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StrawberrySun 02-08-2010 03:39 PM

Love and the Blame Game
Have you ever noticed that when it comes to taking responsibility for behavior, people seem to fall into one of two camps.

There are those who are too quick to see themselves at fault when something goes wrong. Whether it's a problem at work or a failing relationship or a poor exam grade, they can ruminate for days (or even weeks) about how they failed, what a rotten schmuck they are, and what they should have done differently. Their thinking is dominated by: "It's my fault."

And on the other hand, there are those who are not quick enough to see themselves at fault. Even when others can see it clearly (read the Love bytes blog from 2 weeks ago: "Do You Have A Tail?"), with such individuals it takes a hammer, a crow bar, and 2 sticks of dynamite to dislodge them from their lack of self-insight. Their thinking is dominated by seeing everyone else at fault.

Admittedly, people can (and do) fluctuate from one camp to the other. For example, it is not unusual for people who are too quick to blame themselves to get fed up with their self-defeating attitudes and (for a time) resist responsibility for anything. But they will (eventually) return to their more customary place of self-blame. [If you have ever had a partner like this, you know how confusing and disorienting this shift from one camp to the other can be.

In general, women tend to fall into the first camp --- quick to see themselves at fault. By the age of 4 or 5 we begin to see this trait emerging more in girls than in boys, and by the age of 17 or 18 the difference is quite stark. But beware the woman who falls into the second camp --- not quick enough to see the ways in which she is at fault. Such women tend to be harsh, critical, and demeaning, quick to see how you are a screw-up but resistant to any significant self-reflection. [If you want to kill the love in a relationship with one blow, cheat on your partner; if you want to slowly bludgeon it to death, use criticism.

Men, on the other hand, tend to see responsibility for their problems as "out there." We are less inclined than women to blame ourselves and to ruminate on how we might be at fault in a particular situation. But beware the man who is too quick to find himself at fault. Such self-castigation will often end up being self-castrating as well --- the sad, forlorn, defeated puppy dog that might elicit pity, but not much respect.
People who are open and balanced --- open to seeing when and where they are at fault, but balanced in that they do not take on more blame than is rightfully their --- make wonderful long-term partners. It is this openness and balance that gives them the capacity to establish and maintain intimacy. And it is this intimacy that is at the heart of love.
It is any wonder that stable, enduring love is so hard to establish (and even harder to maintain)?

Imagine the quick-to-blame-self person partnered with a slow-to-blame-self individual --- a frequent experience of self-defeat for the former and a continual state of self-righteous non-change for the latter. Or what about when both partners are slow-to-blame-selves ---it isn't hard to imagine all the hammers, crow bars, and dynamite needed in such relationships --- they do tend to be quite tumultuous.

Personally, I have found it much easier to work with those individuals who are quick to see how they might be at fault than it is to work with those people who refuse to acknowledge a tail even when it is so big that it is sticking out of their pants. It is much easier to teach the former how to be appropriately self-blaming than it is to teach the latter to blame themselves at all.

Our daughter just started teaching 5th grade this year, and judging from her experience I would be willing to bet that we are raising a new generation of "but-it's-not-my-fault" young people. Snow-plow parents --- parents who go out ahead of their children, removing challenging obstacles and clearing away potential sources of failure --- are going to make it even more difficult for young people to grow up with the openness and balance that are so vital to the establishment and maintenance of stable, enduring, life-giving love.
And God only knows how badly our culture is in need of this type of love.

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NightTrain 02-08-2010 03:46 PM

good read

StrawberrySun 02-08-2010 03:59 PM

yea.. i thought it was interesting...

NightTrain 02-08-2010 04:05 PM

that it was, good find

Narkissos 02-22-2010 04:05 AM


StrawberrySun 02-27-2010 03:47 PM


kollkolen 03-18-2010 01:25 AM

That was really a good one thank you for your post. You have very clearly articulated one of the biggest dangers of this type of dating / marriage combination.

StrawberrySun 03-18-2010 06:43 AM

^^ :thumbsup:

kerryb 03-18-2010 08:35 AM

Agree completely. Good read.

StrawberrySun 03-18-2010 05:46 PM


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