It seems to be accepted practice to aim criticism toward the other person when a friendship or relationship ends.
"Their loss" or "they had a problem/issue" and similar takes might be simple blame or legitimate observations.
But I have yet to hear anyone say, "I made these mistakes" or "here's what I did that contributed to the situation."
Is it just me?
For the past couple of years, I've been doing deep work on my own stuff. It's not always fun, but it sure has been enlightening. Part of it has been owning my shit, and then forgiving myself for being human.
I'd love to know what my fellow humans are working on, and what kinds of observations they have about themselves and their relationships.
I once told a friend who was complaining about a series of bad relationships: "Girl, they all have one thing in common... you." It was meant to be funny and we laughed, but I've observed that we tend to project our own stuff onto others, and maybe it's not their loss. Maybe they're just taking care of themselves. Blaming others makes us feel better, but it doesn't make us easier to get along with.
For a while now, I have thought everyone justifies their actions in this way. It’s a way to unburden the load without having to accept personal responsibility for their own action/inaction. Since I’ve noticed this, I have certainly tried to catch and correct myself when doing this. Almost to the extent that I almost always put onus on myself for everything. I felt that if I put the responsibility on myself for everything, then I have no one else to blame but myself.
I had a conversation about this with a co-oworker one day and they pointed out that accepting all the responsibility for things is also just as detrimental. They said that it was a way to feel as though you have control in, and are controlling every situation. Which you really don’t have as much control as you think and you are deluding yourself very much in the same fashion as attempting to justify your own actions by criticizing others. I felt like this was a pretty good point and have since been trying to find a good balance between the two. Like most things, moderation.
So I’ve been trying to be more honest about which way the criticism should go and while, at times, it goes more one way than the other, there is usually enough for both sides to grow.
My biggest mistake in my long marriage (which is now over) was to take for granted that she would always be there. I didn't think I had to do anything to keep it alive. I was just being there and trusting that she would be there. I was wrong, and didn't realize it until too late. I was complacent, and too busy dealing with my own stuff (long story).
I'm not sure this is really an answer to your question. But I'll give it a shot. When my wife and I started out, we were both working for the same company, in the same department. We attended a year long (actually 6, 8 hour seminars) fairly intensive course called "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People". The group attending consisted of the directors, and vice-president of our department. While this course was aimed at improving our teamwork and management skills for corporate, my now wife, and I applied the same processes to our relationship. 22 years later... it's still working. One core "habit" was a quarterly review of our "mission statement". We still do that.
I think this goes either of two ways: 1) putting the blame on the other person means you don't have to take any responsibility and you can make yourself into a perpetual victim and give yourself an exaggerated sense of entitlement; 2) putting the blame on yourself means that other people can take advantage of you and make you feel like you're worthless. And actually, both of these are two sides of the same coin.... Meanwhile, in the healthiest situations, there's the third way it can go: like you say, everyone owns their own shit.
Thanks for your post. Not always blaming others, accepting and admitting your own fuck-ups can seem to be a rarity nowadays but I have to admit there are a surprising number of self-aware folks on this site. It's in my profile but ending a decades long relationship makes me feel like I'm rebuilding myself from the ground up. Have made some epic mistakes and probably will make some more but as you said accepting the reality that I'm human and not beating myself up for those missteps is necessary. I go to EA and talk with others about the important emotional stuff. It's good to hear of your success. Peace
I think like a lot of people, I have reserved some of my best mistakes for my romantic relationships.
One of the more significant observations I've made about relationships, other than when they fail there are usually two people to blame, is people seem to be really quick to knock someone out of contention.
And I'm not talking about the obvious stuff, like someone comes off like a real boor on the first date, or shows up drunk on the second date, but stuff that I think is relatively mild. It seems like at the first sign that you don't march lock step with your suitor, one party calls things off.
A couple years ago, I read an article in the New York Times which I think was their most read article of 2016. It was an essay by Alain de Botton called "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person".
There was one line in the article that really resonated with me: "The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently - the person who is good at disagreement."
I'm kind of big on kindness and respect, and would love meeting someone who realizes we're all unique and flawed individuals who will never ever see eye to eye on everything.
In my experience, there are only ever two reasons that someone ends a relationship with another person. 1) They have met someone they'd rather be with than be with you or 2) They'd rather not be with anyone than continue to be with you. Most of the rest of it unless it involves actual abuse/domestic violence is just squid ink.
Sigh. I'm working on letting go of a deep-seated need to placate others, whether it's to keep the peace or in the hopes of gaining their approval. And this is in all my relationships, not just the romantic ones. (Also, it's the real reason I'm not actively dating at the moment. Boundaries are important.)
Never 100% one person leading to a failed relationship. I think it is vital to reflect and determine what really is your stuff and working towards correcting it if it is correctable. Of course determining what you can legitimately take responsibility for can be arduous and difficult. Sometimes we have to dig into places of ourselves we prefer to just leave alone. However there are some very weird and powerful emotions when you and a long term partner split where it is difficult to see clearly.
I know my recent divorce was amicable (as far as it can be) but we basically decided it was worth seeing if one or both of us would be happier not being married. There wasn't an event triggering the discussion just a cumulative unhappiness that was unacceptable for both of us. If one person is not happy in a relationship believe me noone is happy.
Anyway I know what of it was mine and realized some things along the way but I know what my strengths are and am not worried about the future. I am good with me and will keep working on the things I can work on to be a better person tomorrow
I think I take on more than I need to at times but if it really isn't your stuff you eventually figure that out while trying to correct it.
You are not alone. Growing up with a poor sense of self esteem, I've always blamed myself. So, I started learning that there is another side to any "pairing" whether it be friendship or romantic. It takes two people to make any relationship work OR for that relationship to sour. I still struggle with my part of the failure.
One person alone cannot be culpable for voluntary actions participated in by two people. The saying goes learn from history or repeat it. And, how many folks do we all know (some selves) who live their lives in repetition, blaming the other ALWAYS?
You're right. Self reflection is a good thing. I'm working on my issues with women. I over commit in relationships and I know I try too hard to influence my partner. Like taking over the grocery shopping and insisting that she try what I consider to be "healthy food". I always think that I'm "helping", but is it helping if she did not ask for help?
I used to say that I was too proud to ask for second chances or new opportunities but that's not it. There were times when I felt all eyes were on me.... like in college, one of the prettiest girls and honor student, graduating in 3 years. "What's he gonna do now?" I felt the presure of "What Now?" And remember, you are 20. I took it as a champion and so did her and soon enough she was just a memory. There was never a blame to point. Over a year later she asked this girl I started seeing for a ride on the way near to my house, there was another friend with us. When we dropped her, the girl made the comnent how pretty she was not knowing about us but the other friend had to open her mouth... oh they were in the way to get married that kind of thing. Somehow ruined whatever little we had. I just never been a guy willing to fix what's broken. I just walk away. My mistake is I don't allow a relationship to develop beyond the first broke-up. I have big fight with my sister tonight and somehow rather than fixing it I am moving back were I rather be.... certainly not here. Time to use the opportunity to cut ties to Maryland. Did hurt me to tell this former GF once again I may never return again to Maryland. 16 years relationship on-off but we no longer play with fire sleeping with each other. We are adults, we know better. I don't do well blaming other people. Every moment... I feel my urge to return to Las Vegas so let it not be my sister's fault.
I actually have to force myself to assume that the problem is on the other end, whether it’s a relationship or anything. I find if I blame myself I let it get to me on too deep of a level, so if I assume the problems are coming from the other end and not my own I can focus on moving on better.
I think a lot of people just blame others because they don’t want to take responsibility for anything they have done. Sometimes it is the other end that is the problem, so I guess it all depends on the circumstances and the people in them.
Pretty much it's a survival stance our brains deploy. Often we resort to that strategy as a means of mediating and/or avoiding the pain of our loss. Also we do it because admitting culpability in a broken relationship puts us in a position of vulnerability, which is scary and potentially embarrassing. But owning up to our responsibilities and allowing ourselves to experience bad feelings without letting them crush or permanently embitter us is how we grow and learn--it just doesn't tickle.
That's because you've never broken up with me before. Ha
After the most recent breakup, she and I sat down and discussed all the shit we should have talked about before the breakup. Come to find out I'd been quite an ass.
But we also both brought up areas where we know we could have done things better. I could have listened more closely, stuff like that.
I never once told her "you did this wrong" or "here's what's wrong with you" or anything like that. And her critique was more like mild suggestions.
I guess that's why, through all the anguish and heartache, we're still good friends.
Or maybe it's just because I'm so adorable.