Blame Shifting (13 Ways Blame Shifting Harms A Relationship)

Last updated on April 13, 2024 by Michelle Devani

We've all heard of the blame game, perhaps, from movies, TV shows, and even music videos. However, it's always been presented to us in the form of a joke. In reality, blame-shifting is a serious weapon of mental abuse and should not be taken lightly. Not just because the act is abusive, but because of the harmful effect it has on the victim. 

Blame-shifting can make well-meaning, mentally healthy individuals doubt themselves. This is why blame-shifting can ruin both lives and relationships. Being with a partner who constantly pushes the blame of everything on you is bad for your mental health. Gradually, you’d begin to feel like a failure

If you've found yourself on either side of this equation and you're willing to find out how blame shifting works, below are a few effects of blame-shifting on a relationship.


13 Ways Blame Shifting Harms A Relationship

1. Blame shifting damages the victim's self-esteem

Blame-shifting can make the less assertive party in the relationship have a wrong impression of themselves. Over time, they will start to believe that something is wrong with them and they can't do anything right. The words and accusations of the blame-shifter will begin to re-echo in their minds. They may not even need outer voices of accusation anymore, they begin to do the blaming themselves.

A significant number of healthy individuals have fallen victim to this destructive act while in relationships with toxic people. It happens gradually which is why most people don't see it coming. 

Blamers can be very convincing. Most blame-shifters also have narcissistic tendencies and don't believe they can do anything wrong. This confidence they portray while laying blame makes it even more convincing to the victim.

2. Communication will be a problem

Communication is an important aspect of any relationship. In fact, no relationship can last very long without communication. You should be able to tell your partner how they make you feel in different circumstances, what you like about the things they do and what you don't. 

In a healthy relationship, you should look forward to telling your partner about your best and worst moments. Telling them about your day should be something you love to do. However, if you have a partner who loves to push blame, all these simple everyday things would be a challenge for you. It's hard to communicate with a person who constantly makes it seem like everything is your fault. 

Good communication is built through trust, mutual respect, and understanding. Talking to a person who has no regard for your feelings just won't work. You will feel reluctant to share even the most minor things with them, and talk less of the things that are most important to you. This is detrimental for your relationship.

3. Blame-shifting victims will always second guess their decisions

Being told you're wrong way too often will eventually take a huge toll on your self-confidence. People often underestimate the importance of having a healthy sense of self, until it's damaged.

Trusting your own decisions will become a challenge once you've been the victim of a blame-shifter for a while. 

You'll begin to feel like a failure and even start to second-guess the choices you make. This is damaging to your life because as an adult there are certain decisions you need to make on your own. You need to trust the validity of those decisions if you're hoping to be a productive person. You can't effectively do this when you’re constantly in the company of the person shifting blame.

4. You'll become more dependent on them and on others

Believing you can't do anything right makes you believe you always need to depend on other people for validation or for help. If you believe this for a while without getting any help, you will gradually develop a weak personality.

No one has to tell you what happens to weak people in this cruel world. One would think that people would take it easy on weaker individuals. Ironically, they don’t! insensitive and toxic people will always take advantage of you and try to walk all over you. 

Allowing your partner to keep putting the blame on you over and over again will eventually destroy your ability to think for yourself. You will believe that you cannot make any meaningful decisions on your own and therefore slowly become more dependent on your partner. Simple tasks like choosing an outfit or deciding what to eat for dinner may sooner become difficult for you.

5. Intimacy will suffer

intimacy will suffer

If your communication is suffering, you best believe intimacy will suffer. Having constant criticism and accusation from a person is definitely going to make you uncomfortable speaking with that person. The fear of getting criticized harshly or judged will rob you of the safe space your relationship should provide.

For most people, having a deep conversation with their partner creates a deep connection between them. Most times, a good conversation precedes intimacy. If you’re afraid of talking to your partner about real issues of concern, you won’t truly be able to connect with them on any level.

There’s nothing worse than having a need to be intimate yet not being able to connect with your partner in that way. No one wants to be vulnerable with a person who plays blame games all the time. So, if you’re always trying to avoid your partner, you don’t enjoy talking to them and you hate the idea of being in the same room with them? That's definitely a sign that the blame-shifting has begun to take a toll on your relationship.

6. Resentment sneaks in

It's only natural to hate someone who keeps convincing you that you’re always the problem. Naturally, every time they push blame you will want to be as far away from them as possible. No healthy human being loves to be on the receiving end of verbal abuse, so this is no surprise.

The more your partner keeps shifting the blame on you, the more you’re likely to hate being around them. You would notice that even the thought of them makes you upset. Even thinking of coming home to them could ruin your day.

7. Self-blaming

If you put a song on replay for a couple of days, you’re eventually going to start humming or singing the song on intervals during your day. The same applies to movies; if you watch a movie repeatedly, at some point you will be so familiar with the dialogue that you’d be able to quote a whole scene. It's just the way our minds work. If you keep hearing a specific thing, it sticks to your mind. 

The same applies to repetitive abusive behavior; the more your partner keeps blaming you, the more you start to believe those accusations. Soon enough, you will begin to adopt an attitude of self-abuse. You won’t need an outside voice to keep blaming you, your subconscious mind will effortlessly replay these accusations on its own.

8. You no longer want to share your secrets with them

One good thing about being in a relationship is having someone to share your secrets with. There’s nothing as blissful as being vulnerable with your partner and doing so without shame. It creates a deeper bond between the both of you.

When you're constantly being harshly criticized or accused, it's rather difficult to share your secrets with the accusing party. Since most secrets involve silly mistakes you've made or embarrassing moments you’ve had, opening up to a person who tells you that you're always in error is practically impossible

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9. Excessive arguments

When you're with a blame-shifter, you’re likely to engage in negative communication only.

One of the first things a toxic relationship harms is good communication. Over time, you and your partner will speak only on very few occasions and when you do manage to speak, there's likely to be an argument at the end of that conversation. 

Blame-shifters are usually very defensive and lack emotional maturity. Taking responsibility for their own actions is a huge challenge to them. So, they will end most conversations pointing out your mistakes or shifting the responsibility of negative situations to you. 

10. Loneliness


It's very possible to be in a relationship with a person yet feel like you're all alone. It's a very unpleasant situation but it's what some people are going through. When you’ve been on the receiving end of your partner’s maltreatment, you begin to realize that you don’t really have a partner at all. This is because a blameshifter is hardly ever on your side. 

Being in a relationship with someone should make you feel like you belong with that person. You shouldn’t feel like you're constantly on a battlefield planning your next strategy to conquer the 'enemy'( your partner). Unfortunately, with a blame-shifter, you may have to keep dealing with these feelings of loneliness.

11. You'd never be able to let your guard down

As emotional beings, we build walls and raise guards in our hearts and minds as a defense mechanism against emotional hurt. In this case, your blame-shifting partner is the source of that pain, so you will subconsciously walk around with your guards constantly up to guard your emotions.

The disadvantage of this is that it may affect your other beneficial relationships. You don't want to have your guards up when you're relaxing with your friends, co-workers, or business partners, it may create dents in those relationships. 

12. You'd start to accept the abusive behavior

The more you get blamed for things you aren’t guilty of, the more likely you are to lose the will to fight this toxic behavior. As mentioned earlier, when you're constantly being emotionally abused your self-confidence and self-esteem begin to deteriorate

You will slowly and sometimes subconsciously start to accept blame without a fight. In some extreme cases, you may even get used to being blamed and view it as normal. Over time, you will also begin to accept other toxic behaviors like manipulation, gaslighting, etc.

13. You start getting bitter

It's almost impossible not to get bitter after enduring days, weeks, months, or even years of this abusive behavior. As human beings, we weren't built to live with such toxicity. 

If your partner constantly blames you, you will begin to get bitter over time. You'd be unhappy with your partner, unhappy with your life, and even unhappy with yourself. You may even start to feel like a failure for allowing yourself to accept this toxic behavior. 


How do you deal with blame-shifting?

The best way to deal with this abusive act is to be aware of the act of blame-shifting itself. Blame-shifters take advantage of gullible people. Educate yourself on the topic first and then be on the lookout. If a person starts to show signs that they love to escape responsibility, then you'd be informed enough to avoid them.

What do you call someone who shifts blame?

A person who often prefers to shift blame on everyone else is referred to as a blamer or a blame-shifter. Some people also refer to them as finger pointers. Defensive people sometimes fall into this category, since they hardly ever believe that they're at fault. Although defensiveness is a bit more general.

Is blame-shifting abuse?

Blame-shifting is abusive behavior. It's a form of emotional abuse and should not be taken lightly. It's mentally abusive because it causes the victim to doubt themselves and believe that they're constantly to blame for everything. It makes the victim believe they need to work harder or change themselves in order to make a relationship work.

What to do if someone blames you for something you didn't do?

The first thing to do when you come in contact with a blame-shifter is to stop, breathe and think. Don't immediately try to throw the blame back or whine about it like a child. Ensure that you're truly not to blame. Next, take responsibility for your own part and avoid making the same mistakes.

What is a blamer personality?

The blamer personality is a variant of the narcissistic personality. Blamers have an inflated sense of self and often have very large yet fragile egos. It's very hard to convince them that they aren’t right and often prefer shifting blame to making peace. They hardly ever accept responsibility for the things they do.

In Conclusion

I hope you found this article helpful. Remember, blame-shifting is destructive and extremely toxic behavior. If you realize that you’re involved with a blameshifter, try your best to avoid them. Please let me know what you think about this topic in the comment section below and be sure to share it.

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Michelle Devani
My name is Michelle Devani, and I've been helping people with their relationships since 2003. In 2017 I decided it was about time I started a blog on the topic, and since then more than 2 million people worldwide have read my relationship advice. Drop me a comment below to let me know what you think.

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