In relationships we are often quick to blame our partner. We want them to behave in a way that works for us. When they don’t we label their behavior as wrong or bad. Some people go as far as to claim their partner doesn’t love them or isn’t willing to do what it takes to make the relationship work. And at the same time, the first partner is unwilling to look at their own behaviors and how the same accusations may apply to themselves.
Consider this scenario. Partner A is very social and continually asks Partner B to participate in more social events. Partner B is more introverted. They say they will try but find it difficult to follow through. Partner A becomes more and more frustrated over time. They claim Partner B’s unwillingness to be more social shows a lack of love. They tell Partner B that they are wrong to not change. It is all Partner B’s fault
From Partner A’s perspective this may all seem true. It may seem all like Partner B’s fault. Yet we can just as easily turn it on its head. Partner B wants to spend more time at home, relaxing, alone with Partner A. Yet Partner A keeps being social and going out. If Partner A would just change and stop wanting what they want, it would all be okay. It is suddenly all Partner A’s fault.
The reality is it is no one’s fault. Two people want something different. Neither one is wrong. Neither one is right. They are right in the sense that they know what they want for themselves. They aren’t right blaming their partner if their partner wants something different.
The question isn’t about blame. It is about finding a way to resolve difference. A way that doesn’t make either person compromise their core values. It may take each of you moving outside of your comfort zone, but it shouldn’t be about one person becoming someone they truly aren’t just to please the other.
Or, it may mean recognizing that you aren’t a match. That the way each of you wants to be, the things you value don’t line up in a way that works for you. That can be a hard realization but trying to force one other to change in ways that don’t work will only lead to more unhappiness.
There is a lot of room to make changes and find ways to make each other happy. It may be uncomfortable. It may mean neither person gets exactly what they want. It can, however, create incredible connection.
It doesn’t start with blame. It doesn’t start with putting your partner down or claiming your wants or needs are superior. It starts with knowing and stating those needs and desires and inviting your partner to work with you to meet them. And it takes a willingness to be vulnerable and take the chance that your partner can’t or won’t meet your needs.
No one has an obligation to meet another person’s needs and desires. In a good relationship we have a desire to do that. And we should work hard to do that when it fits with who we are. But when our partner isn’t doing that, blaming and shaming isn’t the way to go.