How Individuals Create a Defensive Atmosphere in a Relationship


  • Have a long list of expectations for the other person.
  • Assume that all anger is bad and that you should never disagree.
  • Use the word or phrase you frequently use during disagreements…You never.. If only you would..
  • Keep secrets, reveal only flattering facts about yourself and keep all negative experiences inside.
  • Hold firmly the notion that the negative side of life has no place in your relationship.
  • Excessive worry about what others think of you.  By becoming a worried, nervous person, you will create an uptight, tense environment.
  • Develop rigid, legalistic beliefs by making duties and obligations out of every aspect of family life; be head-strong and inflexible.
  • Side step the feedback given to you by others; reject constructive suggestions by others.
  • Hold firmly to traditions, control, and all that is predictable.
  • Be self-absorbed, procrastinate, or be lazy.
  • Be in control of minor things; be pessimistic, bossy, or finicky with the way you like things done.
  • Have conditional acceptance; offer acceptance when your conditions are met; offer forgiveness after a sufficient apology is rendered; feel proud that you make others earn your love; give love and respect only when you get it.
  • When someone points out a deficiency, you quickly point out a deficiency in the other person.
  • Focus so heavily on issues of right and wrong that you lose your sense of compassion.
  • Clam up in silence until the other person sees things your way; back the other person into a corner with a barrage of loaded questions; lecture about the wrongness of the other person’s ways; don’t bother to be diplomatic.
  • Project an image of a life that has never had a hitch.  This is usually a person who feels inadequate in dealing with the discomforts of an imperfect life.
  • Blame the other person so you don’t have to be accountable.
  • Avoid self-examination by keeping the focus on the other person.
  • Hide from the one whom conflict is likely; become a workaholic or be so preoccupied with activities that intimacy is avoided.
  • Be hesitant to be personal with individuals considered to be of inferior stock.
  • Don’t get involved, because you aren’t sure you want to be involved with working out a solution.


When to Drop Defensive Anger…

  • When it is more beneficial to drop your anger than to be right
  • When the other person’s feelings are more important than your anger
  • When your personal feelings of security and stability are reconciled

For more details refer to:
Will the Defense Please Rest?  by Dr. Les Carter; ISBN 0-8010-2513-3

The Cooperative Relationship

Exhibits harmony even with differences.
Is sympathetic to needs and feelings.
Has a companion like, brotherly love.
Seeks to find ways to be kind.
Has an aura of humility.
Responds to evil with patience.
Responds to insults with gentleness.
Looks for ways to give a blessing. 

The Defensive RelationshipInsists on sameness of thoughts/preferences.
Wants foremost to be understood.
Has an adversarial outlook and behavior.
Seeks to find ways to be kind to self.
Is pride-infested.
Responds to evil with evil.
Responds to insults with insults.
Looks for ways to receive a blessing.


In a person who is open to experience, each stimulus is freely relayed through the nervous system, without being distorted by any process of defensiveness.

~ Carl Rogers

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