Largely as humans, the basic thing we do if finding ourselves putting up rationalisation as a defence mechanism. We want something, we don’t get it, so we tell ourselves we don’t really want it just to make ourselves feel better. But we do want it. Badly. Maybe even needed it. “But hey, gotta be grateful for these crumbs ‘cos half bread is better than nothing” – we tell ourselves.
Rationalization As A Defence Mechanism
I recognize it so well because it’s one of my coping strategies. “Don’t ask for too much and you’ll never be disappointed. Better manage it like that, this is real life not the movies”. Seemed like a good thing until I learned I was hurting myself by invalidating my needs.
“I want this and I’m not getting it right now, so I’m going to figure out how to legitimately get my need met” is different from “I want this and I’m not getting it, so I’m going to craft a narrative about realizing I didn’t need it in the first place”. One is emotionally dishonest.
Your needs are valid. Delegitimizing them is shortchanging yourself. You deserve good things. It’s true that we’re not always going to get what we want, because, life. That doesn’t mean our desire to be loved the way we want to be loved isn’t legit. Or that we’re wrong for hoping.
In the context of relationships, it gets tricky. We’re always going to be negotiating what to keep asking our partner for VS what to accept we’ll never get. Should I insist they love me the way I want? Or should I accept that this is how they are? Am I unreasonable? Are they?
She’d (above pic) like to get lavish gifts, but he doesn’t get her any, should she insist that he does, or should she accept him the way he is, knowing he loves her in his own way? Or should she find someone who’ll love her like that? Or should she just tell herself she doesn’t like gifts.
Or should she just rationalize it as the fault of “social media for making me believe if a man loved me he had to buy me stuff”
I like that she talked about love languages. He’s not big on giving gifts. He supports her dreams though, so perhaps acts of service and words of affirmation are his thing. So she’s saying, I’ll accept that he’s loving me the way he knows even though it’s not my preferred way.
Again, seems like a reasonable strategy. Nobody is perfect, so expecting your partner to get you all the time is unreasonable. So you accept them and their shortcomings, just like they accept you and yours, right? But….
Can partners learn each other’s languages and make an effort to love the other in their preferred way? Or should everyone just accept that their partner is trying? Even if they are doing everything except what you really really want? Is it that they are incapable of learning?
For the partner who may be genuinely trying their best, speaking the language they know, loving the way they know to love, it can be frustrating. Like, how can I be doing all these things & you’re focused on the one thing I’m not doing?! Can you not be so ungrateful?!!!
Perhaps when we understand that our own personal love language is just that, ours, we can then make an effort to really listen to our partner and learn to love them how they want not how we insist they must accept it, we’ll see it’s not that difficult.
And when we make an effort to learn theirs, they should be learning ours to. It’s gotta be reciprocal. And it’s not a one and done matter. You’re always going to be negotiating what to ask for and what to give up because your needs evolve.
This was me daring to talk about a personal struggle I’ve been working through for a while, which I also, because of the work I do, know is a common struggle. I was careful not to disrespect her or be dismissive of her lived experience. I shared what I have learned.