Why Can’t My Ex Take Responsibility?

Why Can’t My Ex Take Responsibility?

Here’s a question I received in response to my invitations on this site, and around the web, to ask me anything about Responsibility.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes 1 minute to read.)

Nate asks

My ex-partner doesn’t take responsibility for her actions. She blamed me and called me emotionally immature, and that’s basically why she’s my ex-partner.

What would be the reason for this? As in, why can’t a 43-year-old woman take responsibility for her own emotions?

I answer

Hello, Nate.

I’m sorry you are in this position. I’ll do my best to address your question. I hope it is some help.

You ask: “why can’t a 43-year-old woman take responsibility for her own emotions?”

She absolutely can. She just doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to — yet (and maybe never).

But she’s not alone.

Most people aren’t very good at taking Responsibility. If we were, we’d be much happier, more free, and more powerful.

(Capital R “Responsibility” indicates our meaning of the word, which we define as owning one’s power and ability to create, choose, and attract one’s reality. You can read about this on our About page.)

In fact, you frequently don’t know when you aren’t taking Responsibility.

It takes a fair amount of growth and practice — and sometimes a loving poke from a compassionate friend, mentor, or support group — to know when you aren’t taking Responsibility.

So how do you know when you aren’t taking Responsibility?

There are two indicators:

  1. Something’s not quite right in your world. That is, you have a problem. And,
  2. you are coming at that problem from below the line.

By “below the line,” I refer to The Responsibility Process.

In the hand-drawn graphic here, see the line between Obligation and Responsibility.The Responsibility Process & Results

When we approach a problem from Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, or Obligation, then we’re not taking Responsibility.

We’re avoiding it.

In these mental states we’re sure the problem is “out there.” We’re a victim.

Thus we are powerless to solve the problem. Something “out there” has to change for our problem to resolve.

So, from your email, I sense your ex-partner has a problem.

And from her point of view (of Lay Blame), you are her problem.

(It sucks to be blamed. Again, I’m sorry for your situation.)

I could go on for pages explaining how Responsibility works in our crazy minds. However, I suggest two things.

To understand more about Responsibility, follow the links above to find lots of valuable content about The Responsibility Process and how to develop your own Responsibility-thinking practice.

You can also email me, Nate (you too Christopher), with follow-up questions.

Now, Nate, may I poke you a bit?

If you’re not up for that, stop reading.


It sounds to me like something’s not quite right in your world. Is that correct?

And would you say that your problem is your ex-partner’s accusations?

If so, then where are you coming from on The Responsibility Process?

(Ouch, I know.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with you.)

Congratulations on your newfound awareness.

I’ll offer some ideas in the next post if you want to know what you can do about it.

Try us

Consider joining the Responsibility Community. (It’s all-content and no-selling).

Posted in Article, Featured
double line
responsibility.com logo dark circle