Reasons People Play the Blame Game
- Making incorrect attributions. If your partner is running late, you might assume that they don’t care instead of considering the possibility that they could just be stuck in traffic.
- Blaming is a defense mechanism. Blaming other people for your problems helps you ignore your own flaws and faults.
- Blaming can be a weapon. Blame can be used to hurt others or make people feel like they really are at fault.
- Less responsibility. When someone blames another person for their mishaps, they don’t have to own up to the mistake or accept responsibility.
- Lying is easier. Sometimes, even when someone knows they’re at fault, they might lie and blame somebody else in order to avoid the consequences.
How Can Blame Harm Relationships?
- Prevents change. Blame keeps people from owning up to their mistakes or looking at the situation from a different perspective.
- Fosters resentment. When someone blames their partner for certain behaviors, such as being lazy, they tend to overlook the times they work hard. This causes both partner to feel bitter and resentful towards the other.
- Reduces intimacy. If you constantly feel like your partner is accusing you or blaming you, you’re going to be more defensive and it will be hard to have a close relationship.
- Leads to guilt and low self-esteem. Someone who is routinely blamed for things out of their control will end up feeling guilty even if they did nothing wrong. According to Dr. Tom Jordan, chronic blaming is a form of emotional abuse and can lead to low self-esteem.
Signs Your Relationship is in Trouble
- You feel like there’s something wrong with you and that you need to improve to make your partner happy.
- You often feel defensive or on guard.
- You feel depressed or not “good enough.”
- You feel anxious or guilty after confronting your partner about a problem.
- Your partner has bursts of anger when you explain that you’re not at fault.
What You Can Do to Stop Blaming
- Own up to some of the problem. Recognize how you could have handled the situation better and acknowledge that to your partner.
- Apologize. If your partner is upset, an apology can go a long way. It can quickly diffuse feelings of anger and frustration, and it helps you empathize with your partner. For example, if your partner says that you hurt their feelings, don’t immediately get defensive and say you didn’t mean to. Instead, tell them that you’re sorry for making them feel that way and that you understand why they’re upset.
- Ask yourself questions before responding. Ladouceur recommends that people should consider these questions before confronting their partner:
- Can I talk about my experience without blaming my partner?
- How can I relate to my partner’s perspective even if I don’t agree?
- Can I let go of needing to be right and instead work towards compromise?
- Try couples therapy. A therapist can help you and your partner get to the root cause of your arguments and see each other’s point of view.