“It’s always my fault according to my ex girlfriend,”
Was the very first thing he told me as we discussed his eroding situation with his ex girlfriend.
It seems that no matter what he did, it was wrong.
This was the story I was getting from a client who was reaching the end of his limit.
I could see anger was welling up in him and I knew that was not a good thing for a guy trying to recover his ex girlfriend.
The “blame game” is something I see a lot between couples as they seemingly compete to outdo each other on who is to blame for whatever.
When things are not working out, it is easier to blame another because the alternative is to blame yourself.
As I spoke to my client about his unraveling situation with his ex girlfriend, it seemed that the “blame game” was in high gear. And he was the one with the short end of the stick.
According to him, his girlfriend blamed him for everything.
She held him responsible for the break up.
It was his fault that they fought so much.
He supposedly was to blame for all of her bad moods and when bad luck prevailed, he would catch blame for that as well.
His relationship with his ex girlfriend did not start off this way. But the last couple of weeks were really tough as neither of them could find common ground.
And he kept telling me,
“look Dude, I don’t deserve it. It’s really her fault.”
He jokingly remarked that the only thing he did not get blamed for was the weather. But since she hated cold weather and winter was approaching, he was convinced he was about to catch hell.
My experience with such things has taught me that there is usually a lot more to the story.
While it did sound like his ex girlfriend held him accountable for far too many things, I was interested in understanding what, if any, behaviors my client may have exhibited that could have been triggers to his ex-girlfriend’s accusations.
So that is where we began as we journeyed through his relationship.
I wanted to understand how things started between them.
I wanted to understand what were their normal routines.
I wanted to gain greater insight into when the fights started and when his ex-girlfriend began blaming him for so many things.
I needed to understand if there was some kind of triggering event that got the relationship headed off into the wrong direction.
So there was a lot for me to learn. But part of this process was to help my client learn these things too.
What often happens is that we get so engaged with all the negative events happening in our relationship, that it can be easy to get lost in all the muck.
When we have a woman who is constantly blaming, condemning, accusing, or finding fault, it sounds a lot like one way traffic.
And while my experience has revealed to me that some women can fall prey to the seductive qualities of always laying blame on their boyfriend; more often than not, both of them are guilty of the same sin.
After hearing a full hour of why his ex-girlfriend is a dreadful person, constantly finding fault with the things he says or does, I wanted to turn the focus around.
I wanted my client to hold the mirror up and take a really hard look at things he said or done that could have contributed to the demise of their relationship.
(Just don’t type it in Google.)
Over the next few minutes we are going to explore that line of inquiry and much more.
And I think you will see that in most cases, the blame game is really a symptom of a larger problem.
Our job is to uncover what that could be.
Here are the key things that we will touch on.
- What Was Working With the Relationship
- What Did You Do Wrong in Your Dealings with Your Ex Girlfriend
- Why Does your Ex Girlfriend Blame You
- Whose Fault Is it Really
- What Can You Do About it Now
Lets hop to it!
Before We Begin I Need To Tell You Something Important
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What Was Working With the Relationship?
I figured at the heart of the relationship blame game was a bigger problem.
My client had described that he and his girlfriend had been seeing each other for two years. In my book, while that is not a super long time, it definitely suggests that these two lovers had created a connection strong enough to last a good spell.
To be bonded for two years, you have to be doing some things right.
I decided we would temporarily get off the topic of “blame” and turn our attention to the positives in order to give the conversation a more realistic perspective.
He told me that in the first year of the relationship his girlfriend sparkled with happiness. They spent a lot time together, their sex life was satisfying, and they both held stable jobs.
He explained that he was happy and thought she seemed happy as well in those earlier times.
I asked if there was much blaming go on in those earlier times.
He said No…
I asked if he thought she was a dreadful person then.
He said No…
I asked him how they had met. It turned out they met through a dating service.
I told him that even during the good times, there are usually some issues of contention. So, I inquired about what they usually argued about.
It turned out that most of the conflict they had in the first year of the relationship was relatively petty and seemed to be usually triggered by fatigue, stress, or a misunderstanding.
Ok, I thought to myself, so far so good.
In talking to my client, he did not come off as an unreasonable person.
He was likable and intelligent, though a tad emotional.
He described his ex-girlfriend as drop dead gorgeous. He said that she was independent, strong willed, and fiercely loyal.
He explained that he liked all of those qualities. In fact, he said that her personality “turned him on” because the other women he dated tended to be pushovers and would not stand up for themselves.
In his ex-girlfriend’s case (her name was Casey), that was never a problem.
She was confident in what she believed and seldom did she “beat around the bush”.
If something was on her mind, she told you and you didn’t have to worry about her playing games.
She would frequently tell him that she did have time to play games. She would tell him she wanted to “play at life”.
He claimed that she “did not have a jealous bone in her body” (hold on to that thought!)
So I am hearing all this from my client and I am thinking to myself, “Crap, I better help this guy get her back, because she really sounds like a catch”
It was a good tactic to get him talking about the better days, because I could see he was starting to climb out of his funk.
The feeling that your ex-girlfriend is unfairly accusing you is not uncommon when one is in the early phases of a break up.
It was crystal clear to me that he was angry, hurt and confused that the relationship had unraveled.
And I could see when we first began talking, he was not ready to accept any blame for any of it.
Rather, his attitude was that he was being unfairly portrayed and accused of a great many things.
His ex-girlfriend’s tongue lashing tirade had stung him hard and he was not quite ready to move on. At least that was his mindset in the first several minutes of our conversation.
He was quite content at making petty comments about his ex and playing victim.
And I was hearing very little in the lessons learned department.
I figured if my client continued to thrash around in this role of “victim”, then things were never going to get better.
I have seen this sort of thing before.
It is normal, but one cannot stay in this type of funk too long.
To me, it matters less who casts the “blame” and who plays the “victim” because it is a losing proposition to play either role.
After talking to my client, I was hearing a lot about being blamed and feeling victimized.
It was time to turn that around.
I have come to learn, there is always more to the story. There are always missing pieces of information that I need to coax out.
It was time for me to help him turn the corner.
As long as my client was convinced that his ex girlfriend was the sole instigator of all his troubles, we were going nowhere, fast.
Then something happened.
I think of it as “getting out of your own way”.
After reflecting back on the good times he had with his ex girlfriend, he was starting to find a better frame of mind to accept there must be something more going on.
So I decided I would launch into my own little tirade.
He asked me, “so what do you think?”
I told him, “I think it is a bunch a crap.”
“Yea, me too”, he said.
He look at me like I was nuts. So I explained.
I don’t like at all when a guy accuses their ex-girlfriend as always “blaming” them for everything under the sun.
That kind of talk does not work for me because I know it will not work out for my client if they continue to play “victim”.
Love and hate…these two things are always products of two way traffic.
“If you and your ex-girlfriend are busted up now”, I told him, “then it is because BOTH of you did something wrong. It is never just one person who is at fault.”
Where Did it Go Wrong with Your Ex Girlfriend and What was Your Role?
So I asked my client a simple question.
“What did you do that really pissed her off?”
He looked at me like like I was not listening to a word he had said.
So, I repeated my question.
“You must have really screwed up. So what did you do?”
You see, sometimes when a client of mine is playing the “victim” game, I Iike to jolt them back to reality.
So he is looking at me with this incredulous expression like, “why the frack am I paying you for this”!
So, I could see that I was going to have to do some relationship coach preaching!
I started in with another confusing thought for him to chew on.
I said, “look, this thing with your ex-girlfriend is probably very simple. Look for the simplest explanation.”
If you hired me to help you with getting your ex girlfriend back, then that is what I am going to do. Just be prepared to shift your paradigm.
You see, unless his girlfriend was some kind of “she devil monster”, then his explanation for what has been going down between the two of them is far too complicated.
I mean really, all of a sudden, this amazing young woman turns into a she devil monster!
Nope, I am not buying that!
Remember, I prescribe to the theory that relationships and everything good and bad about relationships, comes out of two way traffic.
It takes two to tango.
It takes two to fight.
It takes two to make love.
And you need two people to play the blame game.
Yes…that is what was going on here. She was playing the “blame maker” and he was playing the “victim”.
Now, if you tell me that all your troubles stem from this most awful “she monster” of an ex-girlfriend and that she “blames” you for EVERYTHING, well it just does not fit into my simple way at looking at things.
Have you ever heard of Occam’s Razor?
There was this 14th century logician and Franciscan Friar called William Ockham.
He was a really smart guy.
He was also a philosopher and problem solver.
The term “Occam’s Razor” originated from his hypothesis that given two competing possible explanations, the “simplest” one…..the one that requires the fewest assumptions, is usually the correct one.
Pretty cool notion, don’t you think! Scientists use this logic frequently.
So let’s lay it out. What might be the simplest of these two competing explanations?
- My ex-girlfriend is mean spirited and unfairly blames me for everything, even though I did not do hardly anything wrong. I am the victim and she is the blamer.
- My ex-girlfriend has accused me of some things because I may have made some mistakes, but so to has she.
Explanation number 2 requires fewer assumptions because in the real world, when we have two people involved in a relationship, both will make mistakes and cast blame.
This kind of outcome is “simply” much more common.
Couples will encounter problems and it is rare that only one person is to blame for everything.
So after I introduced my client to Occam and after we had talked about some of the wonderful qualities his ex girlfriend possessed, he was ready to “spill the beans”.
He just didn’t know what it was yet.
After some probing, I finally got him talking about what he might have done to get sideways with his ex girlfriend.
He and I both knew that all this “blaming” just did not emerge like some evil genie in a bottle.
It got its start somewhere, somehow, and sometime.
And I wanted to hear about it and understand it.
“Ok, Ok”, he finally confessed.
“I think I know what it was. She said something about during our last fight. I think she started getting all wound up a couple of weeks ago when I told her that her sister was pretty hot”.
Now we were getting some place.
“What came out of all that”, I asked.
He said that she did not really say much about it back then.
He explained that shortly after his off the cuff remark about her sister, they were planning on going to the movies and she asked him what he thought of the idea of her sister coming along.
If you have ever been down this kind of path before, you will know that sometimes your girlfriend might suggest something that the two of you can do together, but she may not really want to do it.
It is all a Test.
She is testing you to see what you will say.
Or she is just thinking out loud and is not sure what she wants.
Well in this case, she was testing my client and he failed big time.
Instead of telling his girlfriend, “no, I really just want it to be us together at the movies,” he royally screwed up and said, “yes, sure, that is a great idea”.
I like to pick at things.
Being a relationship coach is somewhat like being a detective.
If you pick at things enough, sometimes little important facts just fall right into your lap.
So, I kept picking at this conversation he had with his ex-girlfriend about inviting the “sister” to the movies.
I asked if there was some kind of “scene” at the movies between the three of them.
He said No.
I asked if it seemed that his ex-girlfriend had a good time.
He said yes.
I inquired about the seating arrangement.
Boom, I struck gold!
He said it sort of turned out that he was seated between them.
So, I am thinking to myself, “oh crap, I see where his ex girlfriend got started on the warpath”
Sometimes, it is just the little things that can upset the apple cart for us guys.
And this was it.
When your girlfriend is jealous and hurt that she is not getting your full attention, you best get ready to pay the piper.
This is where it all started going wrong.
Why Does Your Ex Girlfriend Blame You?
Speaking in general terms, there are multiple reasons why your ex-girlfriend may find blaming you a lot easier than loving you…..at least for a spell.
Just for clarification, make no mistake, your lovely girlfriend of the past will not just stop loving you over something like this.
But if you have done something wrong in her eyes, then it is far easier for her to first blame you for your transgressions then wait for your apology.
And if your apology is not forthcoming, look out!
Sometimes, you will not even have a clue what you did wrong.
I remember once playing tennis on some courts near where I live.
I have played with my wife in the past and always had a great time. On this particular day, she was still at work and I thought I would go out and hit a few balls.
Now, I did not wake up that day thinking that my lovely wife would be casting blame on me for what happened next.
Nor did I set out to do anything that would upset the apple cart. But sometimes, despite your good intentions, you can find yourself in a pickle.
So I am out there whacking away on some tennis balls when a girl’s team from a local High School arrives at the courts.
Bear in mind that there are only two courts at the apartment complex I live at.
My wife and I had agreed to play tennis when she arrived at home, so it was fortunate I had gotten an available court.
So while I was working on my serve (by myself), the young women and their woman coach set up camp right next to me and started doing some drilling. Given that they could see I was hitting the ball pretty well, naturally an invitation was extended to me to hit with one of the young ladies.
It turned out to be a big mistake. My wife came home and saw me playing tennis with the entire girl’s tennis team.
She was amazing and really cool about it.
But she had every right to blame me for not recognizing that the entire scene could have been misconstrued.
If you are really close to a woman, it usually does not take much for jealousy to rear its head. So you have to be aware of how your actions and words are perceived.
Going back to my client, I wanted him to understand the drawbacks of playing the blame game. Because in reality, he was playing the blame game as well.
Not only did he act like he was “victimized”, but he launched into several little tirades about how his ex gf really screwed things up with her aggressive and brazen accusations.
According to him, she started the whole mess and is the one most accountable.
I told him that “blame” being passed around within a relationship like a football, usually results in a massive withdrawal from the trust bank you have worked so hard to establish with your lover.
For the benefit of my readers, I am going to list out some of the common things ex-girlfriends blame their boyfriends for.
But I want to make it clear, that the “blame game” couples can play at, almost always ends in more trouble.
So if you are thinking about participating, stop yourself.
And if you are blamed for something, then don’t play victim.
The blame game takes two people to work. Think of it as a “role” people sometimes play.
There is the blamer and there is the victim.
My advice, is don’t rehearse or try out for either part, no matter the circumstance.
It is a zero sum game.
Just to be sure you understand what guys commonly get blamed for, here is a short list:
- Your ex girlfriend may have blamed you for being late to often
- She may have found fault with you not helping around the home and blame you for how messy everything looks
- You ex girlfriend may have blamed you for something you said that was insensitive
- You can get blamed by your ex for flirting
- Don’t be surprised if you are accused of not being serious about the relationship and blamed for the lack of progress.
- Your ex girlfriend may hold you responsible for making a promise, that you later broke
- You can find yourself being accused of not ever wanting to make a “commitment”
- Then of course, there is the mother of all “blames”. You may be accused of bringing ruin and unhappiness to the relationship or to her life because you instigated the break up. Yes indeed, that particular accusation can be a hard one to live down.
Whose Fault is It Really?
When there is some kind of major problem in the relationship in which something really bad happens which threatens the very survival of the couple, you can bet one or both parties will be looking to cast blame.
It is just a normal reaction.
We react this way because in all of our hearts, there is this place called “selfish”.
I know, it sounds terrible.
I don’t mean to portray everyone as completely selfish, because we are not.
It is just that all of us have some degree of selfishness that is very much part of our make up.
From the moment we are born to the very present moment…..we are governed to some degree by our selfish desires.
So when something bad happens and it hurts…. most of us look to blame.
I look at it as a case of our “ego” merging with our “selfish desires”.
That is the catalyst to how “blaming” behaviors emerge.
And look out if someone blames or accuses us first.
Most of us are programmed to launch our counter measures to protect our ego and selfish needs.
If you blame me, guess what?
I am going to blame you back with a ferocity.
And this is when the dominos begin to fall.
At that stage of the interaction between the two lovers, it can easily develop into a no holds bar, ugly, and messy fight where “blame” becomes like a cheap poker chip, thrown around with little consideration.
And those that prefer to play the “game of victim” are as guilty as those that sling the mud of accusations.
So who is REALLY to blame for all of this craziness?
Well, of course, it is both of you (i.e. you and your girlfriend)!
You see, I can play at this game.
You and your girlfriend are both at fault.
I blame each of you!
There are no winners when you and your ex girlfriend play the blame game and the victim game.
Now, in this singular case involving my client, it took a while before he realized that he screwed up.
It took him going all the way back to the movie cinema incident to realize he set into motion a wave of jealousy and distrust.
Now that does not excuse his ex -girlfriend from not calmly talking about the matter early on.
It does not excuse her from holding this against her boyfriend for weeks and letting it fester.
I am sure if I peeled back more layers and took an even deeper look at what was going on between these two, I would probably find some passive aggressive efforts where his ex-girlfriend gave him subtle opportunities to acknowledge his insensitivity or prove himself to be a loving and faithful boyfriend.
But you see, most of us guys are usually blind to these efforts.
When women try these kinds of subtle, under the radar attempts to communicate, most often we just “don’t get it.”
We don’t bite, because we don’t know we are suppose to fish ourselves out of the misunderstanding.
So what happens.
Things get worse as your girlfriend internalizes all of these thoughts and you still have no clue.
At least, not until she blows up. But you are still left wondering why you are getting blamed for everything.
What Can You Do About It Now?
Well, I am glad you asked!
It so happens, there is a lot you can do.
For starters, you need to stop playing victim if that is what is going on in your mind.
It will get you nowhere.
It also makes you look and sound weak.
Your ex-girlfriend does not want to be around someone she perceives as weak.
Another thing you need to do is evaluate just how serious this break up really is.
Is this just a momentary blow up?
It is more drama and less of a real “breaking up”?
Or are we dealing with something that is systemic, involving a lot of issues over a longer period of time?
The reason why I ask is because you may need to initiate a No Contact Period.
The No Contact Period allows each of you to cool down and get your act together. If this break up appears to be a serious, long term problem, then both you and your ex-girlfriend will benefit greatly from a period of recovery.
Eventually, the time will be ripe to sit down and have a heart to heart with your ex girlfriend about how all this “blame stuff” got started.
In the case of my client, the breakup was very temporary.
It was used as a device by his ex girlfriend to get his attention because she was angry and hurt by what she later described as “hitting on my sister”.
When they finally got around to sitting down to talk, I had prepared my client to take a completely different approach than what he normally would have done in such a situation.
Typically, he would get defensive when his girlfriend ran through her laundry list of complaints.
Since I was certain most of their troubles stemmed from the jealousy over the “sister”, I told him I wanted him to use what I call the “Empathic Technique”.
So you are probably wondering what the empathic technique is all about, right?
You probably sort of know, but perhaps you need a bit more color.
An Empath is someone that feels and absorbs another’ person’s thoughts or pain.
Here is a definition:
Being an empath is when you are affected by other people’s energies and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others.
I told him I wanted him to sit across from his ex-girlfriend and calmly make eye contact.
If the moment is right, reach out to her hand and hold it.
Then I told him that I want him to tell her that you feel you really need to listen to everything she has to say. Then actively listen, without interrupting.
I instructed him to shake his head to show he understood when she made her points. I cautioned him not to act in any way or reveal facial expressions that would suggest he was defensive.
Then I went on to tell him:
If you speak, say only supportive things, but make it as brief as possible. Remember, she has the floor. When she is finally through talking, it is time to become the “Empath”.
Cut right to the heart of the matter.
Tell her how insensitive it was for you to make careless and suggestive comments about her sister. Tell her you now know how awful you made her feel when you sat between her and the sister at the movie theater.
Express to her that you made mistakes and you now understand how your immature behaviors can hurt her.
Offer no defense.
Do not play victim.
Do not lay down any blame.
Simply say your piece and keep it relatively brief (e.g. 3-4 minutes), then shut up.
In these situations, less is more.
And no matter what, make sure the last thing you tell her is, “You are everything to me. I love you”.
We all screw up.
And the measure of strength is knowing when to be an Empath.
Not all break-ups come back as quickly as this one did.
Powerful is the “Empath” as Yoda would say.