We Are Warriors
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We Are Warriors

When Your Partner Isn’t Accountable, What Can You Do?

Are You Blamed For Someone Else’s Lack Of Reliability?

If This Is You, You’re Probably Feeling Frustrated Right Now.

What exactly does it mean to be accountable? As it turns out, this isn’t a concept as simple as it would seem being conduced to one word. The definition might be something like,

Accountability is the willingness to acknowledge and take responsibility for your own actions, to accept your contribution to an issue and its consequence, and have an understanding and concern of the impact it has on others.

Yet, in the person’s mind who refuses to accept responsibility, they often see themselves as a victim. They’ll tell other people, even those who have healthy attachment styles that they are to blame for their own lack of integrity. If you have continually pursued this person in hopes to get your relationship on track, they’ll call you clingy, need, or say you’re “smothering them,” or that you’re “being mean to them,” even when they just simply haven’t done the things they said they would do.

How would you approach a situation with a person as such as this? What does it specifically mean to be accountable, and is it possible to change? Here are the elements that are really behind what it means to be accountable as a person in a relationship.

As It Turns Out, Being Accountable Reflects Many Important Qualities and Integrity of Character...Or Lack Thereof.

While not everyone can do everything right all the time, the ability to admit, empathize, apologize, and make effort to maintain peace are all key to having a healthy relationship with someone. If both people in a relationship can’t do that, over time it will diminish the ability to connect and will lead to imbalances of power and resentment.

All of the following elements that make up accountability are foundational characteristics to building a trusting and secure relationship bond:

They are responsible. They are respectful. They value equality. They work as a team. They are understanding.

People who are accountable will understand the value of their own time, and so will also be considerate of other people’s time, too. They are responsive, not reactive. They will work together on a team to accomplish a smooth interaction, and will not try to create an argument and play the “blame game.” They don’t view relationships as hierarchical or try to establish a controlling power dynamic over their partner. They own up to their mistakes and apologize when they hurt other people. They work hard to try to avoid hurting other people when it is avoidable to do so.

They are honest. They are committed. They are transparent. They are open. They’re realistic.

They do not intentionally aim to hurt or deceive their partner. They show their commitment to the relationship by being open and sincere. They have realistic goals and expectations for themselves, and do not hold others to standards to which they aren’t also capable of committing. They make you feel they have nothing to hide because they show you their dedication in how they value themselves and the relationship.

They are scheduled. They are reliable. They are consistent. They are dependable. They are clear.

If situations are always vague, confusing, and unclear, it can be detrimental to activity and productivity in relationships. People who are accountable let other people know what, when, and where. They are consistent in doing this over time, and they build trust that they are reliable, they keep their word, and are seen as dependable. When something comes up, they let people know and adjust accordingly. They do what they say, and say what they mean.

Why Do Some People Seem To Not Have The Ability To Be Accountable?

As it turns out, there seems to be a commonality in things that defensive people who have unhealthy attachment styles will do in order to avoid accountability. You can read more details about some of the ways unhealthy bonding shows up in my article, The Fear of Intimacy is A Double-Edged Sword.

They will use psychological projection to reject and deflect, placing blame back onto the person who is attempting to hold them accountable.

They won’t stand up, listen to reason, or say, “Yes, I see how did that. I’m sorry I did that. I was wrong. That’s my fault.” Instead, they probably won’t even listen to how you feel they were wrong, but will stop you mid-sentence to interject how it was you, not them. They will use flawed rationalization from their victimized perspective to escape responsibility that they have contributed to the problem that is currently being addressed.

Sometimes, such a person might seem a lot like a child — and while they aren’t, many of the behavior they exhibit were actually learned in their childhood and have been retained ever since. They may pitch fits or “tantrums,” characteristic of what is seen in a child. If tantrums occur in children and are not properly handled before age 4, and the child continues this behavior into adolescence, it could also indicate behavioral problems related to untreated mental health conditions.

These individuals are usually regarded as lacking self-awareness, humility, emotional maturity, and courage. They may be prone to self-destructive behaviors such as addictions that are on-going and difficult to treat because they blame others for their own deliberate, patterned behavior. They may something like, “The only reason I drink is because you cause me so much stress. If you didn’t make me feel so smothered, I wouldn’t feel like I have to escape.”

Narcissistic People Struggle With Accountability More Than Most.

You’ll never be able to hold someone who is a possessing a high level of narcissism accountable. The only way you might possibly accomplish this is if it was of a true perceived benefit or immediate reward being offered in doing so. Most of the time this is not only impractical but near impossible to do consistently in a real-life setting.

This is a large part of why a narcissist, apart from their often cruel behaviors and tendency to punish others, are very destructive when it comes to parenting. They will make and enforce rules upon their children that they themselves cannot and do not follow.

Social learning will always speak louder than words when it comes to raising children. They will see this as a form of betrayal and see this as acceptable behavior, which can cause them to be rebellious against rules and even laws in society. They learn that keeping their violations a secret while telling others how they should behave is an appropriate way to manage accountability, although it clearly isn’t.

Through this contradictory behavior, children learn not to trust those closest to them and grow up having problems with security and intimate attachments if there’s no intervention to teach them otherwise.

The Truth Is Tough: You’ll Never “Hold” Someone Accountable If They Don’t Hold Themselves First.

You’ll likely never succeed in your attempts at making someone to take responsibility. Wouldn’t it be better if they claimed responsibility on their own? Of course. But that isn’t always possible.

You can try to evoke empathy and provide a sense of reward and safety for doing the right thing, but should not use fear or punishment to hold someone else’s feet to the fire. Overemphasizing accountability as the end result likely won’t work for those who are struggling with it. If you have tried repeatedly to model exemplary behavior but the person still hasn’t made any progress, chances are they are going to and you should reconsider continuing pursuing a relationship with them at that point.

Look for an attitude of willingness to change: If a person really wants to focus on self-improvement, they will have a much better chance for change.

If you are dealing with a partner who isn’t being otherwise abusive, it might be possible to encourage them to model better behaviors through indirect methods. This may especially be true if a person has a mental health condition that has contributed to this and has made active progress for treatment, especially if that’s shown noticeable improvement.

Without some basic level of emotional connection, it is highly improbable that people will take an initiative of responsibility in a relationship. This is why is it more difficult for people who don’t possess adequate levels of empathy or self-esteem to establish healthy long-term bonds with others.

Practice Can Make Perfect.

Accountability must be practiced. Being human and growing from our many mistakes is what builds the foundation to a solid sense of self. Every generation can benefit in this journey.

You cannot make someone change their attitude towards accountability. It all starts will willingness to accept responsibility and make self-improvements.

If someone is continuing to refuse to practice this, there is absolutely no way they’ll ever get better at it. It takes two to make a relationship work, and sometimes it does just take one partner to let it fail. Accountability is a key element to have a secure attachment and a healthy relationship.



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Sam [Sans Surname]

an off-grid sleeping beauty starring as keeper of the peace, a survivalist rescued by homegrown love.