Blaming the Partner Assessing responsibility in relationship difficulties BY: Troy Murphy | October 2014
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Accurately assess relationship skills is a challenge. We can’t help it. The importance of acceptance, attachment and connection invite biased assessments. We seldom hear a person in the heat of marital discord take responsibility. The small admissions are quickly excused and the partner’s errors magnified. Majority of partners rate their relating skills better than the skills of their partner; a statistical impossibility. On the other hand, when rating a partner’s relationship skills, we’re harsh, not affording the same generous grading curve. The faulty rating creates greater conflict. When problems arise, the mind quickly unveils the easy answer—it’s my partner’s fault. After a slew of failed relationships, we may concede, not that we suck at relationships, but we lack judgment in choosing partners. Self-protection imposes its will, biasing assessments, and shirking the shame of insufficiency.
The mismatch between reality and self-preservation hinders constructive action, meddling with appropriate focus, misdirecting energy. We simply escape the complexity of a faltering relationship by blaming the partner and demand they fix it.
Relationship failure or success depends on a joint effort of both partners. Relationships are dynamic. They ebb and flow with the environment, gaining strength from communications, trust, and shared emotions. Deficiencies eventually leave a relationship ill prepared to navigate the inevitable more serious troubles. We must build during times of happiness to whether the bleaker moments.
Relationships are dynamic. A single act isn’t isolated. Intricately intertwined with past interactions—each action, communication, and facial grimace conveys a message. The beleaguered sufferer can’t convey the complexity with a few words. We routinely encounter stories from dissatisfied partners narrating their personal horror, coloring their partner in evilness and themselves as innocent victims. Usually large chunks of the story are missing.
A relationship weighted with messy histories will struggle, each new conflict is complicated with the weight of the past—saving these strained connections is difficult. Even with improved skills, partners misinterpret new behaviors against the backdrop of the past. It’s not simply what we do—but the fear of repeats of what happened that delivers the punch. Our partner reacts to their interpretation, and then we react to our interpretation of their reaction—and their reaction to our reaction, etc . . . Interactions start with a simple sentence, than the flow begins, with information passed back and forth for dozens of rounds; until the volley is discontinued; each partner often extracting a different message. When connection is missing, partners feel unheard--not simply the words, but the feelings; together but feeling alone.
Taking responsibility for the success and failure of a relationship has limitations. Partners are not non-entities. The world, unfortunately, has narcissist, sociopaths and sadistic people; one of them, conceivably, could be sleeping in your bed. In these cases, improving relationship skills has a place; but with a different goal. Relationship skills will solve their beastly problems. Our improved skills assist in creating a safer environment, avoiding dangerous confrontations, and eventually facilitating an escape. Depending on the seriousness of the partner’s sociological ailments, escape may be the only path to intimacy (with someone else). With this in mind, establish a supporting cast of friends, family and professionals to free your selves from the torments of abusive.
"Even with improved skills, partners misinterpret new behaviors against the backdrop of the past. It’s not simply what we do—but the fear of repeats of what happened that delivers the punch."
New relationships need time for discovery; narcissists, sociopaths, and sadists are masters of concealing their broken souls. They are also victims; but fixing them while in the relationship is nearly impossible. The needs are too strong and implications of insufficiency too cutting. The victim partner becomes busy defending their own life, enduring painful attacks, emotional seclusion and tainted promises; motivated by fanciful hope of changes that never take hold, the victim stays in the nightmare. Even the strong can’t endure the stress. We need loving support, lengthy relationships with emotionally starved and abusive partners is destructive. We give way to the strain, begin to doubt our emotions, behaviors, and memories, incurring damage to our souls—we become broken, as well. Avoiding these nasty relationships requires time for true natures to be exposed. The premature escape with a perceived soul mate, often allows for the narcissist to mask veiled personality traits until easy retreats are gone. Overtime and with clear minded choice, we can avoid many relationship monsters, preserving sanity for worthwhile battles.
All partners have idiosyncrasies and weaknesses but most stumblings are manageable. Our partners, just like us, possess a unique mixture of strengths and weaknesses. When a relationship begins to sour, our pucker is more likely from intensified interpretations rather than actual changes in a partner’s character. Most partners’ characters don’t suffer from an unwelcoming spell conjuring up previously non-existent traits; but from subtle changes met with magnifying interpretations. Simple behaviors, perhaps rude, become selfish, mean-spirited, and evil because we label them as such. Our once dear partner becomes the enemy—at least in our own eyes (and emotional reactions), from our poisoned interpretations.
The occasional hurts accumulate biasing future interpretations. Soon, even positive behaviors elicit suspicion. When positive and neutral interactions are skeptically received and given a negative spin, the relationship has run its course, sorrow swallows the previous joys, and quaint memories of past romance fade as intimacy perilously falls into the throat of the beast. Anger, sadness, vindictiveness, defensiveness, and seclusion soon invade leaving a heart, family and soul in ruins.
If your first reaction to relationship discomfort is: "This is excellent advice for my partner," or "This does not pertain to me, my partner really is a good for nothing selfish @$%$$#%." Look again. Probe a little deeper into your own soul. Perhaps your personal assessment is skewed, misdirecting blame, and side stepping responsibility. Slow down and look again!