There’s no avoiding it.
No matter how much we may think “It’s all his fault…” or “It’s all her fault…”, the breakdown of any relationship is usually the result of the emotional “blindspots” of BOTH people.
When it comes to talking about the GOOD STUFF as well as the NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF of any relationship – it’s a 50-50 deal with regard to how the current condition of the relationship came into being.
The challenge for everyone in a relationship is that it is much, much easier to stay fixated on the other person’s “bad behavior” and not pay attention to your own!
Yes, your beef with your partner is legitimate.
But their beef with you is just as valid!
Failure to remember this will fool you into drawing the conclusion that the overall pain in your relationship must be the other person’s “fault” and not have anything to do with you.
THIS is the definition of a relationship “blindspot”.
Each of us is fully responsible for our own good and bad personal choices. For example, in the case of infidelity, that choice is 100% on the person who did it. But the overall condition of the relationship just before that choice was made needs to be looked at from a “what-is-his-blindspot”, “what-is-her-blindspot” perspective.
What I have observed in real time working with many couples for many years is that whatever type of emotional collision a couple experiences, there are always two different sides to that collision that are defined by the authentic experiences of both people.
Here’s the rub: the painful moments that pile up inside us over the course of our entire lifetime drives us to protect ourselves when we get hurt in our present-day lives. We call this a “defense”.
For example, if someone came up to me with a baseball bat when I was a boy and broke my leg by whacking me on the knee with it, chances are pretty high that in the future – whenever I would see someone walking toward me with a baseball bat – I’ll probably either avoid that person or do whatever I can to defend myself from ANY potential run-in with that bat.
Same goes for an emotional collision. If I sense that my partner is about to bring out the emotional “bat”, then I will go into my own fight-or-flight mode, and I will not be very interested in what she may be feeling. Hell, for all I know, she just might want to play baseball with me!!! But if I don’t give her the benefit of the doubt that she is NOT intentionally trying to hurt me, I will just be super defensive and stay stuck in my blindspot.
On the one hand, this is completely natural because it’s part of our survival instinct as humans.
On the other hand, however, when we experience THAT kind of fear or pain with other people, another way we protect ourselves is by ignoring the other person’s need for the same thing!
We all have blindspots. We all have defenses. None of us escapes this.
As humans, we have all endured fear, pain, anger, sadness, and shame that have compelled us to protect ourselves. Our inability to put ourselves into the other person’s shoes is what keeps our blindspots in place.
But how do we get past our blindspots?!?
It means we need to have more empathy for others.
But empathy requires us to be vulnerable.
And in the middle of an emotional collision, the last thing we think about being…is vulnerable.
In my book “The TRUE HEART of a MAN”, I outline how we as men have been trained to stay attached to our emotional blindspots by…
avoiding emotional vulnerability as a crucial piece of our masculinity!
In other words, so much of how we have been trained as men to “be manly” requires us to NOT BE VULNERABLE.
Next week my blog post will talk more about how this lack of vulnerability not only limits our ability to create intimacy in our relationships, but also how it keeps us from being fully authentic with ourselves and others.