Just as people make excuses for their own poor behavior, it seems to be human nature that we often make excuses for others as well — in particular, our significant others. Have you ever found yourself apologizing for the actions of your partner? “Sorry about that, they’re just tired and had a really long day,” or, “They don’t mean to act like that, they’ve just been stressed at work.”
Has a family member or friend ever directly asked you about the way your partner treats you? How did you respond? Did you come up with an excuse to put them at ease — or, to put your own mind at ease?
In an unhealthy or abusive relationship, making justifications for a partner’s behavior is common. When your partner continually makes excuses for how they treat you, it’s only normal that you may start making similar excuses and echoing their sentiments.
What do these excuses sound like?
“It’s my fault. I made a mistake and did something that upset them.”
“They said that I’m controlling. I drove them to act this way.”
“They’re just stressed/tired/having a bad day/kidding.”
“They aren’t usually like this.”
“It’s not that bad. At least they don’t hit me.”
“They didn’t hit me that hard. It could be worse.”
“They weren’t always like this.”
“They were abused as a child/they grew up in an abusive family — it’s all they know.”
“They just have a drug/alcohol problem.”
“They’re bipolar — it’s a medical condition.”
“I’m just overreacting. They say I’m too emotional.”
Why do we do this?
If your partner is treating you in an unhealthy way, it’s often really difficult to acknowledge what’s happening. It’s hard to believe that someone we care for and love could hurt us. Oftentimes a relationship doesn’t begin badly — so it’s confusing when one can change so drastically.
We may also be in denial about what’s actually happening.
It can be tough to stop making excuses for a partner who is treating you badly, but beginning to accept what’s happening is the first step toward holding them accountable for their own behavior.
You are not responsible for your partner’s bad behavior. Your partner’s hurtful words and actions are their own choice — there is always a choice.
If you’re in a relationship where your partner is emotionally or physically abusive and you find yourself making excuses for them, call us at 1-800-799-SAFE. Our advocates can confidentially speak with you more about this and discuss safety and plans for the future.