Fighting Blame / Accusations in Relationships

Chase

Chieftan
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tribal-elder
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Originally posted in the first Girls Chase Forum on Friday, 25 May 2012

This one's been huge for me lately because I've been dealing with it so much. From:

- My girlfriend
- My business partners

Basically, when things aren't going the way they want, a lot of people who are emotional / ego-driven tend to start pointing fingers. I know, because I used to do it a lot and I had to teach myself not to.

Much of the time when someone blames you for something or accuses you of something, there's a kernel of truth involved, but also a lot of bad emotion. It's easy if you're a logical person to get caught up in examining the kernel of truth, then get steamrolled with the emotion.

My response has thus become:

  • 1. Vehemently blame them back


    2. Stick to my guns and tear apart their argument


    3. Once they back down, admit that they have a point and get into an unemotional, logical discussion where I let them talk with me about something I was doing wrong, and I talk to them about how to better discuss emotional issues without falling into the pattern of blaming and accusing, which puts me (and anyone else they try it on) onto the defensive

It'd look like this:

  • Girlfriend: [talking about men and 18 year old girls; she's 27]

    Me: Yeah, of course, all men like 18 year old girls.

    Girlfriend: No, only the immature ones.

    Me: No, really, men love young women. It's like a mythological achievement for an older men; the joys of enjoying the tight body of an 18 or 19 year old. If an older guy can pull it off, they brag about it and their pals all slap them on the back.

    Girlfriend: Oh! I KNOW what kind of man you are! I can't BELIEVE I've been wasting my time with you! I don't even want to talk to you!

    Me: Excuse me?

    Girlfriend: You disgust me!

    Me: You're trying to break me.

    Girlfriend: I don't want to talk to you.

    Me: That's what this bullshit is. You're trying to break me. I said something that doesn't fit with what a guy you want in a serious relationship thinks, so you get upset. If you were talking to a guy friend of yours, would this upset you?

    Girlfriend: ...

    Me: No WAY! You wouldn't bat an eyelash! You're upset because YOU want me to turn into a settled down, broken boyfriend, and instead I'm talking with you honestly about an issue you raised.

This went on a little bit more, but then she broke and the emotion subsided and we were able to talk. She then asked me to continue with our discussion about 18 year old girls, and I said, "No. I was talking to you about men, and women, and the way the world is, but you can't handle it, so I'm done talking with you about that. You can figure it out on your own."

She then spent a few minutes persuading me that she wasn't going to get upset and just wanted to understand better, so I started by asking her what was more important to her, a man who was young and handsome or a man who was confident and well-established and wealthy. She picked the latter. I then explained how for men the choice was reversed, and it was because men and women had different mating strategies; the wealthy man she picked could better support her children, but the young woman the man picks could bear him more young.

Anyway, a lot of fights go like this; person accuses me or blames me, I accuse them / blame them back more vehemently and deconstruct their argument, pointing out to them what they're doing at a meta-level; they then get confused, then realize I have a point, and their emotion is diffused. We can then talk calmly about why they were upset, and why their delivery upset me.

Seems to work well. Takes a little practice to be able to rationalize what the other person's doing on-the-fly and throw it back in their face, but it always boils down to a few things, largely:

  • In relationships:

    1. She wants to break you and turn you into better relationship material
    2. She's feeling insecure and wants reassurance (often by breaking you; see #1)
    3. She's feeling frustrated / helpless to get what she wants (and resorts to #1, trying to break you)

    In business:

    1. Your partner wants to break you and turn you into a follower while he or she leads
    2. Your partner is feeling frustrated with progress and wants you to step it up (often by breaking you; see #1)
    3. He or she is feeling not in control of the business relationship (and resorts to #1, trying to break you)

When you start viewing drama as universally an attempt to "break" you, it's very easy to 1) get pissed off by it, and 2) point out to other people what they're doing.

Drama is trying to break someone. Break the drama by pointing out that that's what they're doing, and then by explaining that if they have something they want to talk with you about, they'll do a much better job of it if they can discuss it calmly and intelligently without getting emotional and putting you on the defensive.

Chase
 

Thinkingenigma

Tool-Bearing Hominid
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Re: Fighting Blame / Accusations in Relationships (2012)

This is something that I have had to deal with with my mother and a few of my friends from time to time. Most of the time, the way I have handled it has only left hurt feelings on both sides or led to capitulation from myself. This is really good advice, and I plan to try it next time shit hits the fan. It seems counter-intuitive, but I see why it would work.
 

ZacAdam

Cro-Magnon Man
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Nov 20, 2012
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Re: Fighting Blame / Accusations in Relationships (2012)

BUMP!
 
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