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"It's Your Fault" - 'Find the Bad Guy'

Updated: May 19, 2021

We must learn to rise to the surface and help one another grasp what’s happening when we’re caught in disconnect. Blame can easily become the wedge that drives us apart.


When partner’s get caught up in their reactions towards one another, it can become easy to get caught up in ‘Demon Dialogues’. Dr. Sue Johnson shares some beautiful findings in her book, “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.” In the text, she shares how one of the most repetitive dialogues is deemed ‘Find the bad guy’. In these moments, partners get trapped in a blaming cycle with one another. Emotionally, they remain disconnected or unattuned to one another; instead, they look at their own arguments and blame the other partner for what has just occurred in the relationship – “It’s your fault.”

As counselors who have worked with individuals and couples caught in these ruptures in their relationships, it’s important to understand that it can happen at any time, in any relationship. What differentiates these conversations in a secure versus insecure attachment bond is the ability to bounce back quicker. In these moments, we protect our own vulnerable selves and place the blame solely on our loved one. Inside, we might tell ourselves, “You hurt me, and you don’t get to feel close to me right now.” We prevent our partners from hurting us more, and instead, we fight back with a verbal message of disdain or pure reaction.

Like we can help couples learn to attune more safely to one another, physically and/or emotionally, couples also learn to expect the direction in which these fights might ensue. Eventually, a partner is used to protecting and guarding themselves for so long, and we begin anticipating a loss of safety with this loved one. We start to become more emotionally disconnected with ourselves, and in long term means, use more energy trying to protect ourselves, rather than make space for our partner.

Just as we see this anticipation in negative cycles between clients and loved ones, we start to send the message that – it is the cycle creating the issue, not this one particular person in the relationship. In such a case, both partners can become victim to this cycle of disconnect and disdain towards one another. We have to put a halt to the cycle, helping both partners grasp and process what’s happening under these reactions in these difficult moments.

When you’re caught in such cycles within your relationship(s), remember—

1. This is not about winning an argument; we have to learn to take a step back and assess what’s really happening deep down – This isn’t about the content or objectivity at all points in time.

2. Look at the overall cycle – if me and my partner are unable to catch where the cycle really started, we need to rebuild focus in our relationship.

3. If you can look at this ongoing whirlwind of disconnection as the ‘enemy’, you can start to see what will happen when you’re both lost in it.

When you start to feel attacked or bombarded by your partner in your cycle, what are you telling yourself? How do you generally respond in these moments to your loved one? In those moments, how are you and your partner seeing one another?

In many of these moments, we don’t see the cycle as the enemy – instead, we start to look at the other person as the vicious attacker or problem in the relationship.

If you could catch the cycle when you’re in the midst of a difficult ‘demon dialogue’, how would things look differently?

These are valuable questions to ask ourselves in relationships that seem to fall apart because of ongoing conversations of blame and disdain towards our loved one and each other.

We must learn to rise to the surface and help one another grasp what’s happening when we’re caught in disconnect. Blame can easily become the wedge that drives us apart.

Please reach out and schedule an appointment if you’re seeking help building more of a secure bond with your partner or loved one(s). We’re here to remain a resource and healthy alliance to your bond. Thanks!

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