Women often blame themselves for some of the most outlandish behaviors of their partners. It’s an interesting phenomenon especially since men seldom blame themselves, in my experience, when the women mess up. Placing blame where it belongs is important. If you’re at fault, by all means own up to what you did and repair it. If, however, someone else did something hurtful, don’t blame yourself and wonder how you caused your partner to be so hurtful—that’s crazy thinking.
If someone does something that is hurtful to you, stop looking at whether or not you caused it and realize what the person did was wrong. Over the years I’ve had women wonder:
• If their husband’s being on a singles site was their fault. Please, you no more have control of your husband’s internet philandering than you do anything else in his life. If he chooses to get on a singles site—his decision has nothing to do with you and everything to do with him. You may just want to ask yourself why you want to be with someone who is so deceptive and then blame yourself for his deception.
• If the partner’s sexting another woman was because she was boring, unattractive or too heavy. Really? His sexting another woman is because he finds it exciting and he wants to do what he wants to do. It has nothing to do with his partner’s anything. See it for what it is and deal with the facts.
• If their complaining about their husband’s raging at the children was why the children didn’t like their father. What?! The children didn’t like their father because they were afraid of him and he was acting like a tyrant in his home. Very few people enjoy being around tyrants—and children are no exception.
• If her boyfriend’s 4 day silent treatment was because of something she said or did. If someone gives you the silent treatment for 4 days—it has NOTHING to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with their conflict avoidance. Their silence is how they cope with anger and they will do it with anyone in their life to a greater or lesser degree than they do it with you. Stop blaming you and start setting limits on the silent treatment.
When it comes to blame, the bottom line is place the blame where it belongs rather than reflexively questioning yourself. It’s one thing to be willing to look at your own behavior, it’s a completely different thing however, to excuse someone else’s. You do not cause anyone to do anything. You don’t cause someone to cheat, make someone go silent, force someone to rage or cause people to do hurtful things.
Sometimes it’s just plain not about you.
Realize that some people do bad things just because they choose to do so. Don’t excuse the behavior or look at how you caused it. Address the behavior and have strong enough boundaries to know when something is not about you. Finally, don’t take responsibility for something unless the responsibility is truly yours to take.
Challenge: If you’re in a relationship with someone who has been hurtful, notice how you respond. Do not question yourself for their poor behavior—their behavior is 100% their choice not yours.