Are You In a Blame Game?

effective communication emotional health healthy relationships Feb 29, 2024
Overcoming the Blame Cycle in Relationships

I’ve been thinking a lot about blame recently. 

I have a client who fights with his wife A LOT. And, neither one of them seems to be able to stop the fights.

I’ve pointed out to him that he blames her for nearly everything he’s feeling.

If she doesn’t like something he did and she tells him, he blames her. 

If she wakes up crying because she’s thinking about how upset she is with him, he blames her. 

If he starts a project she’s not on board with and she protests, he blames her.

Basically, if any interaction makes him feel bad, no matter how minor, he blames her for how bad he feels.

Over the time that we have been working on how to stop the fighting, I’ve watched him roll his eyes while he’s telling me about the latest conflict. The eye roll is a sign that he is blaming her for something, and HE DIDN'T REALIZE HE WAS DOING IT! 

But we kept working at it and now he sees it and we’ve started working on how to handle it.

I’m telling you all this because it illustrates how blind we can be to our own thoughts and feelings.

We get so reactive and spend so little time reflecting on our thoughts, feelings and behaviors that we never get to a place where we understand why we struggle so much. We just react.

Overcoming the Blame Cycle in Relationships

Do you get blamed in your relationship? Are you the one blaming your partner? Are you both caught up in the blame cycle? My client and his wife both were.

Blame is shifting the responsibility for what just happened to someone else. 

If you blame others, you aren’t taking responsibility for the things you are responsible for--you’re telling stories about how the other person is at fault.

If your partner is blaming you, your partner is shifting the responsibility for their feelings and the negative outcome of their actions onto you.

Blame is Super Corrosive in Relationships

It feels awful to be blamed for something, especially if it’s for something you have no control over or wasn’t your fault. But that’s the blame game, one of you is blaming the other regardless of who is responsible. 

Blame is a hallmark sign of emotional immaturity. It happens because the person who is blaming can’t accept responsibility for their emotional state–it’s too painful. We’ve all done it at one time or another (maybe yesterday?) and it is gratifying. If it’s someone else’s responsibility that you feel bad, then you don’t have to do anything about it–they do. What's better than that?

Watch Out For The Blame Game

If you have a habit of blaming others, you are separating yourself from others and potentially destroying your relationship. If you want to keep your relationship, figure out how to take more responsibility for how you feel and the outcomes of your actions. (Hint: self-reflection is a good place to start.)

If you’re in a relationship with a partner who won't (or can't) take responsibility, get some help. Knowing when you’re responsible and when you’re not is tricky when you are blamed for everything. If you are a people-pleaser or you over-function in your relationship, you are likely to accept the blame without realizing it’s not your responsibility.

Whether you are the one who is blaming or you’re being blamed (or both), let’s change the pattern. Get my Effective Communication Workbook for People-Pleasers and learn your rights in a relationship so you can work on the question of who’s responsible for what. 

Also, if you are in a relationship with a lot of blaming, chances are you grew up in a household with blaming and a lack of emotional maturity–you’re in this dynamic because that’s what was modeled for you growing up. Consider reading, “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” by Lindsay Gibson, PsyD. for more information on emotional maturity and a better way to conduct yourself in relationships.

Blaming is a sign your relationship is not as connected as it could be and is possibly even in danger of collapse at some point. Don’t ignore the signs. Start working on your own pattern of either blaming or taking the blame and let’s make your relationship a safer place to be.

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