Two and a half months ago, I met my boyfriend, and everything was beautiful. But his attitude suddenly changed, and since then he has treated me very badly. He told me that he would change, but now… he blames me for everything that happens, even though I believe I haven’t done anything wrong. I want to understand him because I love him…. I’d like for you to tell me what to do to help him understand that he’s not acting right.

Dear Friend,

We are sorry for what you are going through. However, you are asking us for the impossible. In this case, as well as many other cases, there is nothing that you can do to help another person recognize his own distorted thinking. There are no magic words, strategies, or secret formulas that will get your boyfriend to change, unless and until he is the one asking for help. Every time you tell him that he needs to change, he will push back and blame you for not accepting him as he is. In his mind, it will be your fault that he is unhappy.

In our brains, we unconsciously carry on a conversation with ourselves regarding everything that occurs. The reality is that some things just happen, and are nobody’s fault, but people who have fragile self-esteem blame others before anyone can blame them. They identify everything in terms of “not my fault,” or “my fault,” and have no category for “no one’s fault.” It often takes a major confrontation before they are willing to identify anything as “my fault,” and even then, they just feel sorry for themselves. Consequently, most of everything that happens to them must fall into the category of “someone else’s fault.”

They say: “I slipped and fell; obviously someone left something slippery on the floor.” “I forgot an important meeting; someone distracted me.” “I got bitten by a mosquito; why did you ask me to come outside?” “I dropped some dishes; they shouldn’t have been so dirty and difficult to hold on to.” “I lost my mobile phone; someone must have taken it from me.” “I got lost; someone gave me bad directions.”

In only ten short weeks, you have become the one who is blamed for everything bad that happens to your boyfriend. It’s very convenient for him to always know that everything is your fault. It is working well for him, so don’t expect that he will change.

Do you remember Adam and Eve, the first people that God created? When God asked Adam why he ate the forbidden fruit, Adam was ready with the answer. He said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (1) Adam was saying, “God, if you hadn’t put this woman here, I would not have sinned. It’s actually your fault, God.”

You say that you love your boyfriend, but he makes you feel unhappy and frustrated instead of making you feel happy and cherished. If you choose to stay with him, you should expect to feel unhappy and frustrated for the rest of your life.

We wish you well,

1 Ge 3:12 (NIV)