It’s kind of the worst thing ever if your partner points the finger at you for every little thing that goes wrong. But what should you do if your partner blames you for everything? How can you get things back on track if this has become an established pattern? According to nine relationship, love and dating experts, a bit of compassion is key here. If someone is pulling the blame card over and over, they are likely having a really hard time themselves, and might need a little extra support and attention right now.
That being said, it’s not OK to be handed a huge, heaping pile of blame just because your partner is not at tip-top shape at the moment. We all go through good times and bad, and in the darker moments, sometimes toxic behaviors, including blame, rear their ugly heads. If that’s the case, you can work together to find a solution. But sometimes certain people just naturally like to point fingers. You know what they say, though: Every time you point a finger, three point back at you. Here’s what you should keep in mind and what you should do if your partner is constantly blaming you for everything.
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1. Have A Heart-To-Heart
“The blame game is something that has caused relationships to crumble for years,” executive editor and founder of Cupid's Pulse Lori Bizzoco tells Bustle. “If your partner blames you for everything, then it's time for you to speak up, share your perspective and ask them to listen to your point of view.” It’s time for the old 'say what you mean, mean what you say, don’t say it mean' routine. “Don't discuss blame by placing blame,” she reminds. “This is a habit that most couples make in relationships.”
Just say what’s up, straight up. From there, “make a very conscious effort to listen to what your partner is saying and really try to change your behavior for the sake of your relationship,” Bizzoco says. You might have some things to work on too. “Just as you have agreed to be more aware of the things that bother them, ask them to take a look at some ways that they too can improve the relationship,” she says. “Acting as a team toward these issues demonstrates support, care and compassion, and is the best way to keep the relationship going.”
2. Ask Them To Point Out Issues Gently
“We should never think in all or none, always or never,” psychologist Nicole Martinez, who is the author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships , tells Bustle. “We should calmly and rationally point this out to their partner.” If your partner thinks you’re “always” to blame, there’s a problem. “Many times, things are coming up for the first time, so it would not be possible for them to ‘always,’ do something,” she points out. “Make a deal with them that if you are doing what they are saying, it is OK to calmly tell you that you are doing this.”
In other words, every time your partner gets an itch to blame, ask them (in advance) to instead just gently call out the issue. “This allows you to either clarify the reality of the situation, or take a look at yourself and your behavior if there are changes to be made,” she says. “The important piece here will be that this has to be open understanding, and work both ways.” Though you’re obviously not to blame for it all, you’re also not an innocent, perfect soul who never does anything wrong.
“There are two people in a relationship and you are each bringing issues and baggage to the table,” she says. “Be willing to talk about it, and see how you can both improve upon yourself, your behavior, and your relationship.”
3. Don’t Take It Personally
“I once heard a person say that blame is the discharge of pain,” Dawn Maslar, aka “the Love Biologist,” tells Bustle. “I try to stop in the moment and realize that the blame is not really about me.” If someone is telling you you’re the cause of something, remember in the moment that it’s not really true. “It's about the other person's shame,” she says. “On those occasions where I don't take it personally, I can be loving and kind to my partner and sometimes explore long enough to find the real reason for their discomfort.” Remain curious — and keep your heart open.
4. Do Nothing
“Pause for a few moments and then say, ‘What do you want to do about it?’” Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. This way, you’re turning their temper tantrum into a proactive, productive moment.
“Your partner has a bad habit, probably learned from family or earlier relationships, and the best way to extinguish a bad habit is to ignore it,” she says. “Getting your partner to focus on a solution instead of blaming is a better strategy.” If there really is a problem, you can solve it together. If not, you can let it go — together.
5. Go Within
"If your partner blames you for everything, check yourself and figure out if you’re screwing up more than usual,” New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. “If you are, then figure out why. If you’re not, and this is really about your partner being upset about something else and acting out by blaming you, it’s important to get to the root of the problem without escalating any negativity.”
It’s a tricky situation, but Masini has some tips. “Don’t get defensive,” she says. “This just builds the fight.” Instead, remain willing to hear your partner’s needs. “And later, with some time in between the issue and this talk, ask your partner if there’s something going on that’s upset him or her, because you noticed he or she is blaming you for things that you don’t think are all your fault.” In a nonjudgmental way, see if you can get to the root of the problem. “Ask your partner if there’s something going on that you can help with or just listen to.” Being kind and also actively alert to anything your partner and your relationship needs will make all the difference.
6. Be Willing To See Your Part
“Ask yourself, ‘Is my side of the street clean? Is there any part of this that is my responsibility?’” licensed marriage and family therapist Natalie Finegood Goldberg tells Bustle. “This even means if it was only one percent your fault and 99 percent theirs — or someone else's.” It’s not always ideal, but it is always rewarding to look at your part in things. “Whatever is your 'fault,' it's important to take responsibility for,” she says. “Once you've done so … can you then ask your partner to take responsibility for their part?”
This is the important piece of the puzzle. Both partners have to be OK with shouldering their side of the issue. “If this is a theme in the relationship, it's also important to bring this up during a neutral time,” she says, “and acknowledge that the blame feels one-sided or that you feel held responsible for everything that seems to go wrong.” Using your words, rather than blowing up, will get you much farther. “Reminding your partner that you are a team and a team effort is needed to address whatever goes wrong also helps to shift the relationship away from a blaming dynamic and into a collaborative dynamic,” she says. And then a real shift can occur.
7. Ascertain Their Motivation
“Blaming is toxic to any relationship,” life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. “Unity and trust are what makes a relationship sustainable, and blaming pretty much annihilates any chance of either.” Yep, pretty much. “If your partner constantly blames you for everything, it's most likely due to low self-esteem, low respect for you, or the need to be perfect.”
Try digging deep to ascertain what the cause might be. “My advice is to try to find out which motivation is behind the blaming, and talk to your partner about it,” she says. “If they open up and are willing to work on it, then do so together. If not, it's best to exit the relationship as soon as humanly possible.”
8. Figure Out Why They’re Blaming You
“What are they blaming you for?” Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, asks Bustle. “If this a phase because of other stressors in their life such as work, family, etc., talk out what the issues are.” Sometimes, people can get out of hand, and their behavior needs to be gently pointed out.
"If the person is just bent on trying to bring you down, you may be dealing with someone who is toxic and unable to cope when they are down or depressed,” she says. If that’s the case, as Rogers said, it’s best to move on.
9. Try Some Teamwork
“First, accept that while you may not be ‘to blame,’ you might have a role in the problem,” marriage counselor Jessica Wade tells Bustle. “Be curious about what part of the problem is yours.” If you’re hell-bent on shutting down any notion that you might be at fault, that’s a problem too. “Be truly curious and non-defensive to learn your part in it,” she adds. “Accept responsibility and commit to changing it.”
And you’re allowed to bring up your partner’s part as well. “Next, ask your partner to consider what’s his or her role in the shared problem,” she says. “Once you’ve demonstrated a non-defensive posture toward the problem, you’ve given your partner a chance to do the same.” Side by side, you can put your heads together and figure out a solution that’ll work for you both.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (9)