When your relationship isn't going well, it's often hard to convince yourself it's not all your fault. After an argument, or a particularly tough week, emotions are generally running high. You might think about the things you said, or all the things you did "wrong," and feel an intense amount of regret. This is a totally normal — albeit totally sucky — side effect of rocky relationships.
In fact, it sucks so much that it makes sense why we all want to know we aren't to blame. If this is you right now, it really can be a huge comfort to hear the words "it's not your fault." Depending on your situation, they can be a welcome respite from a big ol' pile of guilt. But they can also be helpful in getting your relationship back on track.
If that's your goal, focusing on what you can blame versus who you can blame can make all the difference, licensed clinical professional counselor Julienne B. Derichs, LCPC, tells me. "'What' helps you learn," she says. "Blame helps you to keep on thinking that it's 'them' not me."
If it was you, own it. But if it wasn't, don't stand around feeling guilty. Look to circumstances, or outside influences, or things you're both struggling with to figure out why everything's going south. And hey, don't be afraid to call your partner out if they're making the relationship more difficult than it has to be. With that said, here are a slue of situations that might be stirring up the problems — none of which have anything to do with you.
1. You're The Only One Apologizing
After an argument, sometimes all you can do is apologize and try to work things out. If you're ready and willing to do so, then congrats — you've held up your half of the deal. But your partner needs to join in, too. If they aren't willing to reflect on their behaviors then "there is no way that your dynamic as a couple can change," relationship expert Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, tells Bustle. And obviously, that is not your fault.
2. Your Partner Doesn't Seem To Be Listening
If you guys have had a chat (or two) about a problem in the relationship, then it's reasonable to expect things to change — even if they change slowly. So take note if your partner does absolutely nothing to correct a bad situation. As Los Angeles-based psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., says, "... if your partner keeps repeating behaviors through words and/or actions that you have clearly asked him or her not to do because [it's] upsetting to you," then any recurring problems really aren't your "fault."
3. He Or She Is Moody All The Time
If you two have been strugglin' your way through a relationship, it may have something to do with your partner's moodiness. Do you they get all sullen when you try to talk, or shut down on the regular? If so, it's possible they're struggling with something that has nothing to do with you, Milrad tells me. All you can do in this situation is offer up support, and hope they get the help they need.
4. You're At Different Stages In Life
If your lives aren't matching up right now, it could explain a lot of the arguments and struggles you guys have been having. For example, if you've suddenly started bickering about money, maybe it's because your SO wants to buy a house (while you most certainly do not). In situations like these, it's important not to point fingers. "Trying to place blame on a partner will only push you two further apart and you should never blame yourself for your own desires and feelings," says relationship therapist Jennifer Seiter, in an email to Bustle.
5. There's Stuff Going On Outside Your Relationship
Sh*tty life circumstances can manifest in the form of arguments in your relationship. Is your SO about to get fired at work, or are you both dealing with sick family members? Things like these can really take a toll on your coupledom. "The key is strong couples work through these problems even if they are very stressful and difficult," says psychologist Scott Caroll, MD. Easier said than done, of course. But way better than letting the drama get the better of you.
6. You're The Only One Open To Criticism
As long as you're open to constructive criticism, then consider yourself on the right track. As relationship expert Sameera Sullivan says, "... if you are willing to make changes, you are putting in the effort and work that a relationship needs." If things continue to go south, it may be your partner isn't putting in the same amount of work.
7. Your Partner Is Quick To Blame
Take note if your partner blames you for everything at the drop of a hat. "A mature adult will look at a situation with their partner and ask themselves, 'What was my part in this? What could I have done differently?'" says licensed marriage and family therapist Caroline Madden, in an email to Bustle. If your partner can't seem to do that, then more problems will crop up soon.
8. You Guys Have Money Problems
It terms of huge external factors that can mess up your relationship, money is right at the top of the list. But this is especially true if you're with someone who is notoriously bad with money. "If you are having money problems and you've always been good with your money, but your partner hasn't, then they are just pulling you down," Carroll says. All sorts of arguments with ensue if you guys can't figure things out. So start working on an agreement, ASAP.
9. Your Partner Is Jealous For No Reason
In terms of things that aren't fair, nothing's worse than a partner who is jealous for no reason. As Madden tells me, it usually starts small. But it can soon build to your partner trying to control the whole relationship. I'm sure you can see why that would cause problems, and (of course) none that are technically your fault.
10. They Expected You To Change
When you enter into a relationship, you kinda have to take that person as they are. Sure, they may make subtle lifestyle changes or grow a bit as a human. But for the most part, they are who they are. If your partner can't accept you the way you are — or vice versa — problems will arise, Sherri Murphy, CEO of Elite Connections, tells me. The only person at fault here would be the person expecting change. If that wasn't you, then you're golden.
11. You've Literally Done Nothing Wrong
I'll say it again. It's not OK if your partner blames you for everything. But this is especially true if you've done nothing wrong. While no one is 100 percent perfect, you certainly shouldn't feel at fault when you've been on your A game. "There should be a balance in terms of who's to blame and for it to not always be one person's fault," Carroll says. So if you've been all about communicating, and all about fairness, let your partner know that it's time to talk.
After all, this isn't about pointing fingers. It's about figuring things out together, and getting back to a healthier relationship — no blaming allowed.
Images: Pexels (12)