Projecting the blame onto your partner will never get you what you really want. Here’s what will.
As a life coach, I hear a lot from both sides about why the relationship is not working. I meet people who are in relationships with someone they love and yet they are frustrated and discontented and blaming the other person for those feelings. The blame game sounds something like this:
“I don’t know what she/he wants from me”
“I know he/she loves me but I don’t feel it”
“He/she doesn’t love me anymore”
“He/she doesn’t look at me like that anymore”
“He/she doesn’t care”
“He/she is never present”
“He/she never helps”
What I usually see when I delve into these feelings, fears, and beliefs is a pattern. The person sharing these frustrations has a bit of personal stuff going on that is impacting the situation much more than they know. They are usually busy pointing to the flaws of another person rather than looking at why they attracted that person into their life. When I hear any of these “blame game” statements I usually find one of the following missing in the situation.
Clarity — A lack of clarity around what you want to feel and what it will take for your relationship to support the feelings that you desire and are already cultivating as an individual.
Empowered Requests — When you know what you want to feel and you are already cultivating it in your own life as an individual, you are empowered to ask for it clearly from a partner without needing to demand it, leaving room for a real conversation.
Personal Responsibility – It is 100% your responsibility to see to it your needs are met. If you are waiting for your partner to do A, B, or C in oder for you to be happy or even content then you aren’t taking responsibility for your needs. In fact you are devaluing them.
It is never your partner’s fault if your needs aren’t being met, it’s yours. You are an adult, you choose to be in a relationship with this person. When you are blaming them you are projecting your feelings and undiscovered needs onto them, what chance do they have of helping you if you don’t even truly know what you need?
The blame game is a losing proposition and one your relationship will bear the brunt of.
It is your responsibility to bring your needs to the table and to get them met even if your partner can not or will not meet them. For example, your partner hates the type of films you most love. Your options are to argue, get them to go with you resentfully, or don’t go. Or you can take responsibility for your needs and find someone else to go with you.
A lot of the time when we are blaming our partners the truth is that we have a need we haven’t identified or expressed in a request, and instead we berate their inability to meet the very we’ve never even invited them to meet.
If you have invited them assertively and clearly and expressed what it means to you and they still don’t meet that need, then it’s time for you to review the situation.
The purpose of your relationship is not to make you feel whole, valuable and special, neither is it to make you feel fearful, inadequate or stressed. Your relationship is there to support the positive feelings and self inquiry that you already have/do as an individual.
Some of Dr. Phil’s wisdom comes to mind. He calls it the “Drop Dead Deal Breakers in Relationships” — ABUSE and ACTIVE ADDICTION. If these are present he says get out of it. If you are in a relationship with either of these situations at play, it is unlikely your needs can be met by that person.
The key to a healthy, positive, and amazing relationship is to have that relationship with you first. If you can’t hold space for it for yourself, it is unlikely that you will meet someone who can hold it with you.
If you are single grab a pen and paper and list out your own needs in a relationship; to be heard, seen, respected, valued, and treated lovingly for example. When you’re dating, keep this list close by and if any of your criteria are missing you’ll know that this shows your need to develop them more personally as an individual and to find partners who cultivate this in their own lives.
If you are in a relationship, you need to check in with yourself and get clear about your needs and accept your responsibility and your ability to communicate your needs. Ultimately we can’t make anyone value us, however if we value ourselves we are less likely to stay somewhere we aren’t valued.
If your partner is blaming you, take that as an opportunity to not get defensive, but to get closer and ask, “What exactly is it you need from me?” Follow up by asking, “What feeling will that give you?” Some people just don’t know how to communicate clearly, if you take responsibility for the interaction, rather than defend or drift off, you could use this experience to get closer and truly resolve something.
Most of all, stop blaming. If you love your partner, and your partner loves you, you need to feels safe asking, in a respectful tone, that your needs be met. Be willing to talk it out, explain what you need and how you feel. Don’t nag. You repeating the same thing a million times will not help your partner understand you! You reminding them how many times they messed up won’t motivate them to want to support you. If you want to be truly heard, keep it short, three sentences at most, and be very clear on what you are asking and why.
Here’s my approach:
I love you babe (reinforce how he matters to you) , I was wondering would you put the rubbish out (straight forward request) because when you do that it makes me feel loved back and I feel so lucky to have you in my life (what it means to you).
You see how I didn’t nag? How I didn’t point out 100 times that he never does it, see how I didn’t remind him of that time he agreed and then didn’t do it? I was clear, loving and requested what I needed explaining its value to me.
If you try that, remember that they may or may not respond. Your parent is an adult too and has the right to choose. I know that If I get indignant because he isn’t doing the one thing I requested and I do A, B and C, then I really need to review why I feel so resentful about A,B and C. If I don’t like doing it why do I do it and then project these feelings onto his choices.
But ultimately I know, and encourage all of you to remember, that no matter how I go about getting my needs met, the blame game is never going to be successful. But getting clear on my needs, asking respectfully but from a place of personal power for my partner’s support in meeting my needs, and taking full responsibility for making sure my needs are met will improve my chances of getting what I want at the same time it improves my relationship with the man I love.
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Photo: Flickr/Don DeBold