So you’re wondering if he’s a keeper?
That is, until the evening he’s a no-show for dinner, doesn’t mention forgetting your date when he calls, and then says it’s all your fault when you bring it up.
You hang up (or stop texting) dumbfounded.
The next time something similar happens, you start to doubt yourself, not the relationship.
You wonder what you’re doing wrong, and the next thing you know you’re crying into your pillow and believing you’re not good enough.
Stop the madness! The game of Life and Love is way too short to spend time on someone who doesn’t value you.
I tell my clients to think twice before teaming up in any kind of relationship with an insecure man who plays one of these three mind games.
Words can hurt you as much as the proverbial stick and stone, especially if these words are frequent and yet unpredictable. People point the finger to get the upper hand, much like they’d keep a poker face in a card game.
Blaming and projection may be largely subconscious, but that makes them even more dangerous to a relationship.
Blamers lack self-esteem, yet they don’t want to admit it, so they need to find fault with you instead of looking at themselves.
Chronic words of blame start a game that will only produce two losers, even though the person blaming the other thinks they’ll come out the victor.
What to do if someone is blaming you for everything:
First, get some perspective. Take time alone or talk to a friend, coach, or therapist about what part you may be taking in all of this back and forth name-calling.
How much are you responsible for? Are you more often the blamer or the blamee?
If the latter, then act like a scientist and gather concrete data on when the blame happens.
If it’s when you’re trying to get closer, or when you’re feeling especially great about yourself or having a really good day, have a talk with your friend or partner.
If the conversation produces more blame from them, it’s time to leave.
A close, more subtle cousin of blaming, shaming is on the rise these days, especially on social media. However, shaming in a relationship can become toxic.
People can shame you without any action on your part.
They can call you and insinuate you’re even breathing wrong.
Shamers are often co-dependent. They want to tear you down to build themselves up, and they shame you to manipulate you because they’re afraid to lose you if you discover that you’re better than them at something.
What to do if someone is shaming you in a relationship:
Don’t buy into shame, and walk away. The shame game is never a good relationship tool. It means we’re not owning our own stuff. It comes from a place of desperation and fear.
Shame also creates a vicious circle of co-dependency. We become too afraid to leave our partnership, our office, our friendship, while they continue to make us feel less-than so we won’t leave.
Don’t engage, and if the shaming becomes chronic, distance yourself, emotionally and physically, for good.
Often the people who blame and shame us are quite successful because their own self-blame results in perfectionist tendencies. Their external glitter is what attracts us in the first place.
Blamers and shamers don’t want to fail, and their self-esteem is often so low that they can’t admit it.
They may lie, make excuses, and throw their problems at others — all so they can keep these festering feelings of inadequacy a big secret.
They feel like impostors up there on their starlit stage, and they will do anything not to fall off the pedestal we — and probably many others — put them on.
What to do if someone is using you to boost their own ego:
You may sense the sadness and underlying angst in people who want to blame and shame us.
You may want to help or heal the person because you care. You may make your own excuses for them. You may make suggestions, and they may intermittently reward you with a shower of attentive affection.
They seem to be on the right track, but then they derail, and the arguments (or worse) start again.
Most people that carry around a lot of shame and blame need an empathetic professional counsellor and a neutral space to heal.
If you’ve told friend or partner how their actions make you feel, using a statement like, “When you yell at me, I feel disrespected,” and their hurtful actions continue (especially if you begin to feel you’re being manipulated), their low self-esteem is chronic, and they need help you can’t deliver.
If your boss treats you this way, start looking for another job.
If your friend or partner refuses to look in the mirror and stop playing these mind games with you, you need to let go.
A few years from now, your life will be lighter and probably happier, and you’ll be glad you did.
All that will remain in your heart is the love you shared and the self-love and self-respect you’ve regained.