I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a long time now, and every time we fight I never get angry with him. I only blame myself and put all of our issues on me. I never get angry or upset with him, just with myself. I just want some help and insight into these kinds of insecurities.
Dr. Zoe Answered:
I’m so glad you recognize that you have some insecurity issues. Although this may be the first time you are noticing, I am positive it’s not a new issue in your life. Even if he is unfairly blaming you, there is a reason why you are collaborating in this with him. Where did you develop this pattern of responding? Where did you learn that everything is your fault?
I suggest you check out one of my other answers about how to break free from co-dependency and seek some therapy to get the answer to those questions. It’s time to start changing the narrative in your mind.
Shared responsibility for disagreements can be an opportunity for growth.
Actually, the problem isn’t so much that you are taking all the responsibility; it’s more that he is not. It is good to take 100% responsibility for all of our behavior. If both people in a partnership practice this habit, disagreements are actually productive opportunities for growth. Problems start when only one person is taking responsibility for their actions, and the other is getting all the blame (welcome to your life).
Maybe you can share this answer with your boyfriend. If he’s not willing to read it and consider my answer, then you need to consider whether you deserve a partner who isn’t open to working on the relationship. Don’t share it in the middle of an argument, though. That won’t work.
I’m not sure if your relationship is healthy enough to tolerate this practice, but a good way to initiate healthy responsibility taking in relationships is whenever there is a disagreement, both partners agree to approach it from the perspective that the other is right.
Most couples balk when I suggest this because the very reason they are in my office is to prove that their partner is wrong. If you staunchly believe the story you tell yourself, you close your mind to any other possibilities. Instead, you look for, sometimes grasp for, evidence to confirm your belief—which also means you completely ignore anything that doesn’t confirm your belief (confirmation bias).
When you immediately and purposefully take the stance that your partner is right, your brain actually works to understand why this is the case. You go from defending and blaming, to understanding and empathizing. The next thing you know, you are seeing the issue through a more objective lens. If both of you are doing this, you are likely meeting in the middle and feeling heard, cared for, and loved.
I am not suggesting that you need to do more of this. I am suggesting that you choose to love yourself enough to be in a relationship with a partner who is willing to do more of this.
Shift from blaming to understanding in your relationship.
A relationship can only work if there are two equal partners participating in it. If you are always wrong and he is always right, there is a huge disparity in value between you two. He becomes the higher value partner, and you become the broken one that needs to be fixed, maybe even the partner that he is tolerating. Believing this lie leaves you vulnerable to abuse and additional dysfunction in your relationship.
The first step is recognizing unhealthy patterns. You’ve done that, so good for you! The next step is the work. Hopefully, you will both recognize that this is something that needs to change and seek help to fix it. You’ve got this. It just takes a little grit and grace.
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