“I’m sorry but this relationship is not working out. It’s not you, it’s me” is the standard trite way to end a relationship. As a child obsessed with television, I remember hearing that phrase uttered countless times on numerous programs. Usually during a painfully passionless and mundane dinner (or other public setting), the man would say those five words to the woman. The woman’s head would drop in disbelief, while the man would smirk and look at the camera, breaking the fourth wall. His tiny facial expression simply conveyed to a young impressionable boy that those five words were any man’s get-out-of-relationship card. More importantly, the phrase became a joke; no real reason to believe it.
Recently I found myself frustrated with one of my working relationships. Long story short, the communication had broken down, and we had to meet a deadline. He was busy and had to cancel a meeting. Then he got sick and could not attend another meeting. He did not call like he did in the previous months leading up to the deadline. I found myself doing what I normally do; I pointed my finger at him. I blamed him. I projected my anger and anxiety unto him.
Then I remembered an old adage that I absolutely love, “When you point one finger at someone, three point back at you.” Good ahead, point at something. I’m all about visual learning!
Maybe it was me. I did cancel a scheduled call because of recent a conference. A phone does work both ways, I thought to myself.
While I wanted desperately to point out my partner’s faults, I realized that I can only be accountable for my actions. The truth was that I was not comfortable with my lack of preparation leading up to the project deadline. I was looking for excuses, for a scapegoat.
It’s not you, it’s me.