It's Not You, And It's Not Me: The Real Reason Relationships Fail
Boy, oh boy do we like to point fingers at other people. We’re all very quick to put the blame on others regardless of what part we played in the outcome ourselves.
I believe this to be one of human beings’ greatest flaws; we have an uncanny knack for oversimplifying things – just about everything, really.
We believe that the simplest answer is the right one. It’s funny how this all stems from a misunderstanding of Occam’s razor.
The principle, contrary to popular belief, doesn't state that the simplest answer is the correct answer. That’s only part of the principle, and sadly, the only one people seem to remember.
The other part of the principle, which is actually the first part, is crucial to the principle itself – without it, the principle is incomplete.
It states that choosing the answer with fewer assumptions is the better option. Only when you've narrowed down the answers to those that have the fewest assumptions can you then choose the simplest of the lot.
Occam’s razor does not conclude that the simplest answer is always the right one, as many of these “simple” answers aren’t really answers at all. They are riddled with assumptions that, in the end, only complicate the problem we're trying to solve in the first place.
Nevertheless, people will opt for the simplest answer or reason whenever they wish – especially when the reasoning is driven by emotion or by our egos.
Once we feel moved to action, we convince ourselves to blindly believe whichever answer suits those needs. We discuss and argue not to gain knowledge or a better understanding, but in order to win.
We are so incredibly competitive by nature because our egos are trying to keep the belief alive that we're the best. We want to convince ourselves of our strength, intellect, passion and infallibility. We all do this to different degrees – some much more than others.
The closer the problem hits home, the more likely we are to wipe our hands clean of it and blame another person instead. We oversimplify the situation and find a way to convince ourselves that the other person is the one to blame – that if it hadn't been for them, we would've succeeded.
This is what makes interpersonal relationships so difficult for us. We don’t want to believe that we could be to blame.
The craziest part is that because speaking our minds would insult the other person and possibly even escalate the situation – making it more difficult and uncomfortable for us – we play the part of martyrs, professing that there is nothing wrong with them and that we ourselves have our own demons to deal with.
Does this at all seem like a simple situation?
We don’t want to accept that we may be, and most likely are, part of the reason things didn’t work out, while we pretend that we believe we are the reason.
We then go as far as to convince the other person, someone we once cared for – if not still do – that we blame ourselves. But we don’t blame ourselves; we blame them.
We've already convinced ourselves that the other person is the reason things fell apart, that their actions led to the relationship’s demise.
Because we are so sure of it, and because we have decided that discussions are futile, we end it in the easiest and most cowardly manner possible: It’s not you, it’s me.
But it is you. Or at least we believe that it’s you. We may not tell you to your face, but that’s what we feel. We assume we know what you're feeling and thinking, and we assume that you aren’t capable of change. We assume the relationship has run its course and that it’s time to jump ship.
So many assumptions… yet we arrive at a conclusion and plan of action nonetheless. The people we breakup with are the ones to blame because that is the simple answer. If we were both to blame, things would become complicated.
We would feel stuck and confused, not knowing how to proceed. This way we can pretend the relationship never happened and be on our way, regardless of what it does to the other person.
The truth is that relationships are complicated. Life is complicated. The way we feel is complicated. It may not be pleasant trying to wrap our minds around such things, but if we refuse to try then we make choices that aren’t entirely informed – we make decisions that have unwanted consequences.
The truth is that you aren’t to blame. Your partner isn’t to blame either. You are human beings. You are not gods. You make mistakes, say things you don’t mean and act stupid from time to time – it’s what humans do. It’s okay.
But don’t close your eyes the second things get complicated. Choosing to be blind and not take all things into consideration does you no good; unless you keep your eyes closed for eternity, the second you open them, you’ll be overwhelmed. Not to mention that you’ll only continue to make poor life decisions.
The reason your relationship is hitting a rough patch is because you are two egocentric, fallible people trying to share a life together. You are trying to do something that is unnatural. Romance is unnatural – it’s our own creation. Your life won’t ever be a fairytale.
It won’t ever have a neat plot and conclusion. There is no reason to blame anyone for what's happening. But you can’t ignore it. You can’t ignore the part you played as well as the part your partner played.
You both made mistakes. Some relationships must come to an end, but they should be a learning experience nonetheless. If you’re cutting ties, be sure you’re walking away with a valuable lesson – and you won’t unless you accept the uglier side of truth.