How To Avoid Blame When Bringing Up An Issue With Your Partner

Having issues with your partner is inevitable, but that doesn't make the situation any easier. Perhaps, they constantly ignore the dishes in the sink or throw their dirty clothes on the floor. So, how do you approach the situation? Your first instinct may be to hold them accountable for how you've been feeling, which makes sense — blame culture has been extremely normalized, especially in romantic relationships. However, placing the blame on the other person for your bad mood is anything but productive. 


In fact, most of the time, it can escalate the issue, making it more difficult to resolve. When you immediately blame your partner, they're more likely to tune out or get super defensive. Not to mention, they might start keeping their mistakes to themselves to avoid being reprimanded. Luckily, there are ways to bring your concerns to the table without pointing the finger. In order to avoid blame when bringing up an issue with your partner, keep these helpful tips in mind.

Incorporate I statements

When you decide to talk to your partner about an issue you've been having, the key is to use "I" statements — starting sentences with phrases like, "I feel" or "It upsets me when ..." These types of statements completely shift the trajectory of the conversation, Relationships Australia explains. The reason is "I" statements get your point across without directly telling the other person they've done something wrong. For instance, if you've felt your partner isn't giving you enough attention, avoid statements like, "You ignore me all the time" or "You don't care about me anymore." 


Starting a conversation like that can cause them to become defensive and completely tune you out. Instead, use the "I" statements we talked about, such as, "I've been feeling ignored lately" or "I feel like we haven't been spending much time together." In these instances, you've told your partner your thoughts but haven't attacked them or put them in a situation where they feel like they have to defend themselves.

Exercise empathy

Practicing empathy forms a stronger relationship, and can actually turn you into a better partner overall. Being empathetic pushes you to want to help others to create peace in the relationship. Put yourself in the other person's shoes to better understand where your partner is coming from. Maybe something's going on that you weren't aware of, like they're feeling more anxious than usual, or perhaps, something at work has them feeling down, which is causing them to overlook things they normally don't (i.e. not doing the dishes).


It's extremely important to validate their feelings during these conversations. If they feel comfortable opening up to you and you shut them down, it sends the message that you aren't interested in how they're feeling, and they may avoid speaking their mind in the future. For example, if you've done something to cause them emotional stress, the last thing you should do is become defensive, or tell them it's not a big deal. Instead, Dr. Jamie Long suggests verbally recognizing their point of view so the two of you can come to a solution.