2. He can’t control his emotions

As much as defensiveness is an impulsive act of defense, it can be controlled. I can understand being a little defensive at the beginning of the relationship, but after a while, walls should be broken down and not kept up. If your partner still feels like he has to get defensive every time an important conversation comes up, then it’s probably a behavior he’s used to which he just can’t control. 

3. He feels vulnerable

Believe it or not, many men fear emotionally-driven conversations that leave them open to their vulnerabilities. However, real vulnerability is allowing someone to see your flaws and not being afraid to be at your lowest around them. Your man being overly guarded at the slightest says a lot about his behavior, and that’s not healthy for the relationship in the long run. 

4. He has a problem with communication

He has a problem with communication

It's not out of the ordinary for relationships to suffer frustrating moments. Everything gets better and more comfortable as you progress through it. What makes it work is how you recover from those moments of defense. 

Communication is the key to solving a situation such as this; bad communication could cause your partner’s defensive behavior, he may feel like he needs to talk and clear the air because of how things are being presented. If your partner doesn't realize he's overly defensive when he is, you have to try to talk to him about it.

5. He is not aware of how his behavior affects you

It’s likely he is not aware of his defensive behavior. If that’s the case, make him understand how much it affects you, and how you feel like he’s being overly guarded in a way that’s not helping you guys talk effectively. Make sure you don’t do this accusingly, he’ll feel like you’re attacking him.

6. You regularly blame him

If you are constantly nagging him and blaming him for everything, it’s no surprise he is always on the defense. The way you talk to him about his defensive behavior matters, try to let him down easy, use a soft tone, and make him feel comfortable enough to communicate openly. 

When telling someone how you feel, especially when it's about what they did wrong, start on a positive note. It’s the best way to communicate without sounding like you’re accusing him.

7. Trauma

The defensive behavior of your partner could be as a result of a traumatic experience, either from childhood or a past relationship. If as a child he had parents who were rash at punishment and quick to shame him when he made a mistake, it's not weird that in the slightest situation he protects himself. Your partner may be traumatized by those memories and every moment where you're upset about something he feels like you would shame him as well. 

8. He feels he is being misunderstood

It’s likely he feels he is being misunderstood every time he talks to you. Maybe a past argument between the two of you has left him on the defending end of the stick. If so, It's essential to know what's behind your partner's behavior, but it's not enough reason to eliminate the need to be better. Instead, knowing the cause helps you tackle it from the root and understand where he's coming from so you can help

9. He is in denial

If he still denies being a defensive partner, maybe he doesn’t know the meaning of defensiveness. He may have said so many times that you don’t understand him, but you have to do more than tell him that you do, try and show your partner you’re on his side. 

The relationship won’t fix itself, when your partner gets defensive, try to talk him out of it. Calm him down first before explaining that his behavior won’t help communication in the relationship.

10. He can't handle criticism

He can't handle criticism

It's possible your partner does not know how to handle criticism, he feels like people are accusing him when they talk about his behavior or something he said. Being with a partner who can not handle constructive criticism or your true feelings is burdensome. It's a lot worse when he doesn't even realize it since that's the first step to correct the situation. 

11. He is not emotionally available

It’s likely your partner is just not an emotionally available person. If that’s the case, withdrawal wouldn't help the situation. You need to confront this head-on or opt-out. Your partner needs to be emotionally available and empathetic as well, he has to try and change for things to work. It might take a while, but a good, honest, and calming conversation could help. 

12. He doesn't see the point

It’s no secret that many people get defensive when their partner opens up. Most likely, they just don’t see the point of such emotionally-driven conversations. So, you need to reassure him that the purpose of telling your partner how you feel is to achieve a deeper relationship with each other and try to understand yourselves better. You need to ensure he understands your need to talk.

13. He sees your need to talk as a battle

Some people are not aware of the goal behind telling a partner how you feel. They're obsessed with either  ”winning” or ”losing” an argument when they should be no such thing. It's not a brawl for who drops the best counter-argument, it helps you see what makes your partner happy, what they like, how they react to what you do, and so on. That said, your partner may not see the same goal as you do, reshaping his view might be the key. 


Is defensiveness a sign of guilt?

No, defensiveness isn't a sign of guilt, it means a person is arguing a position to defend it. Whether or not he is arguing based on lies or truth can only be proven later on. It's human instinct to protect themselves when they are in a problematic situation. In this case, your partner doesn't see your side or acknowledge your feelings, which he should. 

Why does my boyfriend get mad when I tell him how I feel?

There's a chance your partner feels attacked every time you express yourself, which might have something to do with the way you tell him. You may be thinking, ‘he gets defensive when I tell him how I feel,” but the way you tell him matters as well. Some men get upset when someone they care about is accusing them of not treating them well or noticing their feelings; it makes them feel attacked. 

What causes defensive behavior?

It is most likely coming from a traumatic past or childhood, a person who continuously defends himself is most likely scared or insecure about something. It’s said to develop as a method of coping with difficult situations as a child, but as you grow older, it becomes a bad habit. It could also be the side effect of low self-esteem

How do I express my feeling to my husband without him getting defensive?

You cannot control your husband's reaction to your feelings, but you can increase the chances of being listened to by communicating better with them. Start your conversation on a positive note and avoid using words that suggest blame. It's a massive adjustment to make, but in the long run, it'll help you express your feelings in ways your husband would understand. 

Why does he always get defensive?

Like I said earlier, it could be as a result of childhood trauma, some kind of insecurity, or a bad habit born out of ignorance. Few people are hardly aware of this behavior, they might scarcely see it as a bad thing as well. There’s only so much you can do to help a person realize this. 

To Conclude

I hope you enjoyed reading through, the points should help you understand how to deal with your partner and hopefully get rid of his defensive behavior. Dating someone like this requires a lot of patience and flexibility on your part, so be careful. Let me know what you think in the comments below and please take time out to share this article. 

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

One comment on “He Gets Defensive When I Tell Him How I Feel (13 Problematic Reasons)”

  1. Wow... Every point here hit the bullseye for me regarding my relationship with my long term boyfriend. Thank you for providing such a clear list; it feelslike a real validation of my feelings and will, hopefully, help my man crawl from his cave of denial. I've really been thinking about throwing in the towel, but this is giving me courage to try new approaches, again. Thank you so much.

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