Is there someone in your life who blames you for everything? No matter how hard you try, no matter what you say, and no matter how involved in a situation you are, this person always blames you? Living with such a person in your life is undeniably exhausting.
They never seem to take responsibility for themselves and always seek to blame others. If they can’t put the responsibility on you, they’ll find someone or something else to blame.
If you’re trying to figure out how to deal with someone who blames you for everything, this article is for you. It can be hard to know where to look if you find yourself in this mentally and emotionally exhausting situation.
Getting blamed for things you haven’t done can leave you feeling confused and may lead you to question if you’re really at fault, even if you’re not.
Bear in mind that blaming someone for everything is a form of emotional abuse. While the person who blames may not know that their behavior is abusive, the fact remains that their behavior is abusive, and sooner or later, they’ll have to suffer the consequences.
Fortunately, if you’re thinking, ‘My mother/friend/boss/partner blames me for everything!’, this article will offer some insight into your situation. We’ll discuss why some people can’t seem to take any responsibility for themselves, and we’ll offer some helpful, practical tips and advice to help you deal with that person healthily and effectively.
Why do some people always blame you for everything?
There are several reasons why a person might resort to blaming others when things go wrong. Sometimes this behavior is a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder or simply a manifestation of narcissistic tendencies. However, blaming others is not exclusive to narcissism.
Common reasons for blame
Someone who blames others might do so because they struggle to deal with feelings of guilt and shame, so they find it easier to blame others. Others try so hard to uphold an identity or status that to take the blame for something that went wrong makes them worry about losing that status. Let’s further explore the reasons behind chronic blame below.
A narcissist is someone who experiences a grandiose sense of self. Some people have slight narcissistic tendencies, while others struggle with a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. One of the common and frustrating traits of the narcissist is the tendency to blame other people when things go wrong, even when the responsibility is entirely their own.
Traits of narcissism
An exaggerated sense of self
Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self – they believe they are infallible and go to great lengths to preserve their perceived self-image.
At the same time, the narcissist’s self-image is extremely fragile. Any critique or criticism about their actions and behaviors triggers them into defense mode, in which they’ll seek to blame or put down someone else if that person tries to confront them.
Lack of empathy
Narcissists tend to lack empathy or concern for others. They might put on a social mask characterized by kindness, success, and intelligence, but just beneath the mask lies a deep sense of insecurity and low self-worth.
Inner inferiority, external superiority
The narcissist is typically uncomfortable with their insecurity and low self-worth (as many of us are), but they are extremely reluctant to accept themselves as such. Instead, they’d rather point out the flaws and weaknesses of others, which often manifests as blame. The narcissist wants to feel superior to others – making others feel overwhelmed, bad, wrong, or guilty helps them feel better about themselves.
How to spot a narcissist
Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. Some are easy to spot – think of the obnoxious, grandiose storyteller at a party who always seems to one-up others and gets the entire room to listen and agree with their opinion or praise them for their successes.
However, they rarely give others space to share their opinion. If others do get the chance to share their opinion, the narcissist won’t listen or will offer a thousand reasons why that person is wrong, and they are right.
Other narcissists can be more difficult to spot. These people are known as covert narcissists and tend to be more subtle with their narcissistic behavior.
They might lead others into believing that they are kind, empathetic, and concerned with others’ feelings and opinions, but they’re just as self-entitled, manipulative, and dislike taking responsibility when things go wrong as much as any other narcissist.
Dangers of narcissists
Living with or even being friends with a narcissist is challenging. Their behavior can be frustrating to deal with, and if they’ve managed to hone their manipulation skills, it can be toxic to your emotional and mental health. Narcissists could be anyone, such as your friend, a family member, or your romantic partner.
2. Emotional immaturity
Someone who blames others for everything probably doesn’t have the emotional maturity you would expect of a full-grown adult. We see blaming behaviors in young children who have not yet matured enough to understand the importance of taking self-responsibility.
Adults who engage in this childish behavior may struggle with emotional immaturity. You can see this immaturity in other behaviors of theirs, too, such as constantly complaining about their tasks and responsibilities, failing to look after themselves properly or expecting others to do it (cleaning, cooking, etc.), or making inappropriate and immature jokes at the expense of others.
Peter pan syndrome
These traits are often labeled as ‘peter pan syndrome.’ Though not an official condition, peter pan syndrome describes emotionally immature adults. American psychologist Dan Kiley coined and popularized the term in his 1983 book Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up.
In his book, Kiley describes those who live with peter pan syndrome. ‘He’s a man because of his age; a child because of his acts. The man wants your love; the child wants your pity. The man yearns to be close; the child is afraid to be touched. If you look past his pride, you’ll see his vulnerability. If you defy his boldness, you’ll feel his fear.’
Though Kiley’s book discusses emotionally immature men, peter pan syndrome and emotional immaturity can also affect men. Similarly to Peter Pan syndrome is the phenomenon of the ‘man-child’ (which may also affect a woman). The man-child is a grown adult who still behaves as though they are a child or teenager.
They avoid responsibility, cling to nostalgic pop culture reminiscent of their youth, and often dress the same way they did when they were an adolescent. They tend to over-compensate today for things they were denied or felt that they missed out on in their youth, such as having a collection of toys or partying all the time.
All of us feel guilty from time to time. Guilt is a normal emotion that usually follows a known wrongdoing. However, if we’re emotionally mature enough, we accept our guilt, listen to the message it’s trying to tell us and make amends wherever possible. Some of us, however, are not so good at dealing with guilt.
How does guilt lead to blame?
Some people experience deep discomfort, anxiety, and even panic when guilt comes up and may go to great and desperate lengths to shake the feeling.
This attempt to escape guilt often manifests shifting the blame onto others. If we can make ourselves and others believe that we are not responsible for what went wrong, then we might find it easier to let go of that guilt.
Shifting blame onto others as a means of escaping guilt may serve some temporary relief from the feeling, but this relief doesn’t last long. Over time, if we keep allocating blame onto others and avoid taking responsibility for ourselves, we cause much damage to our relationships, which may be irreparable.
How to deal with someone who blames you for everything
First and foremost, understand that if someone’s behavior, actions, and attitude are affecting your mental and emotional health and well-being, it is well within your right to walk away from that person. Getting blamed for everything takes a significant toll on your mental health. It can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, frustration, and confusion.
If the person is a skilled manipulator, they may even convince you that they’re right, that you’re in the wrong, and should feel bad for what went wrong. As such, the first tip to help you deal with someone who blames you for everything is to learn how to set healthy boundaries.
1. Set boundaries
It may be difficult to cut the person out if they’re a close friend or family member. Perhaps your partner blames you all the time, or it’s your mother or coworker in your office. Some people are easier to cut out of our lives than others because they are not so involved with our personal lives.
Still, no matter who it is, someone who blames you for everything is a toxic person and does not serve your highest happiness and well-being.
To maintain your emotional and mental health, you need to set some boundaries. The person who blames you may do so because you’ve let them engage in their immature behavior without any consequences in the past.
People who blame others, such as narcissists, and emotionally immature people, tend to find victims. They recognize when people acquiesce to their wishes due to their immaturity, then go to that person whenever they need to engage in their immature behavior. A boundary helps you stop being the victim of their emotional abuse.
How to set a boundary
To create a boundary with the person:
- Let them know that you will not tolerate their constant blame.
- Tell them how you feel, and use a recent example of a time they blamed you for something that was not your fault but theirs or nobody’s fault, but they still blamed you.
- Let them know that you will not tolerate their blame-shifting.
To let them know that you’re serious, explain that there will be negative consequences if they continue to blame you for everything. If the blamer is a romantic partner, let them know that you’re not comfortable with their behavior and that if they continue to do it, then you’ll have no choice but to end the relationship.
If the blamer is your mother, tell her that if she continues to blame you for things that are not your fault, you’ll have to cut out or limit contact with her until she is willing to change her behavior.
The important thing to remember with boundaries and how to maintain them is to follow through with the consequences. If the other person does not adhere to your boundaries and continues to make you feel bad for things you haven’t done, try not to be a pushover. Cut contact, put some distance between you, or leave them.
You don’t have to cut them out forever – it’s possible that they’ll make the changes necessary to maintain their relationship with you, but giving them a taste of the consequences will help them figure out if they want to grow up or not.
2. Are you being blamed for everything..?
Before you take the steps outlined below, included to help you deal with a chronic blamer, make sure that your concerns are valid. Does this person blame you for everything? Or do they blame you for some things which are your responsibility, but you’re not comfortable with taking the blame and resort to calling them out for a character flaw rather than being honest about which are responsibilities and which are not?
…or are you in defense mode?
It can be hard to admit, but all of us are guilty of projecting our flaws and insecurities onto others. Sometimes if we get blamed for something, we can go into defense mode and turn the confrontation back on the other person. With blaming, as with everything else in life, try to view your situation as honestly, authentically, and truthfully as possible before taking action or making a rash decision.
3. Try to communicate how you feel
Just because someone tends to blame others when something goes wrong doesn’t make them a bad person. There are many reasons why a person might need to blame others, such as past trauma, difficulty accepting guilt, issues with self-esteem and shame, and a lack of emotional maturity. Nobody is perfect, and sometimes that imperfection manifests as trouble taking responsibility for oneself.
Still, putting up with someone who can’t accept blame can be frustrating. It might help to let that person know how their behavior makes you feel. If they’re close to you, such as a partner or family member, letting them know how they’re making you feel may be all it takes to elicit some positive change.
How to communicate effectively
If you decide to communicate your own feelings to the blamer, do so mindfully. Given their aversion to responsibility, they might go on the defensive when you confront their behavior.
Invite them into a healthy open conversation by first letting them know how much they mean to you and how much you want the relationship to work out. Then you can begin to let them in on how they’ve been affecting you.
Use specific examples
Use specific examples of their blaming behavior rather than sweeping generalizations, and be mindful of your tone of voice and body language. The person is likely dealing with many insecurities and low self-esteem, so anything you can do to keep the conversation friendly, respectful, and growth-oriented will benefit both parties.
4. Don’t play the blame game…
One surefire way to weaken your position when dealing with a chronic blamer is to stoop to their level. Try to stay present and grounded when the blamer tries to put the responsibility on you. You might feel tempted to get defensive and start blaming them, but this is rarely productive. The more reactive you become, the more power you give them.
… but don’t be a pushover, either
Equally, don’t be a pushover. Don’t accept the blame they’re trying to put on you. As well as you can, try to find a middle ground. Don’t accept the blame if it wasn’t your fault, but don’t get defensive and reactive and say something that they can use against you later.
How to not play the game
Instead of reacting, try to respond. Remember that you’re not at fault for what happened, and while it may not have been entirely their fault, you don’t need to suffer from their attempts to manipulate you. Instead of engaging the blamer, simply refuse to accept their childish behavior. Walk away if necessary; try to walk away. If walking away is not possible, simply don’t respond at all.
5. Evaluate that person’s place in your life
Even though chronic blaming may stem from deeper issues such as insecurity, a personality disorder, or emotional immaturity, and that someone who engages in such behavior isn’t necessarily a bad person, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with them.
Take some time away from the person if you can and give yourself some space to reflect. How important is that person to you? How important are you to them? Surely if someone is willing to make you feel hurt, bad, guilty, and as though everything is your fault, then they don’t have your best interests at heart, right?
Consider what you mean to them and vice versa
Someone who loves you wouldn’t hesitate to tell you if you’ve done something wrong, but they would do so constructively and with compassion. They wouldn’t shy away from responsibility and make you feel guilty for something you didn’t even do.
Set aside some time to assess if you should even have that person in your life anymore. Speak to trusted friends, family members, or a family therapist to get some guidance and advice on how to move forward regarding your relationship with the blamer.
Questions to ask yourself
Does this person care about my well-being?
Is my relationship with this person based on mutual trust and respect, or is it based on needs and attachment?
Do I always get blamed for their mistakes?
Do they always blame me, or only on rare occasions?
Do they apologize when they realize they’re wrong?
6. Speak to a relationship or family therapist
Despite your best efforts at communicating healthily and effectively and trying to set healthy boundaries, some people still can’t seem to change or accept how harmful their behavior is. In these circumstances, you may need to reach out to a professional to help intervene in the blamer’s unfair behavior.
When the blamer is a parent or other family member…
Consider speaking to a family therapist if the blamer is a family member, such as your mother or father. A trained family therapist can offer a safe and compassionate space in which family members can express their feelings and come to a greater understanding of how each member feels.
When the blamer is a partner or spouse…
If the blamer is a romantic partner, such as a husband or wife, consider speaking to a couples therapist or a marriage counselor. Again, a trained therapist can offer a space in which non-judgment, clear communication, and empathy are encouraged and can help both partners come to a greater mutual understanding.
The benefits of relationship therapy
Remember that people who blame others for everything, though frustrating and toxic, are most likely going through a difficult time with their emotions and mental health. Harsh criticism and blame in return often do little to resolve the issue at hand.
With a therapist, you and your partner or family member can work together in a supervised, safe environment. The therapist can facilitate an open, healthy space in which you can communicate healthily about what’s been happening and work collaboratively to resolve the issue.
7. Seek professional help
If you have suffered from emotional abuse through constant misplaced blame at the hands of a narcissist or an emotionally immature partner or parent, consider speaking to a professional therapist for yourself. Above we advised seeing a couple or family therapist, but there are many cases in which it is best for the victim of blame to seek support on their own.
Growing up with a narcissistic parent can have a lasting, damaging impact on a child, an impact that affects that child’s mental, emotional, and social well-being well into adulthood. A child who was constantly blamed for things they didn’t do and grew up witnessing a parent who could never seem to take responsibility for their action is likely to develop a sense of low self-esteem, anxiety, and people-pleasing tendencies.
A trained therapist can help you safely explore your difficult childhood circumstances and teach how you let go of the values and core beliefs taught to you by a narcissist or emotionally immature parent.
8. Explore your core beliefs
If you grew up with a parent who always blamed you, you may have internalized some unhelpful and even damaging beliefs about yourself. You may have learned that you’re always going to make mistakes or that you can’t do anything right. You may have learned to accept when others blame you for things you didn’t do without standing up for yourself or knowing how to set a boundary.
9. Assess your behavior
Before you call out another person for always blaming others when things go wrong, check if you’re not guilty of the same behavior. Far too often, we can see the flaws and mistakes in others but barely notice those in ourselves.
The problem with blaming the blamer
You might feel angry with someone who always blames you or blames anything or anyone but themselves and, in turn, blame that person for how you feel. We are responsible for our own feelings and for setting boundaries when something bothers us.
If we don’t take the mature approach and set boundaries, which might look like distancing ourselves from that person, then we don’t have much of a right to blame that person for their behavior.
10. Be assertive
The blamer will continue to blame you for things that are not at all your fault if you allow them to. They want a scapegoat, so they don’t have to deal with the discomfort of accepting responsibility, and if you continue to play that role, the worse your situation will get.
How to be assertive
When the person blames you for something that was in no way your responsibility, stand up for yourself and choose to be the bigger person. You don’t have to be aggressive or controlling – you can stand up for yourself calmly and compassionately.
Let the other person know that you’re sorry they feel that way, but the truth is whatever went wrong has nothing to do with you and that you will not accept the blame. The more you stand up for yourself, the sooner the blamer will realize that they can no longer easily shift the blame on you.
Getting blamed for things you haven’t done by people who are responsible is a confusing and disheartening experience. Sometimes the blamer can’t accept responsibility, so they try to place the blame on you. Other times events happen which are out of anyone’s control, but the blamer needs to blame someone, so they choose you.
Living with people who engage in this childish and immature behavior is a challenge, to say the least. Understand that while you might want to keep things smooth and easy-going in your life, you might need to have a confrontation with the blamer sooner or later to keep your mental and emotional health in check.
It might seem like a slightly annoying habit now, but eventually, that tendency in the person to blame you for everything will grow stronger and stronger. If you continue to tolerate, you risk a range of mental and emotional consequences, including depression, anxiety, and low-self esteem.